An egg-cream christening and accompanying screams kicked off the spring season in Brooklyn as thrill seekers braved the Cyclone, and family members cheered each other on as they competed in boardwalk games and looped around Deno’s Wonder Wheel.
Luna Park’s opening day drew longtime fans and newcomers alike to the beachfront amusement park on Sunday. For many, the opening celebrations, which culminated with the ceremonial egg cream christening of the 92-year-old roller coaster, are a vital part of Coney Island’s diverse and welcoming culture.
Daisy Omallie, 52, a longtime Coney Island resident who once worked in the park, appropriately donned shark earrings and a shark-covered sweater Sunday. She and her neighbors, she said, always feel honored to host opening-day visitors.
"Once upon a time when I was very young, I was told this was New York’s Riviera. I stand by that," she said. "Everyone comes here during the summer."
The park will only be open on weekends between now and Memorial Day, with the exception of Easter Week. In addition to the rides and games, the park will hold several events during the summer, including Friday-night fireworks, live movies and outdoor concerts.
Lina Sarmaniuc, 33, of Staten Island, said she decided to check out the park and beach on opening day because her friends have been telling her how much fun it would be for her and her family.
"It’s hard to find something like this for the kids close by," she said. "I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the rides."
Lane Spigner, 46, of Woodside, a financial planner who braves Coney Island’s waters with the Coney Island Polar Bears, said the tone of the beach changes after opening day, attracting New Yorkers of all ages, backgrounds and interests.
"It feels like one of the few authentic places left in New York," he said.
D.J. Vourderis, the grandson of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park founder Denos Vourderis, told the Sunday crowd that generations of Luna Park and Cyclone employees have worked hard to give the crowds a genuine Brooklyn welcome anytime they visit.
"It’s not the rides, or the beautiful rainbow that make this beautiful. It’s the diversity and acceptance of the community," he said.
Visitors will find some new food offerings in the park this year, including the redesigned food court "Flywheel Eats," a steampunk-inspired eatery "Half Moon Food Court," and pizzeria “Al Cavallino.”
Alessandro Zamperla, president of Central Amusement International, which runs Luna Park, teased two new rides that will open between the "Electro Spin" and "Wild River" rides by Memorial Day. Zamperla skimped on the details, however.
"All I can say is that it will be attractive and change the backdrop of the park," he said.
Last year, the park and city announced a major expansion that will take place over the next few years. A large circus-themed rope course is slated for this year, and log flume water ride is slated for 2020.
WHAT’S NEW AT LUNA PARK THIS YEAR:
- Two new rides that will open by Memorial Day. Owners said they are keeping the details of the new rides a secret, but according to the park’s map, they will be in between the "Electro Spin" and "Wild River" rides.
- Flywheel Eats. The park’s food court has been redesigned and named after one of its famous rides, the Cyclone. It is located at Surf Avenue and West 10th Street across from the Cyclone.
- Half Moon Food Court. The steampunk-themed eatery will offer a variety of carnival snacks, such as candy and popcorn. It is located in the back of the park adjacent to West 10th Street.
- Al Cavallino. A traditional pizzeria is opening up next to the B&B Carousell.