LEDs Modernize Landmark Coney Island Ride

 In LED Lighting

The Parachute Jump ride at New York’s Coney Island Amusement center has a long and exciting story to tell. A story that will shine brighter than ever thanks to its latest LED lighting upgrade. Often referred to as New York’s Eiffel Tower, the Coney Island Parachute Jump started its life at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Back then it was decorated with some $15,000 worth of brightly colored plastic rings by the Life Savers Candy Company. Since that time, the parachute ride has worn many faces including for some time, a tired and worn facade.


The refurbished Parachute Jump ride Brooklyn’s Luna Park has 8,000 programmable LEDs which can be synchronized to music. Photo courtesy Central Amusement International

The ride was in operation until the sixties when it was deemed too old and decrepit to be safe to use any longer. In the years that followed, the ride seemed to be continually either fighting for its life, or basking in the revelry of historic landmark status. That is until 1980 when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places one last time. It wasn’t long and the city of New York again recognized it as a landmark and began making plans to restore it to its final glory.

Major restoration efforts began in 1993 and by 2006 the Parachute Jump was sporting a brightly colored, computerized LED lighting system designed by Leni Schwendinger Light Projects LTD.  This light show was by far the best that the ride had worn to date, but the city soon realized that it didn’t shine as brightly as the city beneath and began looking for ways to make it bigger and better, more New York City.

Outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has been involved with the ride’s restoration efforts since he took office in 2002. Part of the original group of politicians who spent $1.5 million on the Schwendinger created LED light, Markowitz was never happy with their first attempt at revitalizing the ride. “Most folks wouldn’t even know the Parachute Jump’s lights were on. That’s how poorly it was done,” Markowitz said.

So he convinced the city to spend an additional $2 million on a new LED light show. The old light show had consisted of only 450 led lights while the new installation has over 8,000 lights. This new light show is bright enough to be seen anytime that the park is open. And boy, can it be seen. It is said that the new LED lighting display on the 262 foot tall Coney Island Parachute Jump tower can be seen from the moon.

The management company that runs the Luna Park amusements at Coney Island, Zamperla, was contracted to oversee the installation and maintenance of the lights, with the city footing the bill.

The computer renditions of the action provided by Zamperla display one of the most exciting light shows this reporter has seen yet. The lights are used in a way that accentuates the structure of the ride, highlighting it and exposing the beauty of its engineering better at night than during the day. Of course, like any good 21st century light show, it pulses and reacts with the music to visualize the beats and rhythm perfectly and make the sounds a full body experience. The display is sometimes a single color engulfing the entirety of the ride. While at other times the tower swirls with colors and patterns reminiscent of the sixties, patriotic or even holiday themes. Other patterns one might expect to see include candy cane stripes, rainfall and even random colored bars resembling neon lights

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Interested in using LEDs to give your space personality? Check out some ways you can incorporate fun LED lighting into your home here.