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"Founded as a recreational playground far away from the hustle, bustle and smog of Downtown, the idyllic site overlooking the Monongahela River has transformed over the past 12 decades into one of the world’s great amusement parks, featuring rides and attractions fit for all ages. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, you’ll find three roller coasters that date back to the 1920s, each as fun as the day they opened nearly a century ago. Alongside those classic coasters come modern thrillers like Phantom’s Revenge, Exterminator, Sky Rocket and The Steel Curtain, headlining attraction of the new Steelers Country at Kennywood, the first ever theme park area devoted to a professional sports franchise. Younger guests will rush for the many family-friendly rides, the large and centrally located Kiddieland, and Thomas Town™ at Kennywood. The second-largest permanent Thomas & Friends™ attraction in North America brings five new rides themed to the beloved children’s brand, plus live shows, an indoor play zone, and more.
Whether it’s your first visit or you’re a lifelong Season Passholder, a trip to Kennywood promises unforgettable family fun. Conveniently located about 20 minutes outside of Downtown Pittsburgh, Kennywood is one of Pennsylvania’s best entertainment options for families. Great deals on Kennywood tickets can be found for any budget, and our Group Sales Department is here to help plan an unforgettably fun visit for parties for anywhere from 10 to 15,000 people!
Visiting Kennywood from out of town? Our Lodging Page has great rates on nearby hotels. We also offer special combination packages with our sister parks, Sandcastle Waterpark and Idlewild & SoakZone , and can pair Kennywood tickets with several other popular Pittsburgh destinations for people visiting us from out of state. Contact us today for more details on Kennywood packages for out-of-state residents."
Founded in 1898 as a small trolley park near Pittsburgh (then known as Pittsburg), the Monongahela Street Railway Company created Kennywood as a diversion for mill workers and their families. Today's Kennywood still contains two major buildings that date back to the 19th century – a carousel pavilion, now a Johnny Rockets restaurant, and the Parkside Café, which was initially called the Casino. No gambling – Casino was commonly used for eateries and gathering places in that era!
Rowboats on the Lagoon, athletic competition, pony rides and finding a date in the Dance Hall ranked among the most popular diversions – a far cry from modern theme and amusement parks.
At the turn of the century, Kennywood was engaged in a fierce battle for survival with about a dozen other trolley parks and amusement resorts in Western Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh (the H was restored to the city's name in 1910) Street Railway Company wanted to get out of the amusement park business in 1902, so it subleased the park to several different operators until in 1906 it found two businessmen, A.S. McSwigan and F.W. Henninger, whose families would run Kennywood for the next century.
In these early days, Kennywood added and removed several roller coasters, and in 1901, opened The Old Mill (pictured). Though it's changed greatly, it is the world's oldest continuously operating dark water ride, more than 115 years old!
Though the Great Depression in the midst of this period put a damper on the growth of Kennywood and other American leisure activities, the Roaring Twenties saw the construction of three of Kennywood's most iconic attractions, the Jack Rabbit (1920, pictured), Pippin (1924, later converted into Thunderbolt) and Racer (1927). All three have been named Landmark rides by the American Coaster Enthusiasts.
Kennywood also opened a swimming pool in 1925 that was one of the world's largest at the time. The Dance Hall and swing bands remained incredibly popular, and Kennywood introduced three attractions that are now nearly impossible to find anywhere else: the Tumble Bug (now the Turtle), Auto Race, and the iconic walkthrough funhouse, Noah's Ark.
Thanks to the postwar Baby Boom, school picnics grew by leaps and bounds in the 1950s. The park added many new rides, including the Hurricane, Looper, Rotor (the first ride imported from Europe), the Wild Mouse and the Octopus.
The '60s and '70s brought competition from Disneyland and other national theme parks. Kennywood stepped up to the plate by adding signature rides like the Thunderbolt roller coaster dubbed King of Coasters by the New York Times in 1974 and in 1975, the Log Jammer, the park's first million-dollar ride. Later that summer, the Ghost Ship, a dark ride operating out of the former Dance Hall, burned to the ground. Despite firefighters battling the blaze that destroyed or damaged several other rides and buildings, the park continued operations!
While Kennywood moved into the future in this era by adding its first steel roller coasters, highlighted by the Steel Phantom (converted into the Phantom's Revenge in 2001), the park cemented its legacy by being named a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Kennywood is one of only two amusement parks to be honored with the highest-level historic designation offered in the United States.
The expansion of Lost Kennywood in 1995 added a themed area you'd only find in Kennywood, presenting rides and architecture of days gone by. In the new millennium, the local families that had operated the park for more than 100 years sold Kennywood and its sister parks, which are now ran by one of the world's largest leisure park operators.
As Kennywood moves through the 21st century, it continues to keep a balance of change and preservation of tradition which has always been important to its success. From revamping traditional favorites to the introduction of the new Thomas Town™ attraction in 2018 and record-setting Steel Curtain roller coaster in 2019, Kennywood remains Pittsburgh's destination for family fun and entertainment. "
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