Kennywood is a long standing amusement park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a local favorite for both children and adults alike. Now filled with roller coasters, water rides, restaurants, games, and a "land" just for kids, Kennywood began as a trolley/amusement park in 1898. That means even the Grandmas and "Paps", as we say in Pittsburgh, visited Kennywood during the summers of their childhood.
Pittsburghers my age spent the summers of the 1990's going to the park as many times as possible then proudly wearing all of the paper admission bracelets (like the ones you now expect to see in a beer garden or at an outdoor concert) as a badge of honor until our Moms finally cut them from our wrists!
Even if you didn't grow up in Pittsburgh you will LOVE Kennywood. It's located just under 30 minutes from downtown. Parking at the park is plentiful with options for either free and far away or $7 and much closer to the entry. Go for a day and see what our hometown gem is all about. Now there are a few things you should know before you go.
Kennywood is unlike any other amusement park
Kennywood is truly one of a kind and was, until very recently, a family owned park. Forget anything you may know about Disney parks, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, and Six Flags- the big guys. We're small and quaint and old. We've got an antique carousel, 100 year old wooden roller coasters, and hand cut French fries.
When to go to Kennywood
In the summer - The most important scheduling detail is that Kennywood is only open during the summer. Their website can give you exact months and dates plus info about their annual Halloween events. Winters in PA are snowy and cold, thus Kennywood closes.
Picking a day - If you're from out of town and visiting Pittsburgh for a limited amount of time, go when it suits your schedule best. Like all amusement parks, Kennywood sees larger crowds on weekends than weekdays. Be sure to visit Kennywood's website before you go to see if there are any closures or events on the day you plan to visit.
Keep in mind that this is Pittsburgh's go-to summer park for locals and there are different "Kennywood days" for each school, neighborhood, and company in town. On the respective day all of the members of the group go at once and you feel like a celebrity waving at folks around every turn. There are also many nationality celebrations (Greek day, Italian day, etc) where you'll catch specific musical performances, themed foods, and so many matching t-shirts! If your visit coincides with one of these special events you should 100% still go. Go directly to Kennywood. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Wait, on second thought, collecting $200 before a park day is a great idea...
At what time of day - Be prepared to spend the majority of your day in the park, if not the whole day. You don't need more than 1 day at Kennywood, as you do at Disney parks. The park opens at 10:30 am with the rides opening at 11:00 am. The park closes somewhere in the 10:00 pm area, depending on the weather, crowd, and day.
On a crowded day, it's recommended to dash to the back of the park and jump on the rides there to beat the crowds. When we visited in July it was raining as we entered the park and we all felt that we were making a horrible mistake. Within the hour the rain cleared, the sun came out, and the park was basically ours to explore for the rest of the day. We'd walk directly onto rides without even zig-zagging through the maze for the lines and, on a few occasions, we stayed in our seats for a repeat ride!
Buying Kennywood Tickets
There are many different ways to purchase a ticket to Kennywood. They sell season passes and daily tickets on their website and offer discounts for seniors, kids under 46" height, evenings, and more. While it's not easy to find there is a Military/Veteran discount buried somewhere on the Kennywood website. For even more discounts and ticket options look for locally sold soda cans with a coupon on the side or on discount websites like Groupon.
What to Wear to Kennywood
First check the weather report. As you would at any amusement park, think about what will make you most comfortable. I've made a brief list of my recommendations, based on what I feel comfortable wearing and/or bringing to Kennywood. There are lockers and pavilions available if you'd prefer to bring a change of clothes for evening or after you've been soaked on water rides!
What to Wear:
What NOT to Wear:
What to Eat at Kennywood
Potato Patch Fries - If you eat just one thing at Kennywood park it has to be the famous Potato Patch Fries. Freshly sliced potatoes make for thick, hot, salty, delicious fries. You can top your fries with cheese sauce, bacon, gravy, vinegar, garlic or onion salt, and so on.
There are at least three locations to get Potato Patch Fries within Kennywood. The original Potato Patch is located toward the back of the park, between Noah's Arc and the Thunderbolt. You can also get your fix at Small Fry, located in Lost Kennywood, or at Spudz, just near the Log Jammer.
Golden Nugget Ice Cream - The Golden Nugget is where you'll find a double-sized ice cream cone stuffed with a large and square shaped hunk of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream is then covered in chocolate and topped with your choice of peanuts and/or jimmies.
You may call them sprinkles but, in Pittsburgh, they are jimmies Even the sign says so.
The Golden Nugget is located just next to the entrance to Kiddieland and you can't miss the sign which is identical to the cone!
Other Food & Drink Options -
What to Ride
While Kennywood is filled with rides I won't speak to all of them. Here's my take on the best and worst rides based on your level of bravery and fondness for water in your shoes. Keep in mind that our group was 4 brave-ish adults and 2 tween-age boys who are tall enough to ride everything (actual ages 11 & 13). This guide is not for small kids or old folks.
The classic rides for everyone - The carousel, swings, Turtles, the Whip, the Kangaroo, and Noah's Arc
The old, wooden roller coasters for the moderately brave - Thunderbolt, Racer, and Jack Rabbit
The water rides - Log Jammer, Raging Rapids, Pittsburgh Plunge
Only if you're really brave and/or can tolerate spinning - Phantom's Revenge, Sky Rocket, Musik Express, Swing Shot
Don't bother with - Garfield's Nightmare or Ghostwood Estate
Kennywood park is worth a visit, wether you've never been or have gone a dozen times!
Let me know if I've missed something great or if you have questions about my hometown amusement park.
Hello, I'm Angela.
Figs and Flights is all about traveling near and far & eating great food both at home and away.
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