In a mark that summer is well on its way and darker days are behind us, Coney Island — Brooklyn’s beacon of wonder — is opening its gates to the public.

This Saturday, April 2, at 11:00am, Luna Park will reopen with the annual egg cream christening of the Coney Island Cyclone, which turns 95 this year. In honor of the iconic rollercoaster’s 95th birthday, the first 95 guests will ride free.

Amongst the first guests at the park will be children served by three local organizations: Children of Promise, the Coney Island Sharks, and Operation H.O.O.D., following the park’s tradition of working with local charities on opening day. Last year, it was our essential workers who got the first taste of adrenaline.

Alessandro Zamperla, president and CEO of Central Amusement International Inc., said the parks were “extremely grateful” for the partnerships with local organizations, and they looked forward to continuing working together to benefit the community.

“Our entire team is filled with gratitude and enthusiasm as we open our doors for the 2022 Season,” Zamperla said. “It is incredibly exciting to finally have Luna Park in Coney Island filled with guests and joy after a very long winter.”

Coney Island is reopening. Photo: Anna Bradley-Smith for BK Reader.

Following Luna Park’s opening this weekend, the doors to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park will open Sunday, April 10 with its decades-long tradition of the “Blessing of the Rides” ceremony on the official opening day of Palm Sunday.

The ceremony will take place on the boardwalk in front of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park at 10:00am, and will conclude with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The first 102 guests will get a free ride on the Wonder Wheel in honor of its 102nd anniversary.

Dennis and Steve Vourderis, the owners of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, said the family was delighted to invite everyone to the 37th Annual Blessing of the Rides.

“We are excited to continue the legacy of our parents, Denos and Lula Vourderis by inviting the local children from the Salt & Sea Mission to enjoy the rides for free, a tradition since 1985,” the pair said.

“We look forward to a great 2022 season and creating many more WONDER-ful memories.”

This year, the much-loved Mermaid Parade will return to Coney Island on June 18 for its 40th year, and the New York Aquarium will be opening its newly completed bi-lingual English/Spanish installation, PlayQuarium.

“Children can touch and climb their way through the exhibit while learning about marine ecosystems in New York City and other parts of the world,” said Craig Piper, WCS Director of City Zoos/Interim NY Aquarium Director.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said that after suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening of the Coney Island amusement district — an important economic engine in Southern Brooklyn — would “not only provide a boom for the region but should spread joy throughout the City as the beloved sights, sounds, and smells of spring and summer return.”

The amusement attractions will be open for New York City School’s Spring Break starting Friday, April 15 through Sunday, April 24, then weekends only through Memorial Day. Beginning Friday, May 27, attractions will go into a full 7 day-a-week operation.

Visitors can stay up-to-date on all local events by visiting the Coney Island Fun Guide.

Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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