There are 14 different amusement parks and theme parks with more than 50 roller coasters to ride in Pennsylvania. It is fair to say that it is one park-crazy state. Below, I run down all of the places where you could ride the rails and find fun, including such major parks as Kennywood, Hersheypark, and Dorney Park.
As prolific as Pennsylvania is today, at one time it boasted over 50 amusement parks. As in other places, the Great Depression, the advent of the automobile, the rise of destination theme parks, and other events led to the demise of many parks. Before we get to the places that are open, let's take a look back at some of the notable parks that have gone to the great funhouse in the sky.
- Willow Grove Park dated back to 1896 and closed its gates in 1975. Among its famed wooden coasters were the Thunderbolt, the Scenic (which spanned the entire 79 years of the park), and the Alps.
- Rocky Glen in Moosic operated from 1885 to 1988. Its woodies included the Comet, the Million Dollar Coaster, and the Giant Coaster.
- Lakeview Park in Royersford was open from 1900 to 1987 and offered coasters such as the Little Dipper.
- Woodside Park in Philadelphia opened in 1897 and gave its last ride in 1955. Through the years, it offered eight coasters including the Wild Cat, the Tornado, and the Hummer.
Here are some resources to find nearby fun places and make travel plans:
The following Pennsylvania parks are operating. They are listed alphabetically.
While it dates back to the early 1900s and at one time offered wooden coasters (former names include Main Line Amusement Park and Lenape Park), Brandywine Picnic Park now offers a handful of rides (sorry, no roller coasters). It is mostly used for private functions, but is open to the public on select days.
More of a place to shop and dine, Carousel Village offers a few family amusements, including a carousel (of course), a train, and antique cars. For a few years, it did include a coaster, but it has since been removed.
Dating back to 1892, Conneaut Lake Park features a few vintage rides, including the 1938 Blue Streak wooden coaster (pictured), a carousel that was installed in 1910, and a miniature train. Its boardwalk is delightful, and its lake offers swimming, boating, and fishing.
Known for nearly 100 years as Bland's Park, the small, traditional amusement park now bears the name of the family that has been running it for decades. The DelGrossos are also known for their line of pasta sauces, so it should be no surprise that the park offers some decent food. Rides include an antique carousel and a small roller coaster. There is a small adjacent water park. Admission is free and the park offers a-la-carte ride tickets.
A major amusement park with an impressive collection of rides, Dorney traces its history back to 1860. It is one of the country's few remaining trolley parks. Coasters include the Steel Force hypercoaster, the Talon inverted coaster, and the classic Thunderhawk woodie. The adjacent Wildwater Kingdom water park is included with admission.
Geared to families with younger kids, Dutch Wonderland offers lots of pint-sized rides as well as slightly more thrilling attractions. Toned-down coasters include Joust, the wooden Kingdom coaster and the inverted Merlin's Mayhem. The small Duke's Lagoon has some water park slides and is included with admission.
Huge amusement park that dates back to 1907. Its large collection of rides and attractions includes a world-class array of roller coasters such as the top-10 wooden coaster, Lightning Racer, the wonderful inverted coaster, Great Bear, the rocket coaster, Storm Runner, and the classic woodie, Comet. It's not a water park per se, but The Boardwalk, which is included with admission, offers plenty of water slides and other wet attractions.
One of the country's best theme parks for families with young children, Idlewild, which opened in 1878, is also one of the country's oldest parks. Rides include the Rollo Coaster, a woodie that first delighted passengers in 1938. There is also Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, based on the PBS show, and Soakzone, a water park that is included with admission.
Family entertainment center with kiddie rides, go-karts, mini-golf, bumper boats, batting cages, and an arcade.
AddressKennywood Park, West Mifflin, PA 15122, USA
A classic amusement park that dates back to 1898, Kennywood has a wonderful assortment of coasters and other rides, both vintage and new. Highlights include the circa-1921 Jack Rabbit, the circa-1927 The Racer, and the more modern Phantom's Revenge hypercoaster.
Another park with a long history, Lakemont opened in 1894. Its Leap the Dips, a side friction wooden coaster, is the world's oldest still-operating roller coaster. Other rides at the small park include the Skyliner and Toboggan coasters.
A great traditional amusement park, Knoebels is one of the country's few free-admission as well as family-owned parks. Its highlights include two highly regarded wooden coasters, Phoenix and Twister, and the beloved Haunted Mansion dark ride (which is nothing like the rides of the same name at the Disney parks).
Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street? Yup! It is in Pennsylvania. Sesame Place features a great assortment of rides, shows, water rides, events, and attractions geared to younger children. Attractions based on the popular show and characters include the Vapor Trail coaster, Sesame Neighborhood, Elmo's World, and the Sesame Streak water slides.
Another Pennsylvania gem, Waldameer traces its roots back to 1896. Featured attractions include the highly regarded wooden coaster, Ravine Flyer II, the classic Whacky Shack dark ride, lots of spinning rides, and the Water World water park. Waldameer offers free admission (tickets are available for rides) and free parking.