Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park: The Complete Guide

Wonder wheel at Coney island amusement park aerial view
Creative-Family/Getty Images

A summer trip to Brooklyn isn't complete without a visit to Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in Coney Island. The Wonder Wheel, which sits at the center of this vibrant amusement park, is a piece of Brooklyn history. You have two options for riding the classic ferris wheel, you can either opt for a moving car (it swings!) or one that is still. Although the views are the same from both cars, the swinging car offers a more thrill seeking experience to the scenic ride. After you've gone round the ferris wheel, you should explore the rest of the park.

Deno's has numerous rides for little ones, as well as fun rides for older kids and adults. From old school arcade games to a weekly Friday night fireworks shows throughout the summer, this is a truly magical spot in Brooklyn. 

History

The Wonder Wheel predates Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. The iconic ferris wheel opened on Memorial Day 1920 is classic. According to Deno's, the ferris wheel stands at 150 feet tall, which is the equivalent of a 15-story building. No big deal! The wheel weights 200 tons and can hold 144 passengers at a time across 24 cars — 16 that swing, and 8 that remain stationary.

If you want to learn more about the history of the Wonder Wheel and other historic rides, visit the Coney Island History Project located at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. The Coney Island History Project's exhibition center is located on West 12th Street at the park's entrance. The History Project is open weekends and holidays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day from 1-7 p.m. Admission is free of charge. 

Rides & Attractions

Once you've seen the views atop the Wonder Wheel and have been schooled on the history of Coney Island, you should get tickets to the Spook-A-Rama, which is similar to a haunted house, where folks sit in wooden barrels and are taken on a spooky ride. Or enjoy colliding with fellow riders on the Bumper Cars. There are a few other adult rides, but if you have kids in tow, you should head to the Kiddie Park, filled with a carousel and many gentle rides for first timers. Don't forget to take pictures of your little ones on their first amusement park rides.

Tickets

Admission to the park is free. That said, you need tickets to go on any ride. A ride of the the Wonder Wheel is eight dollars. It's also eight dollars to ride the Spook-A-Rama, Bumper Cars, Thunderbolt and   Stop the Zombies. A five pack of adult rides is $35. Ticket booths are located near the Deno's Wonder Wheel and Thunderbolt

A ticket for a Kiddie Ride is $4, but you can get a ten pack for $35 or a twenty pack for $50. You can buy Kiddie Park tickets at the main Boardwalk entrance next to Famiglia Pizza or at the booth next to the Big Trucks at the back of the kiddie park.

How to Get There

Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is accessible by public transportation. You can take the subway or a bus. The subway is the easier option, and if you do travel this way, it's also scenic. You can look out the window as you approach this vibrant and lively beachfront neighborhood. The N, D, F and Q trains stop at Stillwell Ave., and Deno's is just a short walk towards the beach on West 12th street. You can also take the F or Q to West 8th Street and walk from there. 

You can also drive — Coney Island is located off the Belt Parkway, exit 7S  Ocean Parkway South. Street parking is hard to find, but there are lots in the area, charging fees ranging from ten to twenty dollars

Where to Eat

You can pack a picnic and eat at the beach or you can pick up some food at a boardwalk restaurant or a concession stand. However, you might want to budget some time to enjoy a meal at one of these restaurants located near Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. Just to note, in the summer the area gets crowded and lines abound for these famous restaurants. Please allot enough time and be patient (it's worth it). Of course, stopping a Nathan's for a hot dog is a Coney Island tradition, but if you're not in the mood for a hot dog and fries, there are many other dining option.

Foodies should head to Kitchen 21, a food hall style restaurant housed in the historic Childs Restaurant building. Pizza lovers must visit the classic pizzeria, Totonno's Pizzeria. This homey pizzeria opened in the 1920s and for almost a hundred years it's been serving up some of the best pizza in New York City

Nearby Attractions 

A nice idea is to pair a visit to Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park with a hop over to neighboring Luna Park, filled with thrill seeking rides and legendary Cyclone roller coaster. Other nearby attractions include the local favorite New York Aquarium, which is also located right off the lively Coney Island boardwalk. If you happen to do be visiting on a day the Brooklyn Cyclones are playing a home game, you should pick up some tickets to watch this local team play at a waterfront stadium. If you want to relax, just head to the sandy beach.

The beach at Coney Island is a free public beach with changing facilities. During the summer season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), lifeguards are on the beach. Whatever you chose to do, a trip to Coney Island is a memorable experience and great way to spend a sunny day.