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Rye Playland

Oct 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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Another location that fellow stalker Owen visited a few weeks back while spending the day in Rye, New York was the amusement park featured at the very end of the 1988 Tom Hanks movie Big.  Rye Playland, which is also called Playland Amusement Park or just simply Playland and is run by Westchester County, New York, is the only government-owned and operated amusement park in the entire United States.  In the early 1900s, Westchester County Park Association purchased two beachside theme parks after local citizens became upset over the unruly patrons fraternizing there.  The Association tore down the existing parks and built Rye Playland in their place.  The Art Deco style park opened on May 26, 1928 after a scant six months of construction.  The new park featured an ice skating rink, a boardwalk, a fine dining restaurant, a swimming pool, two beaches, and numerous rides, including the Grand Carousel, which was built by Mangels-Carmel in 1915.  In 1987, Playland was declared a National Historic Landmark and it is still in operation to this day, looking much the same as it did when it first opened over 81 years ago.  

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Due to its quaint, beachside charm, movie producers have made much use of Playland over the years.  It is at the Rye amusement park that Tom Hanks finally locates the elusive Zoltar machine and makes his wish to be a kid again in fave movie Big.  As you can see in the above screen capture and photograph, the entrance to the park looks a bit different today than it did in 1988 when Big  was filmed.  The two white pillars flanking the front gates have long since been removed, as has the pine tree that used to stand in the center island.

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Also, at the time the movie was filmed, the large fountain at the front of the park was not in operation.  That fountain was in full swing, though, when Owen visited Playland a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, due to all of the spouting water, he couldn’t match up his photograph perfectly to the screen shot, but the two pictures you see above were taken from the exact same vantage point.

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Most of the scene from Big took place on Playland’s curved boardwalk, which is located just around the corner from the park’s main entrance and, which, amazingly enough, still looks almost exactly the same today as it did twenty-one years ago when the movie was filmed.

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The only thing missing, of course, is the Zoltar machine.  :(  But notice how the payphone in the above photograph is still in the EXACT same place that it was when the movie was filmed!!

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Owen, of course, wasn’t expecting to find a magic fortune telling machine on the pier during his stalk, so imagine his surprise when he discovered that a Pepsi machine was standing just a few feet to the left of where Zoltar was situated in the movie.

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So, of course, he just HAD to pretend to kick the machine, like Tom Hanks did in the movie.  LOVE IT!  :)

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Rye Playland also showed up in Fatal Attraction, as the spot where Glenn Close took Michael Douglas’ daughter for the day after kidnapping her from school.  In the movie, the two are shown riding Playland’s iconic Dragon Coaster, which was built in 1929 and was designed by Frederick A. Church.  The Dragon Coaster is 3,400 feet long, rises to 85 feet at its highest point, and is one of only about a hundred wooden roller coasters still in operation in the United States.

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Mariah Carey also rode the Dragon Coaster in the 1995 video for her song “Fantasy”, which was filmed in its entirety on location at Playland.  The video also made use of the park’s boardwalk and parking lot area.

Other productions filmed at Playland include Pieta, Sweet and Lowdown, Tenderness, The Muppets Take Manhattan and several episodes of BET Now.

A big THANK YOU to Owen for stalking this location!

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: Rye Playland is located at the end of Playland Parkway in Rye, New York.  You can visit their website here.  Park admission fees range between $20 to $30, but you can access the boardwalk area, where Big was filmed, for free. Parking costs an average of $5, depending on the day.  The boardwalk area is located just around the corner from the park’s main entrance.  The Who’s the Boss? house is located just a mile North of Playland at 13 Onondaga Street, also in Rye.

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6 comments

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  1. Alana says:

    I live in Westchester, NY and I live about 20 minutes from Playland. I’ve been going there since I was about 3 years old! (I’m 20 now!) I basically grew up in this amusement park! I’ve been to the beach a bunch of times and have even walked down the stairs in the background of the 8th picture. (The parking lot for the beach is located up those steps as well as the pool!) Unfortunately, I’ve never been on the Dragon Coaster, due to the fact that I am deathly afraid of roller coasters! Lol. But I have walked past it thousands of times! If that even counts! Haha =)

  2. Kerry says:

    I just HAVE to ask…….Owen have any idea where the house from Big is located???????

    • Owen says:

      Kerry, you’re in luck. I do know where the house from “Big” is! In fact, I was fortunate enough to meet Lindsay this past weekend, and we stalked the house together! We had a blast! :) Josh’s house is at 437 Greenmount Ave. in Cliffside Park, NJ. Best friend Billy lives next door at 435 Greenmount Ave. Their school (where Josh rides his bike in the beginning and where he returns at the end to see the two boys playing baseball and the kids posing for their class picture) is right there, too. It’s Cliffside Park Elementary School at 440 Oakdene Ave. Lindsay and I also stalked the seedy hotel Josh stayed at (St. James Hotel at 109 W. 45th St., near 6th Ave) and the squash court where Josh plays Paul (Thompson Playground, on the NW corner of Thompson and Spring streets in Greenwich Village).

  3. Kerry says:

    LOVED Big……one of my personal fave movies. So imagine my excitment today to see these photos. THANK YOU OWEN……..just too cool!

  4. Owen says:

    Nice job, Lindsay, as usual. I’m glad I could help you out and add a little something to your awesome web site. P.S. Who’s that super-sexy dude kicking the Pepsi machine? 😉

  5. Amanda M. says:

    OMG LINDSAY, IM A DIE HARD MARIAH CAREY FAN AND WHEN I SAW YOUR POSTING LAST NIGHT ABOUT WHOS THE BOSS HOUSE, I WAS JUST TELLING MY BF, THAT RYE PLAYLAND IS ALSO RIGHT BY THERE, WHERE MARIAH FILMED FANTASY!!!!! MY BIGGEST DREAM IS TO GO ON THE DRAGON ROLLERCOASTER AND RELIVE THE VIDEO!!!!LOL MARIAH TO ME IS YOUR BRITNEY!!!!!!! WHAT SUCKS IS BOTH THE TIMES IVE BEEN TO NYC NO ONE WANTED TO TAKE THE HOUR TRIP TO RYE :( BUT I DONT CARE WHAT NEONE SAYS NEXT NYC TRIP IM GOING THERE!!!! AND U WILL SEE MY VERSION OF FANTASY ON YOUTUBE :) LOLOLOL


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