Coney Island, one of the most beloved attractions in the U.S., has finally reopened after a 529-day hiatus.
Famous for its boardwalks and amusement parks, Coney Island shut down in late 2019, as it does at the conclusion of every season. However, thanks to the arrival of the pandemic in early 2020, it didn’t reopen in the spring.
Last weekend, that finally changed.
“It’s a very emotional day,” Alessandro Zamperla, the president of Central Amusement International Inc., which owns Coney Island’s Luna Park amusement park, told NBC News. “We wanted to spread positivity. It’s been very tough, but now is really a day of celebration, a day where we get together and we want to inspire people to come here, to really be able to have fun.”
While Coney Island was only able to welcome a third of its usual capacity, the air was once again full of the sound of laughter and the smells of hot dogs and funnel cakes. The island’s reopening also allowed for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Wonder Wheel, one of its most famous attractions. The Wonder Wheel technically turned 100 in 2020, but with Coney Island’s doors closed, a centennial celebration wasn’t possible.
“It’s a year late, but that’s okay. We get to mark history,” New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio told Travel + Leisure of the Wonder Wheel’s big anniversary. “Coney Island comes back, the rides come back and now New York City will come back. You can feel it.”
Coney Island’s reopening is the latest on a long list of promising developments
as New York State looks to return to pre-pandemic normality. As of April 6, all New Yorkers over 30 are eligible for vaccination, while the state also removed mandatory quarantine rules for out-of-state visitors.
“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but until we get there it is more important than ever for each and every New Yorker to wear a mask, socially distance and follow all safety guidelines,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in an official statement in early April.