Exploring Coney Island

TIA HERE with seven posts left until the Copenhagen posts start, even though by the time you’re reading this I’ll already be there. The countdown has begun! Currently, I’m sitting in JFK (where I will be for HOURS) waiting for my flight to Copenhagen. What better way to spend this time than to write the rest of the NYC posts I have piled up?

This one in particular is going to be all about Coney Island. My many-times-mentioned friend Winnie was convinced Coney Island was some sort of island (not wrong, but in the very general sense, like famous for beach roaming), where my understanding was that it was a pier theme park (which is pretty much the other half of what it is). We decided to check it out to clear up, once and for all, what exactly the mysterious location really meant, so one weekend we hopped on the subway and rode it to the end of the line. The weird thing about riding the subway to Coney Island is watching the dark underground tunnels turn into a very Last Of Us-looking, above-ground jungle—all amidst concrete stations. Our trip was even stranger because, for the first two stops, there were performances in our car. The first was a magician who made balloon creations and did other very typical magician tricks, and the second was a dance group of three guys, swinging around on the metal bars with ease (see video).

When we arrived, I realized three things: 1) Winnie doesn’t like roller coasters, so we probably weren’t going to go on any rides, 2) the rides all cost money—which is just like, obviously, but in my mind everything is free (I live in a fantasy world)—so I wasn’t going to pay to ride on anything, 3) as a child from Florida, land of many theme parks, I was not going to be impressed enough by any of the rides to want to try them. I think the conclusion is pretty clear. But we did walk around the piers and buy iced drinks to combat the hot weather. I also bought (too much) cotton candy and learned that the blue flavor is so much better than the pink flavor—objectively. Winnie agrees.

Coney Island is interesting. If you don’t ride any rides or play in the sand (again, Florida child, unimpressed by what Northerners call “beaches,” only California and Hawaii have any say in the matter), you probably will spend most of your time eating and people watching. The people you see on Coney Island are nothing like the people you see in Manhattan. First of all, they’re almost all families, and they all seem 100 times stranger and 100 times more “typical American” than Manhattanites (if those two things do not conflict, which I do not think they do). I’m not even sure how to describe it. There’s a mix of overweight and disturbingly fit people, people of all races with hair colors from every kind of dye bottle in the rainbow in all kinds of clothes with crazy bikes covered in neon green fur. It’s just bizarre. If NYC is composed of characters, Coney Island would be Cousin It. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

The view, however, kills it. It’s nice to be by the ocean, no matter where you’re at, and the Atlantic is as lovely as ever. I’m glad I visited it to see what it was all about, but Coney Island doesn’t seem all that thrilling unless you’re there with a big group of friends, trying out all the (sketchy) rides. Actually, I think that’s a good expectation for all theme park adventures. If you’re not going with a huge group or a significant other, it’s just not as fun as it could be. Still, nice view, New York!

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Much love,


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