Coney Island

See Coney Island from atop the Wonder Wheel

September 5, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Wonder Wheel beckons when you want to see stellar scenery. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

If riding the iconic Wonder Wheel on Coney Island’s boardwalk is on your bucket list but you’re afraid of heights, do not despair.

There are special cars on the historic amusement-park ride that suit us scaredy-cats to a T.

I use the expression “scaredy-cats” as a matter of self-mockery, since I’ve been saddled with this phobia for all the long decades of my life.

But I also have a long-running obsession with Brooklyn’s designated city landmarks. The Wonder Wheel is one of them.

It was invented by Herman Garms and manufactured by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Amusement Company. It began operating on Memorial Day in 1920.

And I’ve always suspected the scenery would be spectacular if I could just muster the nerve to buy an $8 ticket and hop on board. The Wonder Wheel is 150 feet tall. That’s like standing on the roof of a 15-story building, if that building could be magically inserted into the middle of Coney Island’s rides.  

So about those special cars. They are stationary – they don’t sway back and forth while the famous wheel is in operation, like the rest of its cars do.

The eight stationary cars are painted white. They are easy to spot from the ground. If you watch the Wonder Wheel make its rounds for a few minutes, you will see for yourself that they don’t swing back and forth like pendulums. I found this reassuring. Really.   

There are separate lines to stand in for the stationary and swinging cars. You pick which line you want to join.

I took my first-ever Wonder Wheel ride on Labor Day.

My family didn’t believe I actually did it until I showed them these photos I took.

The Cyclone and the Parachute Jump, which are also designated city landmarks, looked every bit as wonderful as I expected they would.

Past the former Shore Theater – which also is a landmark – I could see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge off in the distance. When I looked in another direction, I glimpsed the World Trade Center.

Coney Island beachgoers looked as tiny as ants.

So what if I was weak-kneed by the time the slow, gentle ride was over? It was a thoroughly worthwhile experience. And eventually my hands stopped shaking so I could type this story.