Peculiar Pittsburgh

The best Kennywood hacks to make the most out of your day at Pittsburgh’s amusement park

Kennywood’s open (no, not like that), so we’ve compiled a list of insider secrets to make the most of your visit

Kennywood Park
Rossilynne Culgan

A trip to Kennywood is a hallmark of a Pittsburgh summer. But waiting in long lines at the amusement park is anything but amusing, so we rounded up the best Kennywood hacks to help you have your best Kennywood day.

Find cheap tickets.

Do not buy your tickets at the gate. We repeat: Do not buy your tickets at the gate.

Plan ahead to get a better value.

If you’re visiting more than once, the $59.99 summer saver season pass will pay off in two visits.

If you’re going just once, look for a local community day or theme day, which offer discounted tickets (check Kennywood’s events page). Giant Eagle and AAA provide ticket discounts, plus there are additional deals listed on Kennywood’s discounts page. It’s also worth asking your boss, as many employers offer discounted tickets, Kennywood spokesman Nick Paradise told The Incline.

Escape the crowds.

It’s common knowledge that weekdays aren’t as busy as weekends, but Sundays are actually a slower day than most might think.

“It’s generally not as packed,” Paradise said.

And while you might expect the park to be busy on Independence Day, it’s usually not too jammed with people busy grilling at home.

Beat the lines.

Show up early.

Gates open at 10:30 a.m. to give people time to drop off picnic baskets at the park’s pavilions (more on that later), and the rides start at 11 a.m. That gives you time to make your way to your favorite ride and get in line.

Paradise recommends heading toward Lost Kennywood first and getting in line for the Black Widow and the Exterminator. Those rides don’t seat a lot of people, so it’s crucial to get there first before the line builds. Then, head for the Phantom’s Revenge and the Thunderbolt.

For other rides, wait times don’t usually exceed 30 to 45 minutes even on the busiest days.

Save money by packing a lunch.

“We are one of the few parks that still lets you bring in your own food,” Paradise said. “We started as what was called a trolley park. We’ve always been more of a family all-ages, traditional amusement park.”

Visitors can bring along a cooler of food and drop it off at a pavilion, which is a great way to save some cash and splurge on a special treat like funnel cake, Paradise said.

Pavilions with picnic tables are available throughout the park. Picnickers can call in advance to reserve a spot.

Beat the line for Potato Patch fries.

The line at the Potato Patch can be longer than any ride in the park some days, Paradise said.

But there are actually three places in the park to score Potato Patch fries, not just the Potato Patch stand.

The Small Fry concession stand, located in Lost Kennywood, and the Star Stand, next to the Log Jammer, also serve Potato Patch fries — without the long wait.

“A lot of time the line at Star is almost walk-up,” Paradise said.

Dry off.

Everybody loves the Pittsburg (yup, no “H”) Plunge. Nobody loves walking around in damp clothes.

So bring along $5 for the giant “haystack dryer,” which can dry three or four people.

Or, if you’d prefer to bring a change of clothes, lockers are available above the candy store.

Prepare for parking.

Parking is free. But if you don’t want to walk as far (particularly helpful if you’re bringing a cooler), you can park closer to the park in a preferred parking lot for $7.

For public transit riders, the 61C bus drops off in the parking lot.

Get all the ’grams.

Kennywood is one of Pittsburgh’s most Instagrammable places. Here are the can’t-miss photo opportunities:

  • A heaping plate of Potato Patch fries (especially now that you know the secret to beat the rush)
  • The Paratrooper ride, especially at night
  • The classic Racer profile
  • The Thunderbolt hill (snap this from the tables by the Potato Patch)
  • The goodnight heart

Learn some Kennywood trivia.

A ride similar to the Pittsburg Plunge used to be a fixture at Luna Park, a turn-of-the-century amusement park in Pittsburgh. But that Pittsburg Plunge lacked the technology of today’s ride. A team of mules would pull the boats up the hill and then let gravity do the work to send the boats back down the hill.

Lost Kennywood pays homage to the amusement park industry, and its entrance is modeled to resemble Luna Park.

Robie Capps / Kennywood Park

Check off all the must-dos

For Pittsburgh newcomers, here are a few Kennywood must-dos:

  • Experience the Jack Rabbit’s double dip.
  • Step on the whale’s squishy tongue at Noah’s Ark.
  • Treat yourself to an order of Potato Patch fries with cheese and bacon.
  • Find a partner for the Thunderbolt.
  • Catch a ride on the historic merry-go-round.
  • Try out rides you can’t find anywhere else, like the Turtle and the Kangaroo.

Know of any other Kennywood hacks? Help out your fellow thrill-seekers, and let us know.