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From Hollywood to Kennywood

Writer/Director Greg Mottola based the script for his movie Adventureland on his experiences back in the 1980s working a summer job at the Adventureland Amusement Park in Farmingdale, Long Island. As decades passed and Mottola rose through the showbiz ranks, that particular Adventureland was renovated and updated beyond recognition. To retain a period piece feel, the film was eventually shot in a park that still retains the rickety weirdness of yesteryear: Kennywood, located in West Mifflin, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Pittsburgh serves as a superior setting, anyway, because its landlocked direness emphasizes the dead-end nature of the main character’s hometown. Farmingdale can compete as far as boring suburbia goes, but it’s only a short distance from the beach and a brief train ride into Manhattan.)

Kennywood opened in 1898 as a “trolley park” featuring a dance pavilion, boating on a man-made lake and a Merry-Go-Round. Even though Adventureland showcases some of the classic vintage attractions added in the 20th Century, including a wooden rollercoaster, Kiddieland rides, clown face trash cans, and game stalls where no one ever wins a “big giant-ass panda” (except for bullies with knives) you won’t spot these amazing attractions from Kennywood’s past:

  • California Red Bats: Patrons paid money to climb some stairs and peek into a box full of bricks. (“Bat” is slang for a piece of brick—who knew?)
  • Daffy Dilla Fun Factory: Complete with its “Human Roulette Wheel”.
  • The Mysterious Knockout: Still a mystery, as there is no record of what it was.
  • Noah’s Ark: This wall-through fun house boat was balanced atop a mini-Mount Ararat. (A second version still exists sans mountain.)
  • Zoomerang: A safari-themed indoor exhibit with a giant Zulu warrior perched over the entrance.

The park’s beloved Old Mill indoor boat ride went through many incarnations including stints as a Western Ghost town venture and an Around-The-World tour. Too bad that it was turned into the videogame-tie-in, neon-colored horror known as “Garfield’s Nightmare” in 2004. Talk about puke-inducing!

[Post by Anne D. Bernstein]

Sections: Attraction News 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “From Hollywood to Kennywood”

  1. Eden Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 6:45 am

    I believe it was a “giant ass panda” much bigger than a mere big ass one.

  2. Anne D. Bernstein Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 9:05 am

    You are absolutely right! Sorry, but you don’t win a giant-ass panda for your trouble. Still, I appreciate the correction.

  3. steve s Says:
    May 16th, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Anyone remember the ride at Kennywood that had individual self drive “submarines” that had a tennis ball shooting cannon? The subs drove around in a big tank of water about 4 feet deep with the just the top of the sub popping up out of the water where the driver tooks shots at other subs with tennis balls? They don’t make rides like that anymore. Strangely I can’t find anything online about this atraction.

  4. erin Says:
    May 18th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Steve I remember that!!! I loooooved that ride when I was little, it’s one of my earliest memories!

  5. Rick Davis Says:
    July 9th, 2009 at 3:55 am

    Minor typo. It’s DAFE- the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts

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