Kennywood's Noah's Ark to go old school
Starting in the 2016 season, longtime Kennywood Park visitors can enjoy a Noah's Ark attraction more like the funhouse-flavored one they cherished during their younger years.
The West Mifflin park is renovating the classic walk-through ride, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2016. Since the ark opened in 1936, it has undergone two other renovations: one in the late 1960s and one in 1996. The most popular version of Noah's Ark seems to be the one between the '60s and '90s renovation, when it had more of a funhouse-feel-sans-clowns and less of the higher-tech stuff like the elevator and mist-spraying Bathy Sphere, which are being removed, says park spokesman Nick Paradise.
Though details are scarce now, the additions to Noah's Ark will include the return of the beloved giant whale's mouth, which guests walked through atop a springy, squishy tongue structure. And favorite features, like vibrating floors and the animal theme, are remaining on the ark, he says.
Kennywood workers have started dismantling parts of Noah's Ark's interior and clearing out space. They plan to complete the renovation before the park's spring opening, Paradise says.
“We're looking at doing a pretty extensive renovation to the attraction, to kind of take it back to the classic funhouse style — a little bit of what had been taken away in the renovation in 1996,” he says. “We are trying to get it back to what a lot of people remember from their childhood.”
The most recent version of Noah's Ark seemed to disappoint people because it wasn't as playful, Paradise says.
“I think the public reaction and sentiment ... was that it wasn't what people wanted from the attraction,” he says. “They wanted a very classic feel ... the classic, almost-hokey stunts ... that the ride pulled.”
But, despite customer disappointment, in 2015, for the sixth consecutive year, Noah's Ark was named the Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction at the Golden Ticket Awards Ceremonies, run by the industry publication Amusement Today.
Kennywood currently is offering its Holiday Lights event on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in December, except for Christmas Day. The park then closes for the winter, and re-opens for the season May 7.
Details: 412-461-0500 or kennywood.com
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.