When most of the features of Coney Island closed in the fall of 2019 for the usual winter closure, vendors had every expectation of opening again in February, once the snow melts. They do it every year. But in February 2020, no one got to welcome a New York spring by riding the Wonder Wheel or the Cyclone, or eating a famous Coney Island hotdog. The “Playground of the World” remained shuttered for eighteen long months.

“After a long and painful year of social isolation, New Yorkers are eager to get back to the boardwalk and enjoy a Nathan’s hotdog under the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone,” said New York state senator Chuck Schumer, announcing the grand re-opening of Coney Island’s amusement parks on April 9, 2021. “As a native son of Brooklyn who grew up a short B36 bus ride away in Sheepshead Bay, I’m proud to see this quintessentially New York attraction open this year and I will continue to support the community’s recovery and revitalization for years to come.”

“It’s a great honor for us to be able to bring some joy into the life of many New Yorkers … to be able to come in, have fun, smile again, which they haven’t done in a while,” said Dennis Vourderis, one of the owners of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park at their opening ceremony. The Wonder Wheel, which passed its 100th birthday sitting silent last year, was built during the 1918 H1N1 pandemic. It’s naturally socially distanced, with swinging cars 12 feet apart.

100 front-line workers got to be the first people riding the re-opened Wheel, while federal, state, and city officials broke in the Cyclone roller coaster in nearby Luna Park for the 2021 season, after the traditional egg cream christening.

The parks will be open weekends only through the spring, moving to daily operation from Memorial Day weekend onward.

Photo by lazyllama / Shutterstock.com