Historic Coney Island catapulted in 21st Century with new coasters

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Published June 22, 2012

| FoxNews.com

There is a special level of hell reserved for the individual or individuals behind Boardwalk Flight, an amusement park ride on Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

On Boardwalk Flight, up to three riders are tethered together in giant body bags, hoisted on a rope 110 feet into the air, and then dropped. Momentum then swings the riders out over the cheering throngs on the boardwalk below, during which time one thinks (A) I’m going to smash into the concrete and die, (B) I’m going to smash into that big fence coming right at my face and die, and (C) I am going to fly out into the Atlantic Ocean out there in front of me and be either cast on the jagged jetty rocks and die, or drown.

Now that’s a ride.

Here's the writer and two of his children on Boardwalk Flight.



Boardwalk Flight and a handful of “high thrill” rides are part of Coney Island’s new Scream Zone. Next door is Luna Park, with even more great new rides suitable for those seeking thrills of all levels. Scream Zone and Luna Park are two totally new amusement parks aiming to transform Coney Island, once the biggest amusement park in the U.S. in the early 20th Century, into an early 21st Century family destination.

“Luna Park is different than other amusement parks because of its great historical value, as it is the birthplace of American amusement parks,” Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusement International, which runs the park, told FOXNews.com.

Indeed, sandwiched among the new rides remain the venerable Cyclone roller coaster, the oldest wooden roller coaster still in operation in the United States, and the Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel, which offers spectacular views of Brooklyn. Both remind visitors of times gone by, where women in petticoats and men in bowlers strolled the boardwalk.

Those days are loooong gone, let me tell you.

It’s the new rides, along with a fresh coat of paint on the venerable Coney Island institution Nathan’s Hot Dogs, that the Brooklyn beach community is banking on to change their reputation from a down-on-its-luck ramshackle vestige of old New York to a fun, new place for families, tourists, and even hipsters (we saw a bunch) to come and enjoy again and again.

“With the recent transformations to the park over the past couple of years, we feel that the perception of the park is changing for the better,” Ferrari said. “Both Luna Park and the Scream Zone offer fun new rides and attractions and the boardwalk now offers great food and retail options. The Coney Island renaissance is well underway.”

For a seven, nine, and 11-year-old, along with their 40-something parents, Luna Park and Scream Zone had something for everyone. The seven-year-old had her own small roller coaster, the Circus Coaster, and a medium-thrill flume ride, Wild River, to proudly say she conquered, along with several more, even gentler rides that kept her happy and excited.

The adventurous nine- and 11-year-olds and their parents were able to enjoy all of the rides in Luna Park, and a few in Scream Zone as well, including the aforementioned Boardwalk Flight, as well as the Soarin’ Eagle, a roller coaster that positions you on your stomach before taking you through high-speed barrel-rolls. 

Nobody in our group, however, was able to muster the courage to try the Slingshot, which shoots you, in a round metal cage, over a 100 feet into the air, before letting you plummet back to Earth only to be bounced back up into the air in the nick of time.

The park is also right on a boardwalk and a public beach that extend as far as the eye can see. So when you’re done scaring the crap out of yourself, you can grab a towel, hit the sand, gaze out across the Atlantic and wonder, “What in the hell was I thinking?”

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