New roller coaster coming to Coney Island

A new major roller coaster, ?Thunderbolt," will be A new major roller coaster, “Thunderbolt," will be built at Coney Island and open for next year’s summer season. Photo Credit: NYCEDC

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Roller coaster lovers, brace yourselves: A new 90-degree, vertical jaw-dropping ride that travels 55 mph and runs through loops and "airtime hills" of 2,233 feet, is on the way to Coney Island's historic Luna Park.

At a news conference Monday, park officials announced the building of the steel Thunderbolt that will stand 115 feet tall. Construction on the ride will begin Tuesday as pieces of the 800-foot-long and 40-foot-wide coaster arrive by ship from Italy.

The Thunderbolt will be situated in the ride's original spot at Luna Park when it opened in the 1920s. It was there until the 1980s.

"This is about preserving history and respect for what was here before," said Alberto Zamperla, president and CEO of the amusement rides company, which operates a family-owned factory.

The two-minute roller coaster ride is expected to open Memorial Day weekend and will have an admission fee of $10.

Anthony Wittman, 35, of Coney Island, grew up riding at the amusement park. He said: "I'm scared to get on it, but I'm glad it's here. The park needs more rides and each summer it gets better and better."

Tony Muia, 50, owner of A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, said the new ride will boost business. He said many of his customers visit Coney Island because it's on their bucket list.

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"I have grandparents who left Brooklyn and now bring back their grandchildren to show them where their feet stepped in the sand when growing up in Brooklyn," he said. "This ride will bring back the world-famous classic Coney Island to the next generation."

Desi Rowe, 49, who lives across the street from Luna Park, works as a laborer, rebuilding the beach's boardwalk. He hopes to help build the roller coaster.

"We need more rides, more building and more jobs," Rowe said.

Valerio Ferrai, president of Central Amusement International and Luna Park operator, said plans are in the works for a water park for 2016.

"With a water park it will be busier than ever and will mean more jobs and make Coney Island more of a destination," Ferrari said.

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"We understand the spirit of Coney Island," said Zamperla, who pointed to Luna Park's emblem of a toothy grinning clown that adorns the park's main entrance. "This is a place that is close to the city where you can come and breathe fresh air and have fun and not think about your everyday life."

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