March 14, 2014

A New Roller Coaster For Coney On A Famous Film Site

Construction began this week on a brand new $10M roller coaster on the boardwalk in Coney Island. The Thunderbolt is the name of this all steel ride part of the new Luna Park which features inversions, loops and twists making it the first coaster to flip patrons at the seaside park since 1910. Built by the famed Italian firm Zamperla, the ride will rise 115 feet and then plunge cars at speeds of 80mph through the twists and turns of this new thriller.  

What's notable about the ride, though, is also its location. It's on the site of a kinder, gentler wooden coaster that was also called the Thunderbolt. That ride dated from Coney's early midcentury heyday and was shutdown in the 1970s but remained standing until Mayor Giuliani illegally knocked it down in the middle of the night. That Thunderbolt was famously featured in Woody Allen's classic ANNIE HALL as the childhood home of Alvy Singer, who family fictionally lived in the odd house that jammed under the corner of the ride. 

I was always fascinated by that house on my trips to Coney when I first arrived in NYC. The TIMES article says it was destroyed by fire but just the interior--from the outside it did look like a house someone could live in. Surely, once the ride shut down for the evening, you could get some shuteye but I imagine hanging out there during the day would have been close to the famous scene in Allen's film.  

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