I have no idea what has prompted me to write about Kennywood again, but before the summer whizzes by us, permit me to share some personal recollection with you…….
My fondest and not-so-fond Kennywood memories in no particular order:
- Going to the Penny Arcade and getting a souvenir from one of the machines that was a gray metal horseshoe with a copper penny in the middle of it. I remember having to turn a dial on the machine to somehow personalize the horseshoe with either a date or a name. I remember the loud clunking sound it would make as it stamped out the letters and numbers and the anticipation I felt waiting for the finished product to emerge.
- It was in the early 1960’s when Kennywood introduced SPINART to park attendees. Well before tie-dye and Jerry Garcia became part of our pop-culture, we were all “spinning” out brightly colored works of art from our trip to Kennywood. I only wish I had hung onto some of my early creations! They’d go well in my office.
- Being able to ride ANY ride in the park, regardless of how fast it would spin and never feeling like I had to throw-up. Nowadays, not so much!!
- Eating lunch at the Kennywood Restaurant on my school picnic day it was a REAL restaurant! My Aunt Fran and my Aunt Peg were waitresses at the restaurant and we always managed to sit at one of their tables. The tables were set with REAL white cloth tablecloths and silverware. Waitresses throughout the restaurant would scurry around carrying green Fiestaware disc pitchers full of ice water. I remember how the outside of the pitchers would be sweating from the cold water and how it would drip onto the tablecloths as they would fill each of our glasses.
- I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I feel that Kennywood’s Sunlight Pool was THE most awesome pool ever. The size, the dives, the music, the food and the general excitement was unparalleled.
- On Kennywood’s opening night in April 23, 1961, the park’s bandstand, the music plaza, burned to the ground. I vaguely remember that news. However, I believe a bandstand shell of some sort was built in the same spot, close to the Pippin. I say this because one of my favorite memories is going to see Little Peggy March sign her hit “I Will Follow Him.” Having some doubts about my memory on this, I did some research and found a small announcement in Billboard’s June 22, 1963 edition that confirms her appearance on July 7, 1963. If you look at the entire clipping, you’ll quickly realize just how BIG some of the stars were that appeared in what could be termed “our own back yard!” How lucky were we???? Glenn Miller, Peggy March, Bobby Rydell and The 4 Seasons! While I was checking out the Billboard publication, I decided to share the Top 30 list from that week. How many do YOU remember?
- I remember watching with total fascination, French Fries moving along a metal conveyor belt at the Midway Refreshment Stand near the Jack Rabbit. There were water fountains next to the window on the side of the refreshment stand and I was always distracted from getting a sip of water. I deferred to staring at the mechanized marvel instead. Of course, the only thing better than watching them being made was eating them.
- There was a narrow passage between the Penny Arcade and the Jack Rabbit that would sometimes be filled with riders waiting to get on the Jack Rabbit. Although I remember the sights and sounds that were emanating from the coaster on the other side of the fence, I distinctly recall how there always seemed to be a distinctive odor of fresh tar as we would wait. I never knew if the smell was from the ride, the ground we were standing on or a nearby maintenance shack.
- When I was in my teens, I would often rent a rowboat, and attempt to maneuver around the lagoon. As I would continue to prove, well into my current years, I stink as a sailor. I never seem to be able to avoid other boats and/or objects and that was always the case when I would row a boat in the lagoon. My boat would always be “that boat” that ended up causing chaos for those around. When I finally managed to get back to the starting point at the end of the ride, I was exhausted, wet and totally certain I would never attempt the boats again…. But of course… I always did.
- I always managed to get to Kennywood on WTAE Days. It was so exciting to be able to see local TV personalities and get their autographs. I remember that they always had an autograph booth set up near the Kennywood Railroad Train. They’d post a schedule indicating who would be signing autographs there, and I always seemed to be the first in line. I think my favorite recollection was when I was able to get Paul Shannon and Joe Negri’s signatures. To this day, I wonder what happened to all of those autographs.
- Although I have no idea what year it occurred, I just remember how excited I was and how grown-up I felt when I finally surpassed Howdy Doody’s height and measured up to Henry! I was on the top of the world knowing that I would be able to ride any attraction in the park!
- I remember the simple thrill of plunking a coin into one of the foot massager machines near the restrooms that were beside Noah’s Ark. Oh, the pure joy!
- Part of my school picnic and ANY Kennywood visit was to be able to toss a coin into the wishing well that stood near the Kennywood Restaurant and the Park’s Administration Building.
- Truth be told, Laughing Sally scared the living daylights out of me. Although Sally now resides outside of the Kennywood Railroad selling tickets, when I was young, she was positioned right as you walked into the park after exiting the tunnel. Her heinous cackling would greet you from in front of The Laff In The Dark ride. I would always steer clear of her! I even recall having occasional nightmares in which I would be chased through Kennywood by Sally. I’m surprised that thoughts of Sally didn’t end up putting me in therapy!
- The best prize that I was ever able to win was a chalk statue of a horse. I must have been 9 or 10 years old, since I remember the big fuss my mom made about it. I won it by hitting some stacked milk bottles at the game to the right of the Penny Arcade. I have no idea what ever happened to it, but it retrospect, it was pretty hideous!
- Of course the fondest of all of my memories, was the one thrill that never grew old. The coasters of Kennywood. I’ll never forget the feeling I’d get in my stomach as I sped through the double dip on The Jack Rabbit, or yelled with excitement as I would lunge forward along with an entire train of cars on The Racer, trying to move into first place as we rolled into the loading station, or bravely raised both my hands above my head as The Thunderbolt roared around the twin circles and your seat partner crashed into your side due to the centrifugal force. Nothing surpassed those memories and thrills for me.
Not everyone thinks of the roller coasters as their favorite rides. I enjoy hearing from all of you as to YOUR favorite. And just to refresh your memories, thanks to the folks at Wikipedia, here’s a complete list of all rides and attractions from 1898 through the present time. Here’s where you can tell us about your Kennywood “cheers” and “fears.”
1898: Kenny’s Grove opened by Monongahela Street Railway Co.
1899: Park renamed Kennywood, Merry-Go-Round* (G.A. Dentzel carousel), Casino restaurant (now Parkside Cafe), Dancehall
1901: Old Mill (converted to Garfield’s Nightmare in 2004, also formerly named/themed as Hard Headed Harrold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway and Panama Canal)
1902: Figure Eight Toboggan (park’s first coaster, removed 1921)
1903: Steeplechase (removed 1904)
1904: Steeplechase removed
1905: Dip-the-Dips Scenic Railway (removed 1910)
1906: Fairyland Floats (re-themed Old Mill), Figure Eight Toboggan renamed to Gee Whizz Dip the Dips
1910: 1910 Racer (original version, removed 1926), Dip-the-Dips Scenic Railway removed
1911: Speed-O-Plane (removed 1923), Panama Canal (re-themed Old Mill)
1913: Merry-Go-Round** (original G.A. Dentzel carousel replaced by T.M. Harton model)
1914: Old Mill (re-themed Panama Canal)
1916: Wurlitzer Band Organ provides music for Merry-Go-Round
1918: Whip* (replaced in 1927)
1920: Jack Rabbit
1921: Gee Whizz Dip the Dips removed
1922: Dodgem (removed in 1929)
1923: Speed-O-Plane removed
1924: Pippin (converted to Thunderbolt in 1968), Kiddieland* (located near Jack Rabbit coaster)
1925: Sunlite Swimming Pool (removed 1973)
1926: 1910 Racer removed
1927: Merry-Go-Round(T.M. Harton carousel replaced by current William H. Dentzel model, Wurlitzer Band Organ is moved to new carousel), current Racer, Tumble Bug, larger 16 car Whip**, Kiddieland** (moved from near Jack Rabbit coaster to former location of original Racer coaster)
1928: Brownie Coaster (removed 1953 or later), Tilt-A-Whirl* (removed 1934)
1929: Dodgem removed
1930: Auto Race, Laff in the Dark (removed 1965)
1931: Tickler (roller coaster, removed 1952)
1935: Teddy Bear (roller coaster, removed in 1947), Skooter (removed 1979)
1936: Noah’s Ark (re-built in 1996), Loop-O-Plane* (removed 1950)
1937: 13 Spook Street, Kiddie Old Mill (Swan Boats, removed mid-1970s)
1938: Ridee-O (removed 1959)
1940: Rockets (Traver circle swing added to island in lagoon, removed 1978)
1941: Daffy Klub (replaces 13 Spook Street)
1945: Olde Kennywood Railroad
1946: Original facade on Racer loading platform replaced
1947: Teddy Bear removed
1948: Little Dipper (remodeled in 1958, removed in 1984), hills removed from Auto Race and car bodies replaced with current style bodies, Tumble Bug cars replaced with turtle-looking versions
1949: Tilt-A-Whirl** (removed 1963), Tumble Bug renamed Turtle
1950: Roll-O-Plane* (removed 1969)
1952: Octopus (removed 1965), Tickler removed
1953: Sunlite Pool closes to swimming due to maintenance problems and turned into U-Drivem boat concession
1955: Rotor* (removed 1958), Sunlite Pool reopens after rehab, Kiddie Cadillacs, Daffy Klub removed
1957: Round-Up* (replaced with new model in 1964)
1958: Wild Mouse (removed 1960), Little Dipper remodeled and renamed Dipper
1960: Wild Mouse removed, facade on Racer loading platform redesigned
1961: Bandshell destroyed in fire, Calypso (removed 1987), Old Mill gets new boats
1962: Kangaroo (only Flying Coaster flat ride in existence)
1964: Tornado dark ride (from defunct Freedomland, removed 1966), Round-Up** (replacing original Round-Up; damaged by the June 19, 1975 fire and replaced with Super Round-Up)
1965: Rotor** (removal date unknown), Popover (removed in 1976), Laff in the Dark removed
1966: Turnpike (Electric cars added in 1987)
1967: Road Runner (Cuddle Up), Ghost Ship (Replaced Tornado, Both rides destroyed in fire on June 19, 1975)
1968: Thunderbolt, rebuilt from Pippin. The four drops in the ravine and the lift hill remain intact from the original coaster. The new Thunderbolt track had a small hill in the inner helix that was removed in 1969.
1969: Noah’s Ark remodeled, Loop-O-Plane** (removed 1983)
1971: Roll-O-Plane** (removed 1985)
1972: Bayern Kurve*, Le Cachot Name means “The Dungeon” in French, replaced Safari dark ride. (removed 1998), Monster* (removed 1974)
1973: Gran Prix, Sunlite Swimming Pool removed
1974: Hardheaded Harold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway (theme change of park’s Old Mill), Kenny Kangaroo makes his debut as park mascot
1975: Log Jammer (first multi-million dollar ride in the park’s history) Carousel is completely stripped, and repainted, Wurlitzer Band Organ is completely rebuilt
1976: Tilt-A-Whirl*** (removed in 1988, moved to Idlewild), (Super) Round Up*** (moved to Idlewild 1985), SkyDiver replaced with new model and renamed Paratrooper
1977: Monster**; Nearby West View Park closes
1978: Enterprise (renamed Volcano in 2003), Rockets removed
1979: Monster***, renamed Monongahela Monster (removed 1989), Garden Stage (removed in 2006)
1980: Laser Loop.(Removed in 1990)
1981: Gold Rusher (removed in 2007), Paddle Boats
1982: Pirate, Wonder Bread trains on Racer replaced by new PTC models
1983: Ranger (lasts only one season)
1984: Wave Swinger, Swing Around* (removed at end of season, but returns five years later), Bayern Kurve** (original replaced), Dipper removed
1985: Raging Rapids, Super Round-Up removed
1986: Wonder Wheel (removed in 1999), Bayern Kurve** removed, geysers and waterfall added to Raging Rapids
1987: Musik Express, electric cars added to Turnpike and directions cars face on track reversed, Kennywood designated National Historic Landmark
1988: Flying Carpet (removed in 2006), Rotor*** (removed in 1994, eventually moved to Lake Compounce), Tilt-A-Whirl removed, Kennywood Memories is filmed and premieres 28 Sep. 1988
1989: Swing Around** (removed in 2005), Monster removed
1990: Great Balloon Race (removed in 1995, moved to Idlewild), Laser Loop removed, original facade on Racer loading platform restored
1991: Steel Phantom (quickly tops top 10 list, rebuilt as Phantom’s Revenge in 2001), Wurlitzer Band Organ undergoes extensive repairs
1992: Tri-Star (lasts only one season, moved to Idlewild in 1998), Old Mill (Haunted Hideaway renamed)
1993: WipeOut (removed 2009, relocated to Lake Compounce)
1994: SkyCoaster, Bayern Kurve*** (Removed in 2005)
1995: LOST KENNYWOOD expansion in former location of Sunlite Swimming Pool – Pittsburg Plunge, Phantom Phlyer (Removed in 1996, moved to Lake Compounce), Roll-O-Plane*** (removed in 2003), Whip and Wave Swinger moved to Lost Kennywood, Great Balloon Race removed
1996: Lil Phantom (Kiddieland), Kenny’s Parkway, Noah’s Ark remodeled, Phantom Phlyer removed
1997: Pitt Fall (Removed in 2011)
1998: Kennywood celebrates its 100th anniversary, Centennial Midway (one season), Le Cachot demolished
1999: Exterminator, Wonder Wheel removed.
2000: Aero 360, Dancing Waters relocated across from Grand Prix, Garfield and Odie added as park mascots
2001: Phantom’s Revenge (rebuilt from Steel Phantom), Crazy Trolley
2002: Garfield’s Pounce Bounce, Phantom Fright Nights debut
2003: King Kahuna (formerly Top Spin from Lake Compounce, removed 2010), Ham-on-Rye (removed in 2005), Volcano Valley themed area, Volcano (theme change from Enterprise), Roll-O-Plane removed, Miniature Golf removed
2004: Garfield’s Nightmare (theme change from Old Mill)
2005: New front gate structures built, Bayern Kurve*** and Swing Around removed, Merry-Go-Round undergoes a complete overhaul and is rebuilt, Wurlitzer Band Organ is repainted
2006: Swing Shot
2007: Cosmic Chaos, SS Kenny, roofing over the escalators to lot 2, Gold Rusher removed.
2008: Ghostwood Estate, new Kiddieland games building.
2009: Bayern Kurve****, WipeOut removed, original Phantom drop and second hill retracked.
2010: Sky Rocket, a new Steel Roller Coaster, Turnpike Removed and placed in storage with intent to be reinstalled. King Kahuna removed.
2011: Kandy Kaleidoscope is remodeled, Parkside Cafe is remodeled and becomes the park’s first air-conditioned food service location, Kiddieland restrooms are rebuilt to include a refreshment stand, Star Refreshment stand is renovated, Merry-Go-Round horses are refurbished, Pitt Fall removed, Holiday Lights debut, Wurlitzer Band Organ on Merry-Go-Round is completely rebuilt.
2012: Black Widow ride replaces Pitt Fall