A Quick Guide to Kennywood’s Summer Season – Know Before You Go
by Janet Jonus
Kennywood is an all-age summertime destination for Pittsburgh families. From Babies and Toddlers through Teens and beyond, Kennywood offers something for everyone to do.
Updated May 28, 2019
Note: FamilyFunPittsburgh is aware Kennywood has announced they have received a Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation from the IBCCES. We are an autism-family. FamilyFunPittsburgh has been to Kennywood. We have reviewed the status of the certification. Most of the requirements for the certification are not in place at this time. Please see our complete review here:
Thomas Town is open though Thomas himself is still having problems. His availability has been inconsistent. At times Thomas is up and running and then an hour later he is down and the old Kennywood engine is pulling the cars around the tracks. So Thomas is still having issues. It has not been listed on Kennywood’s website if Thomas is running or not so if you are going to Kennywood just to ride Thomas, it is best to call and check before you head out.
Pittsburgh’s iconoclastic amusement park is undergoing some exciting changes for its 121st season. Steeler’s Country is being built in the back, northwest corner of the park where the Log Jammer once stood. Steeler’s Country will have a new food stand, the End Zone, two new games, a small kid’s splash pad, the Steelers Experience (an indoor area with a soft play zone for kids, an interactive video encounter, and a training camp where guests can test their skills), and of course, The Steel Curtain – a mega-coaster with nine inversions.
While there is no set date for the opening of Steeler’s Country, FamilyFunPittsburgh can report there is still a lot of work to do. The coaster is nowhere near finished with at least 20 supports still to be put into place plus a lot of track. The games are not in place. It is impossible to see inside of the building but the entire area looks like a construction zone with no finished features. FamilyFunPittsburgh is at Kennywood weekly during the season so look for updates here.
Due to the construction of Steeler’s Country, the entire area is blocked off. the fencing runs from just in front of the Shooting Gallery (next to the Racer) to the lagoon.
The fencing starts just beyond the Guess Your Height and Weight Shack. The fencing has been moved back to allow access to the Star Food Stand where you will find Rita’s Italian Ice on the left side. The right side should still be funnel cakes and deep fried Oreos but the Rita’s side was the only side open on Memorial Day. The bathrooms next to Star are now accessible including the Family Bathroom. The Picnic groves by Kiddieland are open now too! There are two new Pavilions in this area where there used to be open-air picnic tables. One of the Pavilions is quite large and will most likely be used as the replacement location for BioFear during Phantom Fright Nights. You still cannot walk directly from the Racer to the Aero 360 though both are open during the construction.
As of April 28th, Sky Rocket and Black Widow were not open and Thomas was still having problems.Sky Rocket closed down mid-summer last year and never re-opened. There is no word on when it will open this season.
A Kennywood Cup refill station will take over the former Rita’s location next to the Racer.
The 4D Theater is now showing Thomas & Friends Bubbling Boilers from park opening through 400PM daily. San Andreas 4D, starring Dwayne Johnson, plays from 400PM through closing daily.
Kennywood’s six major coasters offer thrills for families from tall Preschoolers through Teens. The Jack Rabbit is a classic wood coaster with a double-dip hill. The height restriction is 42”. Kids, Tweens, Teens (at least 46” tall) can ride the Racer and the Exterminator (Exterminator requires a responsible person for Kids between 46”-59”). Kids, Tweens, and Teens (48” tall) can ride Phantom’s Revenge, a thrilling metal coaster. There are no inversions on Phantom’s Revenge. Tweens and Teens (52” tall) can ride the Thunderbolt (every rider must have a partner) and the Sky Rocket (with a responsible person between 52” and 55”). Thunderbolt is a fast wooden coaster with some serious hills. Sky Rocket is a small metal coaster with inversions. Sky Rocket is offering a Virtual Reality experience for an additional fee.
Kennywood’s seven thrill rides range from the mild, bigger Preschool- friendly Pirate through the Kids and up Bayern Curve. More adventurous Big Kids and Tweens will want to conquer the dizziness-inducing Cosmic Chaos, the heart-stopping Swing Shot, and the inverted Aero 360. Tweens and Teens can ride the Musik Express (note: there are strict rules for this ride and we have seen riders removed from the ride for not following the rules). The bravest Tweens and Teens will want to ride the 90 foot tall Black Widow.
Kennywood is a National Historic Landmark. It has many one-of-a-kind rides with decades of history. For many children, their first “big ride” at Kennywood is the AutoRace. This classic car ride is located just outside of Kiddieland. The Merry-Go-Round as a classic ride outside of Kiddieland for handheld infants. Preschoolers, Kids, Tweens, and Teens can enjoy the Whip, the Turtle, and the Kangaroo- all classic rides that have been must-rides for Pittsburgh families for decades. Preschoolers and Kids 36” tall can also ride the Paratrooper with a responsible person. Kids (46” tall) can ride the Wave Swinger. Big Kids and Tweens look forward to the day they are 48” tall so they can drive the bumper cars on the Gran Prix. The Volcano is a classic ride and a thrill ride. With a 54” tall ride height restriction it has the highest height restriction in the park.
Kennywood has three dark rides, only one of which is truly scary. Garfield’s Nightmare is a family-friendly dark boat ride featuring Jim Davis’ favorite fat cat in his worst Nightmare. Noah’s Ark is a truly unique dark ride that isn’t a ride. The Ark is a walk-through fun house themed on the biblical Noah’s Ark. There aren’t any real scares but the walk-though is dark, the ceilings on the Ark itself are low and the Ark rocks back and forth making it difficult to navigate for some adults and children. Classic elements of the Ark are the rattling and moving floorboards which scare some of the younger crowd. Ghostwood Estates is a frightening dark ride. Populated with skeletons and CG ghosts, Ghostwood is truly creepy. Tweens and Teens love Ghostwood Estates.
With the loss of the Log Jammer, Kennywood now has only two water rides and both get you very wet. Pittsburg Plunge, located in Lost Kennywood, is the wettest water ride. This classic Shoot-the-Chutes water ride gets everyone wet. Children love to stand in the “splash zone” at the base of the ride to take the giant splash. A change of clothing is recommended for those riding this ride and anyone who is in the splash zone. Kennywood’s other water ride is Raging Rapids, a white-water rapids ride. Big Kids and up can get soaked on the ride IF the waterfall is running. (The waterfall was not running at all last year.)
Kennywood’s 4D Theater will be showing the family-friendly Thomas & Friends in Bubbling Boilers from park opening (1100AM) through 400PM daily. San Andreas 4D starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will show from 400PM through park closing (usually around 1000PM weather-depending).
Babies and Toddlers
Kennywood is fun for the diaper-set too! From the classic Kiddieland rides like the Red Baron, the Wacky Wheel, the Crazy Trolley, and the Elephant Parade to the always popular Steel City Choppers and the Orbiter to the more adventurous Pounce Bounce, Dizzy Dynamo, and SS Kenny, Kiddieland has something for every child. Petite versions of bigger rides like Kenny’s Karousel (Merry-Go-Round), Whippersnapper (the children’s Whip), Whirlwind (Wave Swinger), Turtle Chase (Turtle), and of course the Lil’ Phantom (Phantom’s Revenge) let children have their own thrills Big Kid style. Kiddieland has a family friendly food stand that serves healthy food options. Kiddieland has family restrooms, baby changing stations, and a nursing area. There are also baby changing areas in all bathrooms throughout Kennywood except those near the Gran Prix.
Handheld infants can be carried onto Garfield’s Nightmare, the Merry-Go-Round, and Noah’s Ark.
Rider Height Limits
FamilyFunPittsburgh highly recommends stopping by the Rider Safety Center located in the small building to the right of the ticket windows at the Main Entrance. Your child will be measured and given a hand-stamp and a flyer that lists all of the height requirements of all of the rides. Trust us, it is better to take the 5-10 minutes before you enter the park to confirm your child’s height than it is to waste 45 minutes standing in a line only to find out your child is not tall enough to ride. We have seen this scenario played out time and time again. It never ends well.
All rides at Kennywood have a sign with an arrow and height restrictions. Please check this out before you get in line. Kennywood, like all amusement parks, strictly enforces rider heights for safety. Ride retention systems are designed for specific heights. The child must reach the designated ride height with the top of their heads. We have seen parents try to cheat the system in every way possible. Ride operators will not fall for this! And really, the height restriction is for your own child’s safety. Take our word for it, don’t cheat. Wait another year when it is safe for your child to ride!
Follow this link to Kennywood’s Height Restrictions Chart: https://www.kennywood.com/sites/kennywood.com/files/2017_HeightRestrictions.pdf
Kennywood has over thirty food stands from small carts to a sit-down cafeteria serving everything from funnel cakes and corn dogs to pizza, pasta, and tacos. FamilyFunPittsburgh will be reviewing the food offerings at Kennywood in an upcoming article.
When you walk through the Kennywood tunnel you will see the Kandy Kaleidoscope, serving fudge, chocolates, and candy. This old-fashioned candy store may open later in the day on some days. A stand-alone Cotton Candy cart sits next to the candy store.
(A FamilyFunPittsburgh note here: The Doc Popcorn that used to be next to Garfield’s Nightmare is now gone and no longer available at Kennywood Park. The next closest Doc Popcorn is in Columbus, Ohio. A Dunkin’ Donuts stand is going in this spot.)
The Midway stand is across from the Jack Rabbit. You will find Philly Cheesesteaks, corn dogs, hot dogs, fries, popcorn, snacks, and cold drinks.
The Rita’s Italian Ice Stand next to the Racer has moved to Star Refreshments. There is a Soda refill station for Kennywood Souvenir Cups in this location this year.
Star Refreshments is a two-sided stand. The left side is the new Rita’s Italian Ice Stand. The right side serves the ever-popular funnel cakes and Deep Fried Oreos. We have found the sweet side often has long lines as it is the only stand in the park with Fried Oreos. This stand is not open at this time due to Steeler’s Country construction. (There is another Funnel Cake Stand – The Lucky Food Stand next to the Potato Patch serves Funnel Cakes and Corn Dogs.)
Across from the Aero 360 is the Schwinery BBQ, an award winning barbecue spot. They serve ribs, beef brisket, and pulled pork with a variety of sides. They also have kid’s meals. In our experience this refreshment stand usually does not have long lines and the food is very good.
A slush refill stand is next to the Aero 360. You can buy a mix-your-own refillable slushy cup and refills here. The cup is also refillable at the Slush Factory near the entrance to Lost Kennywood.
The Pizza Pavilion stands at one of the entrances to Kiddieland. Pick up whole pizzas or slices, hoagies, and salads here.
The Golden Nugget is next to the Pizza Pavilion, but everybody knows it as the ice cream place. The Nugget serves a vanilla ice cream cone (a square cone) hand-dipped in chocolate, served with nuts or sprinkles, with a cherry on top. This is a very popular place on hot and crowded days and the line can get long. There is a Cotton Candy stand across from the Golden Nugget.
Bean Sprouts can be found in Kiddieland. It serves healthy options. This stand is usually not too busy.
The aptly-named Pagoda is the giant, yes Pagoda-shaped stand in the middle of the park, next to the new Thomas Town. The hot side serves hot sausage, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and fries. The cold side has soft-serve ice cream and Dole Whips.
The Parkside Cafeteria serves hot foods and cold sandwiches and desserts. Hot entrees include pastas, chicken tenders, fries and shrimp baskets as well as mac and cheese. Cold options include prepared sandwiches, salads, and desserts. There is a large indoor seating area and a smaller outdoor verandah. There is a free water station inside the cafeteria in the seating area near the wheelchair ramp. While you get your food cafeteria-style, the tables are cleaned up by Kennywood staff so you can leave your trays right on the table.
The iconic Potato Patch is located right next the Thunderbolt. Serving fresh cut French fried potatoes with a variety of toppings, the Potato Patch is the busiest food stand in Kennywood and a Pittsburgh favorite.
The Lucky food stand across from the Potato Patch serves funnel cakes and corn dogs. There is also a lemonade stand next to the Potato Patch.
The Mix-It-Up Slush Factory is located next to the entrance to Lost Kennywood. It sells make-your-own slushies in refillable cups.
There is an Auntie Annes Soft Pretzel stand just around the corner from the Slush Factory, near the Volcano. This area is a low traffic area and the stand is rarely crowded.
Johnny Rockets serves hamburgers and shakes. It is an enclosed restaurant next to the Merry-Go-Round.
A new Wafels and Dinges can be found near Noah’s Ark. This is a new refreshment stand and according to the Kennywood website it will serve Belgian Waffles and toppings.
There are three refreshment stands in Lost Kennywood. Pedros can be found at the exit of Phantom’s Revenge, next to the Black Widow. Pedros serves nachos, burritos, walking tacos, and churros. There is a Rita’s Italian Ice near the Pittsburg Plunge. Small Fry’s, next to the Swing Shot, is a gluten-free stand serving gluten-free chicken tenders and Potato Patch Fries.
There are also Dippin’ Dots stands near the Sky Rocket, the Jack Rabbit, Noah’s Ark, and Pittsburgh Plunge though these stands are not always open.
There are two lemonade stands. One is near the Potato Patch, the other is near the Star Refreshment stand.
There are bathrooms scattered throughout Kennywood. All bathrooms are wheelchair accessible. All bathrooms have baby changing stations with the exception of the Gran Prix bathrooms which have limited space.
The first (or last) set of bathrooms are found at the Main Entrance to the left of the ticket windows. These small bathrooms are well used throughout the day and there is usually a line at Park closing.
There are bathrooms just inside the park across from Garfield’s Nightmare. The women’s room is accessible up a ramp to the right of the building. The entrance to the men’s room is around the back of the building near the Kangaroo. These bathrooms are very old and a bit tight but usually well-maintained.
The bathrooms in the back of the park, near the Star food stand are the largest bathrooms in the park. This area is not well-traveled
so there is never a line and the bathrooms are usually very clean. There is a Family Bathroom in this building as well. These bathrooms are closed due to the Steeler’s Country construciton.
There are family bathrooms and regular bathrooms in Kiddieland near the food stand. There can be a wait to use the family bathrooms. All of these bathrooms are used by little kids so they can get messy.
The Thunderbolt bathrooms are located near the Thunderbolt, next to Ghostwood Estates. The central location makes these bathrooms quite busy.
The only bathrooms in Lost Kennywood are located at the back of the Park, near the Black Widow. These bathrooms are fairly small, usually not very clean, and often have lines for the women’s room.
There are three small bathrooms in Kennywood. One is next to Gran Prix, one is in the Cafeteria, and one is in back in the picnic groves. All of these bathrooms only have a few stalls and they can all get crowded. The Gran Prix bathroom does not have a baby changing station.
Safety and Comfort
Kennywood takes guest safety seriously. Everyone who enters Kennywood has to go through metal detectors. All bags and coolers are searched. There is a visible security presence at Kennywood, but it is not intrusive. Kennywood maintains a dress code and does not allow clothing that is inappropriate or offensive though FamilyFunPittsburgh has seen numerous tshirts with inappropriate and offensive content throughout the years.
Kennywood is a non-smoking facility including e-cigarettes. There are designated smoking areas.
Kennywood does not page individuals. Lost children are taken to the Service Center near the Slush Factory. Lost and Found is also at the Service Center.
Kennywood has a staffed First Aid station near the Gran Prix.
Guests are allowed to bring their own food into Kennywood. Look for FamilyFunPittsburgh’s upcoming article Bring Your Picnic to Kennywood for a complete guide. (FamilyFunPittsburgh always takes a picnic to Kennywood and highly recommends it for families with young children and special needs.)
Guests with Disabilities should stop at the Rider Safety Center for more information. The Rider Safety Center is located just inside the main gates of Kennywood before you go into the park. It is NOT in the park. The Rider Safety Center is located in the main plaza, near the Fountain with the Merry-Go-Round Horse, before the ticket windows. It is a small building where they measure children for height requirements. There is a Handicap parking lot for placarded cars near Gate C.
RESPONSIBLE PERSON: A responsible person is defined as a person that (1) meets the criteria to experience the ride and (2) is approximately 16 years old with the physical and mental ability to supervise someone throughout the ride cycle.
Strollers and Wheelchairs
Kennywood has a limited number of wagons, strollers, and wheelchairs for rent. The rental center is located inside the main entrance to the left of the ticket windows.
Parking is free at Kennywood, but the free parking is located farther away from the park. There is a paid parking lot nearer to the entrance. The cost is $7.00 per car.
Kennywood opens for weekends on May 4, 2019. Kennywood is open every day May 23 through August 20. Kennywood is also open on May 18, September 1-2, 7-8, and 14-15. Kennywood opens at 1030 AM with rides progressively opening from 1100 AM on. Kennywood closes at 1000 PM but may close earlier or later depending on crowd sizes and weather. Closing times are announced during the evening, but you often have to ask what time the park is closing. Employees may or may not know the answer.
Weekday Gate prices at Kennywood are $49.99 for guests 46” and taller, $33.99 under 46”, and $25.99 for guests 55+. Kennywood also has a $14.99 all-day pass for guests 70+. Weekend Gate prices at Kennywood are $54.99 for guests 46” and taller, $36.99 under 46”, and $28.99 for guests 55+. Kennywood also has a $11.99 all-day pass for guests 70+. Children 3 and under are free. Kennywood offers discounts.
They can be found at https://www.kennywood.com/plan-a-visit/discounts .
Kennywood also has a Nightrider pass, valid after 5PM that offers discounts:
Night Rider Rates Start at 5pm
Super Senior: $11.99/$14.99
Season Passes are available for $109.99 for a Silver Pass and $149.99 for a Premium Pass. Senior Season passes cost $55.99. There is a Ride and Slide Pass for Kennywood and Sandcastle Water Park for $149.99. Kennywood also has an All Season Dining Pass for $89.99.
Kennywood is located at 4800 Kennywood Blvd, West Mifflin PA 15122. The phone number is 412-461-0500. The website is https://www.kennywood.com/