Playland, often called Rye Playland and also known as Playland Amusement Park, is an amusement park located in Rye, New York, along the Long Island Sound. Built in 1928, the 280-acre (110 ha) park is owned by the Westchester County government. Beginning with the 2018 season, Standard Amusements LLC has been contracted to operate the park.
|Location||Rye, New York, U.S.|
|Owner||Westchester County Government|
|Operated by||Standard Amusements LLC|
|Slogan||"Welcome to Playland"|
|Area||280 acres (113.3 ha)|
Playland Amusement Park
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
|Area||280 acres (110 ha)|
|Architect||Frank Darling; Walker & Gillette|
|Architectural style||Turn-of-the-20th century revival, Art Deco|
|NRHP reference No.||80004529|
|Added to NRHP||July 4, 1980|
|Designated NHL||February 27, 1987|
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Playland's waterfront area of Westchester County along the Long Island Sound was the site of a growing collection of recreational developments, including hotels, resorts, and "amusement areas". Local residents concerned about what a county report described as "unsavory crowds" induced the Westchester County Park Association to purchase two existing theme parks, Rye Beach and Paradise Park, and planned a local-government-sponsored amusement park in their stead.
Frank Darling, a veteran park manager with experience at Coney Island and the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, was hired to design and run the new park, called Playland. The well-known NYC architectural firm Walker & Gillette and landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke were commissioned to produce a comprehensive design of both buildings and grounds, making Playland the first planned amusement park in the country.
Construction commenced in September 1927, and was completed in six months. The park began operation on May 26, 1928. Rides that were operating on Playland's opening day included the Grand Carousel, Derby Racers, and the Dragon Coaster. The Airplane Coaster was added in 1928 while the Casino opened in 1929.
In 1966, a major fire at the amusement park claimed some of Rye Playland's all-time classic attractions, including the original Bumper Car ride and the "Magic Carpet" Funhouse.
The Marriott Corporation managed the park in 1981 and 1982 as part of a two-year experimental period. During those two seasons, the park was run at a loss in excess of $5 million. Westchester County took over operation in 1983.
By 2001, Playland was Westchester's most visited park, seeing one million visitors that year. For the 2002 season, Playland unveiled three new rides: the Kite Flyer, Crazy Mouse, and Sky Skater. Until the beginning of the 2002–2003 National Hockey League season, the New York Rangers practiced at the Playland Ice Casino. Currently,[when?] the hockey team from Manhattanville College, located in nearby Purchase, plays its home games at Playland.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy claimed parts of Playland's boardwalk, flooded and caused substantial damage to the Ice Casino, and scattered debris throughout Read Sanctuary.
In May 2016, the Westchester County Board of Legislators voted 13–4 to give control of the park to a management company called Standard Amusements. Standard Amusements agreed to invest $27.5 million into the park, which it will manage for 30 years. Westchester County maintains ownership of the park, and will receive an annual base rent and 8% of the park's profits after Standard Amusements has recouped its initial investment.
In 2022, Playland began its $125 million 5-year revitalization project. 2022 saw the rebuild of the Derby Racer canopy, new & updated bathrooms across the park, new & updated midway games, as well as 3 new rides- Catch N' Air, Old Rye Motorbike Factory, and the Tornado.
Admission to Playland is free for Westchester residents who wish to observe the attractions. However, visitors must pay for a wristband that will give them all-day access to ride all of the attractions. Non-Westchester residents must pay admission to get inside Playland and an additional fee for the wristband. Westchester residents generally also pay a lower price for the wristbands than non-Westchester residents. To keep the price of each ride low, Westchester County's government offers sponsorships to businesses in exchange for annual naming rights for a ride, in addition to sponsorships for concerts, fireworks, and revues.
Walker & Gillette's asymmetrical beaux arts plan integrated Playland's three major components. The first component, a swimming park, is defined by a semi-elliptical beach, boardwalk, and arcade. At the center of this arcade, a Spanish Revival bathhouse and pool terminates the automobile approach along Playland Parkway and its twin towers frame a view of Long Island Sound. The second component, an amusement park, is laid out along an axial landscaped mall at roughly 90 degrees to the Parkway approach. An entrance plaza with central fountain at the beach end of this axis is defined by corner pavilions and anchored by a casino and ice rink building. The axial mall is flanked by colonnades which serve to visually organize the various rides, games, and restaurants on each outboard side. A midway cross-axis terminates in a gate at the large parking lot on its inland end and at a promontory at its waterside end. The main axis terminates in a 100 foot tall Music Tower that now has a performance stage at its base. All original amusement park buildings are in an Art Deco style. The third component, a boating lake, lies beyond the tower. Its boathouse consists of two pavilions symmetrically flanking a central colonnade, facing a terrace and boat dock and the lake.
Playland is home to the "Grand Carousel", a 1915 Mangels-Carmel carousel. It has four rows with 48 jumpers, 18 standers and three chariots. It was originally in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Playland when the park opened in 1927. The Grand Carousel has a rare band organ built by the Gavioli company in Italy. The organ enclosure features two male figures that strike bells in time to the music while the central female figure moves a baton. The Grand Carousel contains designs including those on the horses that are completely hand-carved and painted by Charles Carmel from Brooklyn, New York. The horses possess many unique traits that include elaborate "fish scale" blankets, inlaid gemstones, armor and lolling tongues on several.
Playland is also home to one of only three still in existence. The Derby Racer was built in 1927 for Playland by Prior & Church with horses carved by Marcus Charles Illions, a turn of the century New York carousel horse carver. The Derby Racer rotates at 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) - three times the speed of a normal carousel. The horses move back and forth as well as up and down, simulating a true gallop as it races around the track. The other "Derby Racing Carousels" are located at Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio; and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, in Blackpool, Lancashire, United Kingdom. Playland also features an upcharge Go Kart track.
|Name||Manufacturer||Type (Model)||Year Opened||Stats||Description|
|Crazy Mouse||Zamperla||Steel (wild mouse)||2003||Wild Mouse roller coaster with spinning cars.|
|Dragon Coaster||Frederick Church||Wooden||1929||3400 feet of track – 80 feet high – Approx 45 mph||The Dragon Coaster serves as the park's mascot and appears in the Playland logo. Designed and built by amusement ride creator Frederick A. Church, it has a tunnel along its span. The tunnel resembles the body of a dragon, and the opening of the tunnel resembles a dragon's mouth. The dragon has eyes that light up, and it blows steam from its nostrils. Playland Park removed the classic Prior and Church trains in 1989 and replaced them with Morgan trains because the P.T.C.s did not have up-to-date safety technology such as lap bars and other items. The Dragon Coaster is classified as one of the park's seven "classic" rides.|
|Family Flyer||Zamperla||Steel (family gravity coaster)||2001||262 feet of track - 13 feet high||A short roller coaster with a helix and small drops.|
|Kiddie Coaster||Rudyard Stephen Uzzell||Wood||1928||An ACE Coaster Classic|
|Super Flight||Zamperla||Steel (Volare)||2004||1282 feet of track – 26 mph – 2 inversions.||Riders lie on their stomach in a caged car with three other people, all in a single row. Cars are released one at a time, allowing multiple cars to be at different spots on the coaster at the same time. The coaster contains two heartline rolls.|
|Catch a Wave||Wisdom Rides||2006||Miami||A row of seats that rotate clockwise and anticlockwise in a vertical circle by two arms.|
|Derby Racer||Prior and Church Company||1927||Derby Racer||One of only three rides of its kind still in existence. Built in 1927 for Playland by Prior & Church with horses carved by Marcus Charles Illions, a turn of the century New York carousel horse carver. The Derby Racer rotates at 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) - three times the speed of a normal carousel. The horses move back and forth as well as up and down, simulating a gallop as it races around the track. The ride & its canopy was refurbished for the 2022 season.|
|Double Shot||S&S Worldwide||2000||Double Shot||Drop tower type attraction that uses compressed air to rapidly propel riders up the tower then gently lower them with a series of air-cushioned bounces back to the loading platform.|
|Dragonator||Zamperla||2019||Disk'O||Small halfpipe with outwards-facing seats.|
|Go Karts||unknown||unknown||Go-Karts||Classic Go-Kart attraction that is an authentic looking race cars. The cars come in single-seater or double-seater models. Contrary to most parks, the Go-Karts are included in admission with no additional fee.|
|Log Flume||Hopkins||1994||Log Flume||Passengers sit in the logs, which are propelled along the flume by the flow of water, followed by a rapid descent|
|Playland Plunge||Hopkins||2001||Shoot the Chute||A flat-bottomed boat that slides down a ramp or inside a flume into a lagoon.|
|Playland Yo-Yo||Chance Rides||2008||Yo-Yo||A swing ride that tilts.|
|The Whip||W.F. Mangels & Company||1928||Whip||Two circular wheel-like turn-table platforms on opposing sides of a rectangular base. Motors turn a cable that leads a number of 2–3 person seater cars that are attached, around a laminated wooden track. The ride follows the track while the cable turns. When the car reaches one of the turn-table platforms, the speed picks up forcing riders to one side as the car whips around the corner.|
|Ye Old Mill||Prior and Church Company||1929||Dark Boat Ride||A classic Playland attraction. Guests ride a boat through the Playland Waterworks, but watch out! Don't go to far down or you'll find yourself in the hands of trolls!|
|Zombie Castle||Traver Engineering Company||1934||dark ride||Hop aboard a car as you go on an adventure full of zombies and other jump scares!|
|Bumper Cars||unknown||1978||Dodgems||Classic Bumper Car attraction where guests drive their own car and attempt to bump other cars out of the way.|
|Catch N' Air||Majestic Rides||2022||flat ride||A skateboard-themed attraction where guests ride in a circular motion, up and down a bunny hill, both forward and backward!|
|Gondola Wheel||Chance Rides||1990||ferris wheel||A 90 foot tall ferris wheel that offers guests view of the theme park and the Long Island sound.|
|Grand Carousel||W.F. Mangels||1928||carousel||The historical 1928 carousel, with classic organ music.|
|Kite Flyer||Zamperla||2002||Kite Flyer||Lay horizontal on colorful gliders as you fly around in the air like a superhero!|
|Music Express||Wisdom Rides||2008||Musik Express||A Fast-paced circular ride where you travel over hills and peaks both forwards and backwards!|
|Old Rye Motorbike Factory||Technical Park||2022||Swingaround||Board a motorbike that swings around as guests can control how high the bike goes in the air!|
|Sky Skater||Interactive Rides||2002||Sky Skater||Hop aboard an oversized skateboard as it teeters back and forth.|
|Tornado||Wisdom Rides||2022||Tornado||Hop aboard a circular gondola as the ride sends you spinning up in the air like you're caught in a Tornado!|
The "Ice Casino", built in 1929, originally contained a main ice rink as well as a full dance floor on the second floor that functioned as a dance hall through the 1940s and '50s. It also had a full service fine-dining restaurant and an outdoor café. It had smaller dining rooms upstairs for upscale private dinners. A renovation in the 1970s added a kiddie rink as well as a mid-sized ice rink. A renovation to the main ice rink that included a new surface, boards and glass was completed in 2007 for the Empire State Games.
This section does not cite any sources. (November 2021)
Playland features entertainment performances on its main stage on the north side of the park towards Manursing Lake. 2006 included the dance show Oh-Zone as well as Magic and Spice featuring magician Brendon Yancey. In 2007, it had New York Nights and Shakin' at the "High School Hop", a Grease-style performance. In 2008, dance shows included I Hear America Singing, a mix of new pop songs, and Summer Cruisin, a mish-mash of 1950s and 1960s music.
There is also strolling entertainment including kids dance and singing shows, costumed characters and drum acts that occur multiple times a day.
Playland offers fireworks on Friday nights.
Playland features a free concert series every summer that is sponsored by tri-state radio stations, Pepsi, CulinArt, Manhattan Beer Distributors, Westchester County and the Westchester County Parks Department. The free concerts are usually on Thursdays and Fridays in July and August.
In 2008, four free concerts were scheduled at Rye Playland. On May 24, the new Menudo performed. On July 18, Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child, George Lamond, Kim Sozzi and DJ Serg performed. On August 7, second runner up on American Idol, Elliott Yamin, performed. Finally, on August 14, British pop star Natasha Bedingfield performed to a capacity crowd despite the rainy weather.
In 2010, Shontelle performed for a very large, young crowd on August 4.
Past free concerts at the park include Joan Jett, Lifehouse, Cyndi Lauper, The Bangles, Daniel Bedingfield, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, and Cheap Trick in 2004. Additionally, around 2010, popular 80's artists such as Pat Benatar and Flock of Seagulls played the park.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2019)
|Ride||Manufacturer||Year Opened||Year Closed||Model||Description|
|SkyFlyer||ARM (UK)||1995||2021||Sky Flyer||Sold to traveling carnival Modern Midways. Replaced by expanded restrooms & a dining establishment for the 2022 season.|
|Thunderbolt||Chance Rides||1989||2021||Matterhorn||Swinging cars which travel on an uneven circular path. Replaced by the Tornado for the 2022 season.|
|Starship 2000||Wisdom Rides||1995||2021||Gravitron||48 padded panels lining the inside wall. Riders lean against these panels, which are angled back. As the ride rotates, centrifugal force is exerted against the pads by the rider, removing the rider from the floor, due to the slant. Replaced by the "Old Rye Motorbike Factory", an expanded walkway & landscaped area for the 2022 season.|
|Wipeout||Chance Rides||1992||2021||Trabant||A flat ride where 60 riders sit while the ride spins & tilts as classic rock n' roll music plays. It was replaced by the "Old Rye Motorbike Factory" for the 2022 season.|
|Ride||Manufacturer||Year Opened||Year Closed||Model||Description|
|Flying Witch||Pinfari||1971||2021||dark ride||A multi-story tracked dark ride through haunted house scenes with old-school props and scene displays. Inspired by Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, & Phantasm. It was replaced by the "Catch N' Air for the 2022 season, and subsequently relocated to Niagara Amusement Park & Splash World, where it's set to reopen in 2023.|
|Ride||Manufacturer||Model||Year Opened||Year Closed||Description|
|Airplane Coaster||Frederick Church||Wood||May 26, 1928||1957||In 1927, construction began on the Airplane Coaster, overseen by Frank W. Darling. It was originally thought that the Traver Engineering Company had been responsible for the construction of this ride; however, in 1983 the original blueprints, signed by Fred Church, were discovered in an attic at the park, disproving the Traver Company misconception. Known originally as "Airplane Dips", its name was changed to "Aero-coaster" and then finally to "Airplane Coaster". The ride was dismantled in 1957.|
|Flitzer||Zierer||Steel||1980||Thought to have only operated for one year.|
|Hurricane||S&MC||Steel||1995||2003||Relocated to Playcenter São Paulo (2005-2012) where it operated as Windstorm, then to Alpen Park (2013–present) where it operates as Alpen Blizzard|
|Monster Mouse||Allan Herschell Company||Steel||1967||1981||Relocated to Quassy Amusement Park where it operated as Mad Mouse from 1982 to 2010; currently not operational anywhere|
|Whirlwind||Vekoma||Steel||1984||1992||Relocated to Knoebels Amusement Resort (1993-2004) as Whirlwind, then to Parque de Diversiones (2005–present) as Bocaraca|
|Wild Cat||Schwarzkopf||Steel||1984||1991||Relocated multiple times. Previously at Busch Gardens Williamsburg as Die Wildkatze (1976-1983), then moved to Steel Pier (1994-1999), Williams Grove Amusement Park (2001-2004), and Adventure Park USA (2005-present) as Wildcat|
|Wild Mouse||Wood||1958||1965 - 1966||This ride was imported from Germany; according to Billboard's January 7, 1958, issue, it was sold to Playland by Eric Wedemeyer. Wild Mouse was then operated by concessionaire Schauer Amusement Corporation.|
|Wild Wind||Interpark||Steel||—||—||This roller coaster, built in late 1999, was never opened due to the G-forces being considered highly extreme, and was removed before 2000.|
The Westchester County Police provides law enforcement services throughout the year, but the park is only officer-patrolled on a 24-hour basis from April to October. In addition to County Police, the park employs seasonal park rangers. Uniformed park rangers work under the supervision of county police officers to maintain a safe and enjoyable atmosphere in the county's parks. They assist park users, provide information on park rules and procedures, help in searches for lost children, and make regular security checks of buildings and facilities.
Westchester County Parks Emergency Medical Service provides basic life support services to the guests and employees of the park, and maintains the park's two first aid stations. Paramedic and ambulance transport services are provided through Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook Emergency Medical Service. The Rye Fire Department handles all fire and rescue calls at Playland.
U.S. National Register of Historic Places in New York