Saturday, April 5, 2014

A-Z Blogging - Adventure Parks - D is for The Derby Racer

In amusement parks around the country and across the globe. there are many other rides and attractions besides roller coasters.  Though coasters are almost always the big draw for their thrill factor, there really aren't many, with the exception of maybe drop rides and Enterprises, Round-Ups and pirate ship rides, that are big on thrills.  Many of these types of rides carry more of a flavor of fun than anything else, and many of them have been around for years, like the Tilt-a-Whirl, Music Express, Ferris wheels, The Whip, etc.

There is one traditional amusement ride that I find not only fun, but a little thrilling, as well.  It's not too common amongst amusement parks, there are only three of them that I know of, and I'm lucky enough to have had access to two of them.

The Derby Racer at the U.K.'s Blackpool Pleasure Beach

D is for Derby Racer 

At first glance, the Derby Racer looks a lot like an ordinary carousel, but it isn't.  Whereas the traditional merry-go-round stands alone, the Derby Racer is actually a large turntable housed within a larger edifice. Rows of horses, four across, line the large disc, whose center dips slightly lower than its edges.

As the ride begins to move, the ride workers check that riders are seated upon their horses properly, with the left foot rested on the rung lowest and the right foot sitting on the highest.  The body must be leaning inwards, towards the center of the turntable, as the speed of this ride is a lot less tame than your average merry-go-round.  The horses move up and down, as if to simulate riding an actual horse, and in the past each horse would move to and fro along a small rectangular space where it's connected to the contraption beneath.  This feature's been disabled, at least on two of the rides.

The Derby Racer is always as much fun to watch as it is to ride, especially how the workers jump on and off the moving turntable as they check passengers, or how they stand at the edge at a 45-degree angle with their back towards the center.  Ever since I was a kid, going to Rye Playland, I've always wanted to do that job.

Anyway, the only three Derby Racers that exist on the planet are at Rye Playland, in Rye, NY, Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, and Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, England.  If you're lucky enough to live anywhere near any of these parks, then you've probably already experienced the Derby Racer.  If not, and you ever get a chance to visit, definitely check it out.  It's a lot of fun!  Check it out...

Here's the one at Rye...

And at Blackpool...

"D" Coaster of the Day - Dragon Coaster, Playland, Rye, NY

Rye Playland, located in Rye, NY, is a small traditional amusement park situated just about twenty minutes from New York City.  As a child, my family would spend countless summer evenings at the playground, instilling me a love for the amusement industry that still stands today.

Here is a look at the Dragon Coaster, the iconic landmark that is the park's centerpiece. The ride is my very first coaster, pretty tame by today's standards, but at 14 years of age it was pretty intimidating.  The classic woodie has an 80-foot first drop and plenty of twists, turns, and hills, but the coolest thing about the ride is the dragon itself, a tunnel into which the car enters at the mouth and comes out at the tail.  This was a common feature for coasters back in the days this one was built (1929), and still a fun element.

The Dragon Coaster has been featured in Mariah Carey's video for Fantasy (see below) and in the film, Fatal Attraction, and the park itself was an integral part of the movie Big, with Tom Hanks.  Take a ride...

Check out the first three entries of A-Z Blogging - Adventure Parks:

A is for Alton Towers

B is for Busch Gardens Pipe Dreams

C is for the Coasters of China


  1. Oh how fun! I've never heard of these before. I'd love to see one sometime.

    Thanks for coming by the Untethered Realms blog. It's great to meet you!

  2. Interesting. I've never heard of the derby racer.

    Visiting you from the A to Z.