In the outskirts of Pittsburgh you will find a charming throwback park that marries traditional flat rides with state-of-the-art thrills. Using its hilly terrain to its advantage you will be immersed in the various areas of the park without realizing that you are just a stone's throw away from the industrious town of Pittsburgh.
You will find some classic coasters here including the Jack Rabbit. Yes, in the 1930s there were plenty of wood coasters called Jack Rabbit but this is not only one of the few that still remain -- it's also one of the best. Brace yourself as the seemingly tame coaster (just a 36-inch height requirement) by the park's entrance will have you jumping out of your seat, especially when this airtime beast kicks into the double dip. Thunderbolt, a larger wood coaster that plunges out towards the ravine and Racer -- a dueling wood coaster where the two coaster trains do race side-by-side -- complete one of the better collections of wooden coasters anywhere. On the steel side you have Steel Phantom, the park's largest scream machine as well as an enclosed spinning mouse ride called Exterminator where you enter a building to see an extermination crew fail to contain giant rodents.
Along with some of the classic rides that you expect like a whip, a flume ride and a carousel -- and the original Noah's Ark walkthrough fun house -- you will find everything you expect from an amusement park in the cozy confines of a true Pennsylvania historical landmark.
Pros: Light crowds, especially during weekdays in the summer. An amazing collection of throwback attractions like The Old Mill, recently redone with a Garfield theme but still as close as you will get to the old Tunnel of Love attractions. Admission is also reasonable.
Cons: No looping coasters, if you're into that kind of trick. The park is also not the easiest to find with an eclectic parking lot across the street (don't worry, you enter through a tunnel beneath the street). School groups can get rowdy so this is one of the smalltime parks with metal detectors though the park feels perfectly safe inside.
Tips: -- Take the time to check out some of the truly rare rides from the early 1900s. The Caterpillar, where guests go on a circular run and draped by a canopy in the middle of the ride or the Kangaroo circular ride that has the brief freefall experience as the vehicle wheels off a ramp are the rare gems you don't see anymore.
-- The park's closing hours can be flexible. No, that doesn't mean that you can stay for as long as you like but it does mean that you may want to arrive early and be flexible on your departure.
-- There is free parking or you can pay to be closer to the park's entrance. If you arrive early you should be able to still park in the free lot and be reasonably close to the entrance walkway. If you arrive later in the day you may want to go for the premium spots.
- Reviewed by Rick Munarriz
Official Park Link - Kennywood
Unofficial Park Link - Kennywood Connection
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