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North Hills Monthly

Amusement Parks Adding New Attractions in 2016

Jun 30, 2016 08:55AM ● By Shelly Tower Rushe


Summer trips to the local amusement park mean different things to different people. Thrilling rides. Great food. Cooling off in a refreshing pool. Watching a show. The sights, smells, sounds and experiences at parks like Kennywood, Idlewild & SoakZone, and Sandcastle Water Park are memories made to last. So what magic does the 2016 season hold?


Sandcastle is a 67-acre water park located along the banks of the Monongahela River in West Homestead. The park boasts 15 water attractions, a wave pool, swimming pool, a lazy river and two kids’ areas.  

This summer, Sandcastle has several new events on its schedule. Shark Week will take place from June 26-July 2, but you don’t have to worry—there aren’t any real sharks, but there are discounts and activities to celebrate the Discovery Channel’s annual tribute. Then there’s Hero Week July 11-16. First responders and military personnel will receive free admission with proper ID, and be eligible to participate in the Hero Games for a chance to win $1,000 for their organization. More information on all of these events is available on the Sandcastle website.

Regular one-day admission is $22.99 for seniors and children and $32.99 for adults. The park’s Great Weather Guarantee means that if pools and slides are closed because of inclement weather, you’ll receive a raincheck with your ticket stub or receipt. 


If you’re looking for some excitement mixed with nostalgia, Kennywood and Idlewild have some good news for you! Their latest attractions may look a little familiar to more seasoned park goers, but have undergone fresh updates to keep things interesting. 

First up is the restructured Noah’s Ark at Kennywood Park. “The whole attraction was gutted,” said Nick Paradise, director of public relations & social media about the 80-year-old amusement park’s overhaul. “The elevator, skeleton and many of the dark and creepy items were removed and replaced with 50 animals; it’s now got more of a classic and kind of cheesy funhouse feel. Older folks will recognize fresh takes on classic scenes.” And don’t worry—the shaking floor and rocking boat still remain.

And the whale—squishy tongue and all—is back! “The whale was the most beloved part of Noah’s Ark,” said Paradise. “Management didn’t realize how important it was, but from day one, when visitors realized that it was taken out, people have been clamoring to have it back.”  

The attraction is also friendlier for wheelchair users than in years past, and other safety considerations have included a change in the material used for whale’s 32-foot tongue.

But sight and touch aren’t the only senses you’ll be using in the new ark. There are also new smells associated with the attraction. “There’s an area that’s a stable that’s supposed to smell like a stable; and there’s another ‘good’ smell but I don’t want to give it all away!” laughed Paradise.

Besides the Noah’s Ark restoration, the Volcano, which had mechanical difficulties in past seasons, has been refurbished. Finally, while not a ride, the Potato Patch has seen a structural overhaul with a new sign, fresher look and new appliances. “The fries are the same as they’ve always been,” emphasized Paradise.

Kennywood gate pricing saw a slight change for this season, but Paradise encourages folks to look for specials on its website, at schools and at Giant Eagle. “Locals especially should never be paying full price for a ticket,” he said.

Idlewild & SoakZone

Idlewild & SoakZone is also bringing back an old favorite—the Enchanted Castle. Located in the center of the 60-year-old Story Book Forest, it will remind park-goers of King Arthur’s Castle that stood for 40 years until it was removed for a roadway expansion. 

“Long-time visitors have reminisced about the old castle for the past 20 years and have wanted a new one,” explained Sales & Public Relations Manager Jeff Croushore. 

And the castle itself is not the only new feature; there are new residents as well. “Princess Lily is a descendant of the Golden Knight, a character that was featured in the park’s original castle,” said Croushore. Princess Lily will share the castle with Duke the Dragon, and the castle courtyard’s focal point will be an interactive sword-in-the-stone attraction. This project is the largest Story Book Forest investment since the park opened in 1956.  

Idlewild is introducing three new stage shows this year as well: American Beat, Let’s Rock! and Frontier Follies will join Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Day. Seven different character meet-and-greets will be held over the summer with guests including Caillou, Little Nutbrown Hare, and of course, Daniel Tiger. New food stands include Wild West Kettle Korn and The Swhinery Award Winning BBQ. Loco Roberto’s taco stand will feature an expanded menu.

Daily admission is up slightly in 2016 to $42.99 which includes all amusement rides at Idlewild and admission to SoakZone waterpark. Guests can save $15 by ordering tickets in advance at the Idlewild website.