Chilly temperatures didn’t stop New Yorkers from coming to the opening of Luna Park in Coney Island this past weekend. And they didn’t seem to freeze out the fun.
“Wow, look that one! It’s my favorite one. It turns me upside down,” said Ethan Arrollo, 8, to his sister and his mother. Ethan was pointing at “The Soarin’ Eagle,” a roller coaster that imitates the flight of a bird, rising over 1,293 feet high at 41 mph.
Arrollo’s mother, Xiomara Pica, said she drives from Staten Island to Luna Park year after year. This year she was early, enthusiastically waiting for the park to open. “I saw an advertisement on my Facebook feed about the opening and one of my kid’s aunts, who lives close to the park, encouraged us to come,” she said. “We couldn’t resist.”
On Saturday, hundreds of people challenged the weather—temperatures were in the 40s—and enjoyed their favorite rides at Luna Park, almost for free. The only cost: Riders were asked to donate $5 to The Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. The money raised will go directly to help girls living in NYC shelters.
On Sunday, the park had some people looking for that offer from the day before, but it was already gone. “Someone told us that hat rides were going to be just $5 this weekend, but I just paid $30 for three rides,” said Rosa Rodriguez, 35, who went to the park with three other adults and three kids.
Some riders were complaining about the prices of rides. But Thad Morris, 51, said that even though the prices were kind of high, it was worth the money to see the smiles on kid’s faces. He said he paid $100 for a Luna Park Card, “But look at my kids! They are having a really good time here.” Luna Cards are pre-paid debit cards that can be used to make faster payments for games, rides, and food.
The brightly lit amusement park has a history going back more than a century. Luna Park first opened in 1903, competing with Steeplechase Park and Dreamland. After the creation of the original park, Frederick Ingersoll, the founder, launched some 44 similar parks around the world. During the 1940s, however, Luna Park closed three times, partly due to fires, and shut down in 1946. But this new Luna Park opened nearby in 2010.
The park has some 30 rides and more 20 games. Morris daughter’s, Emmanela Boateng, was more than prepared to enjoy as many of them as possible.
“I love this one and that one and all of them,” she said. The six-year-old was wearing a heavy navy-blue coat and pointing with excitement at rides that she had already been on, while holding a multicolor unicorn that she won in a water game. She pointed to the “Circus Coaster,” a colorful roller coaster that takes passengers on a high-speed romp over an approximately 500-foot downhill passage.
“I went to that one two times,” she said, “and I wanted to go three times.”