Archive for the tag 'denos wonder wheel'


The rocket returns! Last night, the rocket was trucked into Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. (Photo by Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project)

For the first time in five years, the most prominent symbol of Coney Island’s Astroland – the amusement park’s iconic rocket ship – has returned to the People’s Playground for display.

The Coney Island History Project announced this morning that the Astroland Rocket Ship was trucked back into the amusement district overnight after the group assumed control of the relic several days ago.

The rocket is the only surviving space “simulators” that once proliferated in Coney Island between the early 20th Century and the space age, the Coney Island History Project said. The organization won their bid to repurpose the “Star Flyer” – as it was originally known – as the centerpiece of a new exhibit about Coney Island’s space obsession throughout history.

The Star Flyer debuted in 1962 as a three-minute, 26-seat ride that rocked and shook thrill-seekers as they watched films of rocket rides. It was taken offline years later, and was later placed on the roof of boardwalk restaurant Gregory and Paul’s where, along with the Cyclone, Parachute Jump and Wonder Wheel, it became a staple of the playground’s skyline.


(Photo by Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project)

“Outer space simulators have played a prominent role in Coney’s amusement history,” said Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project and author of Coney Island: Lost and Found. “It began when Thompson and Dundy brought ‘A Trip to the Moon’ to Steeplechase Park in 1902 and culminated in 1962, at the height of the space race, with Astroland’s Moon Rocket. The ride provided visitors with an exciting taste of intergalactic travel. The Astroland Rocket has now returned to a place of honor beside the landmark Wonder Wheel, where it will be restored as an exhibit showcasing Coney Island’s fascination with space travel.”

When Astroland closed in 2008 to make way for Luna Park, Carol and Jerry Albert, the former park’s owners, donated the rocket to the city with the promise of making the centerpiece of the new amusement district.

The city put out a request for proposals to reactivate the icon, and the History Project answered and won the bid. The rocket will be in the group’s exhibit center in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and the cost of its move was covered by Carol Albert.

Wonder Wheel owners Steve and Dennis Vourderis plan to make it the centerpiece of their park’s annual celebration on August 9, and they’ll also oversee its restoration after it was seriously damaged during Superstorm Sandy. The rocket has spent most of the past five years in storage.


(Photo by Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project)

Source: Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons

The iconic parks of Southern Brooklyn damaged by Superstorm Sandy will remain closed for months while the city focuses its resources on higher priority disaster needs according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Parts of the famed Coney Island Boardwalk, nearby Coney playgrounds, the Red Hook Recreation Center, and all of Manhattan Beach park will remain closed indefinitely until clean up crews and repairmen get to them. The clean up and repairs themselves are expected to take months, and there is a possibility that they will be closed through the early part of the coming summer.

While everyone wants to enjoy the use of the public parks and spaces come summer, delays into their restoration is understandable given the priority of addressing the livelihoods of those lost homes, power, and vital services due to Sandy’s relentless destruction. Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey echoed this sentiment to the Daily News, stating that, “There are many issues at the moment that are larger than open space. You’ve got residents without heat or homes and major disruption of services.”

Still, business owners in and around the parks are worried that the delayed restoration will keep the large crowds away, forcing them to cut back on hours and jobs.

“It’s like a trifecta,” Stephanie Rodriguez, a ticker-taker for the Wonder Wheel, told the Daily News. “If we have a dirty beach and boardwalk the beachgoers will go somewhere else. The attraction owners will lose money — then they’ll cut the employees’ hours and we’ll be broke.”

As for Manhattan Beach Park, the Parks Department is hopeful that it will be fully open come summer, but that possibility is still subject to further storm damage assessment.

While the parks are low on the priority list, Jeffrey’s agency has tapped into federal emergency funds to recruit over 300 temporary clean up crew workers who are addressing the damage at Coney, Manhattan Beach, and Red Hook.

Photo by Erica Sherman

The Alliance for Coney Island is a new partnership between the city and the several well-known establishments in Coney Island’s business community. Today marks the official launch of their organization.

Originally, the organization was going to focus on tourism, marketing and other means of maintaining Coney Island’s popularity. Now, after Sandy, they’ve decided to switch gears and focus on recovery efforts in the badly damaged area.

The badly-damaged Shore Hotel sign. Photo by Erica Sherman. Click to enlarge

“Hurricane Sandy has left Coney Island looking like a Cyclone hit it – devastating its seaside amusement district, officials say, with tens of millions of dollars in damage alone,” wrote the New York Post.

“We have a lot of work on our hands,” said Dennis Vourderis, the Alliance chairman and owner of Deno’s Wonderwheel Park.

Formerly, the Coney Island Development Corporation was managing the area. Now, the Alliance will inherit $630,000, which was due to go to the CIDC in the next two years. Business owners in the area will also contribute money to help the organization grow.

A new website has been established for the Alliance at in order to help direct volunteers, collect donations and help the neighborhood in any other relief efforts.

While the business owners are busy helping others, they know that they will also have to contend with repairing their own damaged Coney Island locations.

According to the Post:

All of Coney Island’s seaside rides need to have their electrical and motor systems overhauled. Deno’s suffered roughly $3 million in damages, while Zamperla USA, which oversees Luna Park and the Scream Zone, faces about $8 million or so in repairs.

MCU Park – home of the Brooklyn Cyclones – was also badly damaged. Its field was covered in water during the storm, and the locker rooms and souvenir shop were badly damaged.

The New York Aquarium also suffered extensive damage. It is trying to partly reopen by Memorial Day.

Neighborhood staples like Nathan’s Famous and Gargiulo’s Restaurant were also among the area businesses hardest hit. Nino Russo, an Alliance board member and Gargiulo’s owner, said his business suffered more than $1 million damages and is “working hard to re-open” by Christmas.

It’s heartwarming to read about neighborhood institutions like the Aquarium and Gargiulo’s taking such care to help the local residents while they have their own repairs to deal with. This is community involvement at its best and we hope that business owners meet their goals of reopening soon and locals benefit from their efforts.

Source: Thirsty Girl Productions

It’s time to get your history on and tap into your databank of Coney Island trivia during the Second Annual History Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and The Coney Island History Project, tomorrow, August 11 (rain date: August 12), from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Everything old will be new again—especially if you dress in classic Roaring Twenties garb, which will entitle you to one free ride on the Wonder Wheel, so break out those spats, cloche hats and flapper dresses and get ready to do the Charleston.

Live Entertainment

Shake your booty with NYC’s legendary Hungry March Band, satisfy your soul with Ragtime and Dixieland from The Banjo Rascals and let loose with Benjamin Ickies & The Coney Island Screamers, who attack Golden Age Circus Music with a Rock ‘n Roll attitude. The always-amazing Lady Circus will also be on tap.

Performances and events will be held at The Wonder Wheel, at The Coney Island History Project, 3059 West 12th Street off the Boardwalk, and throughout Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.

Plus: Ride The Wonder Wheel and receive a nostalgic Coney Island commemorative gift and have a chance to take your photo with old timey cutouts for free.

Live History

Test your Coney Island smarts at the Coney Island Trivia Contest with historian and author Charles Denson. Prizes include ride passes for Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and souvenir postcards. You are invited to come and record your memories for the History Projects oral History Archive if you have a Coney Island story to share.

The public can also participate in Deno’s Draw-a-thon. Adults and kids are invited to draw a picture of the landmark Wonder Wheel, which will then become part of an online photo exhibit. Crayons and paper will be provided.

Additionally, a new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island’s bathhouses and the art of bathhouse key tags will open on History Day at the Coney Island History Project. There were once more than 50 bathhouses of all kinds lining the beach at Coney Island.

A century ago bathhouses provided the only access to the beach and, for many, a home away from home. Now hardly anyone knows what a bathhouse is. The shorefront facilities were a popular cultural phenomenon, providing entertainment, lockers, changing rooms, showers, swim suit rentals, steam baths, massive salt water pools, athletic equipment, game courts, restaurants, and fenced wooden decks for nude sunbathing.

This exhibit provides a history told in photographs, admission tickets, oral history, and the folk art of bathhouse key tags.

Celebrate Coney Island’s history and have a chance to make some of your own. This daylong event is not to be missed.

For more, go to and


Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park by the Coney Island boardwalk is set to hold their second annual Pet Day and Costume Contest on Saturday, June 16.

From noon through 7 p.m., all pets will receive a free ride on the park’s Wonder Wheel when escorted by their owner. At 2 p.m., the Coney Island Pet Costume Contest, hosted by the world renowned “BOB,” will take place on the boardwalk. All pets are invited to participate and others may join to watch and enjoy.

Judges of the contest will include Bambi, the Mermaid of Coney Island, Miss Cyclone, Angie Pontani, and Bunny Love, all of whom are proud owners of pets. Pets dressed in the most excellent costumes will certainly be rewarded, as will their owners! First prize includes a season pass for Deno’s Wonder Wheel, and a $150 gift certificate to Petco. The second prize winner will be given day passes to Deno’s Park and a $75 gift certificate to Petco. Finally, the third prize winner will acquire day passes to Deno’s Park and a $25 gift certificate to Petco.

The contest will be followed by a pet march through Wonder Wheel Park.

If you are the happy owner of a pet hurry up and register, for the costume contest is limited to 25 entries, and registration operates on a first-come-first-serve basis. To pre-register or download an application, go to Forms can be faxed to (347)- 789-6564, or emailed to Registration will also be opened from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the boardwalk, across from Deno’s Park, near the stage.

All those who register must pay an entrance fee of two cans of cat or dog food. This food will be donated to “The Sean Casey Animal Rescue,” an organization that helps unfortunate animals, and specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of reptiles and domestic animals. The organization will place an animal adoption vehicle on 12th Street for the day.

The precise location of the event is at West 12th Street and the Coney Island Boardwalk, in front of the entrance to Deno’s Park. In the case of rain, the event will take place on Sunday, June 17.

Zoltar in Coney Island (Source: Deno's Wonder Wheel Park)

As a diminutive Brooklynite whose posterior is a little too close to the ground for my liking, I could not have been more ecstatic to learn that a Zoltar Speaks fortune telling machine — the exact same kind that made Tom Hanks become “Big” in the 1988 motion picture of the same name — has arrived in Coney Island.

Zoltar is nestled comfortably beneath the Wonder Wheel next to Grandma’s Predictions (we are told “[t]hey are already close friends!”) in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and that is great for me, because I cannot wait to tell Zoltar that I have always wanted to have legs like a supermodel.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is open daily noon – 6 p.m., weather permitting, through April 26 for spring break and then reverts to weekend schedule.

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Owners of the renowned Deno’s Wonder Wheel are throwing a party for the fear-inducing machine’s 90th birthday. The party’s tonight, and you’re invited.

There will be live entertainment on the boardwalk and at The Wonder Wheel from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., hosted By The World Famous BOB. Among the bands playing are The Hungry March Band and The Banjo Rascals & Curtis Eller. Coney Island Talent Show winners will also be performing, alongside acts like The Wau Wau Sisters, Miss Saturn, The Maine Attraction, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Ambrose, The Animal Crackers & Lady Circus

Plus clowns, face painters, stilt walkers and more for the kiddos. All those who ride the landmarked Deno’s Wonder Wheel will receive a free Wonder Wheel 90th Anniversary collectible button!

An instantly recognizable part of the skyline, Deno’s WONDER WHEEL weighs in at 400,000 pounds and carries 144 people at a time on either swinging and stationery passenger gondola cars deliver a spectacular view of the beach, boardwalk and NYC skyline. Over 30 million riders have enjoyed a trip on this NYC Landmark attraction during its continuous operation since 1920 with a perfect safety record.

When: TODAY, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Boardwalk at West 12th Street