Wonder Wheel operators shoot down Coney Island observation disk plan

Sun to help operate Coney Island ride
Photo by Steve Solomonson

There isn’t enough room in Coney Island for two big wheels, the owners of the landmarked Deno’s Wonder Wheel said this week as they lashed out against some thrill seekers’ plans to bring a new 600-foot observation disk to the People’s Playground.

Both Borough President Markowitz and Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island say the observation wheel currently planned for Staten Island would be a fine addition to the amusement area, but operators of the 150-feet Wonder Wheel say the 92-year-old ride featured in the movie “The Warriors,” is and always should be a Coney Island original.

“Modern amusement parks may have several roller coasters, but there’s room for one wheel,” a ride spokeswoman said. “Why would anyone want to build another?”

Staten Island’s proposed wheel would rival the London Eye and become the tallest observation ride in the world if the city decides to cash in on the Rock’s view of the Manhattan skyline and go ahead with its construction.

But Coney Island boosters argued that the move that would steal the People’s Playground’s spotlight and pit the outer boroughs in a wheel war.

“The city needs to stay focused on rebuilding Coney into a first-class major tourist destination,” said Zigun. “It shouldn’t encourage competition with Coney within the five boroughs.”

But if such a competition took place, Brooklyn would cream Staten Island, crowed the borough’s biggest booster.

“The city should consider what location will provide the biggest bang for the buck, and the strongest economic return, and no doubt that place is Coney Island,” Borough President Markowitz said.

Zigun added that if the observation wheel was put in Coney Island, it would stand a respectful distance away from the Wonder Wheel to avoid a revolving rivalry that would challenge the historic rides uninterrupted reign.

Yet there may not be any competition at all: Observation wheels are quite different than traditional Ferris wheels.

Instead of sitting in swaying, open-air carriages, observation wheel riders sit in fixed, bus-sized capsules that can carry more than 20 people, according to manufacturer.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman