In Pittsburgh, we are lucky enough to have three really spectacular, world-class amusement parks (yet another thing that makes us insanely cooler than Cleveland ;). The first, and biggest, is Kennywood,. The other one just steps away from downtown Pittsburgh is our water park, Sandcastle. And finally, in the middle of Sleepy Hollow (yes, it’s a real place), about an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh, is the family favorite, Idlewild.
Maybe I should be more specific after our trip there, and let you know that it could be more than an hour’s drive. Especially if, like us, you take Route 30, trying to save (a dollar) on tolls and avoid the turnpike. My advice? Scrounge in your couch cushions and pay the dollar!!
While Idlewild was initially just a summer spot, it has now opened its doors during October, for the less-terrifying haunted attraction of Hallowboo. (Kennywood hosts Phantom Fright Nights, which I will not attend, because I am a big wuss, and also because I am wary after an embarrassing impulse-self-defense-kidney-punch incident that occurred at a charity haunted house at North Park when I was a teenager – sorry chainsaw guy!! Hope that bruise healed!)
Although it’s mainly aimed at children, most of the rides are still open, so we headed out on a lovely autumn afternoon!
Upon arrival (and driving through five parking areas before finding one with a single spot open), we realized that Idlewild has become the Kennywood Reject park. Anything that didn’t quite make it in the big world of Kennywood is now at Idlewild. The balloon ride that used to be over by the merry-go-round, the dipsy doodle, and of course… THE MONONGAHELA MONSTER!!
Of course, it is called the Spider now, but it is still the most magnificent ride of all time. Well, one of them. The Monongahela Monster is a many-armed ride with two little cars on each arm. The arms move in a circular rotation, starting from the ground at 12:00 and going gradually up to the top at 6:00, and then back down. At the same time, your little car swivels in a circle, seemingly at random (at one point in the many incarnations of this ride at Kennywood, I think you were able to spin a wheel like the teacup ride and control the spin, but those days are long gone). Because we were adults, and there was a dad in the other little car on our arm of the monster, our cars spun like crazy.
Here we are at the very tippy top of the Spider. In reality, the ground was not so far away (we decided that this would be a reasonable location to fall 65 yards without dying – sorry, WoW joke!), but it felt high up when we were stuck up there basically lying flat on our backs! Our car somehow stopped with us staring straight up into the sky as they loaded the next passengers. I said to Michael as we were waiting there, “Imagine this was on top of the stage at Kennywood, and you could see the river just over the hill. That was scary as hell!”
After the ride, we ate some Potato Patch fries and kept a low profile for a little bit. It seemed that whoever was running the Spider decided to run it a little longer than planned… There were a lot of ‘woo!’s as the ride started, and then less and less, and then the ride was completely silent for about a minute before they stopped us. I thought I was going to throw up, so of course Potato Patch fries were the only logical choice to settle my tumm. Here we are outside of the creek by the Mineshaft Kitchen, which had been turned green for Halloween.
We tried next to go to Storybook Forest, which is where life-size statues and buildings tell the famous nursery rhymes and fairy tales. As a kid, this is super exciting. They have Mother Hubbard’s house and dog, a flying carpet, Little Red Riding Hood, the famous characters from Hickory Dickory Dock, and Peter Pumpkin Eater. Unfortunately, at Hallowboo, they also have trick-or-treating. We couldn’t even get in, because the line was so long. So I just posed with this huge pumpkin. 🙂
For our last ride, I made Michael go on the merry-go-round with me! He was skeptical at first, but I think he liked it, especially because the little music box played “Monster Mash,” which is basically his favorite song.