Written by Christy Hinko: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 23 March 2012 00:00
Childhood memories are the foundation of our lives, and an iconic Farmingdale venue has been providing those memories of warm summer nights, cotton candy, melting ice cream cones and thrill-a-minute rides for 50 years.
On Saturday, March 24, over three generations of thrill seekers will have passed through the iron gates of one of the most recognizable mid-island attractions, Adventureland Amusement Park.
“It’s very difficult in today’s economy, with so many businesses opening and closing, to keep a business open for 50 years,” says manager Steven Gentile, who represents the two families that own the park. It is their family pride in the business that keeps Adventureland as one of Long Island’s most enduring entertainment venues.
“Our park and the area around it has made significant transition in the past 50 years,” Gentile says. While he doesn’t remember the earliest years of the park, he has rediscovered it through old photos and anecdotes. The park, which is located on Route 110, at 2245 Broad Hollow Road, was built in 1962, when the area was mostly potato fields.
Originated in 1962 by Albert Cohen and Al Budin, the park quickly became a success. Gentile said of Cohen, “I think the guy was a visionary; he brought the area to life.” Cohen and Budin sold the park to an amusement-park ride importer, Willy Miller, in 1977. Ten years later, the Gentile and Amoruso familes officially took over. The park has always been family-owned and operated, with many family members—aunts, cousins, in-laws, etc.—involved in the business.
And the family gets bigger each season. The company employs 250 local residents at the start of the season and by mid-season has almost 600 helping with the daily operations.
The biggest goal that the business strives for each day, Gentile says, is providing a safe and clean environment and entertainment for their visitors. “We try to give our guests a No.1 product,” he says, “and we have done that for all of these years.”
Gentile said the measure of their success is best assessed when they see repeat guests, next generations, familiar faces, and guests who they begin to greet by name.
“When you see kids going on Adventure Falls, and the Hurricane Roller Coaster, the Lady Bug Coaster, it’s just great,” says Gentile, who admits he’s not a big fan of rides, but does enjoy one of the park’s most popular, classic and tame attractions, the Train. Other current guest favorites include Musik Express and Adventure Falls, “the first and only log flume ride on Long Island.”
Gentile explains that there’s no real longevity when it comes to rides: “We replace a ride when we feel it’s time to replace it, because we’re not comfortable because of safety reasons, or it’s time to just turn it over.” Gentile says, though, that overall, the rides hold their value extremely well and “for a ride to be 20 years old is not that old in this industry.”
The Hurricane Coaster is the oldest ride in the park today, built in about 1990. Some of the classics and fan favorites that have been replaced were the Galaxy Roller Coaster, the Skyride, a chairlift ride that crossed the park, and the Toboggan, which was one of Gentile’s favorites as a child.
Adventureland has started building a “blast from the past” memory page on Facebook, where fans can post their favorite memories and photos from past trips to the park, and receive up-to-the-minute status updates about operating hours, special deals and upcoming events. Fans from across the country have started checking into the fan page, weighing in on their favorite rides and reminiscing about other fans’ photos that have been shared. Since launching the Facebook page, Adventureland has gathered more than 5,600 fans.
Cult fans can also relive memories of the park through Adventureland, a retro-comedy movie written and directed by Long Island native Greg Mottola, who worked at the park in the 1980s. The movie, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds, was filmed in Pennsylvania, but was based on Farmingdale’s Adventureland and premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
So, as you’re driving down 110 on a warm summer’s eve, and you hear the not-so-distant shrieking of young voices, chances are it might elicit some sweet memories of your own.
For more information, including directions and park information visit: http://www.adventureland.us or call 631-694-6868.