Kennywood and Idlewild Amusement Parks (Mon., 5/27/24)

Kennywood and Idlewild — TWO iconic amusement parks.

Some “big-league” cities trumpet the fact that they’ve got a big-league amusement park. The Pittsburgh area can claim two: Kennywood, close to the city, and Idlewild, a bit farther out. Both conduct their summer seasons from Memorial Day weekend onward. Check the parks’ websites for daily schedules and special events. Kennywood, which dates from 1898, has now been evolving for 125 years. It’s known for a world-class collection of mechanized rides, including three classic wooden roller coasters plus the steel-framed Phantom’s Revenge and Steel Curtain (closed and undergoing structural repairs this season). There’s also a nice assortment of kiddie rides, and a newer “intermediate” ride is Spinavision, part of Kennywood’s growing alien-themed Area 412.  Brand new this season is the Potato Patch bumper cars. A popular non-ride feature is the ongoing Bites & Pints food festival, held on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from May 24 through June 30, plus May 27. Enjoy chef-inspired tastings of international cuisine plus specialty cocktails, craft beer, and wine. 4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin.

Idlewild offers a distinctive combination of amusements in a gorgeous countryside setting. The rides aren’t nationally ranked but there are plenty of them, and a bunch are downright thrilling. Idlewild moreover has a full-scale water park, the Soak Zone, with water slides and a wave pool. There’s also an outdoor jungle-gym area, and last but never least the weirdly charming Story Book Forest, where children and trippy adults can wander through mini-replicas of scenes from fairy tales and folk songs—including Mother Goose, the Good Ship Lollipop, and more. Idlewild is about an hour-ish drive from Pittsburgh (depending on where you start from) and well worth the journey. 2574 U.S. 30, Ligonier. (M.V.)

Kennywood's vintage Racer still rocks the coaster scene.

Kennywood’s vintage Racer still rocks the coaster scene. Photo: Jason North.

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Mike Vargo

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