Rye Playland Park | Amusement Park Review
As I was leaving Coney Island, having ridden the legendary Cyclone, I saw a billboard for Playland Park, my next destination. I boarded the northbound subway to Grand Central, then transferred to a train that took me to the out of the city to Westchester County, New York (also home to Professor Xavier’s Mansion for the comic book geeks out there). The train arrived in the pleasant suburb community of Rye. The town consisted of lots of wooded streets with old nice houses. I hopped in a cab and in about 10 minutes I was entering Playland Park.
Playland is quite different from most amusement parks as it’s not operated by a family or corporation, but by the local Westchester government. In fact, it’s the only government owned and operated park in the United States according to Wikipedia. And from my experience they’re doing a good job running the park. The green park is situated right on the Long Island Sound and boasts a beach and boardwalk. Some may remember the park from movies like “Big” and “Fatal Attraction”. Another notable thing about the park is that admission is free. Like other small amusement parks, Waldameer & Knoebels come to mind, guests pay for ride tickets, but entry is free.
The park originally opened in 1928. That year, the wooden masterpiece designed by Fred Church, the Airplane coaster also opened. Also known as the Aero-coaster, the wicked ride is worthy of its own post. It was later closed, but a few historic and rare amusement park rides still operate at Playland today. Playland’s signature ride is the 80-year old Dragon Coaster.
The Dragon Coaster
I got to ride yet another piece of history on my New York area coaster trip. The Dragon Coaster was designated an American Coaster Enthusiasts Coaster Landmark. While it’s nearly as old as the Coney Island Cyclone, Dragon Coaster has a completely different layout. Trains are dispatched via a large lever, it has a slanted station where gravity helps push the trains to the lift, and the trains are still the original bench designs If I’m not mistaken. The ride seems a bit heavy and there’s practically no air on most hills. The Dragon Coaster’s speed is lackluster, but on the bright side it’s an ancient coaster that won’t beat you up. The ride was still fun, just not thrilling, but it’s a perfect fit for a small family-friendly park as it invites re-rides. The highlight of the Dragon Coaster is going into a long covered section that’s themed as dragon. It was pretty fun getting gobbled up by the dragon.
Other than the Dragon Coaster, Playland offers Super Flight, a Zamperla flying coaster. I was excited to ride it as I’ve never ridden a Zamperla flyer, but unfortunately it wasn’t open. I’m not sure if it was closed because I was at the park on a week day. There’s also Crazy Mouse, a wild mouse coaster that was decent and small steel coaster called Family Flyer.
One of the coolest rides in the whole park was one I wasn’t allowed to ride. Kiddie Coaster is the name of the 1928 junior wooden coaster designed just for kids. It laps the park’s great kiddie area. I have to say I was kind of jealous of the kids and I’d love to return one day with my kids as junior wooden coasters are kind of rare.
Another unique, old-school ride is the Whip. It’s a classic flat ride that’s been throwing riders for a spin for decades. Playland also boasts a rare ‘high-speed’ carousel-like horse ride. I braved the dark ride Zombie Castler since it was listed on the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts site. I watched the end of the world-famous tight-rope walking Wallendas performance. The father and daughter were performing at Playland that day. The adult-aged son Nic Wallenda toured the country this summer making high-profile tight rope walks at Cedar Fair parks.
Eventually, it was time to get back to New York City to grab some dinner and catch my plane home. Playland was a very nice homey park like a Knoebels. If you live in the NYC area and you want something a little more laid back and smaller than Six Flags Great Adventure, head up to Rye. Aside from the amusement park, there’s also the beach, boats, and the quaint town of Rye nearby. It would likely make for a nice, fun, and relaxing day trip for area urbanites.