WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. - A new season is under way at America's most beloved traditional family amusement park with new shows, a wicked new ride and a full summer of fun-filled opportunities to make new memories.
Located just east of Pittsburgh, Kennywood recently kicked off its 115th season. First opened in 1898 as a small trolley park near the Steel City, the park takes its name from Anthony Kenny, who originally owned the picnic groves in the area that later became known as Kennywood. The park has expanded and evolved over the decades, transforming into a family destination that can compare with the world's best them parks of today. But unlike other parks, the picnic areas are still available - and guests are permitted bring a packed lunch or cookout at the shelters, which is one of the many features that constribute to Kennywood's character, sense of tradition and classic charm.
For many guests, this brings back fond memories of their youth and provides a glimpse of yesteryear. And the best part is the fact that Kennywood is just a short drive away, making it perfect for a family outing without even having to stay overnight.
THE PHANTOM’s REVENGE is one of the more popular rides at Kennywood Park near Pittsburgh. The revenge is the reincarnation of the original Steel Phantom after extensive revisions took place following the 2000 season at Kennywood.
The ever-growing park brings new additions and enhancements every season, and for 2012, the big new addition will be the Black Widow - a huge, swinging pendulum ride that takes 40 seated passengers spinning 146 feet in the air, reaching speeds of 146 mph. The Black Widow rotates riders counterclockwise on a circular platform at the bottom of it towering pendulum arm, and is sure to offer thrills to newcomers and veteran park visitors alike.
"Black Widow is the perfect addition to our collection of rides," said Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. "When you mix in all our classic rides and new shows, Kennywood is the perfect experience for the entire family."
New stage shows for the 2012 season include Steel City Rhythm, a unique rhythm show featuring everything from tap dancing to trash can percussion. The Steel City Rhythm takes to the midways to invite crowds to join in with Gimmie A Beat! and Vocal Acceleration features "a cappella" vocals, beat boxing, vocal percussion and smooth harmonies to entertain crowds.
Kennywood has more than 30 rides, including seven roller coasters - from one of the top-ranked steel coasters in the world to some historic wooden coasters that still deliver unforgettable thrills, even after nearly a century.
The Phantom's Revenge has one of the longest drops in the world. It's not the initial 160-foot drop after the first climb to the top, but the surprise second 228-foot drop into a ravine and through the wooden superstructure of the Thunderbolt that provides the shocker for riders.
Last year, the park added the Sky Rocket, its second steel coaster, which features a 95-foot vertical climb followed by a 90-degree drop and multiple inversions, including a corkscrew, barrel roll and series of wave turns. The Sky Rocket's magnetic launcher catapults riders on a fast and furious trip at speeds that go from zero to 50 mph in just three seconds.
The classic wooden coasters at the park include the Thunderbolt (1968), the Jack Rabbit (1920) and the Race (originally built in the 1910s but rebuilt in 1927).
Coasters aside, there are thrill rides and attractions in all shapes and sizes for patrons of all ages at Kennywood.
It's not uncommon to get soaking wet during a visit. Water rides like Raging Rapids and the Pittsburgh Plunge have become iconic rides that symbolize modern-day Kennywood, as does the familiar sight of the Kennywood "arrow" signs and kangaroo mascot, as well as the trademark taste of Potato Patch fries, dipped waffle cones and other unique treasures found around the midway.
The park's signature rides also feature the gravity-defying Aero 360, Wave Swinger and SwingShot. There are age-old classics like The Whip and Noah's Ark, as well as newer attractions like indoor dark rides Ghostwood Estate and The Exterminator. There are plenty of carnival-style rides and park favorites like the Pirate Ship and Cosmic Chaos, and Kiddieland also features a host of rides for the little ones.
Kennywood's rich history has touched many generations of visitors, and today that sense of nostalgia and tradition has become a big part of the park's appeal. Kennywood offers an affordable family getaway - a place where the young and young at heart can spend a full day and have a great time, regardless of their threshold for thrills. The park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and has won industry awards in numerous categories.
The National Amusement Park Historical Association named Kennywood as the Favorite Traditional Amusement Park in its 26th Annual NAPH Amusement Park and Attractions Survey.
The park's inaugural Holiday Lights celebration last December was also voted Best Them Park Holiday Event for 2011 by the About.com Reacher's Choice Awards.
"We're honored to be recognized by both our guests and industry experts like NAPHA," said Gibas. "This season marks our 115th summer, and our continued commitment to giving our guests new and exciting experiences while maintaining a traditional, family friendly atmosphere."
For more information on Kennywood, visit www.kennywood.com.
Ayres can be reached at email@example.com.