New Cyclone operator pledges major rehab

City seeks new operator for old Cyclone
The Brooklyn Paper / Gregory P. Mango

The company charged with recreating Coney Island has just been named to operate one of the oldest attractions left: the Cyclone.

Central Amusement, which also owns Luna Park across the street, has been picked by the city to run the aging roller-coaster this year. The company says it invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate it.

“We don’t know how much it’s going to cost,” company president Valerio Ferrari told NY1. “We know the ride requires some repair, but once we will do tests, we will figure it out.”
The city says it will still consider other bids for a long-term operator, but is giving Central Amusement control so that the coaster can open on time for the season on April 16.

The city did not respond to a request for comment about how much Central Amusement will pay to run the Cyclone.

The Parks Department announced last year that it would replace Carol Albert, whose family has operated the iconic wooden coaster since 1976, with a new operator who would upgrade the 83-year-old coaster into a year-long attraction.

Central Amusement proved its skills as a thrill ride operator last May by opening Luna Park, the first new amusement area to open in the hard-luck “People’s Playground” in almost 50 years. The company will also open a new amusement zone this April called Scream Zone, complete with a roller coaster modeled after the classic Steeplechase ride, according to park officials.

But the Cyclone’s temporary operator has also been a source of Coney controversy. The company is currently locked in an eviction battle with longtime Boardwalk businesses including Ruby’s Bar and Grill. Central Amusement’s workers even illegally bulldozed the Shoot the Freak concession, one of the evicted establishments, in December.
And its Cyclone takeover has been rumored for months. The Coney Island History Project even moved its storefront from the base of the thrill ride to Deno’s Wonder Wheel because it was concerned that the new developer would not renew its lease.

The museum’s Executive Director Charles Denson declined to comment on this latest development.
But not all Coney Island preservationists fear Central Amusement’s conquest of the legendary thrill ride, which cannot be torn down because of its landmarked status.

“They’re the right people to run it because they operate Luna Park right across the street,” said Dick Zigun, who operates the Coney Island Sideshow out of the recently landmarked former Childs restaurant on Surf Avenue. “And the fact that they plan on putting a couple of hundred of thousand into it makes me smile.”