Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Luna Park Rides Get Taken for a Spin Ahead of Opening

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Luna Park officially opens for the season Sunday and crews are hard at work getting everything rolling including a brand new attraction that offers a thrilling 360 degree experience. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Employees at Luna Park got a preliminary run on the rides this week as they prepare to open the park this weekend. Experiencing the thrill is part of the training for the ride operators.

"It's cool because it's not too high in height but at the same time it's still a thrill," said one operator.

As training is going on, so is maintenance. Paint is being applied, signs are going up and grounds getting hosed down. After a long winter, the mechanical systems also need an overhaul.

"We're stripping things apart, changing worn items, belts, bushings, bearings," said Christopher Tobin, Luna Park's maintenance manager.

This year a new ride was added. Called the Luna 360 it takes riders around, well, 360 degrees, while spinning 60 feet in the air.

"Imagine doing that view upside down. Come on, it's going to be fantastic," said Nicole Purmal, Luna Park's brand manager.

While thrill seekers may love the addition, there's surely a fan base for the 86-year-old Cyclone. Over the past three years it's been getting new wooden track installed section by section. Getting the coaster ready requires workers to walk the tracks.

"Me personally, I'm afraid of heights but I have to man up. I'm a supervisor so we take them up to the top turn on Surf Avenue and just let them know this is what you'll experience," said Desmond Hill, Luna Park's operations supervisor.

What's missing this year is the Astrotower. The defunct ride stood as a symbolic throwback to Astroland amusement park days. But after it was swaying during the July 4th holiday weekend last year, the city said it was structurally unsound and ordered it be demolished.

Being built a couple of blocks away is the Thunderbolt, the first custom roller coaster to come to Coney Island since 1927. The coaster is scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend.

In the meantime, Luna Park is still looking to fill 750 jobs. Currently about 500 people have been hired and they're ready to roll.

Luna Park officially opens at noon on Sunday. In Coney Island, Jeanine Ramirez NY1.

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