If you live near Pittsburgh, there’s a good chance you’ve probably visited Kennywood Park a time or two – or 12. The theme park in West Mifflin is filled with old-school rides that true park enthusiasts adore and kids love compliments of the fun factor. But, if you really want a classic experience, these ones are must-dos. Here’s 10 classic rides at Kennywood Park that you must ride at least once – and a bonus!
Even if you ride Turtle for the view alone, it’s absolutely worth it. Turtle, one of two “Tumble Bug” style rides left in the world, has a amazing view of the Monongahela River valley – and it’s fun! Completed in 1927 (that’s 90 years old to you and me), there’s six turtle cars that dip and climb over small hills. What makes my family never stop laughing while we’re riding? The fact that there’s a recording of people saying, “Turtle!” No infants are permitted and kiddos under 46 inches tall must ride with a responsible person.
2. Kennywood Merry-Go-Round
Built in 1927 with a cost of $25,000, the Kennywood Carousel is a must-ride for everyone. The music? It comes from a 1918 Wurlitzer Band Organ. With a total of 72 animals including a lion and tiger, there’s stationary seats for leisurely circling as well.
Kangaroo is a little less old school than the first two (opening in 1962), but it gets definite bonus points for being the only one of its kind to still function in the world. Simulating a kangaroo jump for up to four passengers at a time, the ride circles and dips on a hilly track.
4. Olde Kennywood Railroad
You’ll take a ride through park history on Olde Kennywood Railroad. Built in 1945, the view from the tracks is amazing – and there’s an aerial view of Carrie Furnace. There’s no age limit, but kiddos under 46 inches tall have to ride with a responsible someone. Say hi to Laughing Sal on your way to and from the ride – she was comic relief during the Great Depression.
My personal favorite roller coaster in the park, Racer offers two coaster trains (Red and Blue) and both race each other to the finish. Heck, it’s so popular that there’s the annual Kenny Kon and Racer Challenge event for fans to test their limits on who can win the most rides in a single day. Racer, built in 1927, has sister coasters in both England and Mexico.
6. Jack Rabbit
Similar in style to Racer (and with a single train) Jack Rabbit is another must-ride wooden coaster. It opened in 1920 and was met with huge fandom as the terrain coaster has mainly hills to simulate a rabbit’s jump. You have to be at least 42 inches tall to ride and riders between 42″ and 48″ must ride with a responsible adult.
7. Noah’s Ark
Noah’s Ark is a 1936 classic fun house – and the only one of its kind left in the world! While the whale mouth with the squishy tongue entrance was re-added in 2016 to the delight of its fans, the coolest part is the actual rocking ark filled with animal statues. If you get motion sickness, you’ll want to skip this one.
8. Auto Race
A unique take on a classic, Auto Race opened in 1930. Offering guests the chance to drive an electric car on a wooden track, there’s no real steering ability needed so it’s great for kiddos. This one’s great for younger kids, but if they’re under 46 inches tall they’ll need someone responsible to ride with them – and no infants allowed.
I like to think of Whip at the precursor to the Tilt A Whirl. With 16 cars on a flat, oblong track, it whips riders around its corners. The final model opened in 1926 and its location in Lost Kennywood definitely suits it better. Again, riders under 46″ tall must ride with a responsible adult and no infants allowed.
With its final model opening in 1964, Paratrooper has 10 parachute-style cars. At full height, riders are at a 45-degree angle above the ground. This is one that definitely should be ridden at night compliments of its rainbow lights and view of the park. Riders must be at least 36 inches tall to ride Paratrooper. Under 46″? A responsible person needs to ride with them.
Bonus: Not Classic but Worthy of Mention
Riding Kenny’s Parkway is hit or miss. Generally running only during super busy summer days, the chairlift-style ride built in 1996 is the only ride at Kennywood that’s physically outside of the park. Meant to carry passengers to the third level parking area, you’ll be a lucky one if you get to ride it – but you’ll also have to wade your way through the crowds in the park. riders must be at least 46 inches tall to ride.
Disclosure: I was given media passes for Kennywood Park. All opinions are my own!