Pennsylvania is home to many quality amusement parks, but only one has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Kennywood Park, founded in 1898 by the Monongahela Street Railway Company on land owned by Anthony Kenny, has been one of the most popular Pennsylvania attractions for over a century. It bills itself as "America's Finest Traditional Amusement Park." Several original buildings are still extant, including a restaurant that was a casino when Kennywood first opened.
Kennywood Park started as a small trolley park, but by the 1920s it was home to several large roller coasters. At Kennywood entertainment combines with history. The park features a number of well-maintained wooden roller coasters that hark back to an earlier era of amusement parks. Many of these use the unique hilly terrain of western Pennsylvania to create rides that would be impossible elsewhere. Kennywood is located just 10 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, making it an ideal thing to do on any Pennsylvania family vacation to the steel city.
The carousel in Kennywood Park was built in 1926 by the Dentzel Company of Philadelphia, one of the world's premier hand-carvers of carousel animals. The 1916 Wurlitzer organ accompanying the carousel has been in use since the ride opened.
Built in 1995 the Lost Kennywood section of the park evokes memories of this earlier time, with examples of rides that were popular in years gone by. The Pittsburgh Plunge, a re-creation of a historic ride, is a popular attraction that soaks riders and spectators alike.
Because they date from an earlier age, many of the rides at Kennywood Amusement Park are suitable for children and adults alike. There is some Kennywood entertainment for the thrill-seeker, however. The Sky Coaster carries passengers 200-feet high then drops them to swing at the end of a long line between two metal towers — a freefall not for the faint of heart. The Steel Phanton roller coaster at Kennywood Amusement Park once held records for the longest drop (228 feet) and fastest speed (82 miles per hour). Though these records have been surpassed since the ride opened in 1991, the remodeled Phantom's Revenge still makes for a thrilling ride. Kennywood entertainment for children can be found at the large Kiddieland complex, which rivals that at any Pennsylvani amusement park, including Hershey Park.
In many ways, Kennywood Amusement Park feels like a fairground. Pavilions around the park have fairground games like ball tossing and water-gun races and booths in Lost Kennywood and elsewhere sell cotton candy and other fair-themed foods.
Kennywood Amusement Park is open from mid-May until early September, with special "Phantom Events" in September and October. Prices start at about $30 for adults. Discounted tickets are available for the evenings.