Sunday, July 3, 2011

Coney Island's Wonderful Wheel

While our quick trip to Coney Island was focused on experiencing the latest offerings of Luna Park and Scream Zone, it's impossible not to to notice the rides sandwiched directly between the new parks! Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, featuring the world famous Wonder Wheel, is located on the boardwalk and offers up many rides and attractions for both adults and kids.

The park has been operating for less time than the Wheel itself, in fact Deno's actually formed from a grouping of rides and attractions that were once operated by different individuals.  Constantinos Dionysios Vourderis - aka Deno - started by working pushcarts on the boardwalk, but always marveled at the unique Wonder Wheel on the boardwalk.  The kiddie section of Deno's was once known as Ward's Kiddie Park, which he purchased in 1981.

In 1983 the Wonder Wheel was put on the market, and Deno was selected as the individual who could be trusted to "maintain it's promise and brilliance" despite receiving higher offers from other buyers.  With the Wheel and Kiddie Park combined, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park was born.

Today the operation features appx. 17 kiddie rides as well as 5 adult rides such as the Spook-A-Rama dark ride and the Thunderbolt spinning ride.  I'd love to have explored the park more, it will definitely be on the list of to dos when I return to Coney Island.

It is no doubt that the main attraction of the park is the Wonder Wheel.  Created in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company using "100% Bethlehem Steel forged right on the premises," the ride has been a Coney Island landmark ever since.  The ride stands 150 feet tall and has several white stationary cars, but the red and blue cars swing freely on a track between the hub and rim of the wheel as it rotates. 

This unique added thrill takes a traditionally relaxing experience and makes it a little more wild.  The wheel has been copied through time, most notably at Disney California Adventure park which features Mickey's Fun Wheel.  You can download the original patent for the Wonder Wheel from the History section of the park's website, a nice treat.

The Wonder Wheel is impressive just to watch in action.  It's also amusing to hear the delighted screams of riders as their car goes sliding down the track, rocking all the way.  Definitely something to check out while on the boardwalk!

Just to get an idea of the Wheel in person, I took a couple short clips of the ride and threw them together: