Luna Park breaks ground on famous Thunderbolt coaster

Good things come to those who wait, even if that wait is 32 years long. On March 10, Coney Island’s Luna Park broke ground on its newest attraction and the return of an old favorite, the Thunderbolt roller coaster, which closed in 1984 and was demolished in 2000.

Politicians along with representatives of the Alliance for Coney Island, Amusement Rides Company Zamperla, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Central Amusement International and the New York City Department of Parks were on hand to celebrate the construction of the ride which is slated to be completed by Memorial Day weekend.

“The Thunderbolt roller coaster represents another exciting step forward in the continued revitalization of Coney Island,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball.

Although it will inherit the same name as the original wooden coaster which opened in 1925,

this isn’t your grandfather’s Thunderbolt. The thrill ride is set to fit modern times.

“We’ve come here to Coney Island with the mind to respect the memories that lie here. I think it was very important to be able to bring back a ride like the Thunderbolt,” said Alberto Zamperla, president and CEO of Zamperla S.p.A. “Of course, it has to be something new. It can’t be the same because the memories are good, but the world is moving ahead and to respect the Thunderbolt, it’s good that we have something completely new.”

The new iteration will sport the park’s first ever vertical lift steel coaster. “There’s a new safety system and new cars with three passenger seats. (The original) had an even number, but now families are different. Demographics are different. We keep things updated. That is very important,” continued Zamperla.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is excited about the new addition to Luna, although he’s not eager to test out the thrill-seeking ride. “One thing for sure, I will not be the first person to ride this ride. I’m afraid of roller coasters,” he joked of the ride that is expected to last two minutes with speeds of 55 mph, including a 90-degree vertical drop. “But Thunderbolt is going to be a lightning rod of entertainment, economic development, and a new family friendly environment. Coney Island is back.”

Adams praised the collaboration behind the area’s resurgence. “It is an indicator of EDC and the mayor’s commitment to the development of Coney Island and how we’re going to develop, along with the local alliance and community groups and organizations,” said Adams.

The new coaster is also expected to continue to improve the area’s economic growth. “It is music to my ears to hear that this is an opportunity to create further jobs for local residents who are seeking employment,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger. “It is also important that we further stimulate the local economy here in Coney Island as we are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.”

After addressing the media, shovels were handed out for the groundbreaking ceremony, which was met with cheers.  “I’ll say that Coney Island has always brought the thunder,” continued Treyger, “whether it is history, culture, food, people, amusements, and now it’s very fitting that the Thunderbolt will be calling Coney Island home.

“We are in this together,” he went on. “I am so proud to represent one of the most historic neighborhoods across the entire country. I will be looking forward to more thunder.”

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