RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The cloud of anxiety that hovered over the opening of Rye Playland this season seems to have lifted.
Attendance at New York’s only government-owned amusement park is soaring.
And Playland is about to welcome its first major ride in more than a decade, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.
The season began plunged in controversy, as Democratic Westchester County Executive George Latimer made like the park mascot and fired the private operator hired by his Republican predecessor.
But the park is on an upswing, with attendance up almost 10 percent versus the same period last year.
“I think Playland’s been an institution since I was a kid here,” said Richard Mark of Purchase, N.Y. “It has always been a wonderful place to come.”
After eight years of little-to-no investment, the county is trying to put Playland back on track, reinstating a popular concert series and installing the first new ride in 11 years. A saucer spins as it travels up and down a half-pipe track.
A county contest to name the ride drew 400 submissions.
“We had a few like ‘Ridey McRide.’ Someone wanted to call it ‘I-95,'” Latimer said.
The county selected five names and let summer campers vote. They got behind “The Dragonator.”
Westchester hopes the new ride boosts attendance even further. The county is trying to maximize revenue to pay for some eye-popping bills.
If you’ve ever owned an old house you know how expensive it is to maintain. It’s even worse when you own an old amusement park. A historically accurate restoration of the 1927 Derby Racer and its covering structure will top $5 million.
The county said years of deferred maintenance have caught up.
“That’s why you’re seeing such a huge price tag now,” Latimer said. “You’re seeing things that in my judgment could have been addressed at a smaller amount and in smaller increments over the last period of time.”
Playland’s 100th season is only eight years away. Latimer wants it looking good for that landmark.
The county is spending about $300,000 to install the new ride, “The Dragonator.”
Plans are to open it by early August.