In 1878 William Darlington gave Judge Thomas Mellon the right to occupy his land for picnic purposes or pleasure grounds along the Ligonier Valley Railroad. This plot of land outside of Ligonier, PA, sparked the beginnings of what we know today as Idlewild and Soak Zone.
The park is nestled in the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania and while many other parks have cleared large plots of land, Idlewild keeps a rustic wooded feel leading to lots of foliage and shaded areas.
Over the years the park has slowly transformed from a leisurely trolley park to a fun and exciting kids park. So much so that it has been voted the world’s best kids park three years in a row by the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards.
While Idlewild and Soak Zone is a great kids park, don’t let that fool you. There are plenty of things for adults to do starting with Rollo Coaster. Built in 1938 it hasn’t set any records with it’s peak height of 27 feet. Despite that it is an American Coaster Enthusiast’s classic coaster and winds through the woods following the terrain with a few good moments of air time and laterals. It is interesting to note that the lumber to build this wooden coaster was all harvested from the property.
Speaking of classics, at Idlewild you can take a spin around the track on human-powered adult handcars. While it is quite a workout, it is also a lot of fun proving that fun isn’t dependent on the latest technologies.
Two other classic rides are Caterpillar and Whip. This is one of three remaining caterpillars, only two of which have a working canopy that covers riders part-way through the ride cycle. The whip has been a favorite here since 1939 and one of my favorite flat rides.
If log flumes float your boat then you’ll want to take a ride on Paul Bunyan’s Loggin Toboggan.
Here’s some of the other good flat rides you will find at Idlewild.
A unique Idlewild attraction is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
It takes you through neighborhood with stops along the way to meet the characters that were introduced in the show. Don’t worry if you can’t remember the show specifics, this attraction is true to the style and tradition of the show.
Unfortunately our day at Idlewild and Soak Zone came to a close. The setting and the friendly staff are sure reasons why this park is so popular with families and is sure to be around for many years to come. We would like to thank the staff for exceeding our expectations during our visit!