Coney Island opening weekend and season preview 2013

Bye-bye, winter. Fuck off, Sandy. Coney Island's amusement parks reopen this weekend—here's what's in store for the spring and beyond.

  • Coney Island preview 2013

    The local qualifying round for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 takes place outside Nathan's boardwalk location, Mar 23 at 1pm.

    Pictured: Tim "Eater X" Janus, New York

  • Photograph: Phyllis B. Dooney

    Coney Island preview 2013

    Ride Deno's Wonder Wheel all day for free on Mar 24 (11am–6pm).



  • Photograph: Deno Wonder Wheel Park

    Say hello to this chap at the retooled Spook-A-Rama in Deno's Wonder Wheel Park.

  • Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz christens the Cyclone

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Coney Island preview 2013

    The Olde Time Strongman Spectacular on May 19 marks the return of Coney Island USA.

  • Coney Island preview 2013

    The Coney Island Reggae Beach Party returns on May 26.

  • The Brooklyn Cyclones home opener is on June 18.

  • Photo: Linus Z. Gelber

    Coney Island preview 2013

    Friday-night fireworks on the boardwalk return on June 21 at 9:30pm


  • Photograph: J Carter Rinaldi

    Coney Island preview 2013

    Coney Island Mermaid Parade swims into view on June 22.

  • Coney Island preview 2013

    Neither Sandy nor the Red Coats could stop Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4.



  • Photograph: Irwin Seow

    Coney Island preview 2013

    Rooftop Films return to Coney Island for free screenings on the beach every Monday in July and August.

Coney Island preview 2013

The local qualifying round for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 takes place outside Nathan's boardwalk location, Mar 23 at 1pm.

Pictured: Tim "Eater X" Janus, New York

In a sure sign that summer's on the way, the Cyclone starts rumbling around its track for its first rides of 2013 this Sunday, March 24. Here's a rundown of what's happening this weekend, as well as a look at what the season has in store.

Spoiler alert—it's looking awesome!

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Coney Island opening weekend

If you just can't wait for Palm Sunday, head to the boardwalk location of Nathan's Famous (W 12th St at Boardwalk West; on Saturday, March 23 at 1pm for the local qualifying round for the Fourth of July's nationally televised Hot Dog Eating Contest. If you're feeling hungry, it appears that the contest is still accepting entrants; find more information here. The male and female winner both secure spots in the main event.

At 11am on March 24, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park opens for business with the annual Blessing of the Rides. To celebrate being back after suffering damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Deno's is offering free rides all day on the Wonder Wheel (through 6pm). Also make sure to check out the rebuilt Spook-a-Rama, which was restored and enhanced. Deno's is open between noon and 6pm on weekends and school holidays (including spring break Mar 25–Apr 2) until Memorial Day, when it shifts to its summer schedule (daily 11am–midnight).

Luna Park and the Cyclone open at noon on March 24. The rickety roller coaster will be christened by borough president Marty Markowitz smashing a bottle of egg cream on the bow. The first 100 in line for the Cyclone ride free. Luna Park follows a similar schedule to Deno's, open daily for the next few weeks, then on weekends until Memorial Day. Visit for details.

Just around the corner from Deno's is the Coney Island History Project storefront that's opening on 1pm for Palm Sunday and Easter, with exhibits about Hurricane Sandy and a nearby creek that was the cause of most of the flooding in the neighborhood, plus a preview of the coming season once it makes it proper return on Memorial Day weekend.

Famed pizzeria Totonno's is also planning to open this weekend (but call ahead to check), as is beloved dive bar Ruby's.

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Coney Island 2013 season

The big new attraction in Coney Island this year will be the refurbished, historic B&B Carousel, housed in a pavillion in the center of Steeplechase Plaza, a two-acre public space. No details were available as to when it will open, but stay tuned for updates. Hard information on proposals to light up the landmarked parachute tower were similarly unconfirmed, but expect plenty of fanfare if it's announced.

Also to be announced are the grand reopenings of the original location of Nathan's Famous, Totonno's and the New York Aquarium (check out our recent report on Coney Island after Sandy for more).

Fun-stuff expert Mark “Big Mark” Zientek also plans to open Big Mark’s Action Park on Stillwell Avenue, on the former site of the aborted Cha Cha’s Steeplechase, in time for Memorial Day. Keep an eye on the spot’s Facebook page for updates and renderings.

On to things that are confirmed. Spring walking tours will soon be offered by the Coney Island History Project every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm (Apr 14–May 20; $20, advance reservation required). Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

Coney Island USA makes its return with the Olde Time Coney Island Strongman Spectacular on May 19, a free show (VIP tickets $25) featuring astounding feats of brawn. That’s followed by the season’s first Burlesque at the Beach on May 23 and Sideshow on May 24. Check closer to the time for details.

WKCR's Carter Van Pelt has locked down permits for his monthly Coney Island Reggae Beach Party, which returns at the end of May for more sandy skanking (Boardwalk at W 21st St; May 26, June 30, July 27, Aug 25 noon–8pm; free). For updates, tune into Van Pelt's show Eastern Standard Time on WKCR 89.9 FM (Sat 8am–noon).

Also look out for get downs to soulful house and classics, courtesy of the Coney Island Dancers, due to return in May. Check for updates.

The Brooklyn Cyclone's home opener at MCU Park is June 18 at 7pm ($10–$17, advance $9–$16, individual tickets on sale later in the spring). This year, three bucks from every Monday night home-game ticket will be donated to a different local organization each time that's helping communities recover from Hurricane Sandy.

The weekly Friday night fireworks on the boardwalk return on June 21 at 9:30pm.

The next day, the streets of the shore will be filled with flippers and pasties for the Mermaid Parade on June 22.

And back to whispers and murmers, Luna Park is set to unveil new rides in June or July, but aren't ready to release details yet.

Fear not patriots; Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is a go.

Rooftop Films return to Coney Island for free screenings on the beach (West 12th St at boardwalk) every Monday in July and August. The schedule will be announced in April at

We're also expecting announcements in the next few months regarding Flicks on the Beach and Seaside Summer Concerts. Get ready, it's going to be a long, hot summer on the Brooklyn shore.