Summer of 2010 shaping up to be lively in Coney Island

Coney Island will not be dark this summer — in fact, it’s shaping up to be a lot brighter than it’s been in awhile.

Not only is international ride manufacturers Zamperla bringing in 19 new rides for its version of “Luna Park,” but the landmark Wonder Wheel is also getting a solar-powered makeover.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined a beaming cast of other elected officials in Coney Island this week to announce the “People’s Playground” new line-up.

“Coney Island remains one of the most known and beloved neighborhoods around the world, but for decades its famed amusement park has dwindled to just a tiny fraction of what it once was. This summer, we’re reversing that trend,” Bloomberg said.

The 19 new amusements slated to thrill Coney Island visitors this year are described as a mix of traditional and cutting edge rides. One – called “Air Race” – has reportedly never been seen anywhere before.

“This summer, Luna Park will shine during the day and sparkle under the stars at night,” Borough President Marty Markowitz said.

Luna Park’s 19 new rides will be followed by more rides and attractions in 2011 when the “Scream Zone At Coney Island” debuts, bringing two custom roller coasters, a human sling-shot ride, go-karts and other attractions.

Together, Luna Park and The Scream Zone will provide thrill seekers with 23 new rides.

Central Amusements International has signed a 10-year lease with the City of New York to operate the amusement parks on 6.2 acres of city-owned land.

CAI will reportedly invest $30 million in the endeavor.

Coney Island land-owner Joe Sitt said he and his company – Thor Equities – are “beyond pleased.”

“It is critical that all stakeholders in the area invest in new talent and attractions, and this is a very big step in the right direction,” he said.

Luna Park will remain open daily until Labor Day and weekends through Columbus Day for its inaugural season.

Not to be outdone, the 150-foot tall Wonder Wheel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park on the boardwalk will be outfitted with new amber-hued lighting when the world famous Ferris wheel returns for its 90th anniversary season on March 28.

Sixteen sliding cars on the 400,000-pound ride are now being outfitted with a new array of solar-powered LED lights.

Deno’s grandson DJ Vourderis, 28,is orchestrating the makeover and says the lights will be easily visible from the highway.

“I’ve always had a passion for green technologies and environmentally friendly practices and this is a great opportunity to do what I believe in at my job,” Vourderis said.

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