Idlewild and Soak Zone
Location: Ligonier, PA
Pennsylvania is known for many things in American History. The Declaration of Independence was signed here, it was the capital of our country at one time, and also was home to the steel yards that were so important in the infrastructure of our Industrial Revolution. Tucked away under all of these achievements, the state is also full of great amusement parks like Idlewild in the city of Ligonier. Idlewild is the third oldest amusement park in the country and opened its doors in 1878. Today the park is a bustling bundle of excitement with a water park, amusement park, and other attractions for a full day of fun. The park is owned and operated by Parques Reunidos (formerly Palace Entertainment), but it has not always been that way. Follow us on a path of history and excitement as we tell you all about Idlewild.
The land and park was established in 1878 by the Mellon family who would go on to build Kennywood, another amusement park close to Pittsburgh. The first thing that was built was a train depot that would allow visitors to travel from miles away to enjoy the area. Campgrounds, an artificial lake, and other activities soon surfaced and became an elite place in the country to get away from the city. Over the enxt ten years, the park was expanded in terms of land and in 1896, the park added its first ride; a steam carousel manufactured by the Harton Company. The park by the early 1900s was more of a retreat than an amusement park.
In 1931, the park ownership changed hands within the family and electricity was brought to the park. In the late 1930s, we begin seeing the first electric amusement rides including a swing, a whip and a roller coaster called the Rollo Coaster built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. World War 2 put a stop to any expansion to the park and actually closed the park until 1946. In 1951 the Macdonald family purchased the park and land from the Mellons. The new owners added a Kiddieland and other expanded rides over the first ten years. Vehicle traffic increased as roads were being built everywhere.
In 1983, the park was purchased by Kennywood entertainment and they would operate the park until 2007. In 1985, the park added a waterpark as the popularity of waterparks was rising throughout the country. In the early 1990’s the park added a wild mouse coaster and doubled the size of the waterpark. The park was operated until 2007 when Palace Entertainment took it over. The park had been family owned and operated for over 100 years.
Today the park still operates two roller coasters including the only wild mouse coaster built by Vekoma. If you are looking for an exciting day with many thrill and excitement, you may want to hit Kennywood and Idlewild in the same weekend. The Pittsburgh area is so diverse and so full of entertainment, you can't go wrong.
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