NEW YORK, June 17 -- The New York City Economic Development Corp. issued the following news release:
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Central Amusement International (CAI) today announced the grand opening of the Thunderbolt, Coney Island's (https://www.nycedc.com/project/coney-island) first custom roller coaster since the Cyclone was built in 1927. Creation of the coaster, which officially opened on Saturday, builds upon the success to date of the Coney Island Revitalization Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2009. The plan aims to generate billions of dollars in economic activity and create tens of thousands of jobs by preserving and expanding the historic amusement area, investing in district-wide infrastructure, and building new housing, commercial and community space. Over $140 million has already been invested and thousands of jobs created, with an additional $180 million proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio for the coming years. The approximately $10 million Thunderbolt roller coaster represents the largest single private investment in Coney Island's entertainment area in decades, and demonstrates the resiliency and future potential of this coastal Brooklyn community. NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball and CAI President Valerio Ferrari were joined by United States Senator Charles Schumer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Diane Savino, Councilmember Mark Treyger and Alliance for Coney Island Executive Director Johanna Zaki.
"Coney Island has seen incredible revitalization and investment in recent years, and the Thunderbolt roller coaster is just the latest example," said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. "This incredible roller coaster joins the long list of attractions that have helped expand the amusement district to its largest size since 1964, while also bringing employment opportunities to the local workforce."
As part of the effort to revitalize the iconic amusement and entertainment district, NYCEDC issued an RFP in 2012 seeking a respondent to fund, build and operate new amusements or ancillary entertainment attractions on City-owned property adjacent to the Boardwalk. NYCEDC selected CAI and Zamperla S.p.A.'s vision for a modern, steel incarnation of the original wooden Thunderbolt on its historic site, where it thrilled riders from the 1920s through the 1980s. The coaster is located near the recently restored B&B Carousell and Steeplechase Plaza, which opened in summer 2013, and adjacent to the existing Luna Park which CAI built and opened starting in 2010 pursuant to an RFP by NYCEDC. Since opening Luna Park, CAI has invested more than $30 million into the revitalization of Coney Island. The Thunderbolt will continue the expansion of amusements farther west, and will help create a more contiguous and vibrant amusement area along the Boardwalk. Since Luna Park's opening in Coney Island, visitorship has reached record highs, with over three million people visiting the amusement parks during the 2013 season, and a new one-day attendance record set just three weeks ago on Memorial Day 2014.
The continued development of the amusement area is part of the City's plan to revitalize Coney Island as an economic engine of south Brooklyn, bringing much needed housing, retail, services and career opportunities to the larger neighborhood. The plan calls for nearly 5,000 new units of housing, including approximately 900 affordable units, and will generate more than 25,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs. As part of the revitalization plan, the City is investing a total of more than $150 million toward infrastructure improvements in Coney Island, including upgrading sewer infrastructure and rebuilding large sections of the Boardwalk. Mayor de Blasio also recently proposed approximately $180 million in new funding to advance major infrastructure improvements and related work in Coney Island. Together with the funding already budgeted to date, this new allocation would provide for new and upgraded storm and sanitary sewers and related investments that will facilitate the ambitious mixed-use residential development enabled by the Coney Island Comprehensive Rezoning in 2009, unlocking new affordable and mixed-income housing as well as much-needed neighborhood retail, services and employment opportunities.
The Thunderbolt features three cars, each with a capacity of nine passengers, and is the first roller coaster in the area since 1910 to send riders upside-down in a vertical loop. Reaching speeds of 55 miles per hour and standing at 115 feet tall with 2,233 feet of track, the Thunderbolt was built by Zamperla S.p.A. and is operated by Central Amusement International, operator of Luna Park. The approximately two minute ride will begin with a 90-degree vertical drop, followed by a 100 foot vertical loop, an 80 foot zero-g roll, a 112 degree over-banked turn, a unique heartline dive, a corkscrew and several airtime hills. The coaster joins Luna Park's assortment of rides which include the legendary Cyclone Roller Coaster, Boardwalk Flight, Coney Island Raceway, Air Race, Water Mania and more.
"The Thunderbolt will be a new icon for Coney Island, and as a native Brooklynite who loved the original, I'm especially excited for the re-opening of this exciting ride," said United States Senator Charles Schumer. "I'm sure that it will be a magnet that will draw many thousands of visitors to enjoy all the thrills it has to offer."
"Look out, thrill seekers! The Thunderbolt Rollercoaster is the latest and greatest star in the Coney Island's grand universe of entertainment," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. "This attraction promises to be an 'electrifying' boost to the local economy, all while delighting the young and young at heart. Thanks to EDC President Kimball and CAI President Ferrari for helping bring the Thunderbolt to life."
"Coney Island has always brought the thunder to New York City and beyond, so it's only fitting that the Thunderbolt is back in its rightful spot alongside the boardwalk," said Councilmember Mark Treyger. "This latest addition will greatly enhance the historic amusement area and provide thrills for local residents and visitors to our great neighborhood. I am thrilled that there is yet another great reason for New Yorkers and tourists alike to visit the People's Playground and enjoy the many exciting attractions that call Coney Island home."
"I am thrilled that the 'new' Thunderbolt is finally here," said State Senator Diane Savino. "Not only does this mark a new chapter in the re-birth of Coney Island but it means summer is back! I encourage all of those thrill seekers traveling to places like Great Adventure or Rye Playland to look no further than our backyard, America's original Playground."
"The opening of the Thunderbolt Roller Coaster represents the optimism and strength that is now felt all around the Coney Island community. Less than two years after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and with a solid revitalization plan already underway, we are rebuilding and giving new life to the iconic shorefront by adding the first new roller coaster to the area in decades," said Assembly Member Alec Brook-Krasny. "I am very happy to support this ribbon-cutting - the future of Coney Island is represented in so many ways by the opening of the Thunderbolt. The revitalization of Coney Island will not only bring in much-needed revenues for the City of New York but will add many new jobs, expand business activity, provide necessary upgrades to infrastructure, and bring new residents to the area. On behalf of this great community, let us continue the re-opening and rebuilding efforts on the same solid footing."