Since Seabreeze was such a small park, we decided to just do a half day there and then drive another hour or so away to Sylvan Beach, a small little resort village on Lake Oneida which is similar in some ways to our Conneaut Lake Park in that the area is pretty but the amusement park is janky AF. Sylvan Beach’s park was even smaller than Conneaut’s but I ended up loving this place so much more. The vibes were solid.
And the colors were poppin’!
This is one of those places where you can either pay for a ride-all-day wristband (not worth it unless you’re a small child because the bulk of the rides were kiddie rides) so we just calculated how many tickets we’d need to knock out the rides we came to ride: the carnival-scale roller coaster called Galaxi, the Rotor, Laffland (a Pretzel darkride!!!), and one or two flat rides. SADLY, Galaxi was closed because it’s being repainted – no idea why they wouldn’t wait until the off-season to accomplish this, but you do you, Sylvan Beach. And the Rotor was also inexplicably closed. So, that was sad but we still managed to eke out a good three hours at this place, somehow, and had a lot of fun.
There was a sign on the ticket booth that said something like, “Just stand in front of the ride you want to ride and a ride operator will be over shortly.” It was that kind of a place, lol.
The first item on the agenda was FOOD. We didn’t eat at Seabreeze and were running off of vegan donut-fumes at that point. Henry went right up to some old man and asked him where he got the pizza that he was in the process of raising up to his lips, way to be a rude-ass, Henry. The guy pointed us to KAHUNA’S, where Henry went hogwild and ordered a whole cheese pizza and fries. Wow, don’t hold back, Big Guy. But then we had time to kill so we went to the nearby arcade, which apparently isn’t affiliated with Sylvan Beach but sure does enjoy that prime location right smack in the middle of this place.
You guys, I am SO SICK of Chooch’s obsession with arcades. When will it end?? Will it just eventually morph into a gambling addiction? Are Las Vegas benders in his future?? And there were like THREE separate arcades here too, I wanted to die.
Some older man walked past us at one point and dropped a quarter. Henry picked it up and tried to hand it back to him, but he dropped it again and said with a creepy, puddin’ face, “It’s for the kids.” We were like OK buddy but Chooch was like, “Wait, really??” and noticed that some young child was following in the guy’s wake, snatching up the purposely-discarded questers, so then Chocoh decided to get in on this action too and started beating the kid to the punch.
Wow, Chooch was getting some DEATH GLARES from that little kid.
Anyway, turns out that that kid was the son of the Quarter Dropper, so good fucking job, Chooch, you thief.
Meanwhile, Henry kept saying, “How hasn’t he run out of quarters yet?” OH FOR GOD’S SAKE, HENRY, KEEP UP!
Henry’s fries were done before the pizza. We stole a bunch before Henry sent us off. “GO RIDE SOMETHING WHILE WE’RE WAITING FOR THIS PIZZA!” he demanded, because he was sick of us, I guess. Even the Henrys of the world need some quiet time.
I wanted to ride this contraption called Tip Top, which appeared to be something akin to Tea Cups, but nope. So much worse. First, though, we had to wait for the ride operator over at the Tilt-a-Whirl to finish her cycle before coming over to operate the Tip Top.
Oh also, it took forever to even start the ride because two little girls were standing on the ride platform looking lost so the ride operator came over and was like, “Hello, please sit down” and the older of the two was like, “She wants to sit in the blue one because blue is her favorite color, but…” and then pointed the already-occupied blue one. So the ride operator was like, “Aw, well how about this nice pink one right here” and the older one was like, “Blue is her favorite color” and the younger one was on the verge of crying and I kind of wanted her too because sometimes I think I feed off of children’s disappointment. Anyway, this went on forever and I was like, “COME THE FUCK ON I WANT TO RIDE THIS THING AND EAT MY PIZZA JUST TELL THE BITCH THAT THE PINK ONE IS A RARE SHADE OF BLUE” but they ended up getting off the ride like little bitches.
OMG this ride was so scary. First of all, it started out Teacup-esque, where it just spins in a circle while you make your own car spin too. But then the whole platform (which was basically made of PLYWOOD) tilts up and does all kinds of other tilt-y, unsafe things and I was SCREAMING. Mostly because I felt v. unsafe and then I thought Chooch was going to fall out of the opening in our car and so he started purposely flailing around and I was like THIS IS HOW PEOPLE DIE and the ride operator wasn’t stopping the ride after like 55 rotations WHY WASN’T SHE STOPPING THE RIDE.
It was a JOURNEY.
Meanwhile, the pizza was done and Henry had already housed half of it by the time we were done having our Tips Topped.
But not-ew was this pizza! It tasted like roller rink pizza and I was so happy about it! Also while we were eating, whatever radio station was playing announced that JACKSON WANG was coming on air in a bit, STRAIGHT FROM CHINA, to answer some of the listeners’ questions. I started freaking out! I love Jackson Wang! He was/is in one of my favorite kpop groups, GOT7. Not sure what their future is looking like as a group because none of them resigned with their agency, but they also won’t say that they’ve disbanded.
Anyway, that was a nice surprise! Of course I didn’t get to actually hear him because we were done eating by then.
For as fly-by-night as this place was, I really couldn’t get over how colorful it was. I can tell that it must have been a very nice place at one time, and it feels like they’re trying to bring back some of that magic. I think they can do it!
The fact that they have preserved this piece of amusement history is worth supporting Sylvan Beach. I am a big dark ride fan and even without the prospect of getting that +1 credit (I just learned this term! It means when you go out of your way to a small park that only has one dinky coaster just to get that credit), I would have definitely suggested that we factor this into our NY road trip, because it is a CLASSIC PRETZEL DARK RIDE.
When I was a kid in the 80s, Le Cachot was one of my favorite rides at Kennywood. Back then, I didn’t know shit about ride manufacturers and “pretzel cars” but Le Cachot had them and if you’ve been on a ride like this, you will know that there is a certain electric-zapping-whirring sound that the cars make as they whip around corners. Hearing this sound again that evening, in Laffland, was like have a bucket of ice cold nostalgia dumped on me.
Literally NO ONE was in line for this. The young guy manning the Fun Slides right next to Laffland came over and told us to hold on while he fetched the ride operator – this super friendly woman who was delighted to send some patrons through her ride.
Henry and I rode together and Chooch went in after us. He said that while he was still standing outside, he could hear me screaming through the whole thing and it was “embarrassing.” Lol.
But OMG it was wonderful! I fucking LOVE DARK RIDES. Not those newfangled shooter ones. I want the old shit! I want the hokey animatronics and the strobe lights. I want the tilted floors and laughing witches.
Ya gotta come to Sylvan Beach for the Laffland. It costs like 3 tickets. I think each ticket was $1.50 or something. It’s worth it, I fucking promise you. The sounds and the old-timey stench alone will make you remember all the best parts of being a kid and whoa, OMG – I am totally one of those Elders pining for the past.
OH BOY ANOTHER ARCADE. This one had skeeball and games that were similar to Fascination but poker-themed or something, I didn’t understand it.
AND ANOTHER ARCADE. I couldn’t stay in this one long because the guy had country music blasting and it was too much.
The ride area is basically akin to a local church carnival set-up. They don’t have much going on there, especially once you take the coaster and the Rotor out of the equation. I think the ride-all-day wristband was $25 or $35 and that was just really not worth it. We bought about $25 worth of tickets for the three of us to ride Laffland, and Chooch and I also rode that Tip Top thing and whatever that one ride is called that looks like the Zipper and a Ferris wheel had a baby. It was OK. We couldn’t get our cages to flip all the way though and I was too scared to be any more forceful with it than I already was because Sylvan Beach was cool but I didn’t want to die there.
SPEAKING OF DYING THERE, apparently some employee did just that many years ago in the Playland arcade and it’s allegedly haunted. They do after-hours ghost tours (I will back for that, trust) and one of those dumb ghost hunting shows filmed an episode there too. I can totally see a place like this being haunted. It’s been around since the late 1800s! Plenty of time for spirits to collect.
Then it was Carousel time! Since the carousel is independently owned, we had to buy separate tickets for it. The horses didn’t go up and down either, but it was still a fun ride.
Fascination was closed and Henry was so sad.
The rides looked so much better at night, lol.
We left Chooch in the arcade and walked over the lake. I had never heard of Lake Oneida before but it sure was pretty. I learned lots of geography-ish things on this trip! Like, we drove near the Finger Lakes, which is where my friend Alyson loves to go and get wine, and I had NO IDEA that was where they were in NY. Mind blown.
Also, we were in the area where my friend Val lives. Also had no idea until we drove past an exit sign and I recognized the name of her town! We didn’t have time to give her a heads up, but we will be back and I hope she is prepared, lol.
I think this trip has turned me into a lake person even though we didn’t actually do lake-things at all.
“Let’s pretend we’re a couple.”
Before we left, Henry wanted to get ice cream. I didn’t want any but said I would just have a bite or two of us. He was like, “What do you want me to get, blueberry?” and I was like, “Ooh ok” AGAIN, FORGETTING THAT HE DOESN’T LIKE BLUEBERRY LOL. So I had two bites of this and then he was left to sadly finish the cup on his own, all the while imagining he was eating the butter pecan that he actually wanted (I would have been happy if he had ordered that instead because I love me some butter pecan).
Anyway, wow! What a quaint little place. I was so obsessed with it that I demanded we swing through on our way home on Labor Day. I think Sylvan Beach could really get back to a poppin’ nature with some extra TLC and it does look like the owners are trying based on the fact that they’re repainting their coaster. I’d definitely go back to get that Galaxi credit, ride Laffland again, and inhale some of that pizza. And DEFINITELY eat at the Pancake House again. I dunno why I grew such an attachment to that place. Oh, because I’m Erin Rachelle Kelly, that’s why.
We left Sylvan Beach around 9 that night and drove for something like 30 minutes to the nearby Utica, where we stayed for two nights at Red Roof Inn which actually wasn’t too bad except for that stupid headboard that almost knocked me out. The next day was SIX FLAGS GREAT ESCAPE so check back for that scintillating recap, hahaha ugh. Sorry this is basically just an amusement park blog now but I’ve got little else going on!