What better way to spend a beautiful Memorial Day than with several thousand people at Adventureland, the iconic Long Island amusement park? This year we bought the kids season passes, so with lovely weather and everyone off, it was a good day to make those passes worthwhile.
I grew up in Queens, so I never got to Adventureland until my late teens, when I was well equipped with a car and the bug to explore. I recall the park being fun, though it was small. It was downright tiny when compared to other amusement parks in the region.
My mother was a big fan of Coney Island, she'd take me and my brother to the southern tip of Brooklyn via the F train from our home in Jamaica. The lengthy two hour subway ride was something I always enjoyed, especially when the train would emerge from underground into the light of day on the elevated tracks in Brooklyn.
I've taken my kids to Coney Island, by car. After falling into horrible disrepair over the years, they've built Coney Island back up to being a nice and more than serviceable amusement area. About the only thing left from when I was a kid is the Cyclone rollercoaster, what all other coaster used to be measured against, but these days, the extreme coasters in the big amusement parks make the mighty Cyclone seem quaint and tame.
My days of riding the rides are long over, but I love to bring the kids and let them get a taste of all the rides. They are both old enough and tall enough to get on just about any ride now, and they bravely conquer all challenges. I guess it's a belated gift from their grandmother, and I'm happy to confer it to them.
When I was old enough to make my own way to new and different amusement parks, I would go to all I could. In Queens, there was Adventurer's Inn (gone now), a small amusement center not to far from Shea Stadium. Rockaway Playland (also gone now) was always a favorite on the boardwalk in southern Queens. Rye Playland in Westchester was a terrific place to go, and I enjoyed going there many times, once on a memorable school trip. They had a lovely lake with rowboats and paddleboats that always seemed like such an exotic thing to do.
When I was very young, my father drove us all to the old Pallisades Amusement Park, just over the river in New Jersey. They closed it down shortly thereafter, and my young mind could not wrap itself around the notion of "why would anyone close down an amusement park?"
Eventually, as time passed, I inevitably branched out to Six Flags, Hershey Park, and finally, Disney World. It's different as an adult in an amusement park, fun but not so exciting. Bringing my kids to these parks allows me the chance to relive the excitement vicariously through them.
Of course, it's easy to overdo it sometimes....
Easy fella, we've all been there...