Coney Island amusement parks still left with no answers
Restaurants, casinos, gyms: 'What about us?'
As the city and state announce plans for reopening restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, Coney Island amusement parks remained in the dark as to when or even if they’ll be able to reopen this summer.
“New York State still hasn’t drafted a single sentence of reopening guidance for outdoor Coney Island amusements this year, which were closed the entire season for the first time in history last year and are experiencing dire financial hardships,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger on Tuesday, Feb.9. “We must center the outer-borough economy.”
Last year, Deno’s Wonder Wheel was slated to celebrate its 100th anniversary with several events, but the event was postponed because the park never opened.
The amusement park is expected to commemorate its 100th year birthday this year, yet the state hasn’t offered guidelines or a timeline for reopening.
The park is also slated to open the Phoenix, a new high-thrill, state-of-the-art roller coaster, during the summer.
Last month, Treyger wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to offer information on how to safely reopen the outdoor parks for the 2021 season, which would begin on Palm Sunday, March 28, with events like the Blessing of the Rides ceremony.
“While indoor activities such as casinos, gyms, museums and spa services reopened to the public during the summer, the state refused to lift the ban on outdoor amusements, eliminating any opportunity for the businesses to operate during the peak tourist and visitor months,” Treyger said. “It is reported widely that this past season resulted in an estimate of at least $100 million in revenue loss for the Coney Island amusement district.”
Several well-known events in the borough are slated to be held virtually, such as Fleet Week. Others, such as a parade celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, have been canceled.
Last year, a Zoom meeting was held in which amusement park owners discussed their disappointing in the lack of communication between them and the state.
“We have sent [the state] reopening plans many months ago, and we are waiting for word,” said Deno Vourderis, owner of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. “This is the first time in 100 years that the Wonder Wheel has not carried passengers. That’s just a travesty.”
“The silence is very hurtful. We are asking for some attention when it comes to the reopening guidelines,” said Alessandro Zamperla, president of Central Amusement Inc., which runs Luna Park. “Give us some guidelines. Give us an opinion on plans we submitted in June.”
Treyger suggested the businesses in the area receive emergency assistance in order to survive the financial hit they’ve taken over the past year.
Treyger says he is still waiting on a response.
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