Keeping Traditions Alive & Making Memories at Huck Finn's Playland

Friday, July 17, 2015
Not all stories have happy endings.  You don't have to be an adult to know that.  While many fairy tales begin with "Once upon a time...." and end with "and they all lived happily ever after," last year at this time one of everyone's favorite childhood stories was about to end with a much less happy ending.  That was the story of Hoffman's Playland.

After 62 years in the business of making memories, the owners of Hoffman's Playland decided it was time to retire. Patrons begged and lobbied and pleaded for various businesses to take over the playland but for a while it seemed hopeless. It seemed that this historical landmark, this happy place was about to close for good. And suddenly (after a long and strongly supported campaign)....this happened:

"Last year, the Albany Business Review broke the story that David & Ruth Hoffman wanted to retire. It set off an effort by Albany County Executive Dan McCoy to move the park's 18 rides elsewhere.The playland's new life is thanks to a $650,000 financial assistance package from the Albany County Industrial Development Agency, National Grid and the state. Without the help, Jeff Sperber (new owner) said the $1.8 million investment would not have happened." (Taken from the Albany Business Review).
Although this was great news - the best news - I think it's fair to say that there were some doubters who wondered if an amusement park, especially one that had been around for generations - built 62 years ago in what was practically a field, could be the same once located in the middle of an industrial park along the fast-paced 787.  It was a hard picture to paint and an even harder vision to imagine but the owners of Huck Finn's along with their supporters were not only able to envision it, but were determined to make it a reality.  Not only have they recreated the magical world many of us have known for most of our lives, the place we've made memories as kids, then with our kids and even with our own grandkids, they have created this wonderland amidst an industrial park so successfully that when you're in it, you don't even realize you are surrounded by warehouses.  Bravo Huck Finn's!

I had the chance to check out Huck Finn's a couple weeks ago when my granddaughter was in town from Indiana for a visit. We've been taking her to Hoffman's since she was a baby. At almost five, Hoffman's (now Huck Finn's) is one of her favorite summer highlights. When her mom was small - it was her favorite too.......
My daughters - 1986
So there wasn't a doubt that Huck Finn's would be on our list of things to do while she was in town.

Unbridled enthusiasm!

We opted to make an evening visit and that evening the crowds were light and there were no lines for any ride.  What you'll first notice when you visit is that all the rides, except the bumper cars, made the move to this new location.  You'll also notice that the rides are closer together - not sprawled over as large an area as they were at Hoffman's.  This is not a bad thing.  What we noticed and loved was that the fencing around the rides is lower making viewing and picture-taking easier.  The walkways between rides are either concrete, blacktop or brick. (You can purchase the bricks and have them engraved).  They've also softened the appearance with grass and flowers which helps minimize the city feel.  All the rides have received some sprucing up and if you were a newcomer to the park, you'd probably think they were new.

Huck Finn's built a nifty new train tunnel, a beautiful building with restrooms and snacks and brought along the snack trailer from Hoffman's.  They've done such a beautiful job that when you're there, making memories and having fun, for a minute it's hard to remember you're not back on Route 9.  The commute for those of us coming from the suburbs may not be as easy, but it's nice that the city kids can enjoy this colorful, happy park too.  Just like always, Huck Finn's employs an army of young adults to run the rides and as always these are an awesome bunch - lifting kid after kid into the rides, assuring nervous parents their child will be fine alone.  It can be scary that first time you let your child go on the little ferris wheel all by themselves.........

My daughters in 1986 and my granddaughter in 2015

Elena - always enjoying the cars.....2012, 2013 and 2015
From 2011-2015, Elena never looses her enthusiasm for the Merry-Go-Round!
Like Mother (L) in 1986 , Like Daughter (R) 2015 
What kids doesn't love the boats??

1986 - 2015 - The tradition continues bringing smiles to children and parents alike!
Beginning the tradition with my newest grandbaby in 2015

Huck Finn's has continued the tradition of creating a place where families can go without breaking the bank -  a place that's close to home, easy to enjoy in an hour or two, and leave with smiles on your faces and change in your pocket.  A book of 25 tickets sells for $39.95 (as of 2023 season). Thirteen rides require just one ticket and only four rides require two tickets.  Trust me.....those 25 tickets go a long, long way, especially if you only have one or two children.  Where else can you go for that kind of investment and have this much fun?  A visit to those big amusement parks cost between $46.99-$56.99 per kid!  I can only speak for myself, but as a grandma I'd much prefer a visit to Huck Finn's!  Not only is it a's a chance to be part of something special, a landmark, a fairy tale.  

Thank you Huck Finn and team for making this fairy tale continue, for recreating the magic in a clean and safe environment, for keeping the tradition alive.  You have done a wonderful job and all of us who went to the park as kids and are now bringing our grandkids appreciate your efforts more than you can imagine. 

Post Script:  This post was originally written in 2015 but Huck Finn's is still my grandchildren's favorite place to visit every summer.  The girls have outgrown some of the little kid rides but are happy to enjoy the thrill of the big kid rides, over and over.  The playland is still clean and well maintained and the crop of kids working is still polite, friendly and patient.  Thanks Huck Finn's for keeping this tradition alive and well!
To read my previous blog, "Thanks for The Memories" about Hoffman's Playland:

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