Playland carousel catches fire

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Around 4 p.m., smoke could be seen billowing from the roof of the green-and-white carousel at Playland in Rye. Everyone was evacuated from the ride, park officials said.

Read more from WNBC/New York.

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According to the video it was the building, not the carousel itself, that caught fire

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And thank goodness. At first I was afraid it was the Derby Racer, but later reports confirmed it was the other, standard carousel. And maybe someone can help me with this, but isn't this ride a replacement for the original which burned a few years back? In any event, I'm glad the ride itself suffered no damage.

From the National Carousel Association Census

Rye Playland, Rye, NY; 914-813-7010 [2016]
Mangels/Carmel, 1915, CLA, 4 row, Park, 48 j, 18 s, 3 ch, b/o McDonough 165 w/Gavioli facade, NHL 1987, Comments: May have been special order (3 chariots-complex ornaments). Park is one of 1st planned parks. Owned by Westchester Co. History: Savin Rock, New Haven, CT, 1915 to 1929; Rye Playland Park, Rye, NY, 1929 to present; Directions & Hours of Operation: Take exit 19 off of I-95 (Rye Playland). Operating hours vary. Mailing Address: Playland Parkway, Rye, NY, 10580 Website:

MAC, you may be thinking about either Dorney Park (1983) or Seabreeze (1994) both of which had fires that claimed their PTC carousels. When Cedar Fair bought Dorney they moved the Frontier Carousel from CP to Dorney. Seabreeze bought a PTC spinning frame at the Hurlbut Amusement auction and built up a new wooden horse machine

In yesterday's quick research I swear I read where their ride burned. I've never been to Rye Playland, it's on the bucket list, but I was curious whether they had an antique or not. Now that I have the correct info I'm dying to see it. 48 jumpers, 18 standers, and three chariots? Hell yes.

Dorney has actually lost two rides due to fire. The Chanticleer was a unique ride that had roosters for animals. They either rocked or undulated on a track, I can't remember. It was an English ride, and in short sat in the ocean after the transport ship sank, was rescued to operate at Coney Island, then was purchased by Dorney, then burned up in a warehouse fire anyway. There's a good on board shot of it in Trouble with Angels.

I know Dorney needed a good ride, but my heart was broken when the Frontier Carousel was sent packing. It's a beautiful ride, has a legend associated with it, and it was delightful in that corner of Frontier Town all lit in white lights. On my last trip to Dorney I watched it for a long while and of course got a ride. (I thought the Midway Carousel replica building was all wrong for it, though.)
And please. No more fires at Dorney.

We spent the evening at Seabreeze a couple of seasons ago and I loved their ride. A new building was built for it and I think the animal restoration was still in progress. And they thoughtfully turned the building into a little museum with old photos and artifacts. I didn't know it was a rebuild, that's interesting.

Another fun lost carousel fact: Americana needed the money so they auctioned off their antique ride. There were no takers so it went piece meal, and carousel fans everywhere were aghast. Then not too many seasons later, their less than satisfactory reproduction ride went up in flames in a big fire at the park. After all that, at least the deconstructed original is still out there somewhere, which is better than nothing left at all.

Historically, fires have plagued many amusement parks and even spelled the death of a few. Ugh. When I think of some things that might still be around if only.

Last edited by RCMAC,
Carousel Rabbit's avatar

It is most certainly an antique and one of the most beautiful ones you'll see, with an extravagant array of standers, any one of which would have been a standout lead horse on another carousel. If I find anything lacking in it, it's only because I'm partial to menagerie carousels. Until fairly recently it also had a working band organ with an animated conductor figure, but sadly I found it had gone silent and the workings had been covered up on my recent visit.

I too still miss the Frontier carousel, as it was my second favorite at Cedar Point when I was a kid. (I've been a carousel aficionado even since those days, and so Cedar Point was a wonderland to me.) You can probably guess what my favorite was, and still is.

I honestly thought they had lost a carousel in a fire recently as well, but I think that was Seaside Heights now.

I've been falling more and more in love with carousels lately, and I find it slightly distressing these seem to catch fire fairly often (or I learn about it often because of the groups I'm in on FB and the interwebs). I recently got to ride the Seaglass Carousel at Battery Park and was enchanted by its uniqueness. One of my favorite local places to catch a carousel ride and enjoy a peaceful moment is the Weona Park carousel, a very old Dentzel menagerie model housed in a wooden building with exposed beam's lovely. I hope that Playland's model is ok to open again soon. I'm sure it has provided fantastic memories for thousands of people over the years.

Last edited by bunky666,

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kpjb's avatar

I don't understand having a valuable classic ride like that and not having a sprinkler system in the building.


rollergator's avatar

MAC - get yourself to Rye! Highly recommend going during a coaster event, otherwise you're extremely unlikely to get a ride on the "Kiddie Coaster" - the only US wooden coaster that typically prevents "adults" from riding. The dark rides are awesome, the Old Mill (rethemed, but still...). It's a bigger version of Bay Beach - a true *community* park.

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

[IMG]This picture was taken after the fire

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kpjb said:
I don't understand having a valuable classic ride like that and not having a sprinkler system in the building.

If you're ever at SeaBreeze check out the sprinkler in the new carousel building. That thing will NEVER burn.

But then again, what do I know?

I agree with rollergator. I went here often as a kid. (grandma lived close by) My parents thought I was an odd child. I preferred the roller coasters to the flat rides. I am glad to say, that I was able to ride the Kiddie Coaster as a child quite a few times. I also remember when the horses on the Derby carousel moves forwards and back as well as up and down. It made for a unique ride every time. I haven't been back since 2004, do the ride ops still jump on and off the Derby while it is in motion? it was fun to watch when not riding.

Then you'll be happy to know that Playland worked to repair and restore the original back and forth motion during this last off-season. I've never ridden the ride but I've heard it's the fastest of the three Derby Racers left and hopefully that's still the case. Due to the speed riders are commanded by the ops to lean toward the center of the ride for balance- it's a hard and fast rule to keep riders from falling off their horse. Maybe that's why the guys jump on and off, (if they still do), to assist and remind riders to lean.

That is great! It is fast. When you load you are told to place your right foot in the highest stirrup and your left foot in the lowest. This forces your body to automatically lean into the turn. It is definitely worth trying once.

Carousel Rabbit's avatar

Yes, the ride ops walk around the turntable to yell at people to lean left if they aren't doing so. They will also yell at people for taking even one hand off the grab-bar to wave. They do not joke around, nor should they; it's probably the most dangerous-feeling ride I've ever been on, and I love it. The "racing" mechanism was working well on my recent visit. Curiously, they wait for the ride to come up to speed before starting it and then stop it before the ride begins to slow down, as opposed to CP's racer, which "races" through the entire ride. (Blackpool's doesn't race. I've been on all three.)

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