During the day, the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, combined with the excited laughter of children big and small fill the air.  In the evening, the colorful bulbs of the attractions give a warm and comforting glow. Kennywood Park has been a part of family adventures since 1898.  The park has grown, changed and developed, thrilling families for over 120 years. This Amusement Park provides a unique experience of both nostalgia and modern-day fun. From the days of swimming pools and a dance hall, to the current fun of coasters and games, any family can find their thrill at Kennywood Park.

Modern rides like, the Phantom’s Revenge and Sky Rocket are two of the biggest thrill coasters at Kennywood.  Drops, airtime, and thundering turns thrill riders on their adventures.  These coasters are not the only thrill rides the park has to offer.  Kennywood hosts three of the most ridden and thrilling wooden coasters – Thunderbolt, Racer, and Jack Rabbit.  The Jack Rabbit has been the first coaster for children of all ages for generations.  The well-known “double dip” lifts you out of your seat as the coaster rumbles along the track.

The Racer provides a unique experience of two coasters running at once, the ONLY single continuous track coaster in the United States.  If your ride starts on the right, you will end on the left side of the platform.  Many riders race against their friends, starting on opposite sides and racing to see who enters the station first.

The Thunderbolt, originally called Pippin, has been a unique staple of wooden coaster fans since 1924.  The Thunderbolt requires two riders, no single-riders allowed on this ride!  If you don’t have a partner, the station attendant will double you up.  This coaster has hills and turns that will ensure an amazing ride.

As part of Kennywood’s continuous family traditions, Southwestern Pennsylvania has an interesting childhood experience called “Kennywood Day”, officially called “Community Days”.  All schools local to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have a day dedicated to Kennywood Park.  Children all around begin talking about Kennywood Day months ahead of time… outfits are planned, new shoes bought, and friends discuss their day.  This staple of childhood memories goes back many decades and continues today.

Kennywood offers “Kiddieland”, a section of the park dedicated to younger fans.  This area of the park has rides specifically designed for kids, from The Red Baron airplane ride to Turtle Chase, the mini-version to it’s mother ride, Turtle, found in the main park.  A rite of passage for guests of the park is moving from the kiddie rides to the big kid rides, forever changing the way families visit the park.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a vast cultural heritage, dating back to booming steel mill days that brought in immigrants to the area for jobs.  Kennywood designates specific Heritage Days, that recognize the many cultures active in the community.  Italian Day, Slovak Day, Asian Day, and more complete the summer season of Kennywood.

Cultural societies and families attend the heritage days, taking advantage of the pavilions and bringing food for delicious picnics.  Families have reunions and invite friends of all cultures to join the fun.

A visit to Kennywood Park would not be complete without a taste of unique food and treats.  Kennywood Park is well known for having a variety of food, and repeating guests have their favorite snack spots.  A guest of the park cannot leave without smelling the delicious funnel cakes, corn dogs, and other amusement park foods.  Kennywood is best known, however, for their Potato Patch fries.  Potato Patch fries have been a staple of Kennywood food for decades, being one of the most recognized park foods known in the industry.  Guests can enjoy plain, cheese, bacon or a variety of salts or vinegar.

The Golden Nugget offers a sweet treat often reserved for the final snack of the night by guests visiting Kennywood for annual fun.  A vanilla square of ice cream dipped in chocolate and sprinkles (with a cherry on top!) gives a cool, refreshing way to end the day.

Kennywood Park is a unique experience for the local community and visitors alike.  A visit to Pittsburgh during the operating season is not complete without a trip to Kennywood.  The distinct offerings of the park cannot be fully captured in one article…one must visit to understand the local flair, rides, food, and entertaining games and shows this park has provided for over a century.

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Lauren Simko grew up in Munhall, Pennsylvania and currently resides in Bethel Park. Lauren attended Duquesne University where she received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and is currently the President of Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association. Lauren has two children, Kealie& Layne, and she loves family adventures!