Zamperla reveals plans to bring waterpark to Coney Island in former location of Thunderbolt rollercoaster

Company seeks to bring splish-splashing fun to former Thunderbolt parcel

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The people behind Luna Park are looking to make an even bigger splash in Coney Island.

Zamperla — the company that operates Luna Park, lights the Parachute Jump, and makes the B&B Carousell go round — are in talks to build a waterpark on the former site of the original Thunderbolt rollercoaster.

Italian-born amusement tycoon Alberto Zamperla said that he is in negotiations with Jasmine Bullard, daughter of the late Sodom by the Sea land baron Horace Bullard, to construct a slippery funzone on five parcels stretching from Surf Avenue to the Boardwalk.

Zamperla said part of his excitement to develop the site comes from his admiration for Horace Bullard’s failed dream to resurrect Coney Island in the 1980s.

“I have great respect for their family,” said Zamperla, adding that he keeps a copy of Bullard’s old blueprints for a new Luna Park in his office.

Zamperla’s company is already working on a new Thunderbolt rollercoaster in the lot next door to where the old one stood from 1925 until 2000 — when the Giuliani administration ordered the derelict ride torn down in a pre-dawn demolition that a federal judge later declared illegal.

Details on the waterpark deal are still sketchy.

“It’s in the very primary stages, we don’t want to mention anything yet,” said Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusements International, the Zamperla subsidiary which operates its attractions in Coney.

But real estate experts pointed out that the Bullard property includes rights to build concessions and a grand entryway along the Boardwalk.

“It can be anything as long as it fits the zoning — and that means amusements or food,” said Joe Vitacco, a friend and real estate broker to the late Bullard.

This wouldn’t the first effort to bring a waterpark to the People’s Playground, but it could be the first to succeed, after a 2010 plan to erect a set of inflatable waterslides on the beach couldn’t get the necessary state permits.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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