Hey, everyone. This past Wednesday, my family and I took a trip across the border to Playland Park in Rye, New York. This park is only a few minutes away from my house, and it's a great, classic little park that I consider my home park.
Unfortunately, I accidentally left my camera on my desk and the only pictures I took were with my camera phone. Even those were just to do some TwitPic's. (@h2mc)
But, hey, pictures just get in the way. Words, words, words!
But, want to hear the story? Here goes:
We arrived at the park around four in the afternoon. It had been cloudy all day so we weren't really sure if we were going to go or not. Luckily, the rain kind of went away and the park gates were wide open.
One of the interesting things of Playland is the approach. When you get off of I-95, there's a road called the Playland Parkway that leads to the entrance. You pass by the bus stations, the beach, and the pool before you reach the parking lot. Playland was one of those parks built for people to vacation from NYC from- take the train in. It was the country's first totally-planned amusement park. I'd say it's the closest thing we have to a California-esque pier in this area, besides Coney Island. It's nice.
The park changed over from a ticket/point system to an admission/wristband system last season, so we bought our wristbands and walked in through the parking lot entrance. We made our first ride the Dragon Coaster. The Dragon Coaster opened in 1929, and is a classic woodie. It is one of my favorite roller coasters, and the coaster I've ridden the most. A couple of years ago, they refurbished the Dragon tunnel. On the second incline, your train gets swallowed by a large dragon. The new dragon lights up, breathes smoke, and has intimidating sound-effects when you head in. Great way to start the evening! Especially with no lines.
My little brother Finn and my mom headed into Kiddyland, an area dedicated to little ones. The Kiddy Coaster there is very cute, and a substantial attraction compared to the little ones you'll see at fairs or at other amusement parks. While we hung out in Kiddyland, we hopped on the Playland Express. The park's train has a few little cutouts of Westchester County/New York City sights to see, but it is a very short ride. A good look at the queue of SuperFlight, (although there wasn't one.) I also took my brother on the Convoy, the little truck ride. He had fun in there.
Nearby is SuperFlight. This flying, lie-down coaster is a fun, little, compact coaster, but it can get a little painful. We rode it once, but I don't personally think it's worth waiting very long for. I had black fuzz on my neck all night from the pads in the vehicles.
A few feet away is the Derby Racer. This is one of only three in the country, and it is very cool, and classic. It's like a high-speed carousel. My only problem with this ride was all of the rules. They were like, "Get on from the right side by placing your left foot in the bottom stirrup and swing your leg over the horse. Do not step on the horse's leg. You must lean to the left as the ride picks up speed..." There were too many things to worry about while you rode. I could tell that the ride operators have fun on this one, because they get to walk around the ride like a turntable.
Right next door, between the Racer and Kiddyland, is the Gondola Wheel. I had never been on this before, so we tried it out. It was a short ride but it had some nice views of the park. I think, this year, new LED lights were added to the wheel. Patterns kept showing up and moving around. It was a very cool touch. However, sometimes, some lights would get stuck and not change.
I got dinner at a mini-Burger King, in the middle of the park. I topped it off with some funnel cake as well. At both of these places, it seemed that none of the employees new what was going on... At Burger King, the girl who took my order asked me for my receipt while I was waiting. Did she forget what I had ordered? I needed $5 change for my Funnel Cake and none of the guys inside gave me any, until one of them had to call for their boss, (at a nearby table,) for the key to the cash register. And it was only 7:00? I don't even know. We tried to get dinner first at a small Mexican food kiosk, and, when I ordered, I eventually came to understand from the mumbling girl at the register that they didn't have burritos, nor quesadillas, only nachos. Bad show.
Sometime soon after, my sister, my friend and I went back to the Dragon Coaster. We succeeded in making four cycles in a row, trying to get a good on-ride photo. Our group also did the Auto Scooters, and the Go-Karts, twice. I always got the slow car on the Karts.
Meanwhile, my mom and my younger siblings caught two shows that were performed on the Music Tower stage. I saw a little piece of one, and it seemed to be pretty good. Generic, but good. The Music Tower is impressive- it sits at the end of the midway and makes for a good icon, along with the Dragon Coaster.
My friend and my sister and I also took the time to ride on the park's two Laugh-in-the-Dark-style dark rides. I had never ridden these, as I had always been too chicken. The Flying Witch is inside a huge showbuilding, decorated with dated airbrush paintings of monsters with moving parts and static characters. Inside, we rode along on a track and passed by a bunch of moving Halloween decorations behind chicken wire hat quickly lit up and made startling loud noises. I had my ears mostly plugged on both rides. The Flying Witch was totally strange... There were all sorts of different frightening characters, including one vampire wearing lingerie. I was totally confused when it ended. Although, I did catch Vincent Price's laugh from "Thriller" being used for one vignette, which reminded me of Phantom Manor. Just sayin'. Zombie Castle is on the other side of the midway, which is a little less garish on the outside. The ride was a little stronger in quality, but it was just the same concept. The lighting was better and the scenes were at least linked a little bit. The part that wowed be was about 3/4's through when either the car moved or the track was bumpy, because it felt like you were driving over dead bodies. A little intense, but cool. Indiana Jones, anyone? I was reminded that an animatronic court jester zombie used to be outside in the front of the attraction, because the character appeared several times in the ride. I'm glad I rode these two rides, because I'm a dark ride fan and these are a little more common than Disney dark rides.
Later in the night, we rode the Playland Yo-Yo, and watched the people suffering on the Playland Plunge. Man, that's a big splash. We opted for the Log Flume. The Log Flume is one of the better rides in the park, and we got a little splashed. It was almost 9:00, so we grabbed one more ride on the Dragon Coaster before heading to the boardwalk to catch up with our family and watch the fireworks.
Playland has fireworks on Summer Wednesday and Friday nights. This year, the fireworks are now set to music and are launched by a computer. The viewing location is between the Log Flume and the Playland Plunge. I have heard these fireworks from my house for years but this is the first time I've seen them. The display itself was very impressive... A little short, but there was a lot. The actual boardwalk was closed off for some reason. This left all the viewing to be done in an area of grass and bushes, and I got bitten by mosquitos. I thought that the boardwalk was closed off due to the new admission policy, but according to Facebook posts, it might have just been closed for some work. One downside was the lighting. The Log Flume and the Plunge still had their lights on, and the lamps on the boardwalk were left on. Now... The soundtrack. It sounded nice, what I could hear. It was far too quiet. Just a few speakers on the boardwalk played it. I could make out strains of a rendition of "Go the Distance" from Disney's Hercules, which was odd. What made it worse was that the nearby Thunder Bolt attraction was still blasting music for the ride, ("Alejandro" by Lady Gaga,) so it made the soundtrack even quieter. It was a shame. There's room for improvement! But I think it's a big step for a park to have a nighttime spectacular like this. Here's what Rye Playland had to say on these issues, on Facebook...
We started walking back to our car. Before leaving, three of us hopped on Ye Old Mill. This ride is very, very old but has been re-done a number of times. Most recently, Sally Corp. re-did it in 1999. The new theme has to do with gnomes and trolls. It is a little intense... Two parts when a large dragon pops out at you still get me- I can't look. However, one thing ruined the ride for me this time. The park has placed a line of green Christmas lights along the entire ride canal. (It's a boat ride.) I can only think that this must be because of an event a few years ago. A seven year-old boy rode the ride alone and tried to get off the ride after being frightened, but climbing out of the boat in the ride, (to one of the heavily-marked Exit doors,) he got stuck and hit his head and died. Many modifications have been made to the ride since then, to prevent another accident. It's a shame that the ride has to be ruined like this. One of the ride operators agreed with me that the lights were terrible and said I should let Guest Services know my opinion. I made the decision to write them a letter, as we walked out to our car.The boardwalk is open again to view the fireworks. As far as the lights go we did turn the lights off at one time (they don't dim) but stopped doing that because some people complained about not being able to see where they were walking.
As we drove back into Connecticut, it started pouring rain and the traffic really piled up. It was 10:00 at night!
Overall, for just a little park, with seven people, on a cloudy afternoon, it was a successful and fun time. Thanks for reading!