Why Kennywood, Sandcastle and Idlewild Amusement Parks Are Going Cashless

The parks will accept a number of other cashless payment options.


On your list of things to bring when you go to Kennywood, Sandcastle or Idlewild, cross off “cash” — all three parks will soon be card-only.

Park officials announced the transition, which will begin on June 28 at Kennywood and Sandcastle and June 29 at Idlewild, this week, citing a “smoother and safer” experience for guests. Credit and debit cards will be accepted throughout all three parks, along with mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay. 

Guests who favor cash, though, will be able to purchase a prepaid card at a new, free cash-to-card kiosk located throughout each park. Each card can hold up to $500 and will be able to be used anywhere cards are accepted — even outside of the park, anywhere that accepts Visa or MasterCard.

“By transitioning to solely accepting cards or secure mobile payments, we can provide a better, more efficient experience to our guests,” said Kennywood & Sandcastle general manager Mark Pauls, in a press release. 

On each of their Frequently Asked Questions pages, the parks also say cash is a “less secure method of payment.”

The announcement comes after other amusement parks in the region have gone cashless, too. Hersheypark — a 3½-hour drive from Pittsburgh in Hershey, Pennsylvania — went cashless earlier this year. It operates on a similar model as Kennywood, Sandcastle and Idlewild, accepting credit and debit cards as well as e-commerce. It also has cash-to-card kiosks throughout the park. 

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, too, went cashless this season, writing on its website that electronic payments are “faster, safer and always secure.”

Amusement parks aren’t the only places transitioning to an all-electronic payment system. PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, has been cashless since last year, when it transitioned to touchless payment and ticketing as a mitigation measure against COVID-19. 

While viruses and bacteria can live on most surfaces for about 48 hours, studies have found that paper money can transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days. Several medical journals have also published studies suggesting that the virus causing COVID-19 can survive on paper money for several days.

But beyond just the safety factor, park officials also say cashless Kennywood, Sandcastle and Idlewild will improve the flow of various lines throughout each park.

“We expect to see wait times decrease for food and retail stores,” Pauls added.

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