There is a renewed, if cautious, sense of hope, however, with the opening of Luna Park and Scream Zone. They are part of the first phase of Coney Island's much-heralded rebirth and represent a private-public partnership to help restore The People's Playground to its former glory. Coney Island fans welcome the new parks and their new coasters and rides, but some question whether the relatively small size and scope of the amusement areas can provide the spark that the area needs to truly recapture its prominence.
With its redevelopment now underway, the architects of change need to find a delicate balance between bringing Coney Island into the 21st century and irrevocably severing its ties to the past. Between creating a gentrified, movie-set facsimile of the cherished landmark and preserving an authentic sense of the place. Between developing attractions that will bring in well-heeled guests to generate big profits and shutting out the egalitarian masses that have always been its audience.
For now, Coney Island is still doing what it has been doing for decades, albeit on a considerably smaller scale: bringing people from all walks of life together for thrills, laughter, great food, fun, and relief from the city's heat.
Special NoteSince its inception, a single operator has never owned nor managed the landmark Coney Island amusement area (unlike most modern-day theme parks). Rather, it has been, and continues to be, a collection of independent owners and vendors. Therefore, there is no central office or phone number. Starting in 2010, however, one operator has taken control of Luna Park, Scream Zone, and the Cyclone coaster.
Nearby HotelsCompare rates for hotels near Coney Island at About.com's booking partner, Kayak.
Tickets and Admission PolicyThere are no gates, and admission to the amusement areas is free. Guests purchase tickets and pay a la carte for rides and attractions. Wristbands for unlimited rides are available.
Driving: Belt Parkway to Exit 6. South on Cropsey Ave. toward Coney Island. Cropsey becomes W 17th St. Left onto Surf Ave. to Coney Island's amusement area.
Parking: There are meters on the streets and parking lots in the area. On busy weekends, if everything appears to be full, you could drive about a mile away to Brighton Beach, which has a large parking lot, and walk the boardwalk back to Coney Island.
Rides and Highlights:
- Cyclone roller coaster
- Nathan's Famous- The chain's original hot dog joint has an evocative vibe and great food--especially the fries.
- The New York Aquarium
- The Coney Island Circus Sideshow- Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, to one of Americana's last genuine freak shows.
- Cyclones minor league baseball
- The boardwalk and Coney Island beach
In 1884, the Switchback Railway, a precursor to the modern roller coaster, opened. Through the years, Coney Island hosted more than 50(!) coasters, including the circa-1927 (and still operating) Cyclone and the circa-1925 Thunderbolt (removed in 2000 to make way for the baseball stadium).
See the Amusement Area:
More Coney Island Info
- Luna Park
- Scream Zone
- Coney Island Cyclone Roller Coaster Ride Review
- Wonder Wheel at Coney Island Ride Review
- Spook-A-Rama at Coney Island Ride Review
Official Web Sites and Other Coney Island Links
New for 2011
After years of haggling and false starts, the redevelopment of Coney Island took a major step in 2010 with the opening of Luna Park on the shuttered Astroland site. In 2011, the same operator that runs Luna Park will open Scream Zone. It will feature two major roller coasters: Soaring Eagle, a flying coaster on which riders navigate the track in a nearly prone "superhero" flying position, and Steeplechase Coaster, on which riders sit on racehorse seats rather than traditional coaster cars (like Coney Island's classic Steeplechase ride).