Playland amusement park in Rye will remain closed for the entire summer after county officials concluded the facility could not be operated safely.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who called it “probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make,” delivered the announcement Tuesday afternoon, ending what had become an almost inevitable conclusion. In addition to COVID-19-related health concerns and time dwindling to prepare Playland for any part of the summer, Latimer said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order prohibiting the operation of amusement parks remains in effect.
“There was not significant enough improvement to justify what happens when 8,000 people are in a place at one time,” Latimer said.
It is believed to be the first time in the park’s 92-year history that the county-owned park will be closed for the entire summer. Typically, it opens for weekends by mid-May and operates six days a week by late June through Labor Day, then followed by several additional weekends.
Earlier this spring, Latimer had announced that the park would remain closed until at least July 20 while the county awaited how the fight against COVID-19 progressed. However, with three weeks to a month of preparation needed to get the park ready for opening, it was no longer feasible from a health and financial standpoint, he said.
“Realistically, we’re at a point now where we couldn’t make that case,” Latimer said.
The Fourth of July weekend is routinely the most profitable weekend of the year followed by the Memorial Day weekend, and with those weekends missed, it no longer made sense to think about an opening.
Playland’s beach and boardwalk, the miniature golf and the nearby 179-acre Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary will remain open for the public’s use, with restrictions, Latimer said. However, the swimming pool will remain closed because it needs refurbishment, he said.
Its expansive parking lot will also be used for drive-in movies on two Friday nights this summer: July 24 and Aug. 7.
Latimer said that Playland drew more than 500,000 visitors last year after the county stepped up the marketing of the park, increasing attendance from about 450,000 in 2018. He estimated that it generates between $3 million and $5 million in revenue each summer.
The plan is for the county to open the park for 2021 next spring, pending the progress in the fight against COVID-19 and the ongoing litigation with Standard Amusements.
“We intend to open the park next year,” Latimer said. “We intend to open it on time. Obviously, it depends on the COVID virus, (a) second wave, if it happens.”