Wonder of wonders, Coney wheel spins again

Sun to help operate Coney Island ride
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The Wonder Wheel will spin again — in fact, it’s already spinning.

The world-famous Ferris wheel, which has been delighting — and terrifying — beach-goers with its stationary and swinging cars for more than 93 years, had a scare of its own last week when its computer and motor were damage after Sandy’s tidal surge. But the 200-ton wheel passed its first test this week when owners got it re-electrified and turning, proving that a freak storm is no match for Coney Island moxie.

“If I had to get the Wonder Wheel going in two weeks, I would do it,” said Steve Vourderis, an owner of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, which operates the ride. “It’s fully operational.”

A city inspector on site after the storm said he did not expect to find any structural damage to the ride, as Sandy’s high winds passed through without the “sail effect” caused by the passenger cars, which had been stowed away.

But those cars weren’t as lucky.

Vourderis and park manager Reggie Pryor found them submerged in three-and-a-half feet of sea water, which necessitated a quick cleaning before corrosion set in.

All told, the park, which also features a slew of kiddie rides, suffered $3-million in damages, according to Vourderis, who said he lost rides, games, and tools and equipment used to keep the rides running.

But Vourderis said he is confident the park will be ready to open come the spring, despite the damage.

Cleaned out: Wonder Wheel owner Steve Vourderis cleans salt water from one of the landmark ride’s cars. The Wonder Wheel will be back, but Zoltar (left) may have made his last prediction.
Photo by Cynthia Magnus.