Get ready for some old-fashioned summer fun…Memorial Day Weekend marks the official opening of the season at Coney Island. Though it’s looked a little shabby in recent years compared to its early-20th century heyday, the Brooklyn neighborhood is still home to classic New York City landmarks and events such as the original Nathan’s Famous (and of course the annual hot dog-eating contest), the Mermaid Parade, the Coney Island Museum, the Wonder Wheel and the historic Cyclone roller coaster.
And starting May 29th, Coney Island will have a shiny new attraction to lure in crowds: Luna Park, a 19-ride amusement park built and operated by Central Amusement International on the grounds of the old Astroland (which closed in 2008). The company signed a 10-year lease with the city last February and expected to spend some $30 million on the park, including rides manufactured by Zamperla, a family-owned business in Italy that has been building rides for Disney and Six Flags, among others, since the early 1960s.
Construction went on around the clock over the past few months in an effort to make the Memorial Day deadline (see some cool pictures of it here). There’ll be no rickety wooden Cyclones here—top rides include the Tickler roller coaster, Mega Disko, Vertical Swing and cutting-edge Air Race, which simulates fighter jets in the midst of a Top-Gun style pursuit. As MSNBC reported, there is no entrance charge at Luna Park; visitors will buy $1 credits and each ride will cost 3-5 credits or purchase a wristband ($26-34) for unlimited rides over four hours.
The new park’s name is a nice nod to history: Luna Park was also the name of the original amusement park that operated in Coney Island from 1903 until World War II. The park was destroyed by fire in 1944 and never reopened.