March 19, 2010
BY Erin Durkin DAILY NEWS WRITER Wednesday, March 17th 2010, 4:00 AM
The circus is back in town.
After months of wrangling, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has struck a deal to return to Coney Island this summer.
“We’re very excited to have the circus back. It’s a great draw,” said Councilman Dominic Recchia (D-Coney Island), who said the show would run from June through Labor Day.
Ringling Brothers will pitch tents on the same W. 21st St. lot where it made a Coney debut last summer.
The show drew thousands to the faded seaside mecca, but its return was cast into doubt as the circus and landlord Taconic Investment Partners squabbled over money – and what to do with the school buses parked on the lot under a separate lease with Taconic.
Ringling Brothers officials, who had expected to have return plans finalized by last fall, threatened to take their show on the road if there was no deal by this month.
Under the new agreement, the buses will be moved to a city-owned lot on W. 29th St.
Circus officials declined to comment before papers were signed to make the deal official, but they previously promised that if they were able to come to Coney, they’d put on a brand new show called “Illuscination.”
“It’s a really fun show,” Steve Yaros, vice president of Ringling Brothers’ parent company, Feld Entertainment, said last month. “We have an illusionist, who’s our ringmaster, who … makes people and animals and things disappear and reappear.”
“We also have an amazing lion act, which we haven’t had in a few years,” he said, adding there were also “some pretty amazing Chinese acrobats.”
Recchia said a highlight would be a chance for city kids to check out circus animals up close before the show. “It gives them something that they read about and see in movies,” he said.
The circus will join a new Luna Park, with 19 rides made by Italian amusement giant Zamperla, at the other end of the Boardwalk. Officials hope to make “The Greatest Show on Earth” an annual Coney attraction.
As the new developer for Coney Island gets ready to take control of the property from the city on Monday, NY1 received on Friday an exclusive interview and a tour of the site of the new amusement park. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
In less than 90 days, a brand new amusement park will rise from the rubble of Coney Island. It will be called “Luna Park,” and the entrance will be reminiscent of the famed Luna Park of old.
In his very first interview with the New York media, President Valerio Ferrari of Central Amusement International gave NY1 an exclusive tour of the site and detailed his vision for the new incarnation of Coney Island. His company recently won the city’s bid to develop this former Astroland site.
Among the 19 planned rides is the “Air Racer,” which will make its world debut and simulate the force of a spinning jet fighter.
“So you will experience almost full G when you sit on this ride. It will be really cutting-edge,” said Ferrari.
Ferrari said his company had a special edge over the competition to land the 10-year lease.
“We have a very close connection to probably the largest amusement manufacturer in the world, which is [Italian manufacturer] Zamperla. With their help, we’ll be able to bring rides here for the first time,” said Ferrari.
On the way are two roller coasters, including the Speedy Discovery Coaster, and other thrill rides like the Mega Disk-O, and the Midi Discovery.
On Monday, Central Amusement will officially take over this property from the city. The developer plans to dig out the asphalt, put down wiring and start building a new foundation.
The rides will arrive from Italy around mid-April and Ferrari vowed they will be up and running by May 29, when Coney Island officially opens for the summer on the Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re going to make it happen. It will happen,” said Ferrari.
As for the Astro Tower that has been on the site since the early 1960s, Ferrari said it will stay as decoration and a piece of nostalgia, but it is not operational.
Ferrari’s ambitious plans don’t stop with the amusement park. He says next year he will take over some of the concession stands on the famed boardwalk and also develop lots along both sides of Stillwell Avenue for amusements. Ferrari said he plans to run the two parcels of land as one park called “Scream Zone.”
Note: for a video of the interview to to http://www.ny1.com