Kennywood a blend of historic and modern thrills

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The employees that work for Kennywood, the traditional amusement park just outside of Pittsburgh, don’t exactly wear their hearts on their sleeves. But they do wear the year that the park opened, 1898, on the front of their shirts.

Emblazoned in bold numbers, it is emblematic of the pride that the park and the people of Pittsburgh take in the history and heritage of the longstanding, beloved icon. Kennywood is a place that has thrilled and entertained generations of visitors and is firmly woven into the community’s fabric.

Read more from USA Today.

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eightdotthree's avatar

Now called Garfield's Nightmare for its images of the lasagna-obsessed cartoon cat, the boat ride has had other themes over its century-plus lifespan, including the Panama Canal. Kennywood general manager Jerome Gibas says that the historic ride is on a short list for a makeover and may end up with another theme when all is said and done.

Last edited by eightdotthree,
Raven-Phile's avatar

And not a moment too soon...

slithernoggin's avatar

Yeah. Garfield's Nightmare is truly a nightmare. I rode the Garfield's Nightmare version and decided to never ride it again.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

We were just there and skipped it too. Wasn't impressed opening season and we waited 90 minutes for it(the line looked just as long on our recent visit.) We'll wait for a retheme.

Last edited by Coasterfantom2,

Same. And I wanted my first-timer friend to experience an old mill ride (since they are so rare now) but when we walked by the line was too long. Most of that “new” infield queue was filled and the sun was beating down. So, no. My wish list is to 1) get rid of the cat, 2) restore the exterior to a mill type of facade (not western), 3) re-open the interior sections to restore the pass-bys and the little exterior scenes, 4) re-imagine the interior scenes to make them mysterious and spooky. In other words, restore the ride to its proper Old Mill look. I’ve been on the ones on the Iowa and Minnesota fairgrounds and while they were awesome from a nostalgic sense, Kennywood has the finest in the world with so much potential to be a great, historic ride. There will probably be cries from the unknowing public about removing a kid-friendly theme, but I would direct their attention to the fabulous new Thomas Town. I sit here waiting for their call.

kpjb's avatar

Do you ever remember the line being that long for the Old Mill pre-Garfield? Yeah, me neither. Therein lies the problem.

People like to complain about it (incessantly) but at the end of the day, it's WAY more popular as Garfield, even 16 seasons in to the theme. And that is the fact that people like to avoid when talking about a re-theme.


eightdotthree's avatar

I am genuinely curious if the kids that grew up with it as Garfield will complain as much as the adults do when it’s rethemed again.

No, I get that. I also remember the line for Old Mill, pre infield queue, snaking down the midway, sometimes around the corner and toward the picnic area. I guess the old “does length of line indicate or effect overall capacity” argument might fit in here. I mean, there are only so many boats and they only travel so fast. I also feel the park has done a splendid job with family and kids attractions.

I guess as an armchair preservationist I just prefer a true antique left as such. I was pleased with the latest version of Noah’s Ark. It was a busy day and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a one or two group wait where the line wasn’t wrapped around the back of the boat. I’d guess the removal of the “elevator” (and the restoration of the whale-yay!) helps with traffic flow and capacity. I also noticed for the first time in my life how disoriented I got going through the rocking boat and the spinning tunnel near the end. Maybe it’s my age, but it took me about a half hour afterward to lose the sea-sickness. Btw, the shaking/bouncing floors at the bottom are no longer working and I remembered hearing about a FB group or some kind of activism promoting (demanding?) their return. Can that be true? Anyway, a good job overall.

kpjb's avatar

The capacity is greater now. We made more boats and put them through at shorter intervals now to try to compensate for the longer lines. My guess is about 30% more throughput as GN over the Old Mill.

I understand the sentiment, I didn't like this theme from the get go and I'd LOVE to redo it... but if it was my decision (and it isn't) I'd spend my money elsewhere for now.

8.3, I never thought of that... but I bet they will. People love complainin'.

Last edited by kpjb,


eightdotthree's avatar

RCMAC said:

I guess as an armchair preservationist I just prefer a true antique left as such.

If there’s one constant with the Old Mill it’s change. So which version are you going to choose to preserve?

Last edited by eightdotthree,


But not this one.

Raven-Phile's avatar

I’m fine if it doesn’t go back to classic, but I’m ready for something different than Garfield. I love the ride system and the classic feel of the ride hasn’t changed - only the “overlay”, if you will. I look forward to seeing what the next iteration becomes, when it happens.

LostKause's avatar

I'd love to see them go with an original and interesting theme. Take out the cardboard cutouts. Add some technology to the scenes; maybe not as detailed as their darkride shooter, but something fun. I wouldn't want them to do it themselves either. Get a reputable darkride company to create the story and scenes.

Garfield's Nightmare would have been tolerable if they would have spent a little money on it when they revamped it. They took out 3-D scenes and added cardboard cutouts. Sure, it's a good return on a cheap investment, but it's still lame.

Last edited by LostKause,
kpjb's avatar

A "reputable darkride company" did Garfield. Noah's Ark was done in-house. Just saying.

Last edited by kpjb,


Raven-Phile's avatar

Yeah, but they did have that whole bathysphere thing for a while.. ;-)

I thought the Garfield overlay had its moments but would be surprised to discover anyone complaining if the park redid it. With that, I've only been to Kennywood once, so I am no "expert."

tall and fast but not much upside down

kpjb's avatar

^^ I meant the most recent re-do when we tore that out. :)


Kennywoods oldest ride should be rethemed into literally anything else. The reality is if you close your eyes and not listen to any Garfield sounds, it’s literally the same ride that it’s been for a century (yes I know it originally had a short drop and splash)

i cant say that I don’t miss the pre-season-pass days when picnics largely impacted the business model. For a city park, season-passes can easily overcrowd what would have traditionally been not. But the place thankfully remains and thrives and for that I’m grateful.

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