Amusement Parks
National Parks
Route 66 Cities Beaches



Amusement Parks

Getting There
Water Rides

Kennywood is not only the greatest traditional amusement park in the world. It’s the heart and soul of the whole amusement park industry. Yes, the notion of amusement parks arose at Coney Island, Jones Beach, Atlantic City, Rehobeth Beach, Virginia Beach and Revere Beach, old boardwalk parks just narrow strips of rides perched on piers above the surf. And yes, a hundred local parks had sprung up by the 1930s. But first tough economic times in the 30s, and then World War II in the 1940s, shut most of those parks down. Many reopened by 1950, but they had lost their fans, and one by one they withered and died. Not Kennywood.

The main reason Kennywood survived is a century of very good decision making. The two families who ran Kennywood for a century have always been very careful about how they spent their money, and have understood their core audience exceptionally well.

Its management watched its pennies and survived the depression, then convinced the government it provided steelworkers much needed relief from the exhausting job of producing weapons and ammunition for the war. So KW remained open, and entered the 50s on a solid foundation. For anyone sincerely interested in amusement parks, a walk through Kennywood is like a visit to Williamsburg. The park is a living museum. These aren’t replicas. They’re the actual rides that were built back in the 1920s, 1930s, etc. This is an inter-generational park. Grandparents, parents and children come every year. Towns, schools, churches, and families have their annual picnics here.

Kennywood's judgement about which rides to keep and which rides to rotate out has usually been perfect. We disagree with a few recent choices, but over 110 years, they're about 105-5. No other park can match that. True, landlocked Kennywood has had less margin for error, but they've maneuvered extremely well.

The ghosts of Travers, Miller, Mangels and other early giants strode these walkways and designed these rides. The Jackrabbit introduced the downstop wheels and used the famous double dip to show them off. The Racers didn’t introduce the Moebius single track double train coaster, but it became its most elegant incarnation. The Thunderbolt (originally the Pippin) dropped out of the station straight into the ravine as the first coaster with the lift hill halfway through the ride.
More innovations have been introduced at Kennywood than in all other parks combined.
Kennywood is to amusement parks what the Yankees are to baseball, Notre Dame is to football, and Kentucky is to basketball. They are always there. Others rise and fall but in every decade for 110 years Kennywood set the standards by which the rest were judged. Coming out of the tunnel onto the KW Front Midway is like coming out of the tunnel and looking up at the Golden Dome, 24 thousand fans in Rupp Arena, or the green expanse of Yankee Stadium. Yes, there are newer, bigger stadiums and arenas, and yes, others in a given year may win the national championship. But in every decade, those teams rise again.

In the amusement park world, Cedar Point may now have more coasters, Voyage at Holiday World may be longer and Thunderhead at Dollywood may be the hot new sensation. But for class, elegance, tradition, history, and a feel for the power and glory of the amusement park world, Kennywood remains the ultimate destination.

There have been times in the past when Kennywood's decline was declared. West View, Geauga Lake, and Kings Island were all thought to be surpassing Kennywood and taking its customer base. West View is long gone, Geauga Lake closed in 2007, and Kings Island keeps changing ownership in its attempt to stay solvent. Meanwhile, Kennywood rolls on.

The Big Steel economy of the Monongahela Valley has collapsed. 100,000 men once made their living within a few miles of Kennywood. As their jobs were sent to Asia and the mills went silent, the valley sank into recession. The entire community of Duquesne, right across the bridge, has become a boarded up, bulldozed ghost town. But somehow Kennywood rolls on.

That is why Walt Disney brought his Imagineers here in 1950 when they were planning Disneyland and his brother brought them again in 1970 for a week and told them to recreate this atmosphere when they were planning Disney World. It was Walt himself who wrote that "Kennywood is the heart and soul of the amusement park industry, a national treasure as much as Yellowstone or The Grand Canyon." Walt's been gone since 1968, but his words echo down through the decades. The park has been landlocked for several decades. But it’s been quietly buying property, and now Kennywood owns basically the entire plateau, plus the cliffs down to the old railroad property along the river. So they're drawing up plans right now for the expansion that may double the size of the park in a decade. Kennywood has maintained its competitive position when it was not able to expand. Rival parks now wait nervously as the expansion finally begins.
Like Us On Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OutpostUSA/) To Receive Daily Outdoor Adventure News and Notes And To Comment
This Year's Unique Visitor Tally : 1,003,492 Contact us at Omlordw@aol.com Meet our writers at Staff