How Kennywood Plans to Bring the Thrills for its 125th Anniversary

An out-of-this-world spin ride debut to the U.S., alien invasion, updated facades and the park’s own coffee shop will greet visitors.
Spinvasion Mural


This story has been updated with information about security issues.

Kennywood has been Pittsburgh’s destination for thrills since its inception in 1898.

This summer, the amusement park aims to continue that tradition as it debuts a new-to-the-U.S. spin ride, an alien invasion, improved eateries and anniversary celebrations. 

Tasha Pokrzywa, Kennywood’s communications manager, said this season marks the culmination of the park’s multi-million-dollar improvement project with a continuation of the upgrades the park saw in the 2022 season, including tighter security measures. 

Although the park is set to open the season on April 22, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. announced last week at a media event in McCandless that he is concerned about security measures at the park and is prepared to go to court to force the park to tighten its security. His concerns come in the wake of a Sept. 24, 2022 shooting that wounded three people inside the theme park.

He said he doesn’t feel the park is safe even though park officials said they have increased officer presence inside the park, as well as improved perimeter fencing, removed trees and installed cameras along the perimeter. Security measures are constantly being evaluated, Pokrzywa said.

“The safety of our guests is our top priority,” she stressed.

Regarding other park improvements coming this season, Spinvasion, an addition to amusement rides in the U.S., will land in Area 412 — a spot near the Pirate Ship that has been overrun by green aliens (the friendly kind).

The intergalactic multi-action spin ride Spinvasion, set to open Memorial Day weekend, will provide an electrifying combination of speed and gravity, along with its unique single-rider rider experience.

“There is only one similar ride to Spinvasion and it is in Canada,” Pokrzywa adds. “There is no other ride like it in the U.S.”

The ride was manufactured in Italy by Zamperla and will travel by ship to New York City, then delivered by truck to the City of Bridges over the next few weeks for assembly and extensive testing and operator training. 

As guests wait in line to brave the attraction, they will see a hand-painted purple-and-green hued Battle for the ’Burgh mural created by Mindy and Haley Allen of Mindy’s Murals based in Junction City, Kansas. The bright mural features an alien invasion, complete with Pittsburgh’s landmark bridges and skyline. 

Pizza Warehouse Mural

The mother-daughter team also crafted a fun mural for the updated Pizza Warehouse. 

Mindy wrote on Facebook in November, “I’ve been in Pittsburgh, PA for the last 2 weeks painting a mural for a new ride that will be built this spring at Kennywood Amusement Park. My daughter came along to help me and it was so much fun! It was great working with her and we also enjoyed Pittsburgh very much! Not only is it beautiful, but the people are all very nice!”

She added that the artist who brainstormed the mural’s concept was Nate Olson, and she rearranged it to fit the space.

1898 Coffee


Other new features include the UFO-shaped “Gift Ship,” flanked by a 12-foot-tall alien and a new Kennywood exclusive coffee shop, 1898 Coffee. The shop will be located near the entrance and its offerings will include a complete line of coffees to help guests fuel their day. 

Kennywood has long celebrated the area’s heritage with its themed days, such as Italian, Polish and Irish days. 

“Our Bites and Pints events will be held on weekends through June and July,” Pokrzywa says. “We will have nine different booths that will represent a different country or region — Ireland, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Poland, Mexico, the Caribbean and Asia with a focus on Thai food. The events will feature food tastings paired with wines or craft beer from that region. Entertainment representing that particular country or region will also be featured on the Garden Stage during the events.”

Kennywood’s 125th Celebration weekends will be held beginning opening weekend and will feature different decades.

“We will hold a ’70s weekend, an ’80s weekend, etc., with special entertainment, nostalgic food and drink and merchandise that define that era,” she says. “We want people to get the feel of that time to celebrate the park’s history.”

Pokrzywa says multiple upgrades will also be completed inside and out of some of the park’s eateries, most notably at the Pagoda, the double-sided restaurant near Kiddieland that features sweet and savory treats.

“The hot side will feature a fire-breathing sausage and the Blizzard Blast Creamery will feature a giant ice cream cone,” she adds. “We are also redesigning the façade of the Golden Nugget and the Pizza Warehouse has been redone. All of these features are part of beautifying and modernizing the park in our own classic way.”

Kennywood is also debuting mobile ordering this season to increase efficiency.

Discounted season passes are currently available for sale on the website, with an upgrade to Gold that gives passholders access to Phantom Fall Fest and Holiday Lights.

“We are really proud to be here after all of this time, and we are looking forward to the next 125 years,” adds Pokrzywa.

Categories: The 412, Things To Do