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Kennywood has the best games of any amusement park in the country, an impressive ranking considering the fact that many of KW's games are 75 years old. The maintenance needed to keep these games in mint condition is mind boggling. It's a maintenance too many parks don't bother with. Most parks have about the same games --- WhackaMole, Fish, Baseball Toss, etc. --- so the difference is in what kind of condition they're in and how well they're managed. The fish game between Jackrabbit and Racers, shown at right, is both hilarious and infuriating.

Seen in the photo at left, with the afternoon sun glinting off the glass, is the best Arcade of any park, with the greatest collection of early 1900s peep shows, fortune tellers, and games. It edges Cedar Point and Indiana Beach, who also have outstanding arcades. Kennywood has, sadly, mothballed several outstanding items, like the vibrating chair, gypsy woman and galloping rabbits, but at least they're still on premise, hopefully to resurface someday. The Arcade offers the hard to find electronic Monopoly and Jurassic Park, plus some oldies from the 80s early digital era, such as Mrs. Pacman. This arcade serves as a museum of 20th Century games, from coin operated flip card movies to plunger operated pinball baseball to lever operated prize retrieving crane claws. How many places still have electric tic tac toe?? This and the Emory University Student Center in Atlanta have the two remaining working models of Cherry Picker.

Out on the Midway, the Shooting Gallery is the best anywhere. Every park used to have a shooting gallery, but most of them were junked long ago. Of the few remaining, Kennywood's is larger, with more targets, more movement and more variety. This is definitely not politically correct, as guns and target practice are out of favor with politicians and the media. Yet, on a typical day, there is a continuous stream of patrons testing their skill with the air rifles (bb guns) Kennywood uses. Theming has varied over the years. Currently, there is a hillbilly theme being used. Of all the games at Kennywood, other amusement parks, or carnivals, shooting galleries like this are the purest test of skill. Parks design their shooting galleries over time to control the winnings. Back in the mid 20th Century, when the majority of males hunted often and most had served in the military, Kennywood and other parks had to incorporate intricate moving displays to make winning as difficult as possible. Otherwise the galleries would have presented no challenge. Today, with far fewer hunters or military veterans in the population, Kennywood has reduced the moving targets and uses mostly fixed targets to allow more customers to win. Since most schools have abolished rifle teams, this shooting gallery is the only chance a lot of Pittsburgh area kids get to legally fire at a target.

Basketball is a favorite game at most amusement parks, and Kennywood has hoops at three locations. But at most parks, there is some clever skullduggery going on. The rims are specially made so they're only 3/5 as big around as regulation and 3/4 as thick as regulation, and the balls are specially made so they're 10% bigger than regulation. This means the target is harder to hit, and the thinner rim flexes more, so any marginal shot usually bounces off, not in. The purpose of this manipulation is to reduce the winning. Kennywood does not use such tactics. But it has its own devious method of holding down the winning. As shown at left, Kennywood courts require shooters to fire from further out. So the balls and rims are regulation, but it's still hard to hit enough shots to qualify for a prize because of the distance and because you have to hit from multiple locations. At least this approach is fair and honest. If you can consistently hit the NBA three, you can walk away with a gigantic stuffed kangaroo, shark or bear, or at least a basketball pillow or game jersey from Kentucky, Duke or North Carolina.

Ah, Ski Ball, the most popular game in amusement park history. Back in the 1950s, Kennywood used to host big Ski Ball tournaments. Today, a lot of grandparents accompany the family to Kennywood, let them hit all the rides, and spend the day at the Ski Ball lanes. It's a simple variation of bowling. Instead of a long level lane with pins at the other end, there is a shorter sloped lane, a skijump, and concentric targets laid out at a 45 degree angle. There's a certain dexterity required to roll that ball at just the right velocity to clear the ski jump and come down in the center of that target, but it's a dexterity within reach of players aged 10 or 90. Like shooting galleries or basketball, there's no luck involved. It's pure skill. You can play the game from a seated or standing position, but the Kennywood lanes shown at right are for standing players. This is a relatively simple game, and one would think all lanes would be fairly equal. Not so. A smooth finish on the lanes, straight and firm rims, and level staight surfaces are important. Most parks neglect their Ski Ball lanes, resulting in rough or tilted lanes and crooked or soft rims, any of which detract from the accuracy of the bowler. Holiday World has the newest lanes of the major parks, certainly an advantage, but Kennywood has maintained its aging lanes very well, is a close second to HW, and far better than anywhere else.

Most Kennywood veterans do their riding all day, then play the games as they work their way back across the park toward the exit. That way, anything they win can be carried out to the vehicle, not lugged around all day while they're trying to ride roller coasters and other attractions. Kennywood groups its games on avenues : between Garfield's Nightmare and Jackrabbit, Jackrabbit and Racer, the Stage and Ghostwood, and the Back Stretch from Wave Swinger to Gran Prix.

The two new hits are Laser Maze and Paint Ball, innovative in that you're IN the game, not just playing it.

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