Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Rise Of Coney....A Vertical Theme Park?

Could the new Coney be an indoor oasis with plenty of head room available by simply going up?

At first it would seem insulting to that Coney spirit to think of piling up all its frolic and fun into a claustrophobic stack of floors in one lofty tower. But with the great probability of the amusement zone shrinking to developer muscle – it may be an acceptable case in a worst case scenario...or not.

Coney Island USA board poster
Sandy_Dee speculated about Coney having a vertical theme park to house all its amusements. The thought which may have sounded ludicrous at first many not be the first time of such reverie and making.

A structure built exclusively for amusements may work. Vertical theme parks have already been in the works. Though their web site is still under construction, ROC International Towers have proposed The Pinnacle Tower, a vertical theme park for Birmingham, England which already boasts some new and highly unique architecture like the Selfridges building. The tower, though not an inclusive theme park will feature a complex of six rides including a parachute drop, bungee jump, seesaw, and thrill rides, some from atop the structure similar to Las Vega’s Stratosphere. At the base of the tower, there will be 5,000 square meters of commercial space, wrap-around courtyard with restaurants, coffee shops, a food court, bars, leisure and fitness facilities, and family entertainment centers. According to Skyscraper News, Roc International Towers say they are in the advance stages of the scheme and have also been in talks with Birmingham City Council over the last year.

Though, for Coney Island, a few rides clinging to a tower would not be impressive enough. It would require an all inclusive and true vertical theme park with all its amenities.

One such place did
exist back in the 1970’s. Although not the entire building, Atlanta Georgia’s Omni International a multi-use development transformed about five of its floors into The World Of Sid & Marty Krofft, creators of 70’s children TV show H.R. PufnStuf. The complex which already featured offices, six screen movie theaters, a plush hotel, upscale restaurant, and high-end retail shops - added the $14 million amusement park in the mix to be its shining pinnacle. It boasted a scenic 205-foot escalator, which was the longest in record at the time, two eighteen-foot harlequins, costumed performers, mimes, ballooned sculpted animals, and a circus sideshow; the Fantasy Fair with special effects to make up their cavalcade of freaks. Other floors of the amusement park were live themed performances, and a dazzling three-tiered Crystal Carousel which excited some guests to the point of stripping. But the World of Sid & Marty Krofft was short lived when uproar was caused by tenants and hotel guests due to all the noise and anarchy. The five-floor indoor amusement extravaganza careened into a $24 million dollar over-budget and shut its doors to the public in less than six months after the star-studded opening. The vacant World of Sid & Marty Krofft was later turned into CNN headquarters. Proving for the Omni that the mixture of hotel/residential simply can not coexist with the liveliness of amusements.

As Coney enthusiast Sandy_Dee envisions:

Since there isn't a lot of space to work with, Coney could have one big tall building. Each floor it's own theme with 30 foot or more high ceilings. One floor could be set up like It's a Small World and you ride through the history of Coney Island passing big screen film clips of the old rides and attractions set up in such a way that you feel like you are actually on the ride.

But If a fingering tower with amusements isn’t attractive it could widen a bit, with space allowing, to take on a different shape. Such as the Death-Star-like structure proposed for the RAK Convention and Exhibition Center for the United Arab Emirates. Planned is a multi-leveled, wide spherical low-structure rising from the ground.

Regardless of what would be appropriate or devastating for Coney, if it’s been built or envisioned – it was most likely already dreamt up here. Like the 700 foot-high Great Gold Tower Swindle. Fantasized but never realized for the Coney Island of 1906. If ever built and not broken off and roll into the Atlantic, it would have boasted eleven floors featuring a Pedestal Roof Garden with popular priced restaurants, a vaudeville house, roller skating rink, bowling alley, arcades, international circus rings, a miniature railroad that would circle the arena's perimeter, and an Aerial Hippodrome seating 5000 people. Including a ballroom, a grand revolving restaurant enclosed in glass to view sweeping panoramic views of Coney island and greater New York, coin-operated telescopes on the roof, and of course other regular necessities like retail and a wireless telegraph station. The spectacle of the tower itself, lit by thousands of electric lights, would resemble a gigantic tower of fire. It would be seen from hundreds of miles throughout the tri-state area. And even Chicago when it goes ablaze.

However envisioned, whether stacked, encircled, or sprawled out, amusements are meant to amuse and fancy the imagination. It dares you to dream and take your chances. A place to be pleasantly occupied. If it doesn’t do that then it’s no longer a place of attraction.


A Kinloch said...

Interesting post, especially the historical background. Am I right in thinking that the 1906 globe was a developer rip-off to raise venture capital? Now, where I have I seen developers creating amazing renderings to raise expectations recently?

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is just the sort of wild dreams that get zoning concessions, so developers can flip properties and leave us high and dry.