Mod Betty drives past Playland Park in Rye New York every time she heads home to Massachusetts, but it wasn’t ’til last week that she actually stopped there after a 10+ year absence. Isn’t that lame? How did 10 years pass and I didn’t stop in all those years? Make time for the important things people! I still have to remind myself of this.
Don’t you be lame like Mod B and let so many years go by – go there NOW before their season ends on September 2, 2013, as the fate of this historic park is in question!
Playland park has been a summer fun fixture on the Long Island sound since it opened in 1928. Built to replace two other parks that drew an “unsavory” crowd back in the day, it is one of the only local-government owned amusement parks in the US. (And that’s why it’s future is unclear, because of the park’s income, taxes, and the economy, and people’s ideas of what the future of the park should be. For more info on all that check out the Save Playland Park Facebook Page.)
Do you want to know what you can do to Help Save Playland Park? Go there!
Ride the Rides! Eat the Eats, See the Shows!
Enjoy this small sliver of old-timey fun just off the highway.
Playland was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987 as the first totally planned amusement park in America designed specifically to accommodate automobile travelers, and seven of the rides in operation there have been there since before 1930. They’re my faves (even tho I’m a wimpus about Roller Coasters.)
List of 7 Existing Pre-1930 Rides of Playland Park:
Seven of the park’s original rides that date before 1930 still operate and are of major individual significance because of their rarity.
1. The Grand Carousel (Built 1915, installed 1928)
Mod B’s a big fan of classic carousels and that’s why they have their own category here on Retro Roadmap! The Grand Carousel at Playland Park was hand-carved by Charles Carmel of Brooklyn NY and was originally in New Haven, CT before it was moved to Playland. For those keeping score it has four rows with 48 jumpers, 18 standers and three chariots. (You can see photos of all of them here at their National Carousel Association entry.)I’m a sucker for a pretty white horse with a flowing mane, and there are plenty of them.
2. The Derby Racer (1928)
The Derby Racer is an absolute Must Ride Ride at Rye Playland – because it’s one of only three left IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! (The others are at Cedar Point in Sandusky OH, and in Blackpool in the UK.) I’ll let my pal Debra Jane Seltzer of Roadside Architecture explain this ride, because she does it so well:
The Derby Racer was built in 1927 for Playland by Prior & Church with horses carved by Illions. The Playland Racer runs about three times the speed of a regular carousel and is much faster than the one in Cedar Point. Despite the speed and apparent danger, riders are not strapped in and are only instructed to lean to the inside, brace their feet in a certain way in the metal stirrups, and hang on to the metal hoop with their hands.
The 56 jumpers are set in four rows in tracks originally designed to move the horses forward and backward simulating a race but they no longer do this at Playland. Although the saddles are built for two like Cedar Point, only one rider is allowed per horse. The sound of the spinning wooden track is loud and exciting. There is even a recording at the beginning of the ride simulating the call of a horse race. This Derby Racer was restored in 1986.
And they’re off! It’s thrilling and exciting, a bit scary and old fashioned and I love it.
3. The Whip (1928)
This is another Mod B fave, but I’m only faking the ride in the photo above because this ride is aptly named, and you’d be hard pressed to take a decent picture when it’s going. And who wants to be taking photos when you could instead be whiplashed about in this classic amusement park ride! If you’ve never been on The Whip, it’s quite an experience as you’re flipped from side to side until you make it to the end of the oval track when….whoaaaa!!!! You’re whipped around the corner! I always think we might crash into the car next to us but we never do, thankfully! And we’ve not gotten whiplast (yet) either. Designed and manufactured by W.F. Mangels, I felt a bit mangled getting off this ride
Had I known when we were at the park that there were actually 7 classic rides I would’ve snapped photos of the next 3:
4. The Kiddie Coaster (1928)
This wooden coaster is probably the only one that Mod B could handle, as I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to regular roller coasters. It’s a “Darling, junior” wooden coaster (Really – that’s the manufacturer and name!) and I’ll have to get the Retro Roadkids on it soon before they grow too big too fast!
5. The Kiddie Carousel (1928)
A diminutive metal counterpart to the grand carousel, this was also designed by W.F, Mangels (of The Whip fame) – who was famous for creating many amusement rides – especially just around the corner in Coney Island, NY. Read more about him and his rides at this informative article from Brooklyn Based!
6. Ye Olde Mill (1929)
This ride is kind of like a haunted house, but instead you’re on a boat, which totally reminds me of a similar ride in my childhood park (Paragon Park, Nantasket Beach) – and come to think of it, I think me mum said it was called the Red Mill. I’ll have to see how similar they are next time I’m at the park – if you go and ride it please snap a photo and let me know what you think!
7. The Dragon Coaster (1929)
The Dragon Coaster serves as the park’s mascot and appears in the Playland logo, and Mod Betty won’t appear anywhere on this ride unless you want to see her reduced to complete tears! But since not everyone feels that way, here are some interesting facts about this vintage wooden roller coaster, from ACE, the American Coaster Enthusiasts , who consider this a Landmark Roller Coaster:
- 3400′ long with an initial drop of 75 feet (eek!)
- One of only 3 remaining coasters designed by Frederick Church still in operation
- Classic art deco entrance
- Out and back design
So if you’re not a big baby like Mod B, and enjoy the feeling of when your stomach lurches up into your throat as you’re hurtled down a rickety incline, then by all means ride the Dragon Coaster!
But Wait, There’s More!
Besides the 7 Classic Rides there is still even more fun to be had at Rye Playland:
- A whole gaggle of Post 1930 rides, the complete list is here
- Live entertainment performances on its main stage
- All sorts of fried, sugary and delicious food!
- An ICE SKATING RINK!
And fireworks on Wednesday and Friday nights!
We didn’t even know about the fireworks, and would have missed them - or seen them from the parking lot, except Retro Roadhusband HAD TO stop to get a hot dog on the way out. With the patriotic music playing in the background as the fireworks burst in the summer sky, seeing the families out for a night of simple fun, I knew I had to get the word out asap about this fab Retro Roadmap worthy park!
Rye Playland Amusement Park – Heads up! 2013 season ends Monday September 2.
100 Playland Parkway
Rye, NY 10580
View NY – New York State Retro RoadMAP in a larger map