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Officials hope for Coney Island resurgence with new rides

State-of-the-art new rides including a roller coaster and a pendulum will open this summer at Coney Island to jump-start the resurgence of the famed Brooklyn amusement park, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

"Coney Island is coming back, big time," Bloomberg said at a news conference near the boardwalk where the decades-old Astroland rides were dismantled in 2008. The new rides are being created by Zamperla, the world's leading manufacturer of mechanical rides, based in Altavilla Vicentina, Italy.

Luna Park at Coney Island will open on Memorial Day weekend with 19 rides. Among them will be the Air Race, which sends riders swinging and soaring around a control tower. It will be the ride's global debut.

Also promised are games, live entertainment, and concessions including Nathan's Famous hot dog stand, which opened in 1916, pioneering America's concept of fast food.

By the summer of 2011, Scream Zone at Coney Island will offer two roller coasters, go-carts and a human slingshot launching people more than 200 feet into the air.

Central Amusement International of Parsippany, N.J., is investing about $30 million to build and operate the park. The company signed a 10-year lease for about 6 acres of land including the former Astroland site, paying the city $1 million plus part of gross receipts.

"We will have rides that will flip you, turn you, launch you, drop you, splash you and make the mayor want to lose his lunch," said David Galst, a CAI spokesman.

Not all of Coney Island's old amusements were scrapped.

The 1920s Cyclone roller coaster is landmarked, as is Deno's Wonder Wheel. Both will continue to be operated by their current management.

Deno Vourderis, whose family owns the Wonder Wheel, said the Ferris wheel that opened in 1920 will be updated with solar panels on its cars and retrofitted with a lighting configuration resembling the original one.

The city bought 6.9 acres of Coney Island property in November from developer Joe Sitt for $95.6 million. That followed years of wrangling between the city and Sitt, whose vision for Coney Island was not in line with Bloomberg's.

The mayor, who won a third term in November, has touted the renewal of Brooklyn beachfront as part of his political and economic agenda.

"Coney Island remains one of the most known and beloved neighborhoods around the world, but for decades its famed amusement park has dwindled to just a tiny fraction of what it once was," the mayor said.

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