Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Future of Rye Playland Announced


Finally, a decision has been made on the future of Rye Playland. However, for those of us who are fans of the property as an amusement park may find some disappointment in the plan that has been chosen.

Out of the final three plans that were considered for the future of the county owned park, the choice has been made to move forward with Sustainable Playland - a letter of intent was signed today during a big to-do at the park.  Sustainable Playland is a non-profit that organized to come up with a future for the park designed by locals that extends the use of the property from an amusement park to a park with amusements, as they put it.

The other two plans were from Central Amusements, part of Zamperla Rides, who operate Coney Island's Luna Park, and Standard Amusements, a new company that is led by Jack Falfas, former COO or Cedar Fair.

© Sustainable Playland Inc.
To get right to the point, the new plan will see a considerable amount of rides removed from the park, with a focus on keeping historic ones.  The amusement area will be pay-as-you-go, and quite different from it is now.  From Sustainable Playland's site, in their original proposal documents, regarding amusements at Rye Playland:

"The space allotted to this component of the Park has been significantly reduced, resulting in a reduction in the number of rides from 46 to 33. Those rides that will remain are largely targeted to smaller children, including 21 kiddy rides and 12 family/low thrill rides.  As a result, the potential market for the amusement component will be impacted. In order to estimate the attendance for a kiddy-oriented amusement area, estimates were made which compare a family/low thrill experience (with a smaller percentage of kiddy rides) with a kiddy-oriented experience such as the one planned for Playland Park. Based on these estimates, a reduced, kiddy-oriented amusement component could attract approximately 380,000 visitors a year."

As this was from the original proposal, I can't be sure if they've changed their view on any specifics, but the plan to reduce the rides is definitely moving forward.

© Sustainable Playland Inc.
Basically, if you look at the park from above the left side of the park will remain, and the entire right side of the park will be cleared of rides with the exception of the park's Carousel.  The right side of the park will be used as part of the Great Lawn Zone.  The investment that is listed in today's press release mentions upwards of $7 million planned to be spent on the amusements aspect of the park.

Rides that will be removed, just judging from these images, include: The S&S Double Shot, Playland Plunge shoot-the-chutes, Log Flume, Catch a Wave, Yo-Yo (relocated), Thunderbolt, Kite Flyer (relocated), Sky Flyer, Wipeout, a family coaster, dark ride, and others that I'm probably missing.

It looks as though the park's coaster Super Flight, a Zamperla flying coaster, will stay, although that's without a doubt the first ride I would vote off the island if it were up to me. 

The park's Kiddyland will be kept, and renovated as part of the plan, which makes sense since kiddie and family rides will be the focus.  The park's Old Mill, Derby Racer, Kiddy Coaster, Whip, and Dragon Coaster (among others) will be retained, thankfully.

Since Sustainable Playland is a non-profit they will act as a holding company for the greater Playland area, and hire other groups to run the different facilities on the property.  Naturally, one of these will be the amusements, and that sounds like it will be run by Mega Funworks.  Mega Funworks looks to have a solid track record with water parks, but I do not see any amusement park history listed for them.

The right side of the park will be cleared of rides.
Speaking of water parks, and odd thing about today's announcement is that many news sources used the addition of a "water park" in their headlines, only there doesn't seem to be any water park included in the plan.  There is, however, a small water play area in the original plans adjacent to the beach, but that is by no stretch of the imagination  a water park.  Hopefully plans changed and perhaps that is due to the fact that Mega Funworks has successful water park experience.

The overall plan calls for plenty of new features around the park, part of the overall plan to make the area a year round entertainment zone with a dramatically reduced focus on Rye Playland as an amusement park.  New indoor and outdoor fields will be added, the indoor ice rink will be renovated, an outdoor one will be added, the great lawn will be built to hold concerts and events, and new restaurants will be added.  The release states that $34 million will be spent to make these changes.

Hmm, the right side of the park is quite different than the left.
Depending on when a formal contract with the government can be signed the amusement park may or may not operated in its current state in 2013.  Either way, it is planned to be open, per the news release.  The new fields and other developments will be phased, so these change will by no means take place all at once.

Someone buy me, please!
So after such a long time with the future of the park up in the air how did this all turn out?  Well, not that bad actually - at least I think so.  Well, at least it could have been worse anyway.  Some plans had the amusements totally retired from the property, which would have been a serious shame.  The park's highlights for me when we visited are all being saved, sans the Log Flume, at least.  And to be honest, the difference between the original section of the park (left) and the section that it expanded into over the years (right) is quite drastic. 

If the entire property picks up perhaps we will see new rides added - keeping expectations realistic (in the family oriented sector I would assume) will be important, though.  We will never see a big new roller coaster added, but that's no so bad if it means we can still take a spin on the Dragon or hold on for dear life at the Derby Racer.


2 comments:

Ryan said...

Main things that im worried about is what going to happen to all the summer jobs, playland hires so many teens so. what effect is this new plan going to have on new employees and the ones who have been there working there for years

AskTheDogWalker said...

A group of local Westchester County residents, along with the help of petition signers from literally all over the region, country and planet, managed to get SPI and the County to change the plan to include the full footprint of the Amusement Park area. That change was made in the summer of 2013. As of Feb. 2014 still no deal with SPI has been signed and the park will be operating another season under Westchester County management. Westchester County Legislators have to continue examining the extremely problematic SPI plan and pass a vote on whether or not to accept it. Local Rye, NY residents started raising very serious questions in fall of 2013 after a revised version of the SPI plan came out in Sept. 2013. The plan always included a problematic "Field Zone" in the parking lot, but that was inexplicably expanded to include a 95,000 sq. foot indoor sports facility as well as outdoor fields. The local outcry has gone out and it is now a highly controversial issue. Serious environmental concerns have been raised, as well as the reality that without the full parking lot, the Amusement Park can never survive. It's still all up in the air. Anyone interested in this issue can follow it by looking up articles posted by myself (Deirdre Curran) on RyePatch.com, visiting www.nofieldzone.org, reading online articles in the Rye City Review and getting info updates from www.westchesterlegislators.com. Feel free to email Westchester County Legislator Pete Harckham and let him know you think the Field Zone will kill the amusement park. We are still fighting to save this beloved and iconic Amusement Park from the Real Estate developers that SPI have turned out to be. 'Sustainable Playland' has no money in their coffers (although one of their new Board members is an administrative assistant for Nelson Rockefeller Jr.) and the new twist in summer of 2013 that included bringing Central Amusements on board to run the Amusement area, beach and pool is now likely going to be a scaled down investment from CAI due to the drastically reduced parking lot (almost 40% of parking spaces will be lost). Nothing has been decided yet, although it is likely the Westchester County BOL, under pressure from very Pro-SPI County Executive Rob Astorino (who is now running this year for NYS Gov challenging Andrew Cuomo and wants the deep pocketed donors that make up SPI's board, supporters and their connections) will be voting on whether or not to accept the SPI plan. Many West. Co. BOL members are opposed to the SPI plan and are essentially arguing with the County Executive about pushing it through. Debate continues as the BOL looks at the particulars. Residents opposed to the Field Zone have raised serious questions about impacts on the local community, the environment, the SEQR process and the fact that this constitutes Parkland Alienation in NYS. Stay tuned, Playland is not out of the woods yet. The options to accept plans from either Central Amusements on their own or Standard Amusements are still on the table for consideration. If anyone knows a land use lawyer that can help us out pro-bono to pursue the Parkland Alienation angle, have them email nofieldzone@gmail.com