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Coney Island's new Luna Park, modeled after original


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Coney Island's new Luna Park, modeled after original, will debut 19 thrilling rides on May 29

BY Erin Durkin

DAILY NEWS WRITER

 

Originally Published:Sunday, April 25th 2010, 7:14 PM

Updated: Monday, April 26th 2010, 9:56 AM

 

It's now a drab construction site dotted with piles of dirt - but by Memorial Day weekend, a gleaming new amusement park will rise in Coney Island where Astroland once stood.

 

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The brand-new Luna Park in Coney Island will offer visitors 19 heart-racing rides, like a steep log flume and a roller coaster dubbed the 'Tickler'.

 

"We're working three shifts, around the clock, 2-4/7," said Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusement International and Zamperla USA, the companies responsible for building the new Luna Park.

 

Visitors will find 19 new rides, with highlights that include a spinning roller coaster dubbed the Tickler, an airplane ride that will have thrill-seekers "doing corkscrews in jets," a giant swinging pendulum and a log flume with a steep watery plunge.

 

There'll be teacups, swings, hot air balloon rides and the Disc-O, which spins passengers up and down a 60-foot rail. Look for a smaller coaster, a flume ride for kids and the Beach Shack, a surfboard ride where the brave are buffeted by simulated winds.

 

"There will be more edgy rides, and we're going to bring in new rides every year," Ferrari said.

 

It's been modeled after the original Luna Park, the legendary lunar-themed Coney Island mecca that opened in 1903 and closed because of fire in 1944 - with some thrilling modern twists.

 

Since his companies were tapped by Mayor Bloomberg in February to open a park on land the city bought from developer Joe Sitt, Ferrari has been reading up on Brooklyn history and devoured Charles Denson's book "Coney Island: Lost and Found."

 

"One thing that struck me is that even though we have all the technology that we have these days, they had back a hundred years ago amazing rides," he said.

 

Ferrari said he's never heard of an amusement park being built from scratch so quickly, but he's confident it will be ready in time for the May 29 opening.

 

Workers are finishing up the painstaking electric, plumbing and foundation work. The rides have been tested at Zamperla's factory in Vicenza, Italy, and are starting to arrive in pieces at the site, where special crews will soon start putting them together.

 

"We're going to have ...sword swallowers, fire-eaters, some music," Ferrari said. There will also be games, an outdoor restaurant and five food stands.

 

Boardwalk favorites like Ruby's and the Lola Staar boutique, which got leases from the city before Central Amusement International took over, will be back this summer, too - even though their long-term fate is unclear.

 

For Ferrari, 46, who started as a mechanical engineer at Zamperla in Italy 20 years ago, building the Coney Island park is the chance of a lifetime.

 

"I answered an ad in a newspaper, which I carry with me all the time, believe it or not," he said, showing off the yellowed help-wanted ad he spotted while living in Vicenza.

 

His girlfriend at the time agreed to accompany him to the United States if he'd marry her.

 

"I said, 'I'll marry you if I get the job,' and I've been married ever since," he said.

 

"For us in the amusement industry, everything started in Coney Island. So to be part of the renaissance of Coney Island ...is unique," he said.

 

"It's like playing soccer in the World Cup."

 

Click HERE to see a video containing all the new rides.

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