Luna Park, Coney Island

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Irving Underhill (American, 1872-1960). Luna Park and Surf Avenue, Coney Island, 1912. Gelatin dry glass plate negative. Brooklyn Museum

Luna Park is the name of two amusement parks in the neighborhood of Coney Island, Brooklyn in New York City. The first amusement park existed from 1903 to 1944. A second Luna Park was opened on the former site of the nearby Astroland amusement park, and opened on May 29, 2010.

First park[edit]

Luna Park
Luna Park historic postcard.jpg
Luna Park entrance, early 20th century
Location Coney Island, Brooklyn, United States
Coordinates 40°34′37″N 73°58′44″W / 40.577°N 73.979°W / 40.577; -73.979
Owner Frederic Thompson,
Elmer "Skip" Dundy
Opened 1903
Closed Destroyed by fire in 1944, closed in 1946
Elephant ride in 1906
Interior of Luna Park at night, 1905. Electric tower in the foreground.

In 1901 the park's creators, Frederic Thompson and Elmer "Skip" Dundy, had created a wildly successful ride called "A Trip To The Moon", as part of the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, New York. The name of the winged spacecraft (which was not a rocket, but flapped its wings) was Luna, the Latin word for the moon. During a discussion of the name of the park, "Dundy suggested the name of his sister in Des Moines, Luna Dundy Newman."[1]

At the invitation of Steeplechase owner Harry George Tilyou, Thompson and Dundy moved their show to Steeplechase Park, a Coney Island amusement park, for the 1902 season. At the end of that season, the partners obtained a long-term lease for the site of an older amusement park, Sea Lion Park, and rebuilt it as Luna Park, the second major amusement park in Coney Island. Although they claimed the park was named after one of their female relatives, it was probably named for the ship. The architecture was quite fanciful, with thousands of electric lamps on the outside of the buildings at a time when electrification was still a novelty. The park, north of Surf Avenue, and between W. 8th and W. 12th Streets, was accessible from the terminals of the West End and Sea Beach railroad lines.[2]

Witching Waves was one of the most popular rides at Luna Park, invented by Theophilus Van Kannel, who also invented the revolving door.[3] The ride consisted of a large oval course with a flexible metal floor. There were hidden reciprocating levers that produced a wave-like motion.[4] The floor itself did not move but the moving wave propelled two seated small scooter-style cars with two seats, which could be steered by the riders. In 1910, it was moved and installed on the Bowery in Manhattan.


The song "Meet Me Down At Luna, Lena" was recorded by Billy Murray in 1905 to promote the park, among others:[5]

We'll take a trip up to the moon
For that is the place for a lark
So meet me down at Luna, Lena
Down at Luna Park

The song was rerecorded for the 2007 documentary film Welcome Back Riders.


A pair of fires in 1944 damaged Luna Park, destroying much of it.[6] It was not rebuilt and did not open for the 1945 season. After a legal battle and a third fire in 1946, the land was used for other purposes. The original Luna Park now houses a five building cooperative apartment complex and is still called Luna Park to this day.[7]

Second park[edit]

Luna Park
Luna Park Logo.jpg
Luna Park logo
Location Coney Island, Brooklyn, United States
Coordinates 40°34′26″N 73°58′43″W / 40.573968°N 73.978479°W / 40.573968; -73.978479
Owner Zamperla
Operated by Central Amusement International, LLC
General Manager Fernando Velasquez
Opened 2010
Operating season April-October
Area 3.16-acre (12,800 m2)
Total 28
Roller coasters 2
Website Official website
Luna Park during its opening weekend in 2010
The entrance to Luna Park

In 2005, the Coney Island Development Corporation released the "Coney Island Revitalization Plan", which laid out its plan to preserve and grow the historic amusement area; create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood with new retail options and nearly 5,000 new units of housing, including 900 income-targeted units; and generate more than 25,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs. In July 2009, the City passed the Coney Island Rezoning Plan, setting the stage for development in Coney Island's amusement district.

The new Luna Park opened May 29, 2010. Its entrance is patterned after the entrance to the original 1903 Luna Park and was built on the ground of the former Astroland amusement park which closed after the 2008 season. The new park is the home of nineteen new attractions and games. It is the only area in Coney Island in which the use of cash to pay for amusements and rides is not allowed; visitors must buy Luna Cards and spend Luna Credits[8] or use an unlimited ride wristband that allows for four hours of ride time on select rides.[9]


Luna Park includes 19 attractions[10] designed and manufactured by Antonio Zamperla, SpA (Zamperla), a company based in Vicenza, Italy.[11][12]

Luna Park also operates the historic Cyclone Roller Coaster.[13]

Thrill Rides[edit]

Family Rides[edit]

  • Balloon Expedition
  • Circus Coaster
  • Coney Island Hang Glider
  • Coney Island Sound
  • Coney Tower
  • Lynn's Trapeze
  • Surf's Up

Kiddie Rides[edit]

  • Beach Shack
  • Big Top Express
  • Happy Swing
  • Mermaid Parade
  • Speed Boat
  • Sea Serpent
  • Tea Party

Scream Zone[edit]

For the 2011 season, an addition called Scream Zone opened that features four new rides. While part of Luna Park, it is marketed as a separate destination.[14] The Scream Zone logo bears a resemblance to "Tillie", the grinning face that adorned the outside of the Palace Amusements in Asbury Park, New Jersey, which is a nod to legendary Steeplechase Park owner Harry George Tilyou.


  • Boardwalk Flight
  • Coney Island Raceway - Go-Kart Track
  • Slingshot
  • Steeplechase - A Zamperla launching motocoaster with trains resembling horses.
  • Soarin' Eagle - A Zamperla flying coaster where riders lay on stomachs, cars go up a spiral lift hill.
  • Zenobio - A booster-type ride

In popular culture[edit]

Harold Lloyd's 1928 movie Speedy depicts the first Luna Park.

In the Futurama episode, "The Series Has Landed," the main characters of the series visit a theme park on the surface of Earth's moon called Luna Park, a parody of the original.

See also[edit]

  • Luna Park
  • Topsy, elephant euthanized by electrocution at Luna Park in 1903


  1. ^ Pilat, Oliver and Jo Ranson, Sodom By the Sea: An Affectionate History of Coney Island, Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1941, p. 146
  2. ^ Map at
  3. ^ Hall of Fame / Inventor Profile: Theophilus Van Kannel, National Inventors Hall of Fame, USA.
  4. ^ Amusement Parks: Witching Waves 1, The Film Vault.
  5. ^ MP3 file
  6. ^ Ed Boland, jr., "FYI: An elephant's demise," New York Times, July 8, 2001, pg. CY2
  7. ^ [1] Luna Park (co-op)
  8. ^ New York City Economic Development Corporation. "Press Images". Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Luna Park. "Park Prices". Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Luna Park Attractions
  11. ^ "Coney Island Gets a $30 Million Italian Makeover." The New York Times. April 23, 2010.
  12. ^ "Luna Park Opens at Coney Island." USA Today. May 27, 2010.
  13. ^ Luna Park. "Ride Credits". Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "‘Scream Zone’ Opens, Joining Luna Park in Coney Island". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2011-05-11. 

External links[edit]