‘Superstorm’ Sandy leaves messy, damaging calling card at Coney Island, Rye Playland

By | November 1, 2012

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — They didn’t name it Hurricane Sandy for nothing: The massive and dangerous storm swept piles of wet sand from the Coney Island beachfront into Luna Park and around other local amusement landmarks when it slammed into New York and New Jersey earlier this week.

But fortunately, the most damaging ocean waves that battered other parts of the Northeast didn’t break close enough to the boardwalk and rides to demolish any structures. Instead, the Coney’s Island’s main problem was flooding caused by tidal water that rose from the opposite side of the island. The district lies within New York City’s low-lying “Zone A,” which was under mandatory evacuation.

“Luna Park and all the property in Coney Island between our park and the Cyclone roller coaster were under five feet of water — and it came from the bay,” said Valerio Ferrari, president of Boonton, N.J.-based Zamperla USA, owner and operator of Luna Park. “The water left a lot of mud behind, so we’re working with power washers and hoses and washing everything down. It will take a few days for us to get everything cleaned up.”

Due to the extra-corrosive nature of saltwater and its potential impact on mechanical parts and electrical systems, “we need to very careful, because the damage might not show up right away,” added Ferrari, who noted that Halloween decorations and other park details were removed or secured beforehand. “Once we finish drying everything up, we’ll be inspecting each piece of equipment.

“We’re lucky that it happened at the end of the season. We will concentrate on cleaning up the rides and enhancing Luna Park for next season.”

In other parts of the district, some damage to fencing and to the deck of Steeplechase Pier was reported. Sand was also piled up in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and the Scream Zone.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, a 14-acre Coney Island facility founded in 1896, suffered extensive flooding. Damage is still being assessed.

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, Jane’s Carousel, a decades-long, multi-million-dollar private restoration project of a 90-year-old Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, was threatened by floodwaters. The ride’s floor has suffered some warping, but the popular neighborhood fixture is expected to be operational again within several months.

Meanwhile, at Westchester County-owned Rye Playland, a section of the park’s boardwalk was reportedly seen adrift in Long Island Sound after Sandy passed through. Some damage to fences and walkways was also reported.

Watch for additional Northeast storm coverage in the December edition of AMUSEMENT TODAY, in your email via AT’s daily Extra! Extra! Desktop Edition and at www.amusementtoday.com.

—Dean Lamanna

Mud at Luna Park

Debris at Scream Zone

Sand at Wonder Wheel

Waterline at Cyclone