Take the kids: Rye Playland

Rye Playland prepares for their opening on May Rye Playland prepares for their opening on May 12 in Rye. (May 8, 2012) Photo Credit: Susan Stava

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Perhaps the Hudson Valley’s most famous amusement park, Rye Playland has seen some changes since it opened in 1928, but with the legendary Dragon Coaster and plenty of other thrills on site, it’s always been one of the region’s top places to bring the kids — and feel like a kid again.

Playland offers much more than thrill rides and cotton candy. Here's a closer look at the top attractions.

Activity: Rides
For those who want to: Indulge in the ‘Fantasy’

Playland is home to the Dragon Coaster, a landmark ride whose wooden track spans almost two-thirds of a mile and boasts a 128-foot drop. It also carried former Bedford resident Mariah Carey in her music video for “Fantasy.” While you must be at least 4 feet tall to ride the Dragon, there are lots of other ways for adults and older kids alike to seek thrills on the premises. There’s the Playland Plunge (a 50-foot drop into a pool); a log flume (a 1,150-foot chute filled with 170,000 gallons of water); the Playland Yo-Yo (a circular, mechanical swing-set perched a couple of stories above the ground); and Thunder Bolt (a ride that moves in all directions to a hip-hop groove). The park’s “dark rides” — including the Flying Witch, Starship 2000, Ye Old Mill and Zombie Castle — involve enclosed spaces, loud noises and flashing lights, so those are probably not ideal for the youngest children.

Cost: Free with regular admission; $5 or $6 per ride with spectator admission

Activity: Kiddyland


For those who want to: Cater to the younger crowd

To the right of the front entrance are about 20 rides geared toward kids ages 2 to 6. Rides include the Mini-Scrambler (for kids between 3 feet and 3 feet 6 inches tall); the Mini Coaster (for kids between 3 feet and 4 feet, 7 inches tall); the Convoy ride (for kids at least 3 feet 4 inches tall or shorter children accompanied by adult); and the Kiddy Carousel (for kids 3 to 4 feet tall). On opening day, Kiddyland will host “Mad about Science” shows at 2 and 4 p.m., and a DJ will play music at 1, 3, 5 and 6 p.m.

Cost: Free with regular admission; $5 per ride with spectator admission

Activity: Listen to the music
For those who want to: Dance the day away

Entertainment varies from day to day, but there always seems to be someone playing music or performing an act in front of an audience. DJs, drummers, singing competitions, magicians and classic rock cover bands are among the recurring performers keeping things lively throughout the park.

Cost: Free with admission

Activity: Special events
For those who want to: Build a day around a show

Whether it’s fireworks on July Fourth or any subsequent Wednesday or Friday through Aug. 31; the swingin’ sounds of the Milt Gerver Big Band Orchestra in July and early August; or concerts on the Music Tower Stage by rising stars and long-time favorites (with previous performances by Cyndi Lauper, the Plain White T’s and “American Idol” alum Elliott Yamin), Playland knows how to put on a show.

Cost: Free with admission

Activity: Miniature golf


For those who want to: Putt around for a bit

This 19-hole mini golf course is a great way to practice your putts between the park’s fountain and the Sound Shore. The course opens about one hour before the park, and the last round begins one hour before Playland closes.

Cost: $4 per person per play; $2.50 per person for groups of 20 or more

Activity: Swimming in the pool

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For those who want to: Relax in the water

In the dog days of summer, sometimes the log flume and Playland Plunge don’t offer enough water to quench your thirst for some pool time. Playland’s pool, on the southwest corner of the amusement park, solves that problem when it opens to the public on June 25. Daily rentals are available for chairs ($3 with a $10 deposit) and lockers ($1).

Open: Wednesdays through Sundays between June 25 and Sept. 3; closed Mondays and Tuesdays except for holidays.

Daily rate: $6 for adults, $5 for adults with a Westchester County Parks pass; $4 for children ages 5 through 11, $3.50 for those kids with a parks pass; $4 for adults during twilight swimming (4 to 6 p.m.) and $3 for kids 5 through 11 during those hours; $3 for senior citizens on weekdays; free for kids younger than 5.

Activity: Lounging on the beach
For those who want to: Get a tan and some sand

If you prefer sand between your toes, the beach by Playland Park provides another aquatic option. If you want a deal on access to both the pool and beach, discounts are available, as are daily rentals on chairs and umbrellas ($3 with a $10 deposit) and lockers ($1).

Open: May 28-30; June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19; Wednesdays through Sundays starting Friday, June 24; closed Mondays and Tuesdays except for holidays.

Cost: Adults: $4 for beach access, $6 for beach and pool access, $5 with a parks pass; kids: $3 for beach access; $4 for beach and pool access, $3.50 with a parks pass; senior citizens: $3 on weekdays; free for kids younger than 5.

Activity: Stroll the Seaside Walk
For those who want to: Feel cinematic

In the last 25 years, no fewer than seven movies have been filmed at Playland, including “Fatal Attraction” (1987), “The Beaver” (2010) and “Working Girl” (1988). But perhaps no Playland scene is more memorable than that at the beginning of “Big,” the 1988 Tom Hanks blockbuster that features the main character as a child on the boardwalk wishing he could be, well, big. Feel free to make a similar wish as you stroll by the Sound Shore, even if there’s no Zoltar machine to help make your wish come true.

Cost: Free with admission

Activity: Dining
For those who want to: Dig in

Playland’s snack bar and its surrounding property offers everything from amusement park favorites to seafood dining. Candy, caramel apples, cotton candy, hot dogs, burgers, funnel cake and Italian ices are among the kid-friendly fare. But perhaps those with a more adult palate might prefer a sandwich from Wrap City or the seafood specials at Pier Restaurant.

Cost: Varies

IF YOU GO


What: Rye Playland

Info: 1 Playland Parkway, Rye, 914-813-7000, ryeplayland.org

Daily admission: Unlimited rides: $30, $25 for Westchester residents (must show a County Park Pass, state driver’s license or nondriver ID or a photo ID of a recent report card from a county school); kids under 4 feet tall: $20, $15 for Westchester residents; spectator admission: $10, free for Westchester residents; opening day: $15.

Seasonal admission: Unlimited rides: $95, $80 for Westchester residents; spectator admission: $35, free for Westchester residents.

Hours: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until Memorial Day, when the summer schedule begins. Opening day: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The last day of the season is Sept. 9. Check the website for details.

Parking: $5 weekdays, $7 weekends, $10 holidays.