Take a roller-coaster ride through history at Coney Island on Saturday.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is hosting its fifth annual History Day celebration of the bygone days of the “people’s playground” while marking the 95th anniversary of the Wonder Wheel and the 60th anniversary of Spook-A-Rama, Coney Island’s last remaining classic “dark ride.”
Enjoy retro music, dancers performing the Charleston and the Bop as well as musicians on hand-cranked band organs and barrel pianos. Walk into the 1960s Astroland rocket, take a selfie with an original horse from the long-gone Steeplechase Amusement Park, catch a magic show and “meet” historic “Spook-A-Rama” figures.
Dennis Vourderis, who co-owns Deno’s park, said History Day “recognizes the importance of amusements in today’s world.”
“This industry has survived depressions, it’s survived World Wars — because people enjoy the entertainment of rides. It’s a wonderful, wonderful escape from reality,” he continued.
The Coney Island History Project will also be on hand to record oral histories and will be showing off artifacts, photographs and other ephemera from the amusement resort’s past.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is the last family-owned amusement operation in Coney Island.
It is home to the 150-foot-high Wonder Wheel that was built over two years from 1918 to 1920 and has thrilled millions of visitors and maintained a spotless safety record. Spook-A-Rama, which sits in the shadow of the wheel, was built in 1955 to spread fun house scares with its animatronic props.
Once the longest ride of its kind, lasting 10 minutes, it now lasts about half that time. It was rebuilt after it was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and has become home to creepy props left over from defunct spook houses in the region.