Coney Island reopens as NYC’s iconic playground

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When New York gave the go-ahead that outdoor amusement parks could reopen from April 9 onwards, the management of Luna Park in Coney Island (1000 Surf Avenue) jumped at the chance.

Having been shuttered for 2020, the iconic park is back, albeit with a 33 percent capacity limit and COVID-19 measures in place.

Luna Park runs from the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster at one end and the Parachute Jump, which looks like a giant umbrella, at the other. (Sadly, the ride no longer works and has been turned into a giant version of one of those LED dandelions you get online).

However, new for 2021 are several new little kid rides including Circus Candy, Fire Patrol, Rainbowheel, AeroMax, Grand Prix, and Mini Mouse.

For big kid thrills, the Thunderbolt, at 125 feet high, has become a modern classic steel rollercoaster.

Check Luna Park Coney Island’s Instagram for some stunning drone video and long exposure photography.

Since Luna Park was closed for 18 months straight and has debts to pay, instead of a crowdfunder there’s the more traditional ask: Buy a brick with your name on it and have it laid there forever.

Coney Island’s other main park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (3059 Denos D. Vourderis) is a group of small rides built around the icon of the Coney Island skyline on the boardwalk, Deno’s Wonder Wheel.

This Ferris wheel was built in 1920 and stands 150 feet tall and weighs 200 tons. Built during the 1918 flu pandemic, it’s a perfect socially distant ride — each group gets their own open-air gondola. Views stretch to Manhattan and across the Atlantic, as well as Deno’s Amusement Park, which has 21 rides, games, attractions and food.

The newest ride in Coney Island is the Phoenix, opening later in 2021, while a favorite for Instagram is the carousel with its restored hand-painted horses, benches and pipe organ.

“Deno’s is a place for fun and family, we’ve got every kind of ride,” said Ken Hochman, Deno’s marketing director. “At Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island comes alive.”

Deno’s also celebrates its 100th anniversary season in 2021 with free admission to the park.

There are other independent rides nearby, too.

The Amphitheater at Coney Island (3052 W. 21st Street) is a great place for live acts, although this summer’s schedule is uncertain. With 5,000 seats, it’s hosted many bands, including “Saturday Night Fever” tributes.

Speaking of which, built in 1973 when hip guys had wide pants and sideburns, the Eldorado Auto Skooter Bumper Cars & Arcade (1216 Surf Avenue) has an arcade, dodgems and live DJs.

There’s go-karting and mini golf at Brooklyn Go-Kart (3049 Stillwell Avenue) and the New York Aquarium (602 Surf Avenue) for a mellower vibe.

New in 2021 is the Spineless exhibit featuring invertebrates including the giant Pacific octopus, moon jellies and zombie worms.

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