Wollman Rink

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Wollman Rink during the daytime
Summertime amusement park
Map of notable buildings and structures at Central Park (note: not all entrances shown). Pan and zoom the map and click on points for more details.

Wollman Rink is a public ice rink in the southern part of Central Park, Manhattan, New York City. It is named after the Wollman family who donated the funds for its original construction. The rink is open for ice skating from late October to early April; from late May to September it is transformed into Victoria Gardens, an amusement park for children.

The Wollman Rink is currently operated by the Trump Organization, as well as the Victoria Gardens Amusement Park by Central Amusement International, who also operates the Luna Park amusement park in Coney Island, Brooklyn.


The rink is located at the southeast corner of Central Park. It was formerly part of the Pond, located directly east of Wollman Rink. The Pond's western section was drained and backfilled during the mid-20th century.[1]

Wollman Rink at Central Park is distinct from a similarly-named rink at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. That rink was operational from 1961[2] to 2010, when it was demolished.[3]


A skating rink in the southeastern corner of Central Park was proposed in 1945.[4] Construction was made possible after Kate Wollman (1869–1955) donated $600,000 to Central Park in 1949, to commemorate her entire family from Leavenworth, Kansas. Kate's brother was William J. Wollman, who operated the W.J. Wollman & Co. stock exchange firm, originally in Kansas City and later in New York. After he died in 1937, she helped administer his estate.[5] The new skating rink opened in 1950.[6]

For many years the rink was the venue for a series of outdoor summer rock, pop, country and jazz concerts. Then it was known as The Wollman Theater or "The Wollman Skating Rink Theater". In the summer of 1957, WOR radio personality Jean Shepherd hosted a series of jazz concerts at the Wollman with Billie Holiday, Bud Powell, Lionel Hampton, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Dinah Washington, and others. The first summer music festival at the rink opened on July 1, 1966, and was sponsored by Rheingold Beer. The Rheingold Central Park Music Festival took place during the summer of 1967.[7] The next summer, Schaefer Beer took over sponsorship. The first annual Schaefer Music Festival opened on June 27, 1968, and continued each summer through 1976.[7] The following summer, Dr Pepper became the sponsor, and the first Dr Pepper Music Festival opened on July 6, 1977, and ran annually through 1980.[7] Led Zeppelin, the original Allman Brothers Band and singers Tammy Wynette, Peggy Lee, Judy Collins, and Pete Seeger are some of the greats who played the 5,000-seat Wollman during those years. Wollman Rink no longer hosts concerts, but in the summer it contains the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park.[7]


In late 1974, Columbia University completed a study of Central Park's finances and operations, and found that the park was being severely mismanaged.[8] NYC Parks started planning a renovation of the rink, including switching the refrigeration system from brinewater to liquid Freon to lower the operation costs. In January 1975, a $4 million plan to renovate Wollman Rink at the park's southeastern corner was announced.[9] However, this plan was rejected by the NYC Parks officials as being "unimaginative". By late 1975, the Central Park Task Force, an agency of NYC Parks, released a revised plan to renovate the Pond and Wollman Rink at the park's southwestern corner for $2.5 million.[10] However, a full renovation was deferred due to the 1975 New York City fiscal crisis.

The rink had to be closed in the winter of 1980 when its concrete floor buckled; at that time, the renovation was estimated to cost up to $4.9 million and to take two years. Due to the necessity of soliciting bids for three separate contracts and a series of planning errors, construction mishaps, and flooding caused by heavy rains, the renovations had not been completed by May 1986 when the city decided to use brinewater in plastic pipes. By that time, $12.9 million had been spent, with an additional $2 to $3 million estimated to complete the work by the winter of 1987.[11][12]

Donald Trump then offered Mayor Ed Koch to rebuild Wollman Rink at his expense within six months, in return for the leases to operate the rink and an adjacent restaurant to recoup his costs. The final agreement was that the city would reimburse Trump for the costs up to the agreed limit and that he would donate the profits of rink and restaurant to charity and public works.[12][13] Trump asked his contractors, among them HRH Construction, to also do the work without making a profit, promising them publicity but not mentioning their contributions to the press afterwards.[14] The work was completed two months ahead of schedule and $750,000 under the estimated costs.[12][15] As part of the agreement to keep operating Wollman Rink, Trump agreed to also take a concession for the Lasker Rink as well, and the Trump Organization won concessions for the rinks in 1987.[16]

When the rink reopened in November 1987,[12][17] ticket prices were raised from $2.50 to $4.50, and attendance was up from 130,000 in 1980 to 250,000 in 1987. As part of its agreement with the city, the Trump Organization donated most of the profit to public works, including $50,000 for the rink’s electricity costs, and to charity, among them United Cerebral Palsy, Partnership for the Homeless, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis. [18] The Trump Organization continues to hold a contract to operate the rink through April 30, 2021.[19]

The idea to put an amusement park in Wollman Rink came from a small group of industry veterans who saw an opportunity to use the 50,000 square foot facility all year long. After negotiations with the Central Park Conservancy, the New York City Parks Department and the Trump Organization, these private investors established Central Amusement International (CAI), which turned to Zamperla, an Italian amusement ride manufacturer, to make their vision a reality. Victorian Gardens first opened its gates to the general public in 2003.[20]

In popular culture[edit]

Wollman Rink has been featured in several movies and music videos, including Love Story, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Two Become One and Serendipity. It is also featured in the video game Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX. Wollman Rink has also been featured on Impractical Jokers.


  1. ^ Budin, Jeremiah (December 2, 2015). "How New York's Central Park Escaped Dozens of Misguided 'Improvements'". Curbed. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  2. ^ "New Wollman Rink Is Dedicated in Brooklyn". The New York Times. December 23, 1961. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  3. ^ Pollak, Michael (August 7, 2011). "Monitoring Progress of Wollman Rink in Prospect Park". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  4. ^ "CITY PLANS SKATING RINK; Ice Pond and Terrace in Central Park to Cost $300,000". The New York Times. May 12, 1945. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Rink, Play Area in Central Park Provided in $600,000 Gift to City; A $600,000 RECREATION CENTER PROPOSED FOR CENTRAL PARK CENTRAL PARK RINK IS A GIFT TO CITY". The New York Times. May 17, 1949. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  6. ^ "New Skating Rink in Central Park To Be Opened to Public Thursday; Ceremony Planned at Wollman Memorial Center on East Side Near 63d Street-- Playground Added to Outdoor Facility". The New York Times. December 18, 1950. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Venue information and background
  8. ^ Gerston, Jill (November 20, 1974). "Central Park Called Badly Managed;". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  9. ^ "Central Park on Thin Ice". The New York Times. January 23, 1975. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  10. ^ Goldberger, Paul (September 28, 1975). "Plan Completed for Central Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  11. ^ "New York Hopes to Learn From Rink Trump Fixed; Wollman Rink Scorecard". The New York Times. November 21, 1986. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d Freedlander, David (September 29, 2015). "A 1980s New York City Battle Explains Donald Trump's Candidacy". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  13. ^ Daley, Suzanne (June 6, 1986). "Trump to Rebuild Wollman Rink at the City's Expense by Dec. 15". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Babin, Janet (October 19, 2016). "Is Donald Trump Saving NYC Millions, or Making Millions Off Taxpayers?". WNYC News. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  15. ^ Kula, Irwin; Hatkoff, Craig (August 24, 2015). "Donald Trump And The Wollman Rinking of American Politics". Forbes. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  16. ^ Anderson, Susan Heller (October 15, 1987). "Trump to Run 2 Ice-Skating Rinks in Central Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  17. ^ Douville, Amanda (April 5, 2016). "Look back at Donald Trump's start in real estate in his native New York City". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  18. ^ Rosenthal, Andrew (April 1, 1987). "Trump reports large profit from Wollman Rink". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  19. ^ Bump, Philip (May 16, 2018). "Trump has earned $59 million in three years running attractions for New York City". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  20. ^ "About Us". Victorian Gardens. Retrieved January 19, 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′03″N 73°58′28″W / 40.76750°N 73.97444°W / 40.76750; -73.97444