Deno’s Wonder Wheel owners expanding into dilapidated amusement park

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The owners of Deno’s Wonder Wheel are expanding their amusement operation into an adjacent lot.
Photo by File hoto by Paul Martinka

The owners of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park have purchased a run-down corner of Coney Island’s amusement district, and the thrill purveyors are currently planning on how to reinvigorate the area with new attractions — without stepping on any toes. 

“We are seeing what will be the best fit,” said Deno “DJ” Vourderis. “Something that will complement our neighbors and not compete with them.” 

The lot along W. 12th Street between Bowery Street and the Wonder Wheel will roughly double the size of Vourderis’s adult section of the amusement park and is slated to open during the 2021 season. 

The parcel was formerly operated by the aptly named 12th Street Amusement, which shuttered roughly two years ago, leaving the rides there to rot, according to Vourderis, who said that, while many of the attraction have been destroyed, he’ll try to salvage what he can. 

“We will save whatever we can to repurpose into our existing park,” Vourderis said. “But a lot of it has to go after we inspected them we saw a lot was far too gone.” 

The Wonder Wheel premiered as Coney Island’s then tallest attraction in 1920, and was renamed “Deno’s” after Deno Vourderis’s grandfather, also Deno Vourderis, purchased the Wonder Wheel, along with the Spook-a-Rama ride in 1983. 

The acquisition comes amid the Wonder Wheel’s 100th anniversary, which Vourderis will celebrate with special events all year long, including a big bash on Memorial Day Weekend — the planning of which supersedes laying out their expanded amusement park, according to the new owner. 

“We have some ideas, but we are still working on it,” said DJ Vourderis. ”Right now we are focusing on the 100th anniversary of the Wonder Wheel and then we will see what bites.”