Coney Island’s amusement park will get a massive new rollercoaster next summer that’s sure to thrill riders of all ages.
The Phoenix, a 68-foot-tall coaster, will be built beside the famous, 100-year-old ferris wheel in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park — giving thrills to young dare devils without the intensity of the Thunderbolt or the Cyclone, said one of the park’s operators.
“We’re going for something that teenagers will still scream for, but kids won’t be intimidated by,” said Deno (DJ) Vourderis, whose family has operated Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park for decades. “It’s going to be more intense than any family coaster ever built before it.”
The rollercoaster will go 34 miles per hour — compared to the Cyclone’s 60 miles per hour — and will take riders nearly upside down and around sharp turns, Vourderis said. The ride aims to offer park-goers a more moderate rollercoaster that fits nicely into the kids-friendly park.
“We weren’t trying to be a Cyclone or a Thunderbolt, but a Deno’s family coaster,” Vourderis said. The ride will have a 39 inch height minimum — approximately the height of a four year old.
The Phoenix, which will hopefully be assembled sometime in 2021, is the first custom rollercoaster made by the coaster company Vekoma in the United States outside the Disney amusement parks, and is the amusement park’s largest investment yet — even bigger than the famous Wonder Wheel, Vourderis said.
The addition comes at a challenging time for amusement parks, which had to remain closed all summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vourderis said that the new ride is a symbol of the park’s rebirth.
“The reason we named it the Phoenix is because of the whole symbolism of the Phoenix rising,” he said.
The family first planned to build the rollercoaster in 2018, and purchased a run-down corner of the amusement district adjacent to their park soon after.
And though the COVID-19 pandemic has strained the amusement park’s finances, the Vourderis family took out a loan to build the coaster before the pandemic hit and plans to start building after ironing out some technicalities.
The Vourderis family and the owners of Luna Park have repeatedly called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue reopening guidelines for outdoor amusement parks and grant some financial relief, but the governor hasn’t issued any reopening criteria yet.
What can locals do to ensure the amusement park can reopen? Wear a mask and stop the spread of COVID-19, Vourderis advised.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what wearing a mask can do for your country,” he said.
The rollercoaster has been able to move forward in the permitting process with help of Councilman Mark Treyger, state Sen. Diane Savino, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and the Department of City Planning, Vourderis said.