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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Greetings from... Coney Island Baby

Coney_island_postcardLast week, Carol Hill Albert sold Astroland Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, USA, to real estate developer Thor Equities. Astroland will open for a final season next year; then Thor plans to build a $2 billion theme hotel and amusement park. What will happen to Coney Island’s iconic rides? The Astrotower, the Cyclone, the Parachute Jump?

Well, the New York Post reports that Albert has offered to donate the 275-foot-high Astrotower to the City of New York so that it can be moved to another area of the Coney Island Boardwalk. But, if the City doesn’t accept Albert’s offer, she said she has a buyer who wants to move the tower to “an undisclosed amusement park somewhere down South.”

Now, I know the-potential-amusement-park-buyer “down South” is “undisclosed,” but my first reaction is pleeease Mr. Mayor don’t let Disney buy the Astrotower. This is pure speculation, but I can just imagine a part of Disneyworld named “Coney Island, USA”; this is all too ironic. If this were to happen, a historic amusement park in Brooklyn will be replaced with something approximating Disneyworld and, in turn, a bit of that history would be moved to Disneyworld. Given that many have noted the “Disneyfication” of New York and, in particular, Time Square, it will soon be unclear where Disney ends and Main Street, USA begins.

My next thought, and my grandparents met at Coney Island in the 1930’s, so I may have a particular bias informed mostly by nostalgia: what will be next? The Cyclone? According to the New York Post, apparently not: “[t]he famed Cyclone roller coaster at Astroland was not part of the deal, and Albert will continue operating the landmark ride under a city lease.”

[Meredith R. Miller]

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