Coney Island New York: New Luna Park Wonder Wheel & Other Theme Parks

Yes, even with all of this freakishly amazing weather we've been having, it is still too early in the season to embark upon a big, classic beach day. Which is why it's the PERFECT time to head on out from your downtown Manhattan apartment to Coney Island New York, before the post-Memorial Day mobs clog up the boardwalk and the lines at all of those crazy new high-tech rides (not to mention the crazy old low-tech ones) get ridiculously long. Every weekend between now and the end of May, everything at old-favorite Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the still-spanking-new Luna Park and its offshoot The Scream Zone are up and running and, judging by the relatively sparse crowds we saw even under the gloriously sunny skies last Sunday, the summertime hordes have yet to descend. 

Coney Island Added New Roller Coaster Attractions to our Old Theme Park Favorites

If you haven't been to Coney Island in a while, expect many, many changes. The Scream Zone, for instance, which opened last summer and features four pretty insane rides, including the newfangled Soarin' Eagle roller coaster (it's one of those in which you hang suspended, rather than sitting in a seat, as if you're flying) and the crowd-pleasing Sling Shot, which shoots you some 15-stories high in the air at around 90 miles an hour. Everything here is way too scary for us (they're not cheap, either, the Scream Zone rides), but judging by the faces of the just-thrilled, these rides deliver. For more variety, gentler prices, and plenty of kiddie rides, Luna Park proper, now in its third season, is the way to go. The Wild River flume and the Tickler look like they'd be fun without making us nauseous, though the spinny Electro Slide and Air Race seem to be the most popular rides here.   

For a more classic Coney Island amusement parks experience, there's the somewhat down-at-the-heels Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, though the view from the top of its namesake Ferris wheel remains unequaled by the newcomers. If you really want to experience Coney Island's seedy charms, check out the independent rides and games of "skill" along what is sort of back-alley midway adjacent to Surf Avenue. And, of course, there's the (seemingly) rickety old Coney Island Cyclone, an official New York City landmark, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, a true Coney Island icon that continues to deliver the giddy, screamy terror as one of the world's best roller coasters. One suggestion: DON'T eat hot dogs at Nathan's Famous. The wait is waaaaaaaay too long, the food is terrible, the experience totally not worth it even in a retro sort of way. 

See the New Luna Park Coney Island & the other Coney Island Amusement Parks

Coney Island's Deno's Wonder Wheel, Luna Park and Scream Zone are open on weekends from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. fron now until Memorial Day weekend, and daily and for longer hours after that. You can get to the main Coney Island boardwalk and amusement park area by taking the F, D, N or Q trains to, basically, the end of the line. For more information, see the Luna Park and Deno's Wonder Wheel websites. 

 

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