Reopen NYC: Luna Park, Wonder Wheel still waiting on state to approve plans

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, September 5, 2020
Summer is coming to a close, but many are extending the season
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It was a summer unlike any other in the throws of the coronavirus pandemic, but after thousands flocked to parks, beaches and pools to escape the lockdown, there's one final weekend before the unofficial end of the season.

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Away from the sounds of the sea, silence haunts the Coney Island boardwalk.

"It's quite sad. We expected to ride a ride or two," a man walking by Luna Park said.

The Coney Island amusement park remains closed and the Wonder Wheel is still closed too.

"Without guidelines and direction from the state we don't know where we are going to be next year,"'Wonder Wheel co-owner Dennis Vourderis said.

The Coney Island icon first spun to life in 1920, it was built during the Spanish flu pandemic.

100 years later, COVID-19 has kept it closed and for the first time, it may go 18 months without a passenger.

The Vourderis family has owned The Wonder Wheel since 1983, Dennis says this is the worst financial hit they've ever taken.

More than 100 employees are not working and he has already lost millions.

A multimillion-dollar expansion of new rides is supposed to open next year.

Just like neighboring Luna Park, they submitted reopening plans to the state back in May.

"Data and science have shown around the country, and not far like in New Jersey in Connecticut, that amusement parks can operate and can operate safely for more than two months," Luna Park owner Alessandro Zamperla said.

Luna Park opened in 2010 as part of an effort to revitalize Coney Island.

"Not many businesses wanted to go there so we took that leap of faith. And now to see that when we are in difficulty, the city's not even addressing our concerns they're not even answering our requests for help. That is very disheartening," Zamperla said.

Luna Park, the Wonder Wheel, and other attractions on Long Island petitioned the state for guidance and they hope to get an answer soon.

"Thanks to our data-driven public health policies and New Yorkers' hard work, we have achieved - and so far maintained - one of the lowest rates of infection in the nation, but with hot spots popping up across the country, we are continuing to monitor how and when higher-risk industries like amusement parks can safely reopen. We appreciate that these business owners want to plan in advance to operate safely, and will work with them as that process continues," New York State spokesperson Jack Sterne said.

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