New park brings action-packed amusements — and alcohol — to People’s Playground

New park brings action-packed amusements — and alcohol — to People’s Playground
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Coney Island is about to get some action.

A new high-intensity funzone called Big Mark’s Action Park will open this season on Stillwell Avenue between Bowery Street and the Boardwalk, and will feature a 50-foot rock climbing wall, an obstacle course, a skydiving simulator — and, of course, its own bar.

Operator Mark Zientek — owner of play-equipment rental company New Jersey Party Works — said his park will create a one-of-a-kind destination for New Yorkers and tourists with high energy levels and high-intensity activities.

“These are all really physical experiences, and it should really appeal to people with an active, outdoorsy, health-conscious lifestyle,” said Zientek. “We wanted to do something nobody else here is doing.”

Zientek’s new space — two Thor Equities-owned lots that were formerly home to Cha Cha’s Steeplechase Fun Park — came with an unexpected add-on: the Mega Whirl, an experimental amusement that got totalled by Hurricane Sandy and abandoned by its owner. But Zientek is turning a lemon into spiked lemonade, converting the car ride into an elevated alcohol pit stop called “Marco Grande’s Cantina.” Besides tropical-themed drinks and Jamaican cuisine, the bar will have live bands on Saturdays, DJs on Fridays, and a mechanical bull and foxy boxing on Thursdays — all before closing up at 11 pm. In front of the platform will be a sandy area for boozers to soak in the sun and all the fun unfolding around them.

If you’re wondering how well rock climbing and booze might mix, don’t worry — Zientek said no intoxicated people would be allowed on any of the attractions.

“It’s a place you can just come and hang out, and have fun watching the action in progress,” the big man said.

Zientek is also taking over last year’s problem-plagued zip line, and now has all necessary permits, so he plans to have it up and zipping by Easter. The high-wire thrill ride will close temporarily for renovations when the rest of his action park opens on Memorial Day, but Zientek said it will reopen for the summer with a new cable.

The park owner wouldn’t say how much tickets would cost, but he promised they would be in-line with other People’s Playground attractions, and that he would offer group discounts. Rides at Luna Park run three to six dollars, while fun at the Scream Zone can cost as much as $25.

Zientek has already gotten friendly with People’s Playground old-timers, having met Wonder Wheel owner Dennis Vourderis and joined the Alliance for Coney Island business group. He’s even working out plans for a Coney Island trivia night at the cantina with Coney Island History Project owner Charlie Denson.

For Zientek, Big Mark’s Action Park is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to own his own amusement park. He first visited Coney Island last October at the urging of friends, and soon realized that the erstwhile site of Dreamland was the land where he could make his dream a reality.

“I visited more and more, and it was such a happening place, I wanted to be a part of what’s going on,” said Zientek.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.