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kennywood memories (and a giveaway!)


I posted to MamaDojo last week about our impending trip to Kennywood and tried to explain the tradition of the park, Rick Sebak, and the importance of French fries to non-Pittsburghers. I’m not sure if I did an adequate job or not. But the key takeaway is this: the annual trip to Kennywood is an essential part of growing up in Pittsburgh. There are many rituals involved, from attire to the order of rides to what food is eaten when.

Strategy: get a few of the big coasters in right away. Then proceed straight to Potato Patch for a box (yes, a box) of restorative fries.

The husband, the baby, and I made our annual trip last Wednesday and it was one of the best Kennywood visits we’ve ever had. The weather was gorgeous and it wasn’t crowded, which meant no extremely long waits for rides. This was good because I woke up feeling not so great and I ended up riding the bench a couple of times throughout the day, but didn’t risk wasting much time doing so.

When I was a kid, going to Kennywood meant freaking out on thrill rides and shooting furtive glances at boys. Looking back, it was also usually a rare occasion when my parents and I would spend the day together and have fun for the most part. When the baby became big enough to go and actually ride things, I remember being really excited to share the experience with him. And after a few touch-and-go moments on the Pirate Ship, I could tell he was hooked.

I think what he really likes about it is that it’s the three of us playing together. We all pile into the Racer and boo the other coaster or scream throughout the Phantom’s Revenge. I don’t think anyone would ever accuse the husband or me of being overly mature, but we’re definitely parents. And for a day we get to be kids with our kid.


The baby is still too short to ride the Thunderbolt or the Sky Rocket, so we missed out on those. But it was on some of the tamer rides that we had the best moments of the day. He and I rode the Bayern Kurve together and he cracked up the whole time. Hearing him just goofy with happiness for a few minutes straight was just…awesome.


We had saved a few rides for the night because they look the coolest in the dark and with the lights on. One of these was the Paratrooper. The baby and I sat together and the husband was in the parachute behind us. Again, the baby laughed and oohhed the whole time. It was wonderful. He’s getting to an age where he’s trying to appear older and tougher than he is. Hearing the little boy that is still inside of him made me find the little girl that is still inside of me and I laughed right along with him.

At the end of the day, the husband and the baby wanted to squeeze in one more ride on the Phantom’s Revenge. I had had enough for the day and waited for them on a nearby bench. I watched people file out with absurdly huge stuffed animals and kids look for the parents with only the vaguest sense of panic. I listened to that old song that they always play at the end of the day and felt the twinkly lights on the rides warm my skin.

After they had managed to do not one but two final rides, the husband and the baby and I made our way out, too, pausing to document our sweaty, gleeful, fry-stuffed selves in front of the sweet “Goodnight” heart.


Then came my favorite part: walking through the tunnel toward the exit. Everyone whoops and hollers and giggles at the echo as they shuffle along, the mark of a perfect summer day firmly pressed into their memory. Nobody looks back because they’ve all had their fill and the best part of the night is yet to come: that glorious post-Kennywood shower and sinking your tired feet into bed.

* * *

Because the folks at Kennywood want everyone to be able to experience a perfect day like this, they want to give you a chance to win four free tickets to the park. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below. You can also earn additional entries by posting a link to this giveaway on Twitter and Facebook. Just be sure to leave a comment here with a link to your tweet or Facebook post. The winner will be selected and posted on Tuesday, July 26th. Good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to Kennywood in exchange for hosting this giveaway.

Update: And our winner is…Gina! Congratulations, Gina!

20 comments to kennywood memories (and a giveaway!)

  • bolt

    The last time I went to Kennywood (2 sumemrs ago) it was some huge union day and I was able to ride a wimpy 8 rides the entire day. I also got really sick waiting in line for Noah’s Ark (I wish I was kidding) and had to lay down on a bench for a minute or thirty. #fail. I need to get back ASAP!

  • I’m not gonna enter the giveaway b/c my shorty is still too small to go, but I had to comment to tell you how much I love your Pittsburgh-centric posts. You nailed (…heh) everything I love most about Kennywood.

    Also, where are the cheese on those fries? I AM DISAPPOINT.

  • Lizzie

    I would like to enter! I recently got Kennywood Memories from Netflix just for nostalgia, and then realized that, moving back to Pittsburgh, I may actually get to go again! In the 12 years I’ve been living in Boston, it seems that every time I come home it’s for some particular event or obligation, so I never have time to just do things.

    I will be back next week! Can’t even believe it!

  • Sara

    I was really hoping Kennywood was going to be like Dollywood but with Kenny Rogers.

  • Melissa

    Woo! I’ve never been there but I’ve heard it’s awesome.

  • Josh

    As a newly christened Pittsburgher, the wife and I NEED to try this out! Thanks, K!


  • Rebecca M

    Even though we have only lived here 4 years, Kennywood is already a summer tradition. From yelling “Kennywood is open” (and not refering to a dude’s zipper) anytime we see the Kennywood arrow on the trip down there, to eating the Potato Patch fries, and even having a knock down drag out fight to see who can kill the most ghosts with the little laser guns on the haunted house ride. It’s always kind of sad when we leave because we know it will be a year before we go back, but maybe we can get another trip in this year if we win the tix!

  • Kennywood is truly awesome, and despite each year not being certain I wanted to go, I went each year growing up, and love to look back on those memories. Definitely an essential part of growing up in Pittsburgh, from school Kennywood days, to the Fall Fantasy parades for all the local marching bands.

  • I can remember running through the tunnel as a kid, trying to touch the ceiling. Now my kids do the same thing. I love Kennywood.

  • kim

    I finally made it to Kennywood this year. My very first trip, and Oliver’s too. We still have one kid who hasn’t been there. She’s the thrill-seeker and this shall.not.stand. I can’t wait to show it to her.

  • Talaura

    My best friends moved to Pittsburgh. Would be a fun visit!!
    P.S. I tweeted this, too, but don’t know how to show you the link from my phone….it’s all so very complicated.

  • Little guy still isn’t tall enough? Clearly you are a horrbile mom and haven’t been feeding him food chock full of growth hormones, pesticides and other assorted man made chemicals! All I can say to that is….. good job, maybe he’ll be tall enough next year!

  • Ruth

    I made the mistake of reading this blog when hungry…now all I can do is think of getting french fries from the potato patch :/ Haven’t been to Kennywood yet this year, and I think the trip is long overdue!

  • Maureen

    I love that Kennywood can accomodate both my kids–2 and 5–and neither one gets left out. Thanks for the contest!

  • Tom

    moved to pittsburgh for a few months and people keep talking about kennywood. they keep telling me i’m wrong and it isn’t filled with kenny rogers memorabilia like dollywood, but i won’t believe them til i see it for myself. so pick me! :)

    tweeted here: https://twitter.com/mocharaia/status/95540895453167616

  • Candi

    We have never been to Kennywood! It sounds like you had a fantastic time! :o)

  • Holly

    We are planning to take the kid there in August- so this would be perfect. He went with friends in June, but we haven’t gone as a family yet this year. He and my husband love the Jack Rabbit. My favorite is the carousel.

  • Carolyn

    We ride lots of rides, all over the world, and we’ve always wanted to visit Kennywood! It will be wonderful if our first visit is free so that we can come again the next day! Thanks for picking us! I can’t hardly wait I’m going to explode!

  • New /\ge Healer here,

    Just wanted to say this post was on point! Keep up the good vvork! See you on the internet :) Oh and are we facebook friends? I thought we were but now I’m not sure…See you around

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