Coney Island in popular culture

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Coney Island has been featured in novels, films, television shows, cartoons, and theatrical plays.[1][2][3][4]

A view of the Wonder Wheel with the former Astroland Park in the foreground.

By medium[edit]

In literature[edit]

In music[edit]

  • The music video for Beyoncé's song "XO" was filmed at Coney Island and includes footage taken on The Cyclone.
  • Coney Island Native, Rapper Magneto Dayo released an album titled "Coney Island" paying homage to his hometown
  • The cover of Cyndi Lauper's album She's So Unusual was shot at Henderson Walk on Coney Island by Annie Leibovitz in 1983.
Jason Sebastian Russo at Coney Island filming a Hopewell music video, April 2009
  • English singer-songwriter and actor David Bowie refers to Coney Island in the 2001 song Uncle Floyd (Toy album, finally released in 2021) and 2002 song Slip Away (Heathen album) : "Sailing over Coney Island / Twinkle twinkle Uncle Floyd", as a tribute to Floyd Vivino and "The Uncle Floyd Show".
  • An early musical reference came in 1926 with "Coney Island Washboard Roundelay", music by Hampton Durand and Jerry Adams, words by Ned Nestor and Aude Shugart. The song is commonly accompanied by a percussionist playing a washboard.
  • "Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby" was written in 1948 by Les Applegate and is often included in the repertoire of a barbershop quartets.
  • Australian modern classical composer Don Banks (1923–1980) composed a short orchestral work called "Coney Island" around 1960 to 1961, which gives a vivid musical picture of the amusement park. It was included on an L.P. record, "Musical Merry-go-round", released in 1961, with music by various composers inspired by the circus and fairground world, played by the Sinfonia of London, conducted by Douglas Gamley and Robert Irving.
  • In 1962 the American Doo-Wop Group The Excellents released a song "Coney Island Baby" which hit #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962.
  • American singer-songwriter Lou Reed's 1976 album is entitled Coney Island Baby and features the track "Coney Island Baby".
  • American rock band Aerosmith has a song called "Bone to Bone (Coney Island Whitefish Boy)" from their 1979 album Night in the Ruts.
  • The debut album of the American jazz band The Lounge Lizards contains a song called "I Remember Coney Island".
  • American rock band Joan Jett & the Blackhearts has a song called "Coney Island Whitefish" from their 1982 album Album.
  • American rock band Velvet Underground has a song called "Coney Island Steeplechase" on the 1986 album Another View.
  • British Group Swing Out Sister recorded a track called "Coney Island Man" during their "Kaleidoscope World" sessions and featured on their single "You On My Mind" in 1989.
  • Pop group New Kids on the Block filmed parts of the video for "Please Don't Go Girl" at Coney Island. Several rides including the Wonder Wheel and the Hell Hole are shown.
  • American rock band Mercury Rev references Coney Island in the song "Coney Island Cyclone", from their 1991 album Yerself Is Steam.
  • American hip-hop trio Salt-n-Pepa filmed the video at Coney Island for their single "Shoop" in 1993.
  • American synth-pop band The Magnetic Fields references Coney Island in "Strange Powers" from 1994's Holiday.
  • American alternative rap / alternative rock group Fun Lovin' Criminals has a song called "Coney Island Girl" on their 1996 album Come Find Yourself.
  • The music video for the 1999 tune “Summer Girls” by LFO (Lyte Funkie Ones) was filmed on the Boardwalk when the Astroland Rocket was on Gregory & Paul’s roof and provided the setting for this top 10 summer hit.
  • American rock band Death Cab for Cutie have a song called "Coney Island" from their 2001 album, The Photo Album.
  • American singer-songwriter Tom Waits has a song called "Coney Island Baby," on his 2002 album Blood Money. He also references Coney Island in his songs "Table Top Joe" from the 2002 album Alice and "Take It With Me" from the 1999 album Mule Variations.
  • New York singer/songwriter and banjo contortionist, Curtis Eller has a song "Coney Island Blue" on his 2004 album Taking Up Serpents Again
  • German punk band The Flunkeys released a single from their 2007 album, No Riot, called "Coney Island".
  • American rapper Bizarre's 2007 album release is titled Blue Cheese 'n' Coney Island referring to the style of chili dog.
  • American band Beat Circus' 2008 album entitled Dreamland, references the turn-of-the-century Coney Island theme park Dreamland in several of its songs including Coney Island Creepshow and Hell Gate, and includes historical images and postcards of early Coney Island donated by the Coney Island Museum.
  • The indie/folk-rock band Good Old War have a song called "Coney Island" on their debut album, Only Way To Be Alone.
  • In 1995, the music video of "One of Us" by Joan Osborne featured Coney Island.
  • In 1982, the music video of "Even the Nights Are Better" by Air Supply featured Coney Island.
  • Brooklyn-based hardcore/post-grunge band Life of Agony filmed a music video for their single "Through and Through" on Coney Island beach in 1993.
  • The song "Topsy's Revenge" by the band Grand Archives tells the story of the death of Topsy, the Coney Island elephant, electrocuted by the owners of Luna Park and filmed by the Edison Manufacturing Company.
  • The song "Coney Island" by Plastiscines French Rock band on their album About Love
  • British band The Coral have a song called Coney Island on their 2010 album Butterfly House
  • Scottish band Franz Ferdinand references Coney Island and the Coney Island Cyclone in their single "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" ("But if you run / you can run to the Coney Island rollercoaster").
  • Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperor start the third track on their 2000 album "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven" with a sample of an old man talking about Coney Island, in a very nostalgic tone.
  • British boy band The Wanted filmed the music video for their 2010 single "Lose My Mind" at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Several rides, including the bumper cars and the Wonder Wheel, are shown.
  • South Korean boy group BIGBANG filmed the music video for their 2012 single "Blue" and the Cyclone is shown.
  • South Korean singers Son Ga-In and Jo Hyung-woo filmed the music video for their 2013 single "Brunch" and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and Riegelmann Boardwalk are shown.
  • The Klezmatics recorded an album of Woody Guthrie lyrics about Coney Island that they put to music called "Wonder Wheel." It includes the song "Mermaid Avenue."[7]
  • Lana Del Rey frequently references Coney Island in her songs and often refers to herself as the Queen of Coney Island. Examples include the songs "Carmen," "Off To The Races," "Mermaid Motel" and "TV In Black & White."
  • Taylor Swift has a song called "Coney Island" featuring the National on her 2020 album Evermore.

In film[edit]

  • In the silent short Coney Island (1917), starring Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, the scene is Luna Park amusement park and several famous rides are featured, including Witching Waves.
  • In A.I. (2001), directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Haley Joel Osment, David and Teddy take a submersible to the Blue Fairy, which turns out to be a statue from a submerged attraction at Coney Island. Teddy and David become trapped when the park's Ferris wheel falls on their vehicle.
  • In the movie Angel Heart, Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) goes to Coney Island, to gather information on his case. The Wonder Wheel is seen in the background.
  • Alvy Singer, the lead character in Woody Allen's 1977 semi-autobiographical film classic Annie Hall lived in Coney Island as a child in a house that was under the Thunderbolt rollercoaster that shook wildly every time the coaster made its rounds. Alvy's father ran the bumper cars' concession.
  • A Coney Island amusement park is the setting of the Rhedosaurus' last stand in the 1953 science-fiction film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
  • The final scene of the 2008 movie Cloverfield shows the main characters on the Ferris wheel at Coney Island.
  • It was the title and the setting for the 1943 Betty Grable musical, Coney Island.
  • The 1998 drama He Got Game takes place in Coney Island.
  • The 1985 movie Heaven Help Us contains a scene where Andrew McCarthy and Mary Stuart Masterson's characters spend a date at Coney Island, and kiss passionately (and possibly go even further than that) under a boardwalk during a rainstorm.
  • The 1927 silent film It, starring Clara Bow, features a trip to the park and a tour of the historic rides.
  • Coney Island is portrayed in the 2015 adult animated short film Last Days of Coney Island, written and directed by Ralph Bakshi.
  • The 1974 Gordon Parks movie The Super Cops contains a scene where David Greenberg (Ron Leibman) and Robert Hantz (David Selby) go undercover on an independent drug bust in Coney Island.
  • In the 1979 film The Warriors, a gang of the same name fight their way back to Coney Island after being accused of a murder that they did not commit.
  • In the 1953 film Little Fugitive, a small boy runs away to Coney Island after thinking he has killed his brother.
  • In Madigan, Coney Island is the backdrop for a scene wherein the title character and his partner speak with a local bookie to get information on their suspect.
  • Coney Island is a location in Darren Aronofsky's first two films, Pi (1998) and Requiem for a Dream (2000), specifically Brighton Beach for the latter. Darren Aronofsky grew up in Brighton Beach.
  • In the film The Pick-Up Artist, Molly Ringwald's character lives in Coney Island, right across from Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs.
  • In Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Remo Williams (played by Fred Ward) is seen doing workout exercises on the Wonder Wheel, as well as playing boardway games on Coney Island.
  • In Sinners' Holiday (1930) with James Cagney and Joan Blondell, the story is set on Coney Island. The movie was based on the play Penny Arcade.
  • In the 1982 film Sophie's Choice, the characters played by Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol spend "Dress-Up Sunday" at Coney Island. Prior to this, Sophie exclaims "Coney Island - Oh boy!" with unparalleled enthusiasm.
  • In the 1928 silent film Speedy, Harold Lloyd spends a day at Coney Island with his girlfriend.
  • In the 1948 film Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven, Mandy (Florence Bates) takes Eddie (Guy Madison) to Coney Island where Perry (Diana Lynn) works in swimsuit in an amusement booth.
  • The 2008 movie Two Lovers is set in Brighton Beach.
  • The 2005 film Unknown White Male begins with the lead character waking up in Coney Island with a sudden case of retrograde amnesia.
  • In the 2003 movie Uptown Girls, Dakota Fanning's character runs off to Coney Island.
  • Woody Allen's 2017 film titled Wonder Wheel with Kate Winslet, the film is set in 1950s Coney Island.
  • In 2017 movie Wonder, Coney Island was featured in a small, but important role: the beach was the favorite place of the main character's sister, Via, because that is where she often hangs out with her now deceased grandma. Coney Island appears in a flashback and in Via's "lonely day" where she remembers her grandma.
  • Spider-Man's final battle against the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place at Coney Island.
  • In the opening scenes of the 2013 post-apocalyptic science fiction film Oblivion, the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel are seen damaged sixty years after an alien invasion destroyed New York City.[8]
  • In the 2009 film Push, Nick (Chris Evans) met Kira (Camilla Belle) at Coney Island and a photograph of the two of them there becomes part of the film's plot.
  • In the 2015 film Brooklyn, Eilis and Tony visit Coney Island.

In television[edit]

  • The 1950s television show Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, starring Darren McGavin, features an episode called "Coney Island Baby", which takes place amidst the amusement parks.
  • The Naked City 1958 first-season episode; 'Burst of Passion' features a desolate closed down off season Coney Island as the final hiding place of a psychopath random killer (Woodrow Parfey) being hunted down and shot dead by Det. Jimmy Halloran played by James Franciscus.
  • The American Dragon: Jake Long episode, "Flight of the Unicorn" (November 3, 2005), features Jake, Trixie, and Spud taking a vacation at Coney Island and discovering an actual unicorn on display, which they try to rescue and send to its herd in Central Park.[9]
  • In a Dora the Explorer episode, "We All Scream for Ice Cream" (2000), Dora and Boots go to "Coney Island".[citation needed]
  • In The Golden Girls episode, "Sophia's Wedding"(1988), Sophia mentions that her late husband Sal and his business partner used to run a pizza & knish stand at Coney Island.
  • In the Seinfeld episode, "The Subway" (January 8, 1992), Jerry Seinfeld travels to Coney Island to retrieve his stolen car, but ends up just going on the rides.[10]
  • Several episodes of The Sopranos have scenes at Coney Island, including the episode "Where's Johnny?"(March 21, 2004).[citation needed]
  • In an Ugly Betty episode, Gio takes Betty and DJ (Daniel Junior) to Coney Island to hide from his grandparents who are going to take him back to France.
  • The Wizards of Waverly Place episode, "Detention Election" (March 19, 2010), contains a B-story wherein Jerry Russo, Max Russo, and Harper get stuck on a Ferris wheel at Coney Island.[11]
  • In the animated comedy series Futurama, protagonist Phillip J. Fry, a New York City native, attended "Coney Island Community College". In the second episode of the series, "The series has landed", the crew make a delivery to a theme park on the moon called Luna Park, a parody of Coney Island's Luna Park.
  • Coney Island is the setting for the Wonder Pets episode, "Save the Squirrel!", wherein the Pets saved a baby squirrel from a Ferris wheel and then from the Cyclone roller coaster.
  • Coney Island was the base for Dr. Blowhole in the Penguins of Madagascar episode, "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge" where the penguins discovered where he was so they can rescue King Julien and defeat Blowhole.
  • In The Path Season 1 Episode 8 "The Shore", Eddie Lane (Aaron Paul) and your son Hawk travel to Coney Island's and the Wonder Wheel appears.
  • In the 3rd season of The Strain, Eph wanted to exchange from a book to a boy, resulting in a fight in the Coney Island water.
  • Coney Island is the home of hacker collective fsociety, in the drama-thriller series, Mr. Robot. Scenes were also shot on Coney Island's Wonder Wheel.[12]
  • Coney Island was the first location visited during the final leg of The Amazing Race 21, where the final three teams had to find a clue hidden in plain sight on the Riegelmann Boardwalk.[13]

In theater[edit]

In video games[edit]

In social media[edit]

Two catchphrase recorded on Coney Island by the NYC web series “Sidetalk” have gone viral: "Bing Bong" and "Joe Byron; What's up, baby? Take me out to dinner." (said by a homeless man)[14][15][16]

By location[edit]

Steeplechase Park[edit]

Luna Park (1903-1944)[edit]

  • Roscoe Arbuckle's 1917 movie Coney Island features Luna Park.
  • The 1928 Oscar-nominated King Vidor movie The Crowd includes a double date sequence filmed at Luna Park.
  • Part of Harold Lloyd's 1928 movie Speedy was shot at Luna Park.
  • The song "Meet Me Down At Luna, Lena" was recorded by Billy Murray in 1905 to promote the park, among others.[17] The song was rerecorded for the 2007 documentary film Welcome Back Riders.[18]


  • Artist Philomena Marano created a body of work inspired by the park in the papier collé method, American Dream-Land.[19][20]
  • A fictionalized Dreamland serves as a major setting in Disney's 2019 live-action adaptation of Dumbo. The film references the electrical fire, but is not historically accurate to the actual events: in Dumbo, the fire took place in 1919, and Dreamland was owned by V. A. Vandevere, a fictional character.
  • Kevin Baker wrote a historical novel, Dreamland, about life in New York City at the time Dreamland existed, touching on the politics, economics, social conditions of the time, and Dreamland is one of the central places in the book. His book also contains a description of the fire.
  • Dutch writer J. Bernlef's novel De witte stad (The White City) narrates about the fictional lives of many Dreamland inhabitants.
  • Dutch writer Arthur Japin's novel De grote wereld (The Big World), about two midgets, is partly set in Dreamland.
  • Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas writes at length on Dreamland in his retroactive manifesto for Manhattan, Delirious New York.
  • Dutch writer Peter Verhelst's novel Geschiedenis van een berg (History of a mountain) about a park based on Dreamland, called 'Droomland' (Dreamland).
  • Henry Miller mentions Dreamland in his novel, Tropic of Capricorn: I was walking again in Dreamland and a man was walking above me on a tightrope and above him a man was sitting in an airplane spelling letters of smoke in the sky.
  • Steven Millhauser, in his short story "Paradise Park", also talks about Dreamland as a rival amusement park. There are some similarities between Paradise Park and Dreamland.
  • Fannie Flagg, in "Standing in the Rainbow", referred to Dreamland as being 'so big they had an entire little town there'.
  • American author Alice Hoffman writes about Dreamland in her 2014 novel of historical fiction entitled "The Museum of Extraordinary Things." The book is set in New York City in the early 1900s and includes the Dreamland fire in the plot, as well as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
  • American author Christopher Bram sets the last part of his novel at Dreamland, in his 2000 novel of historical fiction entitled "The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes." The major character of the novel is conceived as one of the major "acts" at Dreamland in an extensive treatment of the setting.
  • Tom Waits wrote the song "Tabletop Joe" in which the title character is himself part of the freak show exhibit, "a man without a body," but Joe becomes rich and famous as a part of the Dreamland show, and after being shunned, after joining Dreamland, he now feels that he is where he belongs.
  • Brian Carpenter wrote a play treatment which he used as a springboard for lyrics and compositions behind his second studio album for Beat Circus entitled Dreamland. Carpenter's Dreamland is a 150-page score and song cycle interwoven with Carpenter's fictional tale of an impoverished, alcoholic gold miner who makes a pact with the devil before fleeing eastward to work in Dreamland's sideshows. The album featured Todd Robbins, alumnus of Coney Island, and its booklet includes historical images of Dreamland donated by the Coney Island Museum.[21]


  1. ^ Google Books.
  2. ^ "Coney Island: The People's Playground," by Michael Immerso.
  3. ^ Immerso, Michael (2002). Coney Island: the people's playground (illustrated ed.). Rutgers University Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-8135-3138-0.
  4. ^ Rabinovitz, Lauren (2004). "The Coney Island Comedies". In Charlie Keil, Shelley Stamp (ed.). American cinema's transitional era: audiences, institutions, practices (illustrated ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24027-8.
  5. ^ "A Coney Island of the mind". The Economist. August 30, 2007.
  6. ^ Linda Sue, Park (16 March 2018). "Picture Books to Help Kids Weather Our Age of Anxiety". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  7. ^ The Klezmatics Website
  8. ^[bare URL image file]
  9. ^ Flight of the Unicorn (American Dragon: Jake Long - Jeff Goode's official site)
  10. ^ "The Subway" (Seinfeld Scripts)
  11. ^ Wizards of Waverly Place – Detention Election; (The Futon Critic)
  12. ^ Barlow, Wil (17 October 2015). "'Mr. Robot' Creator Sam Esmail and the Cast On The Show's Breathless Season 1 and Season 2 Plans". Indiewire. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  13. ^ "'The Amazing Race' finale ends with shocking win". Today. December 10, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  14. ^ "Bing Bong: The wild New York meme that made it to the White House". The Independent. 2021-12-18. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  15. ^ Colombo, Charlotte. "TikTokers raised over $35,000 to help a man who went viral for asking President 'Joe Byron' to take him out to dinner". Insider. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  16. ^ December 18, Tyler Aquilina; EST, 2021 at 01:25 PM. "The Jonas Brothers rope Biden into viral 'Joe Byron' TikTok video". Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  17. ^ MP3 file
  18. ^ Welcome Back Riders
  19. ^ Denson, Charles, "Coney Island Lost and Found," Ten Speed Press, 2002, pages 227–231
  20. ^ Breuckelen Magazine Video "Interview with Philomena Marano" June 2014
  21. ^ Webster, Sarah (February 1, 2008). "Circus Coming To Town". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved February 2, 2008.