Astroland, opened in 1962, was the last remaining amusement part in operation at Coney Island. The historic park closed permanently on September 7, 2008, but one of the rides - The Cyclone - still remains in operation today, keeping the park alive. The original concept of Astroland was the Space Age, and all of the rides were themed to the U.S. space program. It was the site of the most famous roller coaster in the world, the Cyclone, the iconic symbol of Coney Island. Despite the closing of Astroland, the Cyclone continues operation thanks to its status as a National Historic Landmark and the continued oversight of the former owners of Astroland, the Albert family.
The park opened in 1962 under the ownership and management of Dewey Albert. The original rides were commissioned and built on the theme of "Journey to the 21st Century''. The rides included the Cape Canaveral Satellite Jet, which simulated liftoff and a trip to the moon. The Rocket became another iconic symbol of Astroland and Coney Island. After the park closed in 2008 and the rocket was dismantled, a committee of citizens petitioned the city and succeeded in saving the rocket. The Astroland rocket is slated to become a centerpiece of the Coney Island redevelopment plan.
Other rides at the park in the early seasons included the Mercury Capsule Skyride, a monorail ride that rode about 80 feet above the Boardwalk, and the Neptune Diving Bells, a submarine that plunged passengers into a 50,000 gallon tank where they could watch a pair of porpoises and fish swim by, and the Double Sky Wheel, a double-ended Ferris wheel. A third iconic attraction at the park, the Tower to the Stars, also still stands.
In 1975, the city of New York contracted with Dewey Albert to take over operation of the Cyclone roller coaster, which was across the street from the park. Eventually, the Alberts would buy the Cyclone from the city. The historic coaster is still owned and operated by the Alberts, though the land on which it stands is owned by the city.
That same summer, a fire destroyed the restaurant, arcade and a number of midway games. The fire turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Astroland. With the frontage of the park destroyed, the amusements and rides were visible from the street and Astroland attracted a whole new generation of visitors.
In 2006, Astroland was bought by a developer with plans to redevelop the entire Coney Island waterfront and restore many of the amusement parks. The Alberts' agreement with Thor Equities called for the amusement park to remain open and in operation through the end of the 2007 season. A second deal was negotiated at the end of the 2007 season, allowing Astroland to open for one final season in 2008. The park closed permanently on September 7, 2008.
The Albert family continues to own and operate the Cyclone, across the street from the original Astroland. The Cyclone, which may be the single most famous roller coaster in the world, is open daily from noon to 9 p.m. throughout the summer. Cyclone riders can have their pictures taken at the top of the first hill as a souvenir. For more information about the Cyclone and Astroland, call the park at 718-265-2100.