Vice president of operations for Coney IslandKevin Michell Last year, Coney Island made the decision to eliminate its amusement park rides in favor of focusing on the Sunlite Pool and the area surrounding it. This ushers in a transition period for the venerable attraction, opening up new possibilities for how the park will utilize the area between Lake Como and the river while looking ahead to Sunlite Pool’s centennial in 2025.
Coney Island’s vice president of operations, Steve Edwards, talks about what visitors can expect this summer and in the future.
What motivated making Sunlite Pool the primary attraction?
We made that determination by the fact that we feel our best ability to grow as a company is through the water park as our main entity. This allows us to have a focus on doing everything to the best level that we can in that area. It allows us to make sure that our cleanliness, our amenities, our structures, everything that the water park entails is the best. We’ve come to realize that our focus was a little bit everywhere and so now it’s more in one central location.
What changes will come to the park over the next five years?
What I can say is we’re looking to add more attractions, we’re looking to expand the water park. We’re going to be doing more research, talking more to our guests, talking to our season pass holders about what type of things they want us to add and, along the way, we’ll continue to research what are the best and brightest things we can add to the water park.
As all decisions we’ve made the last few years have been, we don’t take this decision lightly either—we’ve made sure that we make the best decisions for our long-term success and we want everybody to know that Coney Island is a wonderful place to be and it’s going to be around for a long time and make that a long-term success.
How will the area around Lake Como change now that the rides are gone?
What we’re hoping to have happen is to increase the events down here. We have our Balloon Glow, we’ll have our Fire Up the Night—which is actually moving dates to June 6 this year—we’ll also have our Summerfair, our Appalachian Festival. And I think that as people visit for those events, they’ll realize that Coney Island has a great space to have vendors and different areas and whatever you want your event to be, it can be here.
I think what people will see is that the events that have been here in the past will change in a positive way. They’ll be more wide open, not as crowded to where you can’t get around.
What can visitors to Coney Island expect to enjoy this year?
For the 2020 season I think what people will notice is a cleaner, more customer-friendly, more welcoming environment. The amenities that we’re working on improving are the chairs—in the middle of the summer on a busy, hot day it can be difficult to find a chair, so we’re adding more chairs and lounge chairs and seating—we’re adding more shade structures over there, we’re improving our sound system.
We strongly believe that we provide a great family atmosphere for our guests and I think people will realize in the summer that Coney Island is going to do what we’ve always done well even better.