Snuggled in the foothills of the central Pennsylvania Appalachian Mountains are two often overlooked amusement parks. The first one is DelGrosso’s Amusement Park in Tipton, Pennsylvania.
Just after the turn of the twentieth century a traveling carnival would set up at the Bland Family farm and entertain the locals before it moved on to other towns. In 1919 Fred Bland opened Bland’s Park, which consisted of a dance floor and a picnic grove. In 1928 the Bland family sold the park to George Rinard who brought in more rides, a bowling alley, and a roller skating rink. As the nation went through tremendous hardship during the Great Depression, so did Bland’s Park.
Fred DelGrosso saw promise in the park and bought it in 1946. Over the next decade Bland’s Park was reborn and grew to include adult and kiddie rides, new concession stands, and new restrooms. As the park continued to grow and improve new rides have continued to be added as well as a more elaborate gift shop, concession stand, and permanent stage.
In 2000 Bland’s Park officially changed it’s name to DelGrosso’s Amusement Park, taking the name of the family who had owned and managed it for over 50 years. The well-maintained full scale family amusement center continues to offer free parking, free admission, and free live entertainment. You can buy tickets or an all-day armband to experience your favorite rides.
The second often overlooked amusement park is located a short 15 minutes away in Altoona, Pennsylvania. While little has been published about Lakemont Park’s history, it is known to have opened in 1894 making it the 8th oldest amusement park in the United States.
The cornerstone of this park is the world’s oldest roller coaster. Built in 1902 by the E. Joy Morris Company, Leap the Dips is the only remaining side friction roller coaster operating in the United States. These coasters use side plates to keep the cars on the tracks. Due to the large operating cost to keep this classic coaster running there is an additional fee to ride it. Despite its maximum drop of nine feet, we found that Leap the Dips provides a very thrilling experience so we rode it twice.
As roller coaster lovers we were pleased that Lakemont Park has a second wooden coaster, Skyliner. The front seat has two instances of intense injector air time and overall it is a fun experience. Make sure you hold on tight as the front row lap bar extends a good 30 degrees above horizontal.
We found the experience at both parks worth the money that we spent and had an enjoyable evening of rides. If you are anywhere near the area and love roller coasters you have to take a ride on Leap the Dips. The experience of riding a bygone era coaster is something you won’t soon forget.