Check Out Denos Wonder Wheel
If you’re vacationing in New York and have caught a Broadway show and seen all the standard sites, don’t leave yet. There’s more to see. If you’re looking for more fun, have fret not. You’ve probably not yet visited Deno’s Wonder Wheel (located at 3048 Jones Walk) in Brooklyn, New York. Deno’s Wonder Wheel is said by some sources to be one of the top things to see in Brooklyn. The Wonder Wheel is not only a certified part of the history of Coney Island but is also considered to be one of “the most romantic” rides in the world. Ah but just what exactly is Deno’s Wonder Wheel? We’re glad you asked.
The Wonder Wheel (which was originally going to be named the “Dip-the-Dip”) is an amusement park ride with an international origin. Near the turn of the century, Charles Herman, a Romanian-American engineer got the idea to build an amusement park ride that would be part Chute-the-Chutes and part scenic railroad. The (not yet Deno’s) Wonder Wheel was officially opened to the public at the famous Coney Island amusement park on Memorial Day in 1920. It would not become Deno’s Wonder Wheel until 60 years later following Charles Herman’s death. His son took over the ride and also built his own ride named the “Spook a Rama”. Fred Herman decided he wanted to retire from the amusement ride business by the 1980s.
So how did the ride become Deno’s Wonder Wheel? Here is where Greek immigrant Deno D. Vourderis comes in. “Deno” Vourderis came to the US at 14 and in 1948 proposed to his future wife Lula in front of the now popular Wonder Wheel ride. He told her he would someday own the amusement and present her with “a ring so big, everyone in the world would see how much he loved her – a ring that would never be lost.” This famous proposal and the countless ones that followed are what earned the famous ride the title of “most romantic ride in the world.” In the late 1970s “Deno” Vourderis--whos was handy with tools--scored a gig repairing and caring for the various rides at Coney Island. “Deno” Vourderis bought The Wonder Wheel for $250,000 on June 7, 1983. By that time the actual operating instructions were long gone. The ride came with nothing more than a wish for “Good Luck” scrawled on the back of an empty cigarette carton. That was the day the ride officially became “Deno’s Wonder Wheel.” In 1984 Deno’s Wonder Wheel was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1989 it (and the nearby Parachute Jump ride) was even declared to be an official New York City landmark.
Deno died in 1994 but his sons have carried on the tradition of operating Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the other rides that makeup Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Both the ride and the park are now reportedly one of Coney Island’s most beloved institutions. This year (2016) Deno’s Wonder Wheel chalked up its 95th “continuous year of operation”. Since it was opened it has given visitors almost 40 million rides.
Tourists can enjoy the historic ride on a seasonal basis approximately between Easter Sunday and Halloween night. Specifically, Deno’s Wonder Wheel is open on Saturdays, Sundays and all holidays come late March. The is open on a daily basis as of late May or Memorial Day. It remains open daily until the fall. Daily closing times can be influenced by the weather.
(All images courtesy of original owners)