Playland Park in Rye, New York is a nostalgic gem, a treasure administered by Westchester County that exudes the same elysian charm that characterized its debut 80 years ago.

     Aficionados of classic American amusement parks can revel among much of the same glorious art-deco architecture and many of the original rides that first graced the shores of Long Island Sound in 1928. The park remains a functioning tribute to the concept of Frank Darling and the county's original mission to provide a place of beauty and fun to which the local residents could retreat after work-week's end.

     This brief appreciation will not attempt to document a comprehensive history of the park. For that, we commend
the reader to Kathryn W. Burke's book "Playland", which we reviewed here.

     Instead, we focus on those early and lesser-known funhouse and dark attractions unseen by recent generations
- with primary emphasis on Harry G. Traver's original 1934 Laff In The Dark installation which, albeit in a more contemporary format, happily continues to operate at its initial location today.


Five men with major reputations in the amusement industry were responsible for most of the original Playland attractions. Frank Darling, then president of the L. A. Thompson Scenic Railway Co., was hired by the county to design and manage the park. The Carousel and Whip were made by William Mangels. The Airplane and Dragon Coasters, Racing Derby and Old Mill were designed by Fred Church. Harry Baker furnished a major funhouse. Harry Traver was responsible for the Laff In The Dark, Airplane Swing and Tumble Bug.

In addition, Fred Fansher, also a sales representative for Pretzel Amusement Co., provided several smaller walk-through attractions such as the Witches' Forest and Hill Billy Farm.


The Noah's Ark funhouse, developed by LeRoy Raymond's Noah's Ark Co. (which was purchased by William Dentzel and later acquired by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co.) was a popular staple of parks in the 1920s.

Playland's Ark was part of the opening lineup and was located in the area between the carousel and today's Go-Carts. The Ark operated until 1946.