Sunday, May 20, 2007

Coney Island: The View From Miami

Coney at Sunset

Today's Miami Herald takes a fun look at Coney Island, in a piece actually written by someone that recently moved to New York. The story is a travel piece, but it touches on the big Coney redevelopment plans:
Last November, the owners of Astroland -- a second-generation park that dates to 1962 -- sold out to a developer who intends to replace it with a year-round Vegas-style entertainment center featuring a luxury hotel and an indoor amusement pavilion.

Astroland's final day will be Sept. 3, Labor Day. Though its world-famous Cyclone roller coaster, now owned by the city of New York, will survive, Coney Island -- even in its reduced 21st century state -- just won't be the same.

As the most iconic remnant of the Coney Island of old, the 80-year-old wooden Cyclone Roller Coaster is the place to recapture the thrill of yesteryear -- and do it quickly. How quickly, you ask? Try 60 mph, courtesy of the Cyclone's opening 58-degree, 85-foot plunge, which makes this spry octogenarian -- built on the site of the world's very first roller coaster -- still the sixth steepest wooden coaster in the world.

For less precipitate but even higher-flying thrills, my 7-year old daughters (who are still too short to ride the Cyclone) highly recommend a spin on the 1920 Wonder Wheel, the absolutely unmissable star attraction at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. It took workers from Bethlehem Steel two years to construct the truly wonderous 150-foot tall Ferris Wheel, with all the forging done onsite.

From inside its 16 disconcertingly swaying and eight reassuringly stationary carriages, you can see Manhattan, New Jersey, and far out into the Atlantic.

And don't leave Deno's without plunging into the 1955 Spook-a-rama, the last of Coney Island's once-copious ''dark'' rides.

You can check out the full article here and hit up travel tips, including hotels in Bay Ridge and Sheepheads Bay, here.

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