One of my favorite places was Playland in Rye, N.Y. We’d go every year on school field trips. I’d also go on my own with friends on the bus for the 12-mile trip that felt more like 40 miles. We’d hit the beach and go on the rides, including Dragon Coaster and the Wild or Crazy Mouse and the Derby Racer — one of only three Derby Racers still in operation today. (The other two are in Cedar Point and England).
The Derby Racer has carousel horses but they “race” around a track. We’d win Kewpie dolls at the games and smooch with our boyfriends in the Ye Old Mill boat ride.
The Art Deco style of the promenade and the dance hall/skating rink/concession stand is very memorable and that’s why I immediately recognized the boardwalk and the fortune telling machine at the end of the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks. What I didn’t know was that Playland is the only government-owned-and-operated amusement park in the United States. It is owned by Westchester County and was given a historic designation.
So hopefully it won’t go the way of Palisades Park and someday I’ll be able to take my grandkids there to ride the same rides I once did and stroll the boardwalk together.
Indiana has a couple of great old amusement parks, too.
Santa Claus World — now Holiday World — has the distinction of being the first theme park.
Disneyland has been given the credit for being the first theme park, but it actually is Santa Claus World, which opened in 1946 about 10 years before Disneyland. They now have areas for Thanksgiving, Halloween and July 4 so the name was changed to Holiday World.
And Indiana Beach, proving that there is more than corn in Indiana. Ride on!
Denise Fedorow is a columnist and correspondent for The Goshen News. Her column appears every other week. She said she’s been to Indiana Beach, but not Holiday World so will have to add that to her “bucket list.”