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What's new when the gates at Kennywood swing open for the season

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Roller Coaster enthusiasts ride on The Jackrabbit following the media preview of the upcoming season at Kennywood Park in west Mifflin on Friday May 15, 2015. This year the ride turns 95-years old.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Roller Coaster enthusiasts ride on The Jackrabbit following the media preview of the upcoming season at Kennywood Park in west Mifflin on Friday May 15, 2015. This year the ride turns 95-years old.
The Thunderbolt, a thrilling, nostalgic roller coaster at Kennywood Park, was designated an ACE Coaster Landmark.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
The Thunderbolt, a thrilling, nostalgic roller coaster at Kennywood Park, was designated an ACE Coaster Landmark.
Thrillseeekers ride the Thunderbolt at Kennywood.
Tribune-Review file
Thrillseeekers ride the Thunderbolt at Kennywood.

Ready to ride?

Kennywood is gearing up for its 119th season with some new features. Founded in 1898 as a trolley park in West Mifflin, the historic amusement park is mixing in some new foods and deals with its nostalgic rides and modern attractions.

Check out what's new.

1. Season-pass perks

For the first time, Kennywood will open the park a week early for season-pass holders. The park will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on one weekend, April 29 and 30, exclusively for season-pass holders, in what is called Season Pass Appreciation Weekend.

“Season passes have become very popular and are a good value for guests. If you come two or three times, you've paid off the season pass,” park spokesman Nick Paradise says.

Not all rides will be operating during Season Pass Appreciation Weekend. Guests need to RSVP online to reserve spots and vouchers to visit the park this weekend.

2. Eating It Up

A new dining pass is available to season-pass holders — the $79.99 All Season Dining Pass. Users can swipe the card for up to two combo meals a day at various food stands in the park for the entire summer season.

The card can be used only once in a four-hour period to buy food, such as Philadelphia cheesesteaks, hot sausages, Potato Patch fries and chicken tenders, Paradise said. Guests can get free cotton candy or popcorn each day with the dining pass.

The park is making changes to its food offerings, too. In addition to opening a new Auntie Anne's pretzel stand, Kennywood is overhauling the menu at Pedro's Mexican food stand to be more “Chipotle style” with a build-your-own concept with fresh fare. The Kiddieland food stand will feature a more health-conscious menu, too.

3. Changing Costs

It pays to plan ahead.

One-day tickets purchased at the Kennywood gate are $44.99 weekdays and $47.99 on Saturdays and Sundays, an increase of $1 from last year. Tickets are $44.99 on the park's website and $32.99 at Giant Eagle stores.

A Super Senior FunDay ticket was introduced this year for parkgoers at least 70 years of age. The ticket is $9.99 online and weekdays at the gate, $12.99 at the gate on weekends.

4. Movie Time

Theatergoers at Kennywood's new “LEGO Movie 4-D Experience” will feel wind gusts, water squirts, trembling seats and leg ticklers.

“The idea is that you're being fully immersed in what you're seeing on the screen,” according to Paradise, who also says that different smells will be piped into the theater to correspond with the movie scenes.

Kennywood, which opened the 88-seat theater in 2015, will show the approximately 12-minute Lego movie about every 15 minutes each day.

The film features computer-animated images and is a spinoff of the full-length Warner Bros. film “The Lego Movie,” released in 2014.

Aside from the Legoland properties in the U.S., Asia and other places Kennywood is the first park showing the movie.

Tory Parrish is an Upgruv staff writer.

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