Zamperla breaks ground on new Coney Island coaster, another to follow

From NY Post.

Coney Island is ready for some wild rides.

The former roller coaster capitol of the world now only has the rickety landmark Cyclone, but it’s getting two new coasters in time for the summer season.

Zamperla USA, the operator of Luna Park, broke ground last week on the Soaring Eagle – the seaside amusement district’s first major roller coaster since the Cyclone went up in 1927. At that time, Coney Island had 10 coasters.

The Soaring Eagle will be a 66-foot-high ride that offers thrill-seekers strapped in a horizontal position the sensation of flight as they speed through a series of turns, drops and an upside-down inversion.

And later this month, Zamperla will start building the 65-foot-high Steeplechase Coaster, which will launch riders seated in horse-shaped cars modeled after those of Coney Island’s original Steeplechase ride on a twisting, turning race.

Both coasters will be part of Zamperla’s new $12 million “Scream Zone” on Stillwell Avenue that includes two other thrill rides. The Italy-based company has also been tapped by the city to take over running the larger, faster Cyclone, which drops riders 85 feet and borders Luna Park.

“Historically, Coney Island was always been on the cutting edge of the amusement industry, and iconic roller coasters like the Cyclone were a major part of that,” said Zamperla CEO Valerio Ferrari. “With Scream Zone — which will include the first major roller coasters in New York City in more than 80 years — we are bringing back the thrills and innovative spirit that first made Coney Island America’s Playground.“

City officials said that even more coasters are in Coney Island’s future.

Coney Island historian Charles Denson said he welcomes seeing Coney Island return to its glory days as a coaster kingdom.

“Coney Island was always a testing ground for roller coasters,” said Denson, who estimated roughly 50 coasters have thrilled riders in the amusement district since the former Switchback Railway became the first in 1884.

“They were building them left and right. Testing them out. It was amazing.”


Roller Coaster Tale of the Tape

1. Soaring Eagle

Track Length: 1,293 feet

Max Height: 66 feet

Number of cars: Six, fitting four passengers each.

Tracks: Steel

Speed: 25 mph

Opening: Spring 2011

2. Steeplechase Coaster

Track Length: 1,194 feet

Max Height: 65 feet

Number of cars: Two, fitting 12 passengers each.

Tracks: Steel

Speed: 40 mph

Opening: Spring 2011

3. Cyclone

Track Length: 2,640 feet

Max Height: 85 feet

Number of cars: three, fitting eight passengers each

Tracks: Wood

Speed: 60 mph

Opened: 1927

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