Experience Rye Playland, an amusement park with rides dating back to the 1930’s and more modern fare. No car necessary as public transportation is available from New York City straight to the park. Along with the amusements, there is a pool and beach to swim in for an extra fee. Here’s an easy day trip outside the New York City that’s fun for all.
Rye Playland: Amusement Park with Old World Charm
These days, the words amusement park bring big expectations. Giant roller coasters suspend your entire body in the air, with turns, drops, rolls. So many ride choices you’d need a few days to do them all. Long lines. Big entrance fees. But Rye Playland is an amusement park that offers relatively short lines (or no lines) no matter the day of the week. Add in plenty of rides for varying age ranges from young to adult and a reminder of the park’s history.
Upon first entering Rye Playland, Art Deco architecture is the first clue that this amusement park has been around for awhile. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987 thanks to the Art Deco and design, the large photos throughout the amusement park provide a historical look back at the ride experiences in the 1930’s. (How different it must have been to be wearing your Sunday best suit as you hit the coaster tracks!) Some plaques will give you additional details.
Authentic Amusement Park Rides
While you won’t necessarily have the latest-greatest roller coaster available, you’ll have the original Dragon Coaster. Built in 1929, this historic wooden coaster takes you through the dragon’s mouth into darkness and drops you out on the other side. (This along with a number of other smaller coasters.) We heard plenty of laughter and screams on the multiple times we went on it. The Dragon Coaster is one of seven rides original to the park, each built prior to 1930 and are still running today.
The Whip (with both a kiddy and adult version) is surprisingly simple, yet will have you whipping around the corners. The Derby Racer (one of only two known original rides of this type remaining in the U.S.) will have you “galloping” at 25 miles per hour, giving you the sensation of what it’s really all about.
Some of the rides (like the Kiddie Coaster dating back to 1928) are a bit jarring, so do take into consideration if you have back or neck problems.
If you’re a kid (or a kid at heart), you’ll actually enjoy the traffic when riding the Go Karts and Bumper Cars.
On warm days, perhaps the most popular rides will be the two log flume rides, a guaranteed screaming fun experience especially as you are thoroughly splashed. While these are short rides, the lines move fairly quickly and you’ll want to go back throughout the day to be refreshed.
The main stage offers free (somewhat cheesy but still rollicking fun) shows throughout the day (depending on the day) and a fireworks show on Friday nights. And free concert series take place in the park during the summer as well.
Rides For the Little Kids
Located closest to the park entrance, Kiddyland offers more than twenty rides for little ones, with the ability for parents to join in on (most of) the fun if the child wants to bring them along. The majority have a 36-inch minimum height requirement, so if your child is smaller than that, you’ll likely need to ride along with them.
From the antique “whiplash” ride to the Flying Dragon, Antique Cars to the Jump ‘N Bean, potato sack slide to the popular (also handicapped accessible) Playland Express train ride, there are plenty of choices for the teeny-bopper crowd. A covered area nearby is home to shows throughout the day including magic, dancing, and singing. On hot days, sprinklers of mist run constantly for you to cool down when walking from ride to ride.
Traveling Mom Tip: A number of rides outside of Kiddyland would not be good for the little ones. In addition to the coasters, there are some adult-themed rides that could give them nightmares. That said, a House of Mirrors in the adult area will have them fascinated.
Available for an additional fee, the pool and quiet public beach are just a short stroll away from the park. Here you’ll see the coastline and an original Spanish Revival Boathouse from the edge of the park itself (not to mention from the top of the Ferris wheel). Decide whether you want to spend an additional $6 for swimming in the pool. Or $8 for a park-and-beach combination, allowing swimming off the shoreline of the Long Island Sound. A pleasant boardwalk stroll takes you to either spot. Umbrellas and chairs can be rented for an additional $3 each.
Ready for Its Close-Up
Rye Playland amusement park has played a background role in or is made mention in a number of films and TV shows—making it additionally interesting to visit to see what it looks like in real life. Perhaps you remember the “Zoltar the Magnificent” fortune telling machine that lets actor Tom Hanks return back to his adult state at the end of the film Big? (Yes, the machine is still there telling fortunes, but not, evidently, letting us re-live our youth.) Fatal Attraction, Sweet and Lowdown, and The Muppets Take Manhattan were some others who chose to use it as a backdrop. Mad Men fans have heard it mentioned on multiple occasions. And there are others as well.
Getting There and Costs
Admission to the park is $30 or $20 for children shorter than 48-inches. (It’s free for kids 2 and younger.) If you’re a Westchester resident, you’ll save another $5. Although rides are available on a “single-ride” basis, cost savings are best in the park admission rather than individual rides.
Discounted roundtrip “excursion fares” are offered from Metro North and New Jersey transit that include transportation and discounted admission to the park itself and discounts (small) on the beach and pool.
You can bring along waters and snacks or small meals, but no coolers are allowed. Rent lockers for entire day use for a relatively small fee. And if you do drive, parking will cost you $10.
What a great day trip from New York City! What’s your favorite day trip from New York City?