The Thrill of the Ride: Local Water and Amusement Parks Offer a Variety of Ways to Have Fun this Summer
Jul 01, 2017 10:33PM
By Jennifer Monahan
Kennywood Amusement Park
Plunging down a death-defying drop at over 50 miles per hour is, for many, one of the rites of summer. Whether you enjoy splashing down waterslides, screaming on roller coasters or riding the carousel, Pittsburgh and its surrounding area provide lots of fun in the sun—and water—this summer.
The historic Conneaut Lake Amusement Park first opened in 1938 and is in its third year under new management. Located just over an hour north of the North Hills, the park has rides for people of all ages, a special Kiddieland section, mini-golf, a boardwalk and a beach. The park’s signature attraction is the 2,900-foot-long Blue Streak wooden roller coaster, which has been designated as an ACE Coaster Classic.
The Conneaut Lake outdoor waterpark will be open this summer for the first time in 10 years. The waterpark features two large water slides, a lazy river and a kiddie cove with a small slide for younger patrons. Unique among amusement and water parks, daily admission is only $10 for either the waterpark or the amusement park; a combined pass for both attractions is $18, and children under age two are free. Patrons can turn the day-trip into a vacation with reasonably priced overnight accommodations at the nearby Hotel Conneaut. Find out more at www.newconneautlakepark.com and www.thehotelconneaut.com.
Summer would not be summer without a visit to West Mifflin’s iconic Kennywood Amusement Park, founded in 1898. A true Pittsburgh institution, Kennywood has three roller coasters that date back to the 1920s along with high-speed, vertigo-inducing newer rides like the Aero 360, Black Widow and Phantom’s Revenge. With seven roller coasters, 33 rides and 14 additional kiddie rides, modern-day Kennywood has managed to incorporate both an appreciation for its history and a commitment to innovation.
The Sky Rocket has a virtual reality component in the works for this summer, and the park has added a number of healthier food options; both gluten-free and organic items are now available. Devoted fans of Potato Patch fries need not fear, however. This Kennywood staple remains on the menu, along with a new offering: Poutine Patch fries. The addition of fried cheese curds and gravy to Kennywood’s fresh-cut fries are sure to be a crowd pleaser. Season pass holders have the option to buy an all-season dining pass, which provides significant savings on meals.
Events like August’s Fall Fantasy Parades (featuring local high school and college marching bands) and the adults-only Brews in the Park (September 23) are back this year as well. Details are available at
Located just off Route 8 in Butler, Pirate’s Cove at Conley Resort and Golf makes a great destination for a day trip or a fun way to entertain youngsters while adults enjoy an overnight golf getaway. With two tube slides, a massive pirate ship, a sauna and whirlpool, the indoor waterpark is a step up from typical community pools. The water depth is a consistent 3.5 feet, making it an ideal play space for the 12-and-under crowd. The ship’s water cannon is a popular feature, and kids can enjoy pizza, hot dogs or chicken tenders at the pirate-themed food area adjacent to the pool. Open seven days a week year-round, Pirate’s
Cove offers water fun regardless of the weather. New 12-month passes are available. The resort also has an 18-hole golf course, 56 hotel
rooms and a tavern on site. Check out
www.conleyresortwaterpark.com for details.
Appealing as a day trip or an overnight adventure, Erie’s Splash Lagoon promises fun for the entire family. The indoor waterpark is a year-round favorite. Features such as the Python Plunge, Hurricane Hole, Cyclone and Aqua Tumbler will delight thrill-seekers, while the Monkey Shines kids’ area is spacious, fun and perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. The massive Wild Waters Wave Pool holds 200,000 gallons of water and its complimentary life vests and gradual entry mean everyone from adults to the smallest swimmers can splash in its roiling waters.
Splash Lagoon has some fun summer events planned. Tory the Mermaid will be on hand to swim with guests on July 15 and a July Adventure Weekend is also in the works. In addition to its ongoing military and college student discounts, the waterpark offers summer season passes. Carload Days are another way to save on admission. Through August 24, all-day admission is only $119.95 on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a single carload of up to six people—a 50-percent discount
off the regular admission price.
Details are available at
Located at the base of Presque Isle in Erie, Waldameer Park consists of both an amusement park and outdoor water park. Admission is free to the amusement park—a fantastic deal for adults whose pleasure depends more on funnel cakes and a spin on the Ferris wheel than 23 consecutive rides on a coaster. Waldameer’s youngest visitors can sample the kiddie rides and the Kidz Zone water area, while more adventurous guests will enjoy the roller coasters, log flume and XScream free-fall ride.
New this year, Waldameer’s Battle of Lake Erie water complex features seven new slides, a dump bucket, and a replica of the U.S. Brig Niagara at the top of the structure. Popular favorites like the wave pool, speed slides, Bermuda Triangle and giant hot tub ensure that everyone will find something to enjoy at Water World. For details, check out www.waldameer.com.
With so many options for amusement, there’s no reason to let the dog days of summer get you down!