May 30, 2010

Luna Park opens at Coney Island: pictures and video

All pictures and video: Amy Langfield/NewYorkology

After the drawn-out demise of AstroLand, a glossier Luna Park on Saturday opened at Coney Island, designed with history in mind and promises of an expansion that could fundamentally change the end-of-the-line Brooklyn neighborhood.

Gates opened just after noon Saturday, allowing one hour of free rein on the 12 rides that were approved for operation on Opening Day. In all, there will be 19 rides open this summer, ranging from putt-putt trains to a fight-pilot simulator packing 4 Gs.

When the park opens today, officials hope to have 17 rides open. Two more — the Air Race and Wild River — should be open within two weeks. Next year, the Scream Zone phase, will add two more roller coasters, a human sling shot and possibly go-carts. A third phase is planned for the following summer.

Luna Park, named for the legendary park that burned down in 1944, is now packed with rides made by the Italian firm Zamperla.

For a quick study of the old Luna Park, pop into the
Coney Island History Project, located on Surf Avenue. (It’s literally in a storefront under The Cyclone, so it shakes a bit each time the cars of the rolller coaster pass overhead.) The free mini-museum is kid-friendly, though will also explain how the phrase “going to see the elephant” became a euphemism for sex.

For opening weekend, the park will be open from noon to midnight through Memorial Day. The park will close from Tuesday through Thursday, and then re-open on Friday, June 4 and remain open every day through Labor Day. On weekdays, Luna park will be open from noon to midnight; on weekends it will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight.

It’s free to enter the park itself, but you need individual tickets or a timed, unlimited-ride pass to get on the rides. Luna Park of course isn’t the only amusement park at Coney. It’s situated between the boardwalk and Surf Avenue, with The Cyclone roller coaster on one side and Deno’s Wonder Wheel park on the south. A number of other carnival-style games and arcades fill several other blocks, along with the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and the Shoot the Freak human paintball shooting gallery.

Individual rides at Luna Park cost $3 to $5. The unlimited-ride wristbands cost $26 for four hours or $30 for six hours on weekdays. On weekends, the prices rise to $30 for four hours or $34 for six hours. By comparison, The Cyclone costs $8 for single ride.

On Saturday, the line on the boardwalk started well ahead of the scheduled 11 a.m. opening time. At the front of the line were Noreen Mittlemann and her daughter Tracy, who live in one of the residential towers with a view of the amusement area. “We love Luna Park,” the very opinionated Noreen declared even before the gates opened. “Everytime I come here, it brings back a lot of memories,” Tracy said.

19-year-old Tom Watson of Midwood was on the first run of the Surf’s Up ride. “I thought it was great. I thought it was a little scary at first,” he said, breathless, as he’d just run to join the line for the “Beach Shack” as it was loading up only its second batch of riders for the season.







The first run of the first rides on opening Day at Luna Park:

More videos:
Grand opening of Luna Park as gates open to public at Surf Avenue entrance
Tea Party teacup ride
Balloon Expedition ride next to boardwalk
Surf’s Up ride during one of its first public runs
Shuttered Astroland Jan 1, 2009




Photo courtesy of Coney Island Resident, Bruce Handy, aka Pablo Jonsey.

Bruce provided the following comment about the new Park.

“It’s a joy to watch the birth of Luna Park and the rebirth of Coney Island. The first Luna Park in Coney Island was one of the first amusement parks ever built and the Zamperla team is proud and aware that they are building on historic ground. All roads lead to Rome and all amusement parks lead away from Coney Island. It is an honor to be able to photograph the birth of an amusement park, a once in a lifetime event. I am a very lucky person!”

For images documenting the construction of Luna Park in chronological order, go to and keep following Bruce’s photographs.

The following is an article from CNN’s IReport on the New Luna Park (5.18.10)

A new Luna Park, with an entrance reminiscent of the 1903 original is scheduled to open in Coney Island on May 29, 2010.

Several of the 19 new rides have arrived and are being set up by construction crews in a rush to meet the deadline. Workers are also busy on the infrastructure of the park, including electrical wiring  and a drainage system to keep the area dry in rough weather.

The new rides, manufactured by an Italian company, will include a spinning rollercoaster, the “Tickler”, a giant swinging pendulum, a water plunge, a hot air balloon ride and a kiddie rollercoaster.

With names like “Lunar Express”, “Electro-Spin”, “Eclipse” and “Air Race” the rides combine classic theme-park thrills with brand new technology.

Admission to the park will be free and visitors will be able to either pay as they go, ride-by-ride, or purchase a ride package with a wristband giving them unlimited use of the attractions within a set number of hours.

Wristbands will cost  $26 on weekdays and $30 during weekends.

Luna Park is scheduled to open on Memorial Day weekend, ,marking the first phase of New York City’s re-development of Coney Island.