The first phase of Mayor Bloomberg’s overhaul of Coney Island into a major amusement park took shape on Tuesday, with Hizzoner unveiling 19 new rides that he said will be in full-swing by Memorial Day in what is being called “Luna Park.”
The ride operator, Central Amusement International, also announced it will open the “Scream Zone” in 2011, another amusement area that will feature two roller coasters, a human slingshot, and a go-kart track.
“Coney is coming back, big time,” Bloomberg said at Tuesday’s announcement at the New York Aquarium. “It will be more fun than ever.”
Central Amusement, which also runs the Victorian Gardens in Central Park, will be funneling $30 million into the park over the course of its decade-long lease. While Central Amusement fulfills that interim lease, the hunt will remain on for a permanent operator to realize Bloomy’s more ambitious — and controversial — goal of a transformed Coney Island with new mixed-income housing, retail outlets, restaurants, new rides and hotels.
Peter Pelle, the vice-president of the amusement operator, said Luna Park would not charge an admission fee, just like the now-demolished Astroland.
“Revitalizing the birthplace of the amusement park is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Pelle, adding that the park will be open from noon to midnight from Memorial Day until Labor Day. The park also will operate on a reduced schedule until Columbus Day.
The new rides will occupy the vast majority of the property purchased by the city from developer Joe Sitt last November in a much-delayed deal.
The city will invest $6.6 million in “site preparation and infrastructure” to support the radical changes coming to Coney.
The rides are being manufactured by the Italian amusement-giant Zamperla, though few details were provided beyond a renderings that looked as if they were produced in a middle-school computer graphics class.
One of the rides making its world-debut will be the “Air Race,” in which planes circle a central tower, thrilling riders as they fly up and down while making hair-raising barrel rolls.
The two roller coasters set to roll out in 2011 will both be steel, and one will flip riders over, according to David Galst of Central Amusement.
Galst added that the Astrotower will not be torn down, and that the company will be “investigating” how to make the iconic tower rise again.
The numerous politicians in attendance at Tuesday’s announcement at the Coney Island Aquarium were quick to point out that the rides were not just for fun — they also would help provide jobs for locals, who have been concerned that they would be left out of any economic overhaul.
“Last summer, there were last than three acres of amusement in Coney,” said Seth Pinsky, the president of the Economic Development Corporation. “This community has seen under-investment for too long.”