Kennywood is approximately 8 miles (13 km) from Downtown Pittsburgh, in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. The park is along Pennsylvania Route 837 (Green Belt), known as Kennywood Boulevard as it passes through the borough. The closest Interstate connection is Exit 77 (Edgewood/Swissvale) on Interstate 376. The Mon–Fayette Expressway will eventually go past Kennywood, which will prompt an expansion of the park when it is built.
Historically, the park is on the location of the July 9, 1755 Battle of the Monongahela, where British general Edward Braddock was mortally wounded, ending his expedition to capture the French Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War. George Washington was a colonel to Braddock, and fought at the battle before they retreated. Later the land on the bluff above the Monongahela River was part of a farm owned by Anthony Kenny. Starting around the time of the American Civil War, the site was a popular picnic grove for locals, known as "Kenny's Grove".
A tree-filled portion of a farm owned by Anthony Kenny, known as "Kenny's Grove" overlooking the Monongahela River near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was a popular picnic spot for local residents since the American Civil War. In 1898, the Monongahela Street Railways Company, partially owned by prominent banker Andrew Mellon, seeking to increase fare profits on the weekends, leased the land from the Kenny family in order to create a trolley park at the end of their line. The company's chief engineer, George S. Davidson, designed the original layout of the park and served as its first manager. A carousel, casino hall, and dance pavilion were added in 1899. A bandstand was constructed in 1900, while the Old Mill was constructed in 1901, and the park's first roller coaster, the Figure Eight Toboggan, was added in 1902. After less than a decade, the trolley company no longer wanted to manage the park. The standing manager, Andrew S. McSwigan, along with partners Frederick W. Henninger and A. F. Meghan, leased and operated the park as Kennywood Park Limited beginning in 1906.
From its origin as a working-class picnic entertainment destination, the park grew in the first half of the twentieth century into a popular attraction that combined thrill rides with recreation venues such as swimming pools and dance halls.
Kennywood ceased to be served by streetcar when Mon Street Railways successor Pittsburgh Railways Company converted the route serving it, the lengthy #68 Duquesne-McKeesport line, to bus on September 15, 1958.
The park was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Today, the park features a nostalgic atmosphere and is supported by a loyal fan base. As of December 2007, Kennywood Entertainment also ran Sandcastle Waterpark , which opened in 1989; Idlewild Park  near Ligonier; Story Land , a children's theme park in Glen, New Hampshire; and Lake Compounce , New England's family theme park in Bristol, Connecticut, which is the oldest continuously operating amusement park in North America.
On December 12, 2007, Kennywood Entertainment announced that it would be selling Kennywood Park, along with four other amusement parks in the Northeastern United States, to Parques Reunidos, a company based in Madrid, Spain.
Kennywood now uses the slogan "America's Finest Traditional Amusement Park" as well as "Make a New Memory," although from the 1960s through the early 1990s the slogan was "The Roller Coaster Capital of the World." (a title which is now being used by Cedar Point) The property features three old wooden roller coasters still in working order, along with two newer steel coasters, the Phantom's Revenge (2001) and the Sky Rocket (2010), and one indoor coaster, the Exterminator (1999).
Through the years, the phrase "Kennywood's open!" has gained an alternate meaning and is often used in the Pittsburgh region to alert another person that the zipper on his/her pants is open.
For the past several years, Kennywood has been rated the "Favorite 'Dark Attraction Park'" by the Darkride And Funhouse Enthusiasts, or DAFE.
It ranked second to Cedar Point in the category of "Favorite Park" in Theme Park Magazine's 2004 Reader's Choice Awards.Kiddieland was one of the first children's ride areas in the world, featuring all the rides in the park's diverse array of young child-specific rides in a compact area between the Auto Race and the Aero360. Rides include miniature versions of the Turtle, Wave Swinger, Phantom's Revenge, Cosmic Chaos, Whip, and Merry-Go-Round. It is located next to the edge of the cliff on the river-view side of the park. It was originally located next to the Jack Rabbit before moving to its current location in 1927.Lost Kennywood, which was added to the park in 1995, was built on the old sunlite pool/pay parking lot area. The area references Kennywood's long history, including its short-lived rival Luna Park (1905–1909), and also the illusion of yesteryear's dangerous rides. The area includes the Pittsburg Plunge, the Whip, the Bavarian Wave Swinger, the Exterminator, the Black Widow, and the Swing Shot. Older rides which have been removed from Lost Kennywood since its opening include the Phantom Phlyers, Roll-O-Plane, the Pitt Fall 251-foot (77 m)-drop tower ride and WipeOut. The gateway to Lost Kennywood is a one-third scale replica of Luna Park's main entrance which spells Pittsburgh with no 'H', because in 1905–1909, Pittsburgh's name was spelled that way.Volcano Valley was created in the park in 2003 for the addition of a new ride that year, King Kahuna. The Enterprise was re-themed as the Volcano during the transformation of this section of the park, which features the Volcano, Pirate, and cement volcanoes that are capable of spewing smoke.
Kennywood has made use of the hilly Pittsburgh terrain to create coasters that wouldn't be feasible in some amusement parks. The Thunderbolt and the Jack Rabbit, both wooden coasters, place the lift chain in the middle of the ride, not at the beginning. In both cases, the car leaves the station and drops into a valley for its first hill. Phantom's Revenge uses the same valley as the Thunderbolt, where the Phantom's second drop passes through the supports of the Thunderbolt's first drop, making the second drop the longest and steepest drop in the ride.Entertainment is a focal point of Kennywood. Strolling musicians, live shows, and costumed characters are part of Kennywood's history. For the park's 100th anniversary in 1998, the park had side shows, magicians, and other events in their "centennial midway." During the 2008 season, the Kennyville Stage offered an act by Jason Pipatone – Master Entertainer as well as all day viewing of "Kenny TV", a closed circuit TV network displaying various videos and trivia. "Kenny TV" was at one time viewed at many other locations throughout the park, but the project was later abandoned and eventually removed. The Scheer's Lumberjack Show had a one-year run in 2008 replacing the "Pirates of Kenny Cove" high-dive show. In 2009, this location featured a show called Maximum Velocity, a BMX stunt show based on audience participation. The park also has strolling musicians and roaming mascots including the park's mascot, Kenny Kangaroo, who debuted in the early 1970s. From 2001 up through the end of 2008, the comic characters Garfield and Odie also could be found at the park.Nationality Days are several annual events, each spotlighting a different local culture. These include, but are not limited to, Irish Day, Greek Day, Serbian Day, Croatian Day, Polish Day, Slovak Day, Hungarian Day, and Italian Day. On these days some of the park's many picnic pavilions will be in use for entertainers of the particular day's nationality, including ethnic dancers.
Phantom Fright Nights is a Halloween event held at Kennywood on Friday and Saturday nights during the month of October. The park traditionally opened at seven in the evening and closes at one in the morning. In 2015 the hours were changed to six until midnight. The event began in 2002, though the concept of theming an amusement park for Halloween is not new. "Phantom Fright Nights" received third place in the Golden Ticket Awards for best Halloween event in 2007.
Labor Day traditionally marked the end of the season and the park would shut down until the spring. In 2002, Kennywood decided to break the long-standing tradition and turn almost half of the park into a giant Halloween extravaganza. The park's initial trial of Phantom Fright Nights in 2002 consisted of four traditional haunted houses, with only a few rides and roller coasters in operation. Despite the relatively limited scope of the opening year, the experiment proved to be a success, and new areas of the park and rides are opened for the festivities every year. In 2004 Kennywood debuted Gory Park, a haunted zone in Lost Kennywood. The following year, 2005, the park managed to have 3/4 of the rides and attractions operable due to high demand and record-breaking crowds. The park has reported attendance greater for one Fright Night than they have on a good normal operating day.
In the spirit of Halloween season, the park itself is given a complete make-over, with costumed actors roaming the paths, spooky music filling the air, and fog blanketing the park and every light bulb in the park is changed to a different color—even the restroom windows are covered in colored films. The merry-go-round horse normally found in the fountain by the entrance is replaced by a giant Phantom-like figure with glowing red eyes hovering over bubbling red blood (dyed water). In some places sheets are hung up and classic horror movies are played, such as the original "House on Haunted Hill". Several areas of the park, including Kiddieland and Lost Kennywood, are turned into open-air haunted attractions. Other buildings, such as the Penny Arcade and the Parkside Terrace Cafe, are converted into more traditional haunted houses. Some rides are given entirely new lighting and fog effects including strobes and blacklights, or in the Exterminator's case, an absolute absence of light. In the case of the Carousel and Müsik-Express, Halloween-themed music is all that is played. Even the entrance tunnel is affected; a great amount of fog is pumped into the passageway and chainsaw-wielding characters stalk unsuspecting guests as they enter. These ghouls are also found throughout the park when least expected.
Kennywood discourages children under the age of thirteen from attending the park during Phantom Fright Nights as the atmosphere may be too intense for some younger children, but letting children attend is solely at the discretion of parents or guardians. Many children go to Fright Nights anyway, even with the suggestion since Kennywood will admit attendees of any age.
Indoor HauntsVilla of the Vampire in the Penny ArcadeMortem Manor in the Parkside CafeThe Haunted Ark in Noah's ArkBIOFEAR in the former Whip Pavilion (Pavilion 23)
Outdoor HauntsKennyville Cemetery in the grassy Dancing Waters/Gazebo areaDark Shadows in the back of KiddielandVoodoo Bayou in the Raging Rapids trough
Haunted MidwaysGory Park in Lost KennywoodDeath Valley Haunted Ghost Town in front of and leading up to Ghostwood EstateFear Festival surrounding the area usually occupied by the George Washington statue
Past/Changed HauntsCreeper's Crypt in the Penny ArcadeFort Despair behind the Star Refreshment standTerror Vision in 3-D in the former Whip Pavilion (Pavilion 23)Fear Festival was part of Gory Park for its first year.Dark Shadows once was located near Pavilion 5.Captain Skully's Curse In 3D in the former Whip Pavilion (Pavilion 23)
Kennywood's world-renowned reputation and nationwide popularity has led to its mention and appearance in many forms of media, including TV shows, movies, books, records, and has even warranted a reason to film a documentary about the park's history.
TelevisionKennywood was mentioned in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation entitled "Turn of the Screws", which dealt with a Las Vegas roller coaster derailment. CSI Supervisor Gil Grissom, who is a roller coaster enthusiast, tells the park engineer that he holds the marathon riding record on the Steel Phantom in Kennywood Park, Pennsylvania.Kennywood was also mentioned on an episode of Without a Trace. They showed the park, but the name of it was not the same. It had the famous Steel Phantom in the park also.After the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL in 2006, Steelers safety Mike Logan, a native of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, near Kennywood, made a humorous riff on the "I'm going to Disney World!" advertising campaign usually associated with the Super Bowl, saying, "Forget Disney World, I want them to open up Kennywood!"Singer/Actor Micky Dolenz, former drummer for The Monkees, often fondly tells audiences at his live shows that Kennywood was the location of his first ever public appearance. He appeared at Kennywood with his elephant in the 1950s when he was known as Circus Boy. The television series featured Micky as Corky, a boy who grows up on the road in a circus.A scene of Kennywood can be seen in the Nickelodeon TV program Zoey 101 (ep. 62: "Roller Coaster") with a sign reading "Spine Twister" on the lift hill of the Phantom's Revenge.
MoviesIn the 1993 film Striking Distance, a poster for Kennywood's Fraternal Order of Police picnic day is visible inside a Pittsburgh Police station.Footage of Kennywood's Musik Express was shown in the beginning of the 1994 film Only You. The Wonder Wheel was also featured in this movie.The 2009 film Adventureland was filmed at Kennywood.
LiteratureKennywood also served as the inspiration for "Joyland Park" in LJ Smith's teen horror novel The Forbidden Game: The Kill.
SongIn 1899 Kennywood commissioned the "Kennywood Park Waltz" and it was popular around the turn on the century. Kennywood would sell the sheet music in the park. It was composed by Margaretha Scandroll. It has only been professionally recorded once for the 2007 documentary "Welcome Back Riders". It was performed by the Bulgarian Tosheff Piano Duo.In 1987 Rock 'n roll singer Freddy Cannon recorded a slightly remade version of his 1962 hit "Palisades Park" called "Kennywood Park", featuring attractions at Kennywood . The song was released on a limited-edition 45 vinyl pressing and sold as a $1.99 fundraising item for Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital through the now-defunct National Record Mart. The record is considered by some to be a collector's item today.
DocumentaryOn September 28, 1988, the local PBS station, WQED, first aired Kennywood Memories, a one-hour documentary about Kennywood. Rick Sebak narrated. Though twenty years later, many of the rides talked about are gone, the historic information about the park is still quite relevant.Kennywood was featured in the 2007 documentary "Welcome Back Riders".2017 SkyRocket (2010) Virtual Reality experience, Pedro's (a Mexican themed food stand) is being relocated to Lost Kennywood2016: Noah's Ark remodeled2015: 4-D Theater replaces Playdium Arcade2012: Black Widow ride replaces Pitt Fall2011: Kandy Kaleidoscope is remodeled, Parkside Cafe is remodeled and becomes the park's first air-conditioned food service location, Kiddieland restrooms are rebuilt to include a refreshment stand, Star Refreshment stand is renovated, Merry-Go-Round horses are refurbished, Pitt Fall removed, Holiday Lights debut, Wurlitzer Band Organ on Merry-Go-Round is completely rebuilt.2010: Sky Rocket, a new Steel Roller Coaster, Turnpike Removed and placed in storage with intent to be reinstalled. King Kahuna removed.2009: Bayern Kurve****, WipeOut removed, original Phantom drop and second hill retracked.2008: Ghostwood Estate, new Kiddieland games building.2007: Cosmic Chaos, SS Kenny, roofing over the escalators to lot 2, Gold Rusher removed.2006: Swing Shot installed2005: New front gate structures built, Bayern Kurve*** and Swing Around removed, Merry-Go-Round undergoes a complete overhaul and is rebuilt, Wurlitzer Band Organ is repainted2004: Garfield's Nightmare (theme change from Old Mill)2003: King Kahuna (formerly Top Spin from Lake Compounce, removed 2010), Ham-on-Rye (removed in 2005), Volcano Valley themed area, Volcano (theme change from Enterprise), Roll-O-Plane removed, Miniature Golf removed2002: Garfield's Pounce Bounce, Phantom Fright Nights debut2001: Phantom's Revenge (rebuilt from Steel Phantom), Crazy Trolley2000: Aero 360, Dancing Waters relocated across from Grand Prix, Garfield and Odie added as park mascots1999: Exterminator, Wonder Wheel removed.1998: Kennywood celebrates its 100th anniversary, Centennial Midway (one season), Le Cachot demolished1997: Pitt Fall (Removed in 2011)1996: Lil Phantom (Kiddieland), Kenny's Parkway, Noah's Ark remodeled, Phantom Phlyer removed1995: LOST KENNYWOOD expansion in former location of Sunlite Swimming Pool – Pittsburg Plunge, Phantom Phlyer (Removed in 1996, moved to Lake Compounce), Roll-O-Plane*** (removed in 2003), Whip and Wave Swinger moved to Lost Kennywood, Great Balloon Race removed1994: SkyCoaster, Bayern Kurve*** (Removed in 2005)1993: WipeOut (removed 2009, relocated to Lake Compounce)1992: Tri-Star (lasts only one season, moved to Idlewild in 1998), Old Mill (Haunted Hideaway renamed)1991: Steel Phantom (quickly tops top 10 list, rebuilt as Phantom's Revenge in 2001), Wurlitzer Band Organ undergoes extensive repairs1990: Great Balloon Race (removed in 1995, moved to Idlewild), Laser Loop removed, original facade on Racer loading platform restored1989: Swing Around** (removed in 2005), Monster removed1988: Flying Carpet (removed in 2006), Rotor*** (removed in 1994, eventually moved to Lake Compounce), Tilt-A-Whirl removed, Kennywood Memories is filmed and premieres 28 Sep. 19881987: Musik Express, electric cars added to Turnpike and directions cars face on track reversed, Kennywood designated National Historic Landmark1986: Wonder Wheel (removed in 1999), Bayern Kurve** removed, geysers and waterfall added to Raging Rapids1985: Raging Rapids, Super Round-Up (removed, moved to Idlewild)1984: Wave Swinger, Swing Around* (removed at end of season, but returns five years later), Bayern Kurve** (original replaced), Dipper removed1983: Ranger (lasts only one season)1982: Pirate, Wonder Bread trains on Racer replaced by new PTC models1981: Gold Rusher (removed in 2007), Paddle Boats1980: Laser Loop.(Removed in 1990)1979: Monster***, renamed Monongahela Monster (removed 1989), Garden Stage (removed in 2005)1978: Enterprise (renamed Volcano in 2003), Rockets removed1977: Monster**; Nearby West View Park closes1976: Tilt-A-Whirl*** (removed in 1988, moved to Idlewild), (Super) Round Up*** (moved to Idlewild 1985), SkyDiver replaced with new model and renamed Paratrooper1975: Log Jammer (first multimillion-dollar ride in the park's history) Carousel is completely stripped, and repainted, Wurlitzer Band Organ is completely rebuilt1974: Hardheaded Harold's Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway (theme change of park's Old Mill), Kenny Kangaroo makes his debut as park mascot1973: Gran Prix, Sunlite Swimming Pool removed1972: Bayern Kurve*, Le Cachot Name means "The Dungeon" in French, replaced Safari dark ride. (removed 1998), Monster* (removed 1974)1971: Roll-O-Plane** (removed 1985)1969: Noah's Ark remodeled, Loop-O-Plane** (removed 1983)1968: Thunderbolt, rebuilt from Pippin. The four drops in the ravine and the lift hill remain intact from the original coaster. The new Thunderbolt track had a small hill in the inner helix that was removed in 1969.1967: Road Runner (Cuddle Up), Ghost Ship (Replaced Tornado, Both rides destroyed in fire on June 19, 1975)1966: Turnpike (Electric cars added in 1987)1965: Rotor** (removed 1972), Popover (removed in 1976), Laff in the Dark removed1964: Tornado dark ride (from defunct Freedomland, removed 1966), Round-Up** (replacing original Round-Up; damaged by the June 19, 1975 fire and replaced with Super Round-Up)1962: Kangaroo (only Flying Coaster flat ride in existence)1961: Bandshell destroyed in fire, Calypso (removed 1986), Old Mill gets new boats1960: Wild Mouse removed, facade on Racer loading platform redesigned1959: SkyDiver1958: Wild Mouse (removed 1960), Little Dipper remodeled and renamed Dipper1957: Round-Up* (replaced with new model in 1964)1955: Rotor* (removed 1958), Sunlite Pool reopens after rehab, Kiddie Cadillacs, Daffy Klub removed1953: Sunlite Pool closes to swimming due to maintenance problems and turned into U-Driven boat concession1952: Octopus (removed 1965), Tickler removed1950: Roll-O-Plane* (removed 1969)1949: Tilt-A-Whirl** (removed 1963), Tumble Bug renamed Turtle1948: Little Dipper (remodeled in 1958, removed in 1984), hills removed from Auto Race and car bodies replaced with current style bodies, Tumble Bug cars replaced with turtle-looking versions1947: Teddy Bear removed1946: Original facade on Racer loading platform replaced1945: Olde Kennywood Railroad1941: Daffy Klub (replaces 13 Spook Street)1940: Rockets (Traver circle swing added to island in lagoon, removed 1978)1938: Ridee-O (removed 1959)1937: 13 Spook Street, Kiddie Old Mill (Swan Boats, removed mid-1970s)1936: Noah's Ark (re-built in 1996), Loop-O-Plane* (removed 1950)1935: Teddy Bear (roller coaster, removed in 1947), Skooter (removed 1979)1931: Tickler (roller coaster, removed 1952)1930: Auto Race, Laff in the Dark (removed 1965)1929: Dodgem removed1928: Brownie Coaster (removed 1953 or later), Tilt-A-Whirl* (removed 1934)1927: Merry-Go-Round(T.M. Harton carousel replaced by current William H. Dentzel model, Wurlitzer Band Organ is moved to new carousel), current Racer, Tumble Bug, larger 16 car Whip**, Kiddieland** (moved from near Jack Rabbit coaster to former location of original Racer coaster)1926: 1910 Racer removed1925: Sunlite Swimming Pool (removed 1973)1924: Pippin (converted to Thunderbolt in 1968), Kiddieland* (located near Jack Rabbit coaster)1923: Speed-O-Plane removed1922: Dodgem (removed in 1929)1921: Gee Whizz Dip the Dips removed1920: Jack Rabbit1919: Whip* (replaced in 1927)1916: Wurlitzer Band Organ provides music for Merry-Go-Round1914: Old Mill (re-themed Panama Canal)1913: Merry-Go-Round** (original G.A. Dentzel carousel replaced by T.M. Harton model)1911: Speed-O-Plane (removed 1923), Panama Canal (re-themed Old Mill)1910: 1910 Racer (original version, removed 1926), Dip-the-Dips Scenic Railway removed1906: Fairyland Floats (re-themed Old Mill), Figure Eight Toboggan renamed to Gee Whizz Dip the Dips1905: Dip-the-Dips Scenic Railway (removed 1910)1904: Steeplechase removed1903: Steeplechase (removed 1904)1902: Figure Eight Toboggan (park's first coaster, removed 1921)1901: Old Mill (converted to Garfield's Nightmare in 2004, also formerly named/themed as Hard Headed Harrold's Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway and Panama Canal)May 30, 1899: Kennywood Park is formally opened; Merry-Go-Round* (G.A. Dentzel carousel), Casino restaurant (now Parkside Cafe), DancehallDecember 18, 1898: Kenny's Grove purchased by Monongahela Street Railway Co.
Asterisks (*) indicate number of times a ride was replaced or re-introduced.
Kennywood employs weapon-certified security officers that have the ability to make arrests that are supported by the district's local police force. A famous case resulting from a 1986 arrest of a park visitor for drug possession went all the way to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 1988, which ruled in favor of the park's security force. The defendant had unsuccessfully attempted to have the evidence suppressed.