From a new amusement park and volleyball courts to free outdoor movies and a mini-golf course located by two NASA rockets, the nearly 900-acre Flushing Meadows Corona Park has something for everyone this summer.
Queens’ largest park – and the fourth largest public green space in New York City – offers numerous activities for people of all ages, whether they are sports fans or science lovers. The space – once home to the World’s Fair in 1939 and 1964 – boasts a recreation complex that includes an indoor track and a gym, a science museum, a theater, the Mets baseball stadium, a zoo, six playgrounds, and works of public art – including the famous Unisphere. There is also an art museum, but it is closed for renovations until October.
The park has two new features this summer – Fantasy Forest, an amusement park for younger children, opened over Memorial Day weekend and the city cut the ribbon on five new volleyball courts at Flushing Meadows on June 25.
Situated by the Flushing Meadows carousel, Fantasy Forest – the only amusement park in the borough – features five rides: the Queens Himalaya, Corona Choo Choo, Fantasy Frog Hopper and a small roller coaster. Tickets are $1 each and each ride costs about three to four tickets. There are discounts if residents purchase tickets in bulk – for example, 12 tickets are $10, 25 tickets are $20, and 50 tickets are $38.
There are a number of special entertainment events being hosted in the park this summer, including a summer movie series and “Shakespeare in the Park.”
The next movie in the series will be “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” which will play at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1 by the carousel. The film is free, and residents are
invited to bring their own snacks and chairs or blankets. A limited number of chairs will be provided.
“Shakespeare in the Park” will present “The Tempest” on Wednesday, July 24 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. by the Unisphere. Residents are asked to bring their own blanket or chair.
For those interested in sports, Flushing Meadows is something of a mecca – whether residents want to enjoy a Mets game at CitiField, reserve space for their own cricket match by the north end of Willow Lake, or go rowing and sailing on Meadow Lake. Residents interested in getting permits to play soccer, cricket, softball, or baseball can call (718) 760-6889.
Additionally, residents can call (718) 699-1951 or visit www.sailtasca.org for more information from the American Small Craft Association about sailing on Meadow Lake. The organization runs numerous sailing classes for residents at the site.
Water lovers can also rent rowboats and paddleboats for outings on Meadow Lake at the boathouse on the lake’s east side. For more information about boat rentals, call (646) 229-4470.
Residents who want something a little less strenuous than, say, cricket or baseball, can load up the kids and go on a mini-golf outing in the park at the New York Hall of Science, located at 47-01 111th Street. There, players can take their best shot on a course that features two real NASA rockets. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children or seniors. Call (718) 699-0005 ext. 365 for more information about mini-golfing.
While you’re at the Hall of Science, check out the institution’s new exhibits, including “Charlie and Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure,” which explores the link between dinosaurs and modern birds; “Molecules and Health: The Shape of Science,” in which visitors can learn about the role of molecules in health and illness prevention; and “Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think,” which delves into the evolutionary and cognitive links humans share with animals.
Patrons of the arts can head over to the Queens Theatre in the Park, located at 14 United Nations Avenue South, where the “Golden Dragon Acrobats” show will run until July 28. Often described as the premier Chinese acrobatic touring company, the Golden Dragon puts on a show that includes contortionists and towers of jugglers. A single ticket is $32, and a family four-pack is $99. Performances are held Wednesday through Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. To purchase tickets, call (718) 760-0064.
For the resident who has explored everything there is to explore in the park – a daunting task – they can hope the bridge from the Avenue of Progress into the Queens Botanical Garden, which is sandwiched between Flushing Meadows and Kissena Park at 43-50 Main St. in Flushing.
The 39-acre space features thematic gardens and historic plantings recalling the World’s Fair to new gardens showcasing native species and sustainable landscape practices. Additionally, QBG is hosting a summer music series. Tony DeMarco, an Irish folk fiddler will perform at the garden on Aug. 10 from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. Bouzouki player Eamon O’Leary and Irish step dancer Siobhan Butler will accompany him. For more information, visit www.queensbotanical.org.
Story and Photos by Anna Gustafson