The Phoenix rises in Coney Island

June 30, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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The Phoenix has finally risen in Coney Island.

On Saturday, June 26, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park held a soft opening of the area’s newest ride, the Phoenix roller coaster. 

The park’s management received the green light at the last minute, much to the delight of thrill seekers. And according to the owners, the Vourderis family, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of the family thrill roller coaster is Thursday, July 1 at 10 a.m. The first 100 people to visit the park will get on the ride for free. Souvenirs and t-shirts that read “I Rode the Phoenix” will be on hand.

It was important for the park to have the coaster open for Fourth of July weekend, one of the busiest times of the season.

“When the pandemic hit, like so many, we didn’t know what to do, we only knew what we could do,” said co-owner D.J. Vourderis. “And as we are a family run amusement park, we could provide a place, after such painful and trying times, for us all to heal. We decided to go ahead with building The Phoenix because we believe in people, we believe in New York, and we love Coney Island and what it represents; a place where people from different walks of life, different opinions and ideals, can come together and remember what it feels like to smile again.

The announcement of the new coaster was made in December 2020.

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

The Phoenix is 68 feet tall and features a speed of around 34 miles per hour. According to the Deno’s team, riders will feel like they are flying around the Wonder Wheel with views of the beach and boardwalk. It features intense twists and turns.

“The Vourderis family is delighted to invite everyone to the first ride at its grand opening,” said Steve Vourderis, the co-owner of the park. “We cherish and honor the memory of our parents, Denos and Lula Vourderis, who started believing in and building up Coney Island in1947.”

Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island, is impressed with the new attraction.

“Nothing can be more appropriate than the Phoenix Roller Coaster rising from the ashes of 2020 and the pandemic after it upended our shores and the world,” she said. “The views and thrills on the Phoenix are truly phenomenal and unlike any other ride in Coney Island. Kudos to the Vourderis family for the investment and vision to bring this coaster to reality.”

Deno’s Wonder Wheel was preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary last year with a slew of events. Due to COVID-19, the Vourderis family joined fans, elected officials and Coney Island historians on social media and YouTube to express their love for the Wonder Wheel itself, one of the country’s most famous Ferris wheels. It was also featured during Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display.

This year, the park hopes to celebrate the anniversary the right way, with the Phoenix being the start.

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