The People’s Playground is back!
The borough’s famous amusement district is the rolling out cotton candy machines and revving up the rides for the summer crowds — expected to be the biggest ever.
“This year is poised to be Coney Island’s best season in modern history,” said Johanna Zaki, director of operations for the Alliance for Coney Island business group.
Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer fun season in Coney Island, but its two biggest funzones — Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park — already opened on April 13, with a ceremony featuring Borough President Adams christening Coney’s mighty Cyclone coaster with an egg cream.
Luna Park’s brand new Thunderbolt roller coaster — featuring an 11-story vertical drop and a 360-degree loop — is slated to open Memorial Day or soon afterwards, becoming the first ride to send Coney-goers upside-down since the Loop-the-Loop, which closed shortly after World War I. The new ride is named after a famous wooden coaster that stood nearby until the city razed it in 2000.
Blocks away, another Coney classic has returned. Pete’s Clam Stop at the corner of W. 15th Street and Surf Avenue, shuttered since superstorm Sandy in 2012, made its long-awaited reappearance. The owners — who had to replace the floors, ceilings, and equipment — are looking forward to the summer crowds, which now include international tourists.
“Before, years ago when I was a kid, it was just people from the New York area. Now you’ve got a variety of people from all over,” said owner Pete Agripides.
Across the street, Rita’s Italian Ices opened its doors for the first time in its new location, after moving to the amusement area from Marine Park this year.
More eateries are on the way, too. Frozen yogurt hotspot Red Mango and 50s retro eatery Johnny Rockets are expected to open on Surf Avenue in time for the Fourth of July weekend.