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  • Coney Island: The Ultimate Family Guide to Fun and Adventure

    The ideal and thrilling experience for the whole family! Fireworks, food, roller coasters, the beach, games, prizes, the aquarium, a parade and more!

    By Michael Davis

     

    Coney Island is the renowned amusement area in New York City, specifically in the borough of Brooklyn. Theme parks were first built there in the late 19th century. It was once the largest amusement area in the United States. Coney Island stands as the ultimate summer getaway in NYC. Where families, both local, and tourist, have come for the fun that never ends! 

    Luna Park

    1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224
    (718) 373-5862
    Luna Park, the amusement park itself located at Coney Island. A visit to New York City isn’t complete if you didn’t visit Luna Park and its famous attractions. If you live in NYC, then pay a visit to Luna Park  or else you are missing out on a unique New York experience for you and the family. The adventures and attractions are worth the visit!

    Rides


    The Cyclone at Luna Park

    (Extreme Thrill)
    The Cyclone

    834 Surf Ave
    (718) 373-5862
    When you think “Coney Island,”  this roller coaster is likely the first image that comes to mind. Its fame is at a level that when some think “roller coaster” the Cyclone might be the first thing that comes to mind. The ride’s famous 85-foot first drop and a harrowing barrage of 60-mile-per-hour twists and turns have inspired extreme reactions of either fanatical devotion or lifelong terror since 1927. It’s a must-visit summertime destination. Nothing offers a thrilling jolt of Brooklyn nostalgia quite like this ride. If you’re a roller coaster enthusiast, then you should definitely take a ride on the Cyclone!

    The Thunderbolt

    West 16th Street and the Boardwalk
    Much of the excitement in Coney Island in the past couple of years has centered on the Thunderbolt, the first custom-built roller coaster to be constructed on the grounds since the Cyclone back in 1927. The ride, which features 2,000 feet of steel track, a vertical lift (and a subsequent vertical drop of some 115 feet), a 100-foot loop and a corkscrew, is a modern spin on the classic Coney Island coaster of the same name. It occupies the same patch of turf next to the boardwalk as the first Thunderbolt—the corkscrew sectioned and heartline diving wooden roller coaster immortalized in the film Annie Hall. The original was shut down in 1982, after nearly 60 years of operation, and demolished in 2000. However, the modern-day Thunderbolt is a one-of-a-kind thrill-ride you will never forget.

    (High Thrill)
    WILD RIVER

    A wet and wild amusement park classic! The Wild River at Luna Park roars with fun and excitement. Yet, it’s still the safest river in Brooklyn to splash around in. Enjoy one of the most popular summer attractions in NYC as you step aboard our log themed boats for a swift ride through winding troughs rising from ground level to high about the park. Batten down the hatches as this lively Coney Island water ride builds to an exhilarating climax, racing over a 40-foot ledge and plunging headlong into the cooling splash pool below!

    The Wild River is a refreshing reason to put Luna Park at the top of your summer list of things to do in New York City for fun!


    Luna 360 at Luna Park

    LUNA 360

    Time stands still on this mesmerizing amusement ride! For those thirsty for a new panoramic perspective of Coney Island, the Luna 360 provides a breathtaking view as it swings through the air to a methodical beat. Take your place in an outward facing seat, feel the deck drop below your feet and off you go on a rhythmic NYC thrill ride that swings like the pendulum of a grandfather clock on overdrive. The rush of land and sky mesh as Luna 360 glides back and forth, sending riders to head over heels through g-force inducing dual swinging and fluid spinning motion. It’s a Coney Island attraction that fills the air with screams of joy and lights up the night in a magical swirl of color. Grab your friends and experience it today at Luna Park!

    (Moderate Thrill)
    WINDSTARZ

    Take control of your ride on the latest attraction to make its world debut in Coney Island! WindstarZ feels like you’re hang gliding high above the Boardwalk. With an interactive motion that lets you guide your flight using the direction of the wind, you’ll surely have a ride, unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Check out the fun VR Experience!

    CIRCUS COASTER

    All aboard the Coney Island Circus Coaster! Capturing the excitement and anticipation of when the circus rolls into town, this colorful attraction is a roller coaster ride families can enjoy together. Step right up and board the Circus Coaster as it begins its exciting climb. You’re setting off on a high-speed romp over a 500+-foot downhill course featuring a series of tight-turns, slopes and an exciting mid-course helix section. Feel the wind whip through your hair and all the exhilaration of a junior roller coaster on this favorite Coney Island ride you’ll want to experience again and again.

    Circus culture and roller coaster action come together on this popular NYC kids ride that isn’t clowning around. Runaway to the Circus Coaster in Luna Park today!


    Seaside Swing at Luna Park

    (Mild Thrill)
    SEASIDE SWING

    Jubilant times await on this swinging kids ride New York City is famous for its playgrounds. But, Luna Park is the only place you’ll find anything like the Seaside Swing. Choose your spot on the back-to-back bench seats, feel the breeze off the ocean as you rock into motion, swing high and reaching for the sky. It’s like your old-favorite park swing with added acceleration and a little airtime on an amusement park ride in Coney Island for kids of all ages. There’s nothing more fun than swinging in the sun on the kiddie rides in Coney Island!

    BROOKLYN BARGE

    Set sail on the open seas in the rockin’ little tug boat. There’s nothing like feeling the salt water air on your face, and our Brooklyn Barge does not disappoint! You’ll feel the fun of the waves as you rock back and forth, and if you’re worried the waves might be a little too choppy for you, it’s ok. Perfect for all kinds of passengers, you’ll always be able to bring your First Mate along.

    Luna Park Expansion

    Two new rides have already opened, just this year, as part of the expansion, Clockworkz, and Atlantic Aviator. Clockworkz is dubbed as a “family thrill ride.”

    It is a 33-foot attraction that rotates on a vertical axis while its arms swing in circular motions at 13 revolutions per minute. Riders soar through the air as the clock’s arms move in opposite directions, the report said.

    Atlantic Aviator is a 51-foot attraction suited for older thrill-seekers. Riders will have an experience similar to acrobatic airplane flight courtesy of loops, dips, and speeds of up to 25 revolutions per minute.

    For the 2019 and 2020 season, look out for a sprawling log flume ride, zip lines and a rope course will be constructed on vacant land between Surf Avenue and the boardwalk, between West 15th and West 16th streets.


    Games at Luna Park

    Games
    There are tons of games for kids and all to play and win prizes! Water Racer, Hot Shots, Luna Arcade, Ring Toss and more! 

    Dining

    Dining options that include burgers, fries, milkshakes, pizza, hot dogs, lemonade, funnel cakes, cotton candy, and seafood! Get these and more at the following locations on the boardwalk: Flywheel Eats, Half Moon Food Court, Al Cavallino, Place to Beach, and Coney’s Cones.


    Wonder Wheel

    Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

    3059 Denos D. Vourderis Pl. (formerly W. 12th St.)
    (718) 372-2592
    The Wonder Wheel has actually stood next to the boardwalk even longer than the Cyclone, having been built way back in 1920. Riders have two options: the swinging red and blue cars, which appeal to the more adventurous, and the stationary white ones, for those who just want to enjoy the view. The park boasts 16 kiddie rides and five (including the Wonder Wheel itself) for adults.

    You should get tickets to the Spook-A-Rama, which is similar to a haunted house, where folks sit in wooden barrels and are taken on a spooky ride. Or enjoy colliding with fellow riders on the Bumper Cars. If you have kids in tow, you should head to this Kiddie Park, filled with a carousel and many gentle rides for first-timers. Don’t forget to take pictures of your little ones on their first amusement park rides. Foodies should head to Kitchen 21, a food hall style restaurant housed in the historic Childs Restaurant building.

    Events

    Friday Night Fireworks

    Boardwalk between West 10th & West 15th Street
    (718) 594-7895
    A must-see and mainstay spectacle at Luna Park in Coney Island. Every Friday night by 9:30 pm, the Brooklyn skyline lights up. A beautiful experience that you and your kids will treasure for life.


    Mermaid Parade via Coney Island USA

    The Mermaid Parade

    A Coney Island original and annual event. The 37th Annual Mermaid Parade is Saturday, June 22, 2019, 1 pm!! A celebration of ancient mythology and honky-tonk rituals of the seaside, it showcases over 3,000 creative individuals from all over the five boroughs and beyond, opening the summer with incredible art, entrepreneurial spirit, and community pride. The parade highlights Coney Island Pageantry based on a century of many Coney parades. It celebrates the artistic vision of the masses and ensures that the summer season is a success by bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the amusement area in a single day.

    The Mermaid Parade specifically was founded in 1983 with 3 goals: it brings mythology to life for local residents who live on streets named Mermaid and Neptune; it creates self-esteem in a district that is often disregarded as “entertainment”; and it lets artistic New Yorkers find self-expression in public.  Bring the kids and experience a unique summer event!

    Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest 

    Boardwalk: 1205 Boardwalk
    (718) 714-7207
    NYC summer staple Nathan’s Famous serves the quintessential Coney Island hot dog, plus fresh crinkle-cut french fries, a short walk from the Coney Island boardwalk and beach. Every July 4, superhuman competitors—who train and strategize relentlessly—try to eat as many as possible in 10 short minutes. There is more than just hot dogs at Nathan’s, the french fries and clams are popular choices as well. Do you have what it takes to win?

    Coney Island Circus Sideshow

    1208 Surf Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11224
    (718) 372-5159
    The Coney Island Circus Sideshow, also known as Sideshows by the Seashore, transports visitors to the old-time Coney Island of odd delights and freakish talents. Cast members like sword swallower Betty Bloomerz and your fire-eating, sword-juggling host, Ray Valenz, have a jaw-dropping effect on viewers as they (along with a procession of special guests) perform amazing—and sometimes stomach-churning—feats by the ocean.

    Celebrate the artistry of Coney Island freak show culture. If you are hungry for entertainment that’s beyond ordinary, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow delivers performances capable of taking your breath away. Celebrating the storied legacy of legendary entertainers such as PT Barnum, Harry Houdini, the Ringling Bros, and Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not. This new-age freak show in Coney Island pays tribute to the past while pushing the boundaries of alternative stage acts. Seize your chance to catch the last traditional 10-in 1 sideshow featuring live professional sword swallowers, fire eaters and a diverse variety of alternative performers with unique physical attributes and talents that will blow your mind.


    Flicks on the Beach via NYCgo.com

    Flicks on the Beach

    Boardwalk & West 12th Street
    Free summer movies on the beach in Coney Island. Lights, cameras, action! The Flicks on the Beach Series is presented by our very own Alliance for Coney Island.  Take a break from the waves and splash into another world as you revisit your favorite movies. Movies are screened on the beach on select Monday nights throughout the summer and include a variety of thrillers, kids movies, and comedies.

    Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance

    1904 Surf Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11224
    Remember and honor the brave responders who selflessly gave their lives to save others on September 11th, 2001. Housed outside of MCU Park, the wall is comprised of three 30 x 12 foot granite walls, laser-engraved with images of the 346 firefighters, 37 Port Authority officers, 23 NYC police officers, 3 NYS officers, 1 fire patrol, first responders, and Sirius, a K-9 rescue dog who tragically lost their lives that day.. Their sacrifice and selflessness inspired millions around the world, like Sol Moglen who conceived the idea for a memorial in Coney Island. Their portraits continue to remind of us of the resilience of New Yorkers and the work these heroes did to keep that resilience alive. Heroes Night is on July 12th, 2019 at 6 pm

    Locations of Interest


    Coney Island Boardwalk vis NYC.gov

    The Beach and the Boardwalk

    Boardwalk West. Brooklyn, NY 11224
    When the summer heat is blazing there is no better place to be than the nearly three-mile stretch of sea and sand visible from the adjacent boardwalk, where the boundless blue ocean stretches as far as the eye can see. You can watch the happenings and or be part of the fun yourself. Didn’t come prepared with your own beach gear? That’s fine, Coney Island has got you covered with several shops that provide all you’ll need for your fun in the sun.

    Williams Candy

    1318 Surf Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11224
    (718) 372-0302
    Searching for dessert after a Nathan’s hot dog? Williams Candy, located next door, is the go-to choice. The second you step into the tiny shop, the smell of sugar practically punches you in the face and the scent of freshly made popcorn will soothe you. The main attractions at the store are the candied Granny Smith apples. You could also get fudge, ice cream, and some much-ballyhooed caramel marshmallow sticks. Much like the rest of Coney Island, this place caters more to your child, inner child than to any adult need. Williams Candy’s leaves many satisfied customers, no matter their age.


    Brooklyn Cyclones via Milb.com

    Brooklyn Cyclones

    MCU Park, 1904 Surf Ave
    (718) 449-8497
    The home of Brooklyn Baseball in Coney Island! Hailed as one of the best venues in all of minor league baseball, MCU Park provides a space for all types of events. Home to the Brooklyn Cyclones, check out their weekly schedule and watch them knock it out of the ballpark!  Then stay and celebrate with some post-game fireworks to finish off the night. When they’re not playing a game, guests enjoy the space as a live concert performance venue, hosting world-renowned artists like Bjork, Phish, Jay-Z and Daft Punk.

    With great views no matter the seat, an abundance of concessions, and mesmerizing views at night, it’s a magical place to catch live events in NYC. Located just steps off the Coney Island boardwalk, MCU Park has become a centerpiece of the bustling amusement and entertainment district as the first stadium in Brooklyn to watch professional baseball since the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field.

    Coney Island Museum

    1208 Surf Ave.
    (718) 372-5159
    History in Coney Island with a pulse. If you have ever wondered about Coney Island’s place in history, there’s a museum located in Coney Island USA at 1208 Surf Avenue that’s just for you. Take a Brooklyn day trip worth writing home about to the Coney Island Museum (admission is $5 for Adults, $3 for Kids and Seniors), where you’ll find a permanent collection of kooky keepsakes and artifacts including funhouse mirrors, rare hold-to-light postcards and a 3D-printed scale model of Coney Island’s original Luna Park.  It’s an experience that’s fun for the entire family and a great way to mix in a little culture and history in Coney Island’s amusement district. 

    Open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Wednesday through Sunday, 12 pm to 7 pm and weekends 12 pm to 7 pm the rest of the year, this one-of-a-kind museum is dedicated to shining a spotlight on the essential elements of the art and culture of historic Coney Island. On the list of memorable things to do in Brooklyn with friends, the Coney Island Museum serves up unique experiences including Saturday night special screening of documentaries, silent features and home movies presented by the Coney Island Film Society. For a deeper level of social commentary, check out The Darkside of Dreamland exhibit, providing an insightful looking into the neighborhoods urban community evoked through multi-media art forms including expressional painting, sculpturing, photograph, poetry, song, and dance.

    Coney Island History Project

    3059 W. 12th St.
    (347) 702-8553
    The Coney Island Museum features a number of displays that celebrate the amusement park and surrounding neighborhood. There’s a 3-D printed scale model of the old Luna Park, work by Brooklyn artist Daniel Blake (aka Africasso) and an assortment of oddities and memorabilia. The museum is also the venue for a Saturday night film series put on by the Coney Island Film Society, featuring B-movies and assorted documentaries. Also helping show off the history and heritage of the place, the Coney Island History Project is a decade-old organization that has an exhibition center located practically underneath the Wonder Wheel.

    Its free summer exhibition: Salvation by the Sea, and 90-minute neighborhood walking tours ($25), sponsored by the group, are offered on weekends.

    Hoping to bring attention to Coney Island’s legendary and colorful past, the Coney Island History Project was founded in 2004 as a non-profit organization led by Coney Island historian Charles Denson. The History Project encourages visitors to appreciate the neighborhood of Coney Island by recording, archiving and sharing oral history interviews, providing access to historical artifacts, and honoring amusement pioneers in its hall of fame.

    Located on West 12th Street at the entrance to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, admission is FREE! View the historic artifacts, pictures, maps, and films and travel back in time to Coney Islands’ glory days.  Share and preserve your own memories by recording an interview for the Oral History Archive or take a free souvenir photo with the Cyclops from Spook-A-Rama and an original Steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name. For more information click the link the above.


    New York Aquarium via NYCgo.com

    New York Aquarium

    602 Surf Ave.
    (718) 265-3474
    This aquarium—the oldest continually operating example in the US—remains a must-see destination on Coney Island’s celebrated boardwalk. Visitors will be charmed by all manner of sea life, including seals, red-bellied piranhas, and rays. Long-range planners can look forward to the opening of Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, which will feature blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, sand tiger sharks and wobbegongs, a carpet shark native to the western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans. The only aquarium in NYC right in Coney Island

    Animal lovers far and wide are drawn to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island for an up-close look at the many wonders of marine sea life. Operating on the mission of inspiring visitors to join in protecting local waters and saving wildlife and wild places around the globe, the aquarium annually ranks as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn for families. Get an underwater view of the abundant sea life on Glover’s Reef, take pictures of the lovable walruses lounging about at the Sea Cliffs exhibit and be sure to catch the interactive sea lion show at the outdoor Aquatheater.

    Located where West 8th Street intersects with Surf Avenue, the New York Aquarium is situated in close proximity to the Coney Island amusement parks and easily accessible by subway and car. As part of the largest network of metropolitan wildlife parks in the nation, this vital local institution provides an array of captivating programming experiences including a 4D theater, rotating special exhibits, educational kids camps and the ever-popular sea otter, penguin and walrus feedings.

    Visit the New York Aquarium in Coney Island this year, and check out the new exhibit, now open! Boasting a 57,000-square-foot addition housing over 100 species of marine life, dive underwater and visit the much-anticipated Ocean Wonders: Sharks!

    Abe Stark Skating Arena

    Boardwalk and West 19th Street. Brooklyn, NY 11224
    (718) 253-8919
    A Coney Island winter staple. The Abe Stark Rink is open for hockey each year from October through March. A favorite of schools, leagues and community members of all ages, this rink, which opened in 1970, offers private skating classes as well as public sessions.

    Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk

    3052 W 21st St. Brooklyn, NY 11224
    If you’re searching for fun things to do with friends or the best place to see live music in New York City, there’s a new entertainment venue in Brooklyn that’s truly unique. The Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk opened in the summer of 2016 to rave reviews. With a full schedule of concerts through Live Nation by renowned recording artists, family shows, sports, comedy, multicultural events, and the Seaside Summer Concert Series, the Amphitheater has instantly become an integral part of the local community and social scene.

    This impressive 5,000-seat, an open-air entertainment complex in Coney Island features a state-of-the-art sound system, impeccable sight lines, and on-site concessions. With an oceanfront location and a planned rooftop restaurant, the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk is not only a top spot to see a show in NYC, but a new favorite location in Brooklyn for family fun or a night on the town.

     

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