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Press Release

NYCEDC And Central Amusement International Break Ground on New Thunderbolt Roller Coaster in Coney Island

Mar 10 2014

Coney Island’s First Custom Coaster Since the Cyclone Will Open for 2014 Season

Part of Comprehensive Revitalization Plan for Coney Island

BROOKLYN, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball and Central Amusement International President Valerio Ferrari today broke ground on the Thunderbolt, Coney Island’s first custom roller coaster since the Cyclone was built in 1927. Creation of the coaster helps realize the goals outlined in the Coney Island Revitalization Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2009. The plan is anticipated to generate billions of dollars in economic activity and create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decades by preserving and expanding the historic amusement area, investing in district-wide infrastructure, and building new housing, commercial and community space. The Thunderbolt roller coaster represents the largest single private investment in Coney Island’s entertainment area in decades, and demonstrates the resilience and future potential of this coastal Brooklyn community. Kimball and Ferrari were joined by Zamperla S.p.A. President and CEO Alberto Zamperla, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, Alliance for Coney Island Chairperson Dennis Vourderis, and Council Member Mark Treyger.

“Coney Island’s revival will create good jobs and economic activity that will come home to families in South Brooklyn,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “The renewed amusement district, along with affordable housing and community space, have combined to create a vibrant and livable neighborhood. Over the coming years, we will work to advance this revitalization and ensure that Coney Island residents continue to benefit from the area’s economic success for years to come.”

“The Thunderbolt roller coaster represents another exciting step forward in the continued revitalization of Coney Island,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “Strong partnerships among the City, local elected officials, community organizations, and Central Amusement International have helped to expand the amusement district here to its largest size since 1964, attracting record numbers of visitors, creating thousands of new permanent and construction jobs, and sparking additional economic activity. Under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, we look forward to our continued collaboration to bring jobs and growth to this historic and resilient neighborhood.”

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 will be 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.

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 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. Since Luna Park’s opening in Coney Island, visitorship has reached record highs, with over 3 million people visiting the amusement parks during the 2013 season. This is also the fifth year that NYCEDC’s HireNYC program has partnered with local community groups and elected officials to facilitate job screening events targeting locals for job placement opportunities within the amusement district. It is expected that a majority of the nearly 1,000 available jobs will be filled by locals.

The Thunderbolt will feature 3 cars, each with a capacity of 9 passengers, and will be 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 will be built by Zamperla S.p.A. and 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 will join Luna Park’s assortment of rides which include the legendary Cyclone Roller Coaster, Boardwalk Flight, Coney Island Raceway, Air Race, Water Mania and more.

"As Brooklyn Parks Commissioner, as well as a dad and a Brooklynite, I'm thrilled to be here to break ground on the Thunderbolt," said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey. "This project represents yet another step forward in the tremendous renaissance of Coney Island."

“Luna Park in Coney Island is New York’s Playground and we are committed to making sure that kids, in age and at heart, have something to look forward to when they visit,” said Valerio Ferrari, President of Central Amusement International, operator of Luna Park. “The Thunderbolt will give these thrill seekers the chance to experience a ‘loop’ coaster in New York City for the first time in over a century, and our entire team is eager to unveil this revolutionary coaster to the world.”

“Luna Park in Coney Island is reaching even greater heights with the addition of the powerful Thunderbolt Roller Coaster,” Alberto Zamperla, President and CEO of Zamperla S.p.A. “We are thrilled to welcome this exhilarating new attraction to our repertoire of rides that are sure to please every type of coaster enthusiast. The Thunderbolt’s many twists and turns, and 100-foot vertical loop, will thrill visitors from near and far, as we continue to commit ourselves to the revitalization of our beloved Coney Island.”

“With the coming Thunderbolt and other exciting new businesses opening this year, along with the return of beloved programming like free Friday night fireworks, the Mermaid Parade, and the 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Competition, we have a great season in store in Coney Island! We are excited to work with everyone who has a stake in building a greater Coney Island in the years ahead to keep up this wonderful progress," said Dennis Vourderis, Chairperson of the Alliance for Coney Island.

"I applaud the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Central Amusement International for their commitment to invest in Coney Island’s entertainment district,” said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. “The new Thunderbolt roller coaster will be a tremendous addition to the boardwalk and serve as another attraction for people from throughout the region and beyond. The legendary Cyclone will now have a tremendous partner, and Coney Island will be better for it.”

“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 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's Luna Park continues to add the most exciting attractions that will surely liven up the summer and the peninsula this season and for seasons to come,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “The Thunderbolt's arrival is a major addition to the amusement district that will further stimulate and excite our local economy while providing enjoyment to thousands of Coney Island visitors.” “As someone who rides the Cyclone at least once a year, I am very excited to welcome the Thunderbolt Roller Coaster to Coney Island,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “This is one more great new attraction to the area and will help in the effort of recovery, not to mention it will give Coney Islanders a great thrill.”

“Less than eighteen months after the devastation in this community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy we are rebuilding and giving new life to our iconic shorefront,” said State Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny. “I am very proud to represent such a resilient and dedicated community in Albany, and very happy to support the groundbreaking for this new roller coaster. The effort to recover from the storm is ongoing and Coney Island will come back stronger than ever because of the people I have the pleasure of working with both in Albany and Brooklyn.”

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.