Edited by: Fern Sidman
After 18 months of remaining shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday, the iconic Coney Island amusement park was reopened. Visitors and thrill seekers were once again allowed into the amusement attractions since 2019.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and Luna Park, the two most visited sites have come to life once again as has the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster, better known as the Cyclone. Due to the pandemic, the park will institute limited capacity guidelines for visitors which include advanced reservations that can be made online.
According to an NBC News report, the historic Wonder Wheel was built during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, so social distancing is already incorporated on the ride. The swinging cars were made to be about 12 feet apart.
DJ Vourderis, the owner and operator of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park said, “Coney Island has always been a place where people have come to find comfort. To remember what it feels like to smile. We need that now more than ever.”
To that end Deno’s said it’ll give free Wonder Wheel rides Friday to 100 front-line workers including EMT, FDNY, NYPD and Coney Island Hospital staff.
According to the NBC News report, extra layers of protection will be implemented at Coney Island amusement attractions in order that visitors and their families feel safe in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. In accordance with guidelines from the state, some of the safety measures include social distancing markers as well as gates and plexiglass at every point of sale and food stand. These measures were taken by the Vourderis family in order to make their customers comfortable and safe.
“We’re following the guidance best way we can, things change all the time but hand sanitizing is always a good idea, they’re everywhere in the park. Entrances, exits, in between,” Vourderis said, according to the NBC News report.
NBC reported that the park’s attendance capacity will be at 33 percent and amusement seekers can make reservations online if they want a guaranteed entry, but there’s also a standby line, Vourderis said. Masks are required.
Moreover, new policies have been instituted regarding ticketing practices. Instead of receiving paper tickets, visitors to the park will get a plastic card that they can load with money, similar to that of a debit card. All they need to do is tap the card on readers outside the rides, according to the NBC News report.
On Friday morning, NBC News reported that the decades-long tradition of the “Blessing of the Rides” ceremony took place on the boardwalk in front of Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony before taking a ride on the famed Cyclone rollercoaster.
“2020 marked the first time in 100 years that the wheel has not spun. While it was a devastating time for many, we are excited to welcome back guests and celebrate the life and passion of our parents and grandparents’ hard work who dedicated their lives to providing Coney Island with a warm welcoming amusement park on the Boardwalk. We hope to see everyone this season!” the Vourderis family said in a statement.
Due to the mandates that required Coney Island to close for the 2020 season, the park along with its owners and vendors were hit hard financially and thousands were put out of seasonal work that they rely on for sustenance.