Coney Island’s amusement district kicks off the season

Coney Island’s amusement district kicks off the season
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

It’s game-on at the People’s Playground!

Coney Island roared to life on April 9 with the opening of Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Revelers enjoyed new rides and old favorites, and noshed on classic Coney fair to christen the start of the season. The opening weekend visit was a rite of passage for young Brooklynites, said one Sunset Parker who came out with his family for the festivities.

“It’s a family tradition to come out here with the kids,” said Osorio Perez, who waited outside the gates of Luna Park with his two daughters an hour early to get first crack at the rides. “My dad brought me here, his dad brought him here, now I bring my girls. You can’t be a Brooklyn kid and not love coming here — who needs Six Flags when you’ve got Coney Island?”

The Cyclone took off on its first run of the season after Borough President Adams smashed a customary egg cream over the coaster. And Wonder Wheel owners — brothers Dennis and Steve Vourderis — officiated the annual “Blessing of the Rides,” before the first 97 revelers took a free spin on the wondrous wheel in honor of its 97 glorious years.

And the views were to die for on the balmy spring day, said one thrill seeker.

“It was a gorgeous sight up there,” said Coney Islander Joseph Lipinski, who dangled in one of the ride’s swinging cars with his wife. “You could see all of Coney Island up there and even Staten Island. Clear blue skies as far as the eye can see.”

Adrenaline junkies zipped on the newly refurbished Cyclone — which turns 90 this year — fought for survival in a virtual reality zombie shooter, and took a literal spin on the high-flying tilt-a-whirl, the Endeavor, among other rides.

Those who prefer their feet firmly planted on the ground explored Sodom by the Sea’s past at the Coney Island History Project, sampled egg creams, and sunk their teeth into the original Feltman’s of Coney Island hot dogs — which opened a kiosk as a preview to its Memorial Day grand opening on Surf Avenue.

Coney Island’s annual opening shindig is nothing short of magic, said one reveler.

“I come for the opening every year because it makes me feel like a kid again,” said Bensonhurster Rhoda Sotto. “There’s something magical about being here when it all gets going.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.