Luna Park in Coney Island
It took a couple of weeks of round the-clock scrambling by construction crews, but as promised by everyone from the Mayor of down, the famously-named Luna Park in Coney Island did in fact open its gates to the public the past Memorial Day weekend. True, several of the "big" rides hadn't yet been officially cleared–and so ran, teasingly, without passengers–when we were there on Saturday, but that didn't seem to bother the huge crowds that showed up, everyone clearly excited about the prospect of the return of a first-class Coney Island amusement park.
First, a little history of Coney Island Amusement Park: in it's heyday, for about two decades in the early part of the 20th century, Luna Park and its next-door rival Steeplechase Park were legendary among thrill-seekers, luring millions of visitors a year from all around the world. Perhaps the most famous incident at the original Luna Park in Coney Island was the electrocution of the prone-to-rampaging elephant Topsy, ostensibly to show off the power of Thomas Edison's newfangled alternating current. Anyway, a series of devastating fires led to the Park's closure in 1944. Closure, that is, until now….
History seekers should note, however: the only thing retro about the spanking-new Luna Park in Coney Island is its throwback logo and entranceway adornments, both modeled after the original. Everything else here is super high-tech, the 19 rides designed and engineered by the renowned Zamperla group. We're no amusement park experts, but they all seemed to be excellent at hurling you around at insane speeds and impossible trajectories.
For example, Air Race, making its world debut right here at Luna Park in Brooklyn, in which riders (flyers?) can dive into barrel rolls while buzzing the crowd below. And The Tickler, a roller coaster of sorts whose rounded cars make sudden, on-a-dime turns and blind, stomach-jumping drops. And The Eclipse, which dangles you as it swings (and spins) on a pendulum some 50 feet in the air. And the Electro Spin, which plunges and soars in a 50-foot half-pipe, doing spins and tricks at each peak. There are plenty of kiddie and "family" rides as well at the Coney Island Amusement Park, the most innovative of which has to be Surf's Up, which glides and twists up and down on a wave-like track, all riders standing. This provoked many shrieks and giggles while we were watching.
Luna Park in Coney Island Details
Coney Island's Luna Park will be open all summer long from noon to midnight on weekdays, and from 11:00 a.m. until midnight on Saturday and Sunday. There are several pricing options, either pay-per-ride (from $3 to $5 each) or 4-hour or 6-hour unlimited-ride wristbands (from $26 to $34, depending). The entrance to Luna Park in Coney Island is on Surf Avenue, the street that runs parallel to Coney Island's boardwalk and the beach. For more information, please see the Luna Park website.