A slate of new rides are coming to Coney Island’s Luna Park as part of a long-awaited expansion that was delayed by the pandemic and relaunched in October of 2021.
The expansion will include three new rides: a custom-made roller coaster, a brand-new log flume, and a new ropes course, according to Luna Park owner Alessandro Zamperla; as well as three new pedestrian plazas that will each have their own food options, games and seating.
“It’s something that we are missing,” Zamperla said at the October 2021 groundbreaking ceremony. “A big water ride — that is something that especially our guests keep asking for … and then we said we are going to do something really special, something custom-made so not only do we have the water ride, we have a rollercoaster.”
Some of the new features as part of the 5-acre development along the Riegelmann Boardwalk and Surf Avenue to revitalize the peninsula and promote Coney Island as a winter destination — the incoming log flume will be the entertainment district’s first full-scale winter ride. The trio of pedestrian plazas — at Stillwell Avenue, W. 12th Street and W. 15th Street between Wonder Wheel Way and the Coney Island boardwalk — will also be a mostly year-round attraction.
“These new pedestrian plazas will be an open-air entertainment destination with food, games and retail locations adorned with shaded seating and greenery that will invite the community and our guests to relax and enjoy Coney Island for more days and longer time,” Zamperla previously said.
There has been a long push for Coney Island to be more than just a summer destination, and attracting tourists year-round would also boost the nabe’s local businesses outside of the amusement parks.
The project doesn’t only just keep businesses of Coney Island in mind, but also involves the neighborhood’s kids — children at the Coney Island YMCA are the masterminds behind the name of the ropes course, the Sky Chaser.
The Zamplerla family announced in April the other two rides were being named in honor of Alessandro’s grandparents Antonio and Letizia Zamperla. The new custom-made Coney Island rollercoaster will be called “Tony’s Express,” and the log flume will be dubbed “Leti’s Treasure.”
Antonio was the first Italian to be inducted into the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Hall of Fame in 2005, and Letizia drove tractor-trailers filled with amusement rides around Europe.
The rides themselves also pay tribute to rides of Coney’s past. The carts and boats used on the rides were inspired by the Switchback Railway, the amusement district’s first ever rollercoaster, and Shoot the Chute, Shoot the Chute, which featured a boat that would “skip” across the water. Tony’s Express will also be outfitted with an illuminated station house, archways and tracks.
Tony’s Express will be a family-friendly rollercoaster that will travel at more than 40 miles per hour across its 1200-foot track. The rollercoaster’s two trains are accessible under standards set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Leti’s Treasure will operate a dozen flume boats that can accommodate up to six passengers and will lift riders 40 feet in the air, where they’ll take in a semi-panoramic view of the Coney shoreline, before dropping for a big splash at over 35 miles per hour.
The expansion will increase Luna Park’s size by 50 percent and will finally utilize areas of the amusement district that have been vacant for over four decades. Some 100 jobs will be created as part of the new development.
When construction launched in October, the projected completion date was at the start of the 2022 amusement season in June, though the rides are still not open.
At the groundbreaking ceremony last fall, former councilmember Mark Treyger applauded the Zamperlas for rehabilitating longtime unused space in Coney’s amusement district. The past pol believes the expansion, particularly the new pedestrian plazas, will help bring more tourists to the southern neighborhood during the winter months.
“This is also about activating and reinvigorating this historic amusement district,” Treyger said. “I think this is the most magical place in New York and I think I can say this with certainty: We need Coney Island more than ever.”
Rachel Loeb, former president and chief executive officer of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, lauded the strides the amusement district has made since missing a season during coronavirus-related shutdowns, and since its historic 2009 rezoning.
“We are excited about all the continuing growth,” Loeb said at the groundbreaking. “You can see all the housing that has happened as a result of the rezoning, all the infrastructure improvements, the resiliency improvements. It is truly remarkable to see how we’ve come in 10 years and how far we are going to go.”
Press representatives from Luna Park did not respond to a request for comment. It remains unclear just what delayed the project’s completion, and when officials expect to debut the new attractions.