Coney wants one more ride

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Coney Island’s historic Astroland Park did the tilt-a-whirl this week — first putting all its rides up for sale, then apparently pulling them back as elected officials scrambled to give the doomed amusement park one last ride.

The topsy-turvy week started with the 44-year-old funland posting its rides — including Dante’s Inferno, the water flume, and the dreaded Pirate Ship, but not the city-owned landmark Cyclone rollercoaster, of course —on a carny auction Web site, Ital International.

The move was not a surprise, given that late last year, a real-estate developer bought the land under Astroland from the Albert family and announced that the amusement park would be razed after the 2007 season.

So the real surprise came a few days later, when Carol Albert abruptly announced that the rides were no longer for sale — and that she was desperate to find vacant lots near the fabled Boardwalk to house Astroland for another season or two.

Elected officials rushed to lend their support — moral and otherwise.

“Astroland and the Albert family have helped define Coney Island’s unique character over the last half-century,” said Borough President Markowitz. “And we are working with them and the city to find the best way for them to continue to contribute to its bright future.”

Others have a different vision of that bright future. Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities bought the Astroland site late last year to level and build a $2-billion Vegas-style amusement-condo complex.

Thor’s theme park would include movie theaters, beachfront luxury condos, a 150-foot waterslide, a multi-level carousel, and first new roller coaster since the Cyclone was built in 1927.

To build his Xanadu, Sitt needs a city rezoning — one that city officials have been reluctant to give, though negotiations continue. Neither Sitt nor city officials would comment on those talks for this article.

In the meantime, the Albert family and its supporters spent this week hoping to find a new place for the fun, eyeing three empty lots on the Boardwalk, sources said.

“I know the spaces, and they’ve been empty for years,” said Stan Fox, a coin-operated game distributor who volunteers at the Coney Island History Project. “Astroland can grow at the other locations. We need more amusements, not less.“

Fortunately for Astroland, the city appears eager to help the family-run park live on.

“We are working with Carol Albert to identify a temporary site … and hope we will be successful,” said Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city Economic Development Corporation.

Despite all the frenetic activity, all of Albert’s rides remain on the Ital Web site, with prices ranging from $25,000 to $500,000.

“Carol is waiting to see what options present themselves,” said Chuck Reichenthal, district manager of Community Board 13.

Updated 4:29 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Matthew Elzenbeck from Wildwood NJ says:
I was born in 73,so by the time I was 4 or 5 my parents were taking me to the Wildwood boardwalk.Moreys,Mariners,Hunts,Sportland,Nickels, I am a huge fan of dark rides and
haunted house walk throughs.I am also one of the undead who worked at Castle Dracula in the late 80's and early 90's,GREAT TIMES.I have seen pics of Coney Island and noticed that they have a Dante's Inferno....
So does Morey's Pier in Wildwood EXCEPT recently
they repainted it to look like stone and gave it a gargoyle theme.I think a lot of people would agree with me that Morey's destroyed yet another
classic ride.The one in Coney Island is truly a gem.I don't know how many of those rides were made but it can't be many.Dark rides are becomi ng a thing of the past,a lost art.Truly a piece
of Americana that is just fading away year after year.Here is a shout out to rides and walkthroughs I miss.Castle Dracula,house of blood,hell hole,wacky shack,jungle land,keystone cops,the haunted house by the jumbo jet roller coaster back in the late 70s,the old dante's inferno,the pirate ship at the back of hunts pier,the star wars ride/walkthrough next to the haunted house on Moreys,and a big shout to the old Brigantine Castle.I never got to go there but I remember the television commercial,Brigantine Castle...its alive.
Dec. 23, 2007, 2:34 am
Robert from Allentown, PA says:
I know, several years late, but I feel the same way about Matthew. I was born Jan 1974 and I went to Wildwood between 1980-1983 and I saw all those cool attractions from the outside at night but only went in some of them. I didn't go through Fun Pier's Castle Frankenstein or Morey's Pier's Haunted House, or Hunt's Pier's Whacky Shack ride through, or Castle Dracula then. I did go through Castle Dracula Aug 95, June 96 and 98. Two male teens burned it down by accident, they broke in and lit matches or lighter on Jan 16, 2002. Morey's has Ghost Ship now. Morbid Manor on Sportland Pier opened 2011 and closed after two years. I went through it a few times July 6-8, 2011. Oh, Coney Island is worse than Wildwood. There are more eyesores there and vacant lots, although Wildwood has some eyesore piers like former Hunt's Pier and Sportland Pier and an empty slab north of Sportland that was once a shopping village, but the buildings got moldy and they were leveled.
Jan. 28, 2014, 3:45 am
Robert from Allentown, PA says:
Did you know that Coney and Wildwood, NJ had some of the same rides? Like Dante's Inferno, Hell Hole, Jumbo Jet. Hell Hole was a rotor ride, the Wildwood one closed after 1983 and the coney one after 1995. Jumbo Jet was a metal coaster with a spiral lift and spaceship-like trains. Morey's removed theirs after 1987, it went to Moscow, USSR. Where is Coney's Dante's Inferno now?
Jan. 28, 2014, 3:48 am

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