Coney Island amusement park reopens after COVID shutdown

(SOT CONEY ISLAND FOOD VENDOR - "Oh, I'm so happy to be back to Coney Island... Yes, I make my funnel cake, cotton candy..."

Parts of New York City's famed amusement park at Coney Island are back open for the first time since since the health crisis kept it closed for 18 months.

Face masks and social distancing required - of course - and thrill-seekers will have to make an online reservation to get in.

The warm-weather fun spot is operating at a reduced capacity of just 33 percent due to local guidelines.

The reopening is just the latest sign of a city that's trying to get back to normal after most social activities were canceled last year.

Park goers like Phil Kossover are happy to see the amusement park open again.

"I feel wonderful. We used to come here a lot a couple of years ago. And we missed last year and we feel really good to be here today."

Some of the long-time favorites are back like the Cyclone roller-coaster and the Wonder Wheel... all open with health and safety protocols, says Ken Hochman of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

"The Wonder Wheel itself is the perfect, socially-distant ride. It's an open air gondola. The breezes blow in off the Atlantic Ocean and the beach over the boardwalk. And when you come here, you get your own gondola car. You go on only with your family or with your friends who you come with. We're not mixing and matching. Our staff is all masked. All the rides are being cleaned in between every trip. Face coverings are required, but screaming for joy is encouraged."

The opportunity to get out the house and jump on a ride couldn't happen any sooner for neighborhood residents Yvette Pagan and her daughter.

"We live here. I was born and raised here. I work in Coney Island Hospital. I'm so happy to be a part of this community. And I just love it. It feels so good just to be in the fresh air."

But with Coney Island just feet away from the beach, a stroll on the sand could be the perfect way to end a relaxing day - OUT of the house.

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