Astroland operations manager Mark Blumenthal reflects on the storied amusement park’s past and uncertain future.
What does your job entail?
I’m involved in every aspect of the park every day from start to finish. I oversee our maintenance staff, take care of paperwork and deal with complaints. Sometimes parents just don’t understand why we don’t allow children to go on a ride because of height requirements.
That’s a lot to keep track of. How’d you get the gig?
In high school I worked at Rockaways’ Playland, which closed in the ’80s. When I was at Brooklyn College, I came here to manage the games. This is going to be my 26th summer with Astroland.
How has the park changed since it opened in 1962?
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The image of Coney Island has changed dramatically over the years, and that’s brought in a lot of people who didn’t come here before. It’s much more diverse than when I started. Astroland itself has grown. We’ve put in a lot of new rides, like the teacups and the Frog Hopper. We’ve been doing Friday-night fireworks for about ten years.
The property, minus the Cyclone, was recently sold to Thor Equities, and vendors are being told to vacate by the end of the year. What are your hopes for the future?
It’s hard for me to envision what they’re going to do. I hope Coney Island gets bigger and better, and I hope the amusements are still a part of it.
What’s the worst thing that could happen to the property?
If they turned it into housing and took away what was once the playground of the world.
Any special plans for opening day?
It’s our traditional opening—Marty Markowitz will break a bottle of egg cream and the Hungry March Band will be here. The first 100 customers get to ride the Cyclone for free. I think it’s going to be a little tough for me this year because it might be the last.
What’s the best part about working at an amusement park?
I honestly believe it keeps me young. I have a young outlook. I love standing in front of the Frog Hopper and watching the kids’ expressions. It helps when I’ve had a rough day and am looking for some inspiration.
By Erin Clements
Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: Brooklyn.