Monday, November 7, 2011

Coney Island draws biggest crowds since 1964 this summer

Coney Island opened Luna Park in 2010, and followed up this summer by opening Scream Zone with two roller coasters and other thrill rides.

Coney Island opened Luna Park in 2010, and followed up this summer by opening Scream Zone with two roller coasters and other thrill rides.

Crowds at Coney Island surged this summer despite the soggy weather.

More than 640,000 people came to two new amusement parks, city officials said — up from 450,000 last year and the most since Steeplechase Park closed in 1964.

“With another season of record attendance in the books, the city’s efforts to revitalize Coney Island continue to gain momentum,” said Seth Pinsky, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corp., in a statement.

“The steady increase in visitors, drawn by dramatic new amusements, is helping to bring more people back to the ‘People’s Playground’ ” he said.

Italian amusement company Zamperla opened Luna Park last year with 19 family rides. This year, it added Scream Zone, with two new roller coasters and two other thrill rides on the city-owned land. Visitors took more than 2 million rides at the parks this year.

The number of visitors spiked despite the rainiest month ever in New York this August and a total weekend washout for Hurricane Irene.

But the season ended on a sour note for five Boardwalk businesses evicted by the amusement giant, who had to leave for good this weekend.

“We tried fighting, but it’s hard when you’ve got the city pushing the buttons to get you out,” said Anthony Berlingieri, owner of Beer Island and the previously bulldozed Shoot the Freak.

“I took two empty lots in Coney Island and turned them into two of the top things there, and yet I get ousted for no reason,” he said. “You just never would have thought, in New York, that was what it would come down to.”

Two other businesses initially hit with evictions, Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter, have since been offered eight-year leases that are currently under negotiation.

The city also plans to put out a request for proposals Monday to find an operator to bring new amusements to Jones Walk, the site of 11 now-shuttered game booths .

The city bought 6.9 acres of land from developer Joe Sitt for $95.6 million in 2009 after a long standoff and tapped the Italian ride maker to open new parks. 

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Share

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites