Brooklyn Boro

Ride on! Deno’s adds another wonder in Coney Island

December 29, 2020 Jaime DeJesus,
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They’re not coasting during their off-time.

Although COVID-19 forced Coney Island amusement parks to shut down for the 2020 season, one park is optimistically looking ahead with an ambitious new attraction.

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park will be home to the Phoenix, a high-thrill, state-of-the-art roller coaster.

The Vourderis family, which owns Deno’s, hopes the new coaster will bring dedicated fans and thrill-seekers back to the park when it reopens. The park’s centerpiece is the Wonder Wheel, a huge Ferris wheel built in 1920s, some of whose cars swing back and forth while also going around.

“Coney Island is a place where we can all come together and heal after a time of such heartache and division,” said owner Deno Vourderis. “Our timeline is still being determined, but we are hopeful that this will be the beginning of better days ahead.”

The new ride was included on USA Today’s list of most anticipated roller coasters of 2021 and is in good company, with Universal Studios Orlando and Legoland also on the list.

USA Today reports that, once completed, the Phoenix will be 68 feet tall and feature a top speed of about 34 miles per hour.

Brooklynites are already excited about going on the coaster.

“Amazing,” said one Facebook user. “Can’t wait to come celebrate. I’m glad someone in Coney Island is still adding the thrills.”

Deno’s Wonder Wheel was preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year with a slew of events. Instead the Vourderis family joined fans, elected officials and Coney Island historians on social media and YouTube to express their love for one of the country’s most famous Ferris wheels. It was also featured during Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display.

Coney Island amusement park operators last summer pleaded with the city and state to allow them to open, but to no avail. A visit to the Coney Island Boardwalk during the summer showed smaller crowds than usual, but lines at soft-drink and fast-food stands were busy as always.

A neighboring amusement park, Luna Park, is home to the classic, 1920s-era Cyclone wooden roller coaster as well as the Thunderbolt, a newer, steel roller coaster that is named after an earlier coaster that was demolished around 2000.

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