Kennywood’s Open and Idlewild Too (Mon., 7/13/20)

Kennywood's vintage Racer still rocks the coaster scene.

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

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. Idlewild is now open and Kennywood opens July 13. This year, both also require advance reservations and purchase of a ticket or pass online, along with a mask worn inside the park. 

Kennywood dates from 1898. It’s known for a world-class collection of rides, including the roller coasters—three classic wooden coasters plus the steel-frame Phantom’s Revenge and the formidable Steel Curtain, which debuted last summer in the park’s new Steelers Country area. The Steel Curtain sets a Pennsylvania record for tallest roller coaster (220 feet), a North American record for most inversions (it flips you upside down nine times), and a world record for the highest inversion, at 197 feet above ground. Kennywood also has a wide range of children’s and all-ages rides, plus special entertainment on special days such as Polish Day, Italian Day, and Oldies Day. Various season passes include the Ride & Slide pass, which admits you both to Kennywood (4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin) and to the nearby Sandcastle water park at 1000 Sandcastle Dr., West Homestead. 

Idlewild offers a distinctive combination of amusements in a delightful rural setting. The rides are not as numerous as Kennywood’s, but there are plenty of them, and they’re good. Idlewild moreover has a full-scale water park on site—the Soak Zone, with water slides and a wave pool—plus an outdoor jungle-gym area and the weirdly charming Story Book Forest, where children and trippy adults can wander through mini-replicas of scenes from fairy tales and folk songs. You may even meet Mother Goose, or Captain Candy on the Good Ship Lollipop. Every Idlewild season pass and daily ticket automatically includes the Soak Zone. 2574 U.S. 30, Ligonier.