8/4/2001 -- Idlewild

Associated parks:

Monday, August 6, 2001 2:54 PM
I've lived in Pittsburgh for almost 14 (noncontiguous) years. One would think that in that time I would have hit all of PA's excellent amusement parks, but until this summer I had only hit Kennywood, Lakemont, Bland's (now DelGrosso's), and Knoebel's (and I only got to those last 3 LAST year)

This summer I was determined to fix that. So far this year, in addition to all of the previously-visited parks, I've been to Hershey, William's Grove, Dorney, Waldameer, and Conneaut Lake. On Saturday, I knocked off yet another -- Idlewild -- with LoriU and her family.

Getting to Idlewild from Pittsburgh should be simplicity itself. Get on Route 30, and head east, until one gets to Ligonier and Idlewild Park (*). We had agreed to meet at the front gate at "11:00am-ish". During the drive, however, I ran into some major traffic. We had forgotten about the Rolling Rock Town Fair, a now-annual concert event at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds. This cost me about a half hour, but I made up for it with the flirting opportunities with college-aged (I HOPE ;) ) girls heading to the show.

Arriving at the park, I discovered flaw #2. Lori and I hadn't realized it, but Idlewild doesn't really HAVE a "front entrance" that people can meet at. You pull into the lot and go to what I initially thought was standard pay lot tollbooths. Except you don't pay for parking there, you pay for ADMISSION, and get your wristband.

Pulling into a parking space, I wandered into the park wondering how I was going to find my party. Fortunately, just as I was wandering down a path towards the Ferris Wheel, Steve (Lori's husband) came up the same path and spotted me. We walked back to where Lori was waiting with their daughter Jordan (2 years old), nephew Ryan (5), and Steve's parents.

As for Idlewild itself, what can I say. This is a GREAT park for families. Jordan and Ryan had a BALL. So did I. With the pleasant setting, nice selection of flatrides, good food (at good prices -- not surprising given the Kennywood ownership), and good (if somewhat mild) coasters, and being able to watch an enthusiast-in-training in Jordan, I had a GREAT time.

The two coasters (this IS CoasterBuzz, after all) consist of a junior woodie, Rollo Coaster, and Wild Mouse.

We took 3 spins on Rollo Coaster (for me that was 2 in the back seat and once in the front). This little woodie makes the best use of terrain I've seen outside of the Beast (and, I would imagine, Boulder Dash, which I haven't had the pleasure of riding) The rolling stock on this coaster is classic old woodie -- fixed bar, no seatbelts, no seat dividers. And NO height restrictions -- even Jordan was allowed to ride with Steve! Small, but worth the trip all by itself.

As for the Wild Mouse, 2 laps sufficed. It banged us up a bit, but it was still pretty good. NOT worth the trip by itself, but worth riding while there. Unlike Rollo Coaster, this ride DOES have a height restriction -- guests under 48" may not ride.

Outside of those two coasters, Idlewild has a decent collection of flatrides and other attractions. Over the course of the day I rode with various combinations of the Uhing family, in no particular order, the Ferris Wheel, Adult Hand Cars, Loyalhanna Railroad, Spider, Whip, Tilt-a-whirl, Roundup, Caterpillar (my first -- very neat little ride), Trinado, Dizzy Lizzy's (everyone MUST hit this at least once), Paratrooper, Merry-go-Round, and Scrambler. For the most part, Jordan and Ryan were able to get on all the rides with us, and I must say Lori and Steve are going to have their hands full with their little daredevil when she gets older. She was all smiles all day, and was even riding the Scrambler hands-up! :) They also rode the Balloon Race several times, and Jordan and Ryan rode several of the rides in the Raccoon Lagoon kiddieland section.

In addition to all that, we walked through Storybook Forest (which is very pretty), and Steve and his parents took the kids to the waterpark for a while, while Lori and I rode some more.

As for the food, well, it IS a Kennywood property. The BBQ proved to be too tempting to pass up, so I had char-grilled chicken for lunch, which was quite tasty. Potato Patch fries are available, and are just as good as Kennywood's own. I had a Dip Cone for an afternoon cool-off (which seemed to be to be a bit smaller than the ones at Kennywood, but no less refreshing). For dinner, I had onion petals (that is, roughly half an onion blossom ;) ) and a slice of ok, but not-{Knoebels, DelGrosso's, Holiday World}, pizza. Not exactly the healthiest of diets, but what do you want at an amusement park? ;)

Overall, we had a GREAT time at Idlewild, and I can't wait to return. My nephew will be 2 next summer, and ready to start riding, and I can't think of a better place to take him.

(*) -- Idlewild's directions tell you to get on the turnpike at exit 6, and then off at exit 7. From my house it's actually easier to just get on 30 and go, so that's what I did. The traffic I encountered I'd have hit either way.


*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 8/6/2001. ***
Monday, August 6, 2001 3:24 PM
You didn't do Confusion Hill?! Shame on you!
That's one of the best attractions in the park!
See my "Second Chances in Pennsylvania" TR
for more info... :)
Monday, August 6, 2001 5:21 PM
Lori and I got in line for Confusion Hill, but we realized that we weren't going to be off soon enough to meet Steve & company at the agreed meeting place and time.

I'll definitely hit it next time I'm there. :)


Tuesday, August 7, 2001 6:57 AM
Another great Idlewild TR in just a few days!!! I must be dreaming. Although I spent 5 summers there, I haven't been to the park for two years, but I'll be there this Saturday. . . And I'll make sure to hit Confusion Hill.

I think RobCoasting said that the Wild Mouse now has magnetic brakes. Is this true? Does it still come to the abrupt stop at the end, just before the station?

Tuesday, August 7, 2001 9:13 AM
The Wild Mouse most definately comes to an abrupt stop at the end. The ride-ops inform you to hold onto the bar the entire ride because of the abrupt turns, drops and stops and believe me, you'll want to hold on.

We had a great time on Saturday and I encourage everyone to visit this park, especially if you have young children. I think Greg will agree when I say, you get a whole new perspective when you take a toddler to an amusement park.

Christ how do you kids do it
Tuesday, August 7, 2001 12:12 PM
Personally, I always thought of Idlewild as a giant kiddie land. And it will always be that way. It's smart marketing on Kennywood's part: make an entire park geared toward families with kids under 13. Then when the get older, and want bigger rides, they move on to Kennywood.

Another thing that will never change about Idlewild is its natural beauty. When the park was started over 120 years ago, it was stipulated in the deed that the owners should make every effort to preserve the trees. It is rumored that the lumber for the Rollo Coaster was milled on site from the trees in the park. And to this day, no tree can be cut down without the General Manager's permission.

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