RYE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — There’s trouble in Rye Playand, as the popular county-run amusement park in Rye continues to experience declining admissions and rising deficits.

Now some are left wondering if a beloved summer tradition could be dying, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

New Yorkers back at Rye Playland this summer for its 82nd season are wondering if the end is finally near for the grand old county park on Long Island Sound.

Some are making what could be their final pilgrimage to a cherished memory of youth.

“I’m very worried they might close it, because it’s just a great park that we enjoyed as kids,” Poughkeepsie resident Jim Helliksen said. “I haven’t been here since I was 18 years old, and I’m 48.”

“I haven’t seen this since he was seven years old…and he’s 53 now,” Ameretra Young, who made the trip from New Jersey, said.

Playland was opened in 1928 by Westchester County, one of the few amusement parks in the nation operated by the government. With seven rides designated as national landmarks, it’s a quaint throwback entertainment venue, both venerated and expensive.

“The time has come to reinvent Playland for the 21st century. The financial burden that the current operation has placed on taxpayers…is just no longer sustainable,” County Executive Rob Astorino said.

The truth is that attendance is down, even on a beautiful afternoon like there was Saturday. There were people there, but it wasn’t terribly crowded, and some of the old-timers think they know why: inflated prices.

To boost revenue, the county began charging flat-rate admissions, issuing bracelets to park-goers – it costs $5 just to walk around.

“The admission statistics alone tell the truth,” candy vendor Nick Manas said. “It used to be 900,000 five or six years ago. It’s down around 400,000 [now], something like that.”

“It’s that delicate balance – how do you keep it affordable, and yet help the county to make money?” Rye resident Sheri Flood said.

That’s the balance the county will try to strike when it starts accepting proposals for Playland Park in October.

An experiment to privatize Playland Park in 1979 ended in disaster. Marriot Corporation ran it for two years, and lost more than $5 million.

Comments (15)
  1. Tracy says:

    I suggest the county have someone stand in line for about ten minutes and the problem will be quite clear. As I stood in line Monday, I overheard everyone around me trying to figure out the pricing system. Who will ride and who will observe. Even the chart that explains which rides correspond to the different bracelets is confusing. The decision of how much money will be spent by families is made at the door before anyone enters the park.

  2. frank from elmsford says:

    Rebuild the aeroplane coaster. That will build up attendence and more revenue. Why should families spend hundreds of dollars for such few rides. the same family can go to a bigger park an hour away such as 6 flags or lake compounce in connecticut.The teen employees are rude and unhelpfull.

  3. Michael Coutermarsh says:

    Why are the locals so up in arms over the admission charge. if your a county resident it’s only $3 dollars. $5 for out of County guests. From what I get it’s not applicable if you buy an all rides band. Parking is cheap but what about all the guests that walk in or take the bus. In no means is Rye Playland is expensive park. But it’s a terribly under advertised park. I live in NH, would you rather has free parking but pay 30 $dollars to get in weather you wan tot ride rides or not. I wish the parks around me offered a walk around pass.

    Play land dose need a few newer rides. They also need to simplify their ride count. they have way too many rides especially in the kiddie ride selection to function off what they are charging.

  4. swampdiddy says:

    rebuild the Airplane Coaster and watch attendance SOAR!

  5. Benjamin says:

    A must keep! I love that place and the beach next door.

  6. Neal says:

    Use spellcheck next time! Playand? Not better than a fifth grader!

  7. xi an says:

    Agreed. Just let people pay for parking and tickets like it used to be. Maybe up the parking price a little. New “updated” rides will be the death of this park. Leave it classic.

  8. Lee says:

    Stop charging a flat fee just to walk around! Reopen the park entrances again. Keeping people out by sealing entry points keeps people’s money out too.

  9. James B says:

    Are we aware of the economy in this country? Most of us feel the pain.

  10. ashley says:

    why dont you put your name/fee on a soda can to make it more affordable

  11. Lissette says:

    I love this park. It is beautiful and well-maintained. It is a family tradition and the fireworks are so much fun and great. Does the park need updating? I think a little bit. I recommend adding a waterpark near the boardwalk. There aren’t any waterparks near this area.

  12. Daniella says:

    We adore this park….its beautifully maintained…each ride has the right amount of thrill while maintaining old world charm. We visit several times each season and look forward to it. We’re always pleased at how clean and well maintained the place is. The staff is polite as is park go’ers. We love the healthy food options (vegan too!) and how fresh the place feels. After a few hours we feel as if we went on a holiday for days. Would be so sorry to see it go. Something can be done, yes?!

Leave a Reply