Coney Island

Coney Island’s Cyclone coaster has its opening postponed by coronavirus pandemic

The Wonder Wheel’s not opening either.

March 20, 2020 Lore Croghan
The Cyclone’s opening has been postponed because of the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

The April 4 opening of Coney Island’s famous Cyclone roller coaster has been postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Central Amusement International announced Thursday night that the opening of its entire Luna Park complex, where the landmarked roller coaster is located, will be pushed back to an as-yet undetermined date.

Its amusement park rides were scheduled to open on April 4. And the christening of the Cyclone with a bottle of egg cream — a tradition presided over by the Brooklyn Borough President — was set for Palm Sunday, which falls on April 5 this year.

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“In response to the evolving circumstances around COVID-19 and in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, we at Luna Park in Coney Island have made the decision to postpone our opening day until further notice,” Central Amusement International said in a press release. “This decision is made with the highest level of consideration toward local, state and federal health recommendations.”

This news surfaced several hours after Dennis Vourderis, the co-owner of Coney Island’s other famous ride, the Wonder Wheel, told the Brooklyn Eagle his family’s Ferris wheel won’t be spinning until elected officials say it’s safe for crowds of New Yorkers to congregate once again.

The Thunderbolt, seen in the middle of this picture, is one of the rides in Luna Park. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
The Thunderbolt, seen in the middle of this picture, is one of the rides in Luna Park. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, professional sports teams’ seasons have been halted, Broadway shows have gone dark and movie theaters and nightclubs have been shuttered. New York City restaurants and bars are open only for food and booze pickup and delivery.

“Our guests and our team members mean everything to us, and their wellbeing and health are of the utmost importance,” Central Amusement International said in its press release about Luna Park’s closing.

The company’s spokesperson didn’t answer questions from the Eagle about whether workers who had already been hired for Luna Park’s upcoming season will be paid while the park remains closed and about how much money Central Amusement International expects to lose because of Luna Park’s temporary closure.


Central Amusement International’s parent company is Zamperla Group, a manufacturer of roller coasters and other amusement park rides. Luna Park is located on six acres of land along the oceanside Coney Island Boardwalk that Central Amusement International leases from the City of New York.

Luna Park has dozens of rides and games for kids and adults. The most famous of all is the Cyclone, which opened in 1927. Its tracks are made of wood.

 Here’s the entrance to the Thunderbolt. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle
Here’s the entrance to the Thunderbolt. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

The Cyclone is an individual city landmark. An engineer named Vernon Keenan designed it and an inventor named Harry C. Baker built it. Its 2,640 feet of track have 12 drops and 27 elevation changes.

The tracks are set up in a “twister-type circuit,” so the roller coaster’s own momentum, and not machinery, moves it forward for all but the first few seconds of each ride, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the Cyclone says.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.


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