A walk through Huck Finn’s Playland with Leica Green

Last week, Huck Finn’s Playland had its “soft” opening – the kind where everybody gets to go on the rides and have a great time, while the ride operators and organizers double-check everything and make final tweaks before the big super “official” opening.

And since I had just received my fully restored Leica M3 back in my hands – the camera nicknamed “Leica Green” – I packed a roll of Fuji Velvia 50 inside and took it to the park with me.  Luckily, I did not have to buy extra tickets just to use the camera on the rides.

Huck Finn's Playland sign with train tracks.  Leica M3 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Huck Finn’s Playland sign with train tracks. Leica M3 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

The new Huck Finn’s Playland sign looks really nice next to the re-oriented railroad tracks.  I will avoid making any jokes about this being the only set of train tracks in downtown Albany that are not laden with Bakken crude oil.  What, too soon? 🙂

I walked around the park a few times – which was easy to do, considering that they’ve packed most of the rides into what seems like a much smaller footprint than was at the old Hoffman’s Playland.  That being said, I think it looks smaller because there aren’t as many standalone buildings on the Huck Finn’s Playland acreage.  The bumper cars aren’t here, and neither is the old Skee-Ball arcade.

But the rest of the park is laid out quite well – it might seem smaller, but the rides are well-organized and arranged in a way that encourages kids to try each ride in an orderly manner.  And I suspect that was because all the rides and attractions were installed in one single run at Huck Finn’s Playland, rather than evolving over a period of 50+ years as was the case at the old Hoffman’s facility.

Ferris Wheel at Huck Finn's Playland.  Leica M3 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Ferris Wheel at Huck Finn’s Playland. Leica M3 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Ooh, here’s the Ferris Wheel.  Gotta go on this one.  And I have to say, I really think that Huck Finn’s did a great job of not only bringing all these rides over to downtown Albany; they also took the time to maintain and update any mechanical issues.  They also made sure that the rides were rebranded; I couldn’t find a single “Hoffman’s Playland” sign left anywhere on any ride.  In fact, one maintenance worker told me that they actually caught an error on the side of one of the park-encircling trains – the side of one of the locomotives had the old “established” year painted on its side.  A quick decal later, the train was properly rechristened for 2015.

Of course, I did enjoy riding on the Ferris Wheel.  And hey, at the top of the Ferris Wheel, I can see I-787 from here!

Okay, so I can also see the Ferris Wheel from I-787, but that’s another story in and of itself.

Kidney Buster roller coaster.  Leica M3 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Kidney Buster roller coaster. Leica M3 camera, Fuji Velvia 50 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I was wondering if the “Kidney Buster” roller coaster would have made the trip from Latham to the Warehouse District, and sure enough it had.  But it wasn’t fully functional in time for Opening Day.  That’s okay… I’m sure there are plenty of families (and kidneys and backs and hips and spines) that are happy that the ride isn’t operating yet.  That’s the one thing about roller coasters.  They look imposing in their sinewy, slinky superstructure.  And once you ride them, when the operator tells you to fasten your safety belt and the ride moves forward, you can feel your heart racing faster and faster.  Especially when you reach that one initial hill… Over you go.  And you think to yourself, “That was scary, I hope I never ride that hill again,” and then you wonder why the coaster hasn’t stopped at the entrance-exit platform – and oh great, your kidneys are going to feel another punch around that nasty hill.  And a third punch.  And if the operator’s too busy texting his girlfriend to notice, you could ride the Kidney Buster for a fourth time.  Or a fifth time.  Or … ow, my kidneys are hurting just thinking about it.

But this little photo adventure wasn’t just an opportunity for me to recapture my youth.  It was an opportunity to take Leica Green for a walk and see what I could capture wit hit.

And as you can imagine, I’m really starting to enjoy this little guy.  Maybe there’s a chance it can capture something that could be a last-minute entry for competition season.

And wouldn’t that be fun?