Coney Island Rides Open On Friday, New Roller Coaster and Baseball Starting Soon

Coney Island Rides Open On Friday, New Roller Coaster and Baseball Starting Soon
Coney Island during NYC’s phase 2 reopening last July. (Image: Erica Price)

The famed amusement district is poised to re-open this week.

This Friday, April 9, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and Luna Park will open to the public, albeit at a limited capacity and with new COVID guidelines, including requiring advanced reservations made on their websites.

The iconic amusement district—and the economy of the neighborhood that hosts it—relies heavily on visitors from around the city and world. Luna Park alone employs about 1,200 people in a normal season, but 2020 marked the first time in modern memory that the amusement district was closed for an entire year.

Local business operators had begged Governor Andrew Cuomo for months to allow them to reopen in some form.

“It has been a rough 18 months for our community,” Alexandra Silversmith, Executive Director of the Alliance for Coney Island, said in a statement announcing the release. But she said the re-opening would bring back “hundreds of jobs and much needed economic activity to our vibrant and diverse community.”

The new season will kick off with a press-only version of the traditional “Blessing of the Rides” ceremony, which will take place on the boardwalk at 10:00am. Deno’s will then provide free rides on the Wonder Wheel (which is celebrating a belated 100th anniversary) for 100 front-line workers, including staff from the nearby Health + Hospitals: Coney Island.

At 11:00am, the grounds of the Cyclone roller coaster will play host to the Annual Egg Cream Christening, which will be presided over by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Alessandro Zamperla, CEO of Central Amusement International, which operates Luna Park. Afterwords, Central Amusement will distribute 500 Luna Park wristbands to frontline workers from the surrounding community.

Other local attractions, like El Dorado Bumper Cars and Brooklyn Go-Kart and Mini Golf, will also re-open on Friday at noon.

The amusement attractions will be open on weekends through Memorial Day. Starting Memorial Day weekend, they’ll run on a full, seven-days-a-week schedule.

The New York Aquarium, meanwhile, which re-opened in July after a four-month closure, continues to feature its “Spineless!” exhibit showcasing a Pacific octopus, moon jellies, cuttlefish, Japanese spider crabs and lion’s mane jellyfish.

Creatures at the New York Aquarium’s “Spineless!” exhibit. (Image: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS)

The neighborhood has other milestones to look forward to. The Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team will have their home opener on May 18th, their first game in over 600 days and their first as members of the newly-established High-A East League. The Cyclones, who are affiliated with the Mets, will be playing the Yankees-affiliated Hudson Valley Renegades.

Later in the summer, Deno’s will also debut a new steel suspended roller coaster called the “Phoenix” which will reach 34mph at heights of up to 68 feet.

A rendering of the “Phoenix,” a new steel roller coaster that will open later this summer at Deno’s. (Image: Deno’s)

Beyond its immediate economic impact, the reopening also represents a symbolic step toward normality for the millions of New Yorkers for whom the area signifies warmth and carefree summer fun.

“As a native son of Brooklyn who grew up a short B36 bus ride away in Sheepshead Bay,” New York Senator Charles Schumer said in a statement, “I’m proud to see this quintessentially New York attraction open this year and I will continue to support the community’s recovery and revitalization for years to come.”