Kennywood. We love amusement parks. We’ve been season pass holders a couple of years to various local amusement parks where we have lived. This year the children are in eager anticipation of visiting an amusement park their grandmother frequented as a child, Kennywood, located inWest Mifflen, Pennsylvania! Don’t quote me on this but Grandma was probably carrying on the tradition from her father’s childhood.
Kennywood is Rich in History.
When you are on Kennywood Amusement Parks, you are standing on the same ground the July 9, 1755 Battle of the Monongahela took place. It’s land where George Washington served as colonel and assisted British General Edward Braddock before he was mortally wounded, during the French and Indian War.
Following the American Civil War, a tree-filled portion of this land, owned at the time by Anthony Kenny, was known to locals as “Kenny’s Grove”. It served as a popular picnic spot for local residents with views overlooking the Monongahela River.
“Kenny’s Grove” was leased out as a trolley park in the early 1900’s and by 1911, it was a park hosting one of the first roller coasters in America, the Jack Rabbit.
In 1987, Kennywood Amusement Park earned a spot on the National Landmark list.
Kennywood Rides are a Glimpse Back into the Turn of the Century
Visitors to Kennywood today will discover a modern amusement park with water rides, steel roller coaster with speeds of 80 mph and so much more, though it may seem at times like a step back into a simpler time with vintage rides where memories linger.
This summer my children will be part of the tradition that seems front and center in Kennywood. I am not certain who is more excited, the children or their grandmother, eager to share this place she spent lazy summers when she was their age.
Let’s begin with a glimpse back. Somewhere between Kenny’s Grove and just before World War II. I was impressed that many of the rides from this time still remain and are functional on the 92 acre park known as Kennywood. That roller coaster, the Jack Rabbit, I mentioned earlier, still stands and operates on its wooden track. This ride was built in 1920, it is one of the oldest-still-running roller coasters in the world. It has a 2,132′ track with a 70′ drop and a top speed of 45mph.
Perhaps the star of this Amusement Park’s glimpse back to the past, however, is the the Grand Carousel. Built in 1927 by the William Dentzel Co. of Philadelphia a whopping 64 characters, including handcrafted lions, tigers, jesters and cherubs. The music though is what may be the experience as it is provided by a 1916 Wurlitzer band organ.
The oldest ride in Kennywood, the Old Mill, is also the world’s oldest operating dark ride. It has changed themes and names since its debut in 1901. Today, boats winds through the same dark tunnels through the theme of Garfield’s Nightmare–based on the comic strip of everyone’s favorite cat!
Surely a blast from the past is the Whip! Built in 1918 the Whip’s elliptical track is still whipping riders into giggles and wide grins. This ride was designed and built by W. F. Mangels Co. of Coney Island, N.Y.
Known between 1924 and 1968 as the Pippin and once dubbed the “King of Coasters” by the New York Times, the Thunderbolt, a wooden terrain coaster designed by John A. Miller was expanded using parts for the original ride in 1968.
There’s the Wacky Wheel, the classic 1924 kiddie Ferris Wheel with six caged cars.
The Auto Race ride is the last of its kind. Built in 1930 this ride, installed with permanent tracks on land the amusement park did not own at the time, allows drivers to navigate electric cars through a twisting and winding trough-type wooden track.
Kennywood’s Modern Rides
It’s not all wooden tracks and early century rides that make Kennywood a must-visit destination. Beyond the veil of yesteryear Kennywood offers a slew of modern-day rides that will have your feet tapping and your heart racing.
Roller coaster lover? You gotta try the Phantom’s Revenge. Originally built in 1991 and then modified in 2000, Phantom’s Revenge is unusual in the roller coaster world as the second drop is longer than he first. This ride is a hyper-coaster with a maximum vertical drop exceeding 200 feet!
Thrill seekers will delight in the Aero 360 ride at Kennywood. This ride features the famous Kennywood arrow on the rotating arms. The ride swings back and forth, higher and higher with a pendulum motion. As the momentum builds riders experience 360 degree spinning!
In 2012, Kennywood added the Black Widow. This is the ride that occupies Miss M’s dreams for her visit–we’ve had to measure her twice to ensure her heart won’t be broken–thankfully, she passes the minimum height requirement! What makes this ride top her must-ride list? It swing riders back and forth like a pendulum reaching speeds up to 68 mph. The ride structure stands at 90 ft and at the peak of the pendulum’s swing height riders will hang 146 ft off the ground.
Li’l Man is looking forward to the The Pittsburg Plunge. This ride honors a time in the 1890s, by dropping the “h” in Pittsburgh, just as they did back then. But it’s not the spelling that has Li’l Man in his waders, it’s the shoot that soaks passengers and onlookers.
There’s even Kiddie Rides at Kennywood!
Kennywood offers something for every size in the family, including a Kiddie Land that features rides for the little ones in your family. There’s a full range of variety from boats, cars and ferris wheels to keep them wanting more.
When At Kennywood Food is Part of the Fun!
We’ve heard the must eat at place in Kennywood is the Potato Patch where the fries are so well-known that in 2001 Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh based grocery store, began selling frozen Potato Patch Fries. The gourmet french fries have an option of eight toppings and are served in a basket. We’re told they’re worth the wait in line.
Located between the Potato Patch and the Noah’s Arc ride, is one of the oldest food stands in Kennywood, The Lucky Stand. It offers a variety of carnival food.
Kennywood 2014 Discount Code:
Kennywood invites you and your family to save $7.00 off the $40.99 General gate Admission price. Use the code via www.Kennywood.com to get your tickets.
We’ll be hitting the park June 20th, hope to see you at Kennywood!