Coney Island is continuing to celebrate its storied history, this time honoring a now-closed fun park that operated after the amusement district’s heyday but before its recent renaissance.
The Coney Island History Project is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Astroland Park with a new exhibit of history panels to be installed in front of the Astroland Moon Rocket, the park’s first ride.
The Moon Rocket now stands inside Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, and the exhibition is free until Oct. 30 during park hours.
Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project, said that outer space simulators have played a prominent role in Coney’s amusement history.
“It began when Thompson and Dundy brought ‘A Trip to the Moon’ to Steeplechase Park in 1902 and culminated in 1962 with Astroland’s Moon Rocket,” he said.
Astroland closed in 2008, and the Moon Rocket was donated to the city by owners Carol and Jerry Albert.
The old spaceship was in a vacant lot on the shoreline of Staten Island. Then Superstorm Sandy created significant damage to the landmark, leaving fans of Coney upset over the Moon Rocket’s absence.
“The damage done by Sandy left people feeling very emotional,” said Denson in 2014.
It was restored and brought back to Coney Island under Deno’s Wonder Wheel.
In 2014, the Coney Island History Project and Deno’s hosted their Annual History Day, which highlighted the triumphant return to the seaside resort of the historic Astroland Rocket Ship. Attendees were able to take a peek inside the rocket, which had been sealed shut for five years.
“When I saw the wreckage of the rocket after Sandy, I thought it was hopeless,” said Carol back in 2014. “I just couldn’t imagine that they could restore it to such beautiful condition in such a short amount of time. It’s great.”
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is open daily from noon until 10 p.m. on weekdays and until 11:30 p.m. on Fridays-Sundays through Labor Day, weather permitting. In September and October, Deno’s is open weekends and school holidays.