Luna Park in Coney Island is run by Central Amusement International (CAI), a privately owned company. CAI’s parent company is the Zamperla Group. The Zamperla Group has been bringing the fun since the mid-60’s and the Zamperla family has been in the amusement industry for a century. Decade to decade the ride designer and manufacturer has been populating the world’s largest amusement and theme parks with fun and safe ride technology. In 2003, Zamperla got in on the ride operation action and formed Central Amusement International with the goal of operating their new park, Victorian Gardens, located in Central Park’s Wollman Rink. Several years later, CAI took on the challenge again.
The Rebirth of Luna Park
In an effort to revitalize historic Coney Island to its once glorious past, the City of New York, under the leadership of the Bloomberg administration, purchased 6.2 acres of land in November 2009 and quickly put out a request for proposals, welcoming bidders to submit their proposal for a state-of-the-art facility that would be completed by spring of 2010.
Enter Central Amusement International (CAI).
After weeks of researching and compiling ideas and, on December 18, 2010 CAI submitted a 293-page proposal to the Economic Development Corporation of New York City. After a tight race, CAI was finally awarded a 10-year lease for 3 parcels of land, which encompassed the 6.2 acres of land the City had previously purchased from a private developer. On February 16, 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and CAI held a joint press conference to unveil plans for Luna Park, a new amusement park coming to Coney Island that very spring.
On May 28, 2010, after only 100 days of construction, CAI proudly presented Luna Park. The new amusement park was the first to be built in Coney Island in over 40 years, complete with 19 brand new rides, 6 games, 5 food kiosks, and a retail location. One of these innovate rides was Zamperla’s Air Race, the first of its kind in the world. During its first season, Luna Park created 247 jobs that helped serve the local community and delighted 450,000 visitors with over 1.7 million rides.
The off-season of 2010/11 was a busy one because Luna Park has a commitment to revitalizing the seaside community. The park opened on Palm Sunday (as is tradition is Coney Island) in 2011, with a whole new space to explore and enjoy. Located off Stillwell Ave. and the Coney Island boardwalk, area was called Scream Zone, introduced two new roller coasters and two extreme thrill rides. The first anniversary season also brought the gift of operating the NYC-owned Coney Island Cyclone.
The fun was back and the thrills were on in the park’s third operating season – 2012. Luna Park crossed the street and developed another parcel of land this time on the west side of Stillwell and the boardwalk. One sky-coaster and 24 go-karts later, Luna Park added to it’s growing repertoire of rides. However that wasn’t it for 2012. In that same year, the park took on several new games, re-did hundreds of feet of track work on the Coney Island Cyclone and opened up it’s own foods business.
The season opening of Luna Park in 2013 was a memorable moment as the park opened on time despite surviving Hurricane Sandy the previous autumn. Newly formed CAI Foods was in full effect with several food kiosks, cafes, and a new boardwalk restaurant. On the ride side, CAI Parks introduced two new rides, one of which was a the world premiere of Water Mania, a new Zamperla ride. Track work continued on the Coney Island Cyclone but the area of focus that season was Steeplechase Plaza. Located within the plaza is the Parachute Jump. A now defunct ride, the Parachute Jump regained some of its former glory that season when CAI covered it in 8,000 LED lights. Steeplechase Plaza also featured a newly restored carousel, once again owned by the City but operated by Luna Park.
Because the fun doesn’t stop at Luna Park, this season we’ve introduced another two rides – Luna 360 and the Thunderbolt roller coaster. Zamperla has championed these two new additions to the park to continue the upside down fun, the spinning in circles fun, and the g-force moving fun. Firm to it’s commitment to honor the old alongside the new with safe ride technology, CAI has now completed thousands of feet of new track work on the Coney Island Cyclone. Coaster to coaster, from the almost 90 year-old wooden roller coaster, to the new steel Thunderbolt; there’s something for everyone at Luna Park in Coney Island.
What’s next? You tell us! It’s the People’s Playground and we’re listening.