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Groundbreaking Held for New "Thunderbolt" Coaster on Coney Island

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TWC News: Groundbreaking Held for New "Thunderbolt" Coaster on Coney Island
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As Coney Island amusement parks get ready to open for the season, a new thrill ride is in the works, a roller coaster that takes passengers to new heights and around loops. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Officials broke ground Monday on what will soon be home to the first custom-built roller coaster in Coney Island since 1927.

When completed, it will be a 55 mph ride that takes thrill seekers up 115 feet and down a 90-degree vertical drop.

"We designed it to make it a lot of excitement here for the people that come to Coney Island," said Alberto Zamperla, the CEO of Zamperla SpA.

Zamperla is the ride manufacturer that brought Luna Park and Scream Zone. Its newest addition bears the name of an old favorite: it's called the Thunderbolt, an iconic coaster that was immortalized in the Woody Allen film "Annie Hall."

The Giuliani administration knocked down the defunct roller coaster when the Brooklyn Cyclones' minor league baseball stadium was constructed in 2000. The new Thunderbolt will be constructed alongside the stadium in a long and narrow lot.

"It's only 45 feet wide and 800 feet long, and our team came up with this idea of a back-and-forth roller coaster," said Valerio Ferrari, president of Zamperla USA.

The old wooden Thunderbolt operated from the 1920s through the 1980s.

"This is a nostalgic name and it's a nostalgic feel, and we want to bring back the friendly environment of yesteryears," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

The 2014 version will deliver upside-down thrills. The coaster features three cars that hold up to nine passengers.

While most people in Coney Island said that they're glad to have this new structure, NY1 was hard-pressed to find those who dared to ride it.

"I ride some of the rides, but the roller coasters, I'm not too, I'm not a roller coaster fan," said one person.

"I used to go on the old Thunderbolt in the early '60s, but on this one, I don't know," said another. "I'm getting too old for that."

"More people, more attractions," said a third. "I wouldn't ride it, though. It looks scary."

For those brave of heart, the Thunderbolt is expected to be up and running by May 22.

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