Tucked away in the heart of a beautiful Pennsylvania forest lies a charming throwback park with a lot more to offer than just its lush picture-perfect surroundings. Unlike its name the park is neither idle -- nor wild. It's more of a perfect balance between the two with a variety of rides, shows and attractions perfect for the entire family.
The parking attendant tollbooth on the way in also doubles as your admission gate. In other words, by the time you park your car you will have paid for both your car -- and everyone in your car -- to enjoy the discovery process of this unique forest. Most cars will park in front of Storybook Land. Replica houses of fairy tale settings line the path in this original attraction that has spanned generations. If you're coming to the park with young children you will surely go through a ton of snapshots before you are through, revisiting classic stories.
From there you will stroll into rustically themed areas featuring small coasters (a traditional mouse coaster and one of the funnest junior coasters you will ever experience -- with airtime -- in Rollo Coaster), a good collection of flat rides (don't miss the Caterpillar which is your standard Himalaya-type spinning ride in which a canopy covers the riders -- it's one of the few left in the country) and some great walk-through attractions (like the mystery house that seems to defy gravity or another where the you stand still while your surroundings rotate). As a bonus, if it gets too hot the park also features a lavish water park to cool off in. Trains will also help you get around from area to area as well as a popular Mister Rogers Neighborhood train ride that will have you repeating "come along, come along, to the castle huff and song" long after you have left the park.
Pros: Beautiful setting where a slow pace is encouraged to truly take in everything the park has to offer. Admission is a bargain -- and it includes the impressive Soak Zone water park. You have some truly original attractions and rides that you just can't find anywhere else these days.
Cons: Location. The park is tucked away in the middle of nowhere, but that's the price one has to pay to relish this truly unspoiled attraction in all of its glory. Thrillseekers may find that the park comes up short if they want gargantuan roller coasters.
Tips: -- The Storybook area opens an hour before the rest of the park. That's why those who arrive early will naturally flock there to enjoy the fairy tale replicas before digging deeper into the park. So while that makes arriving early a good idea Idlewild is a laidback so just stroll in and enjoy it at your leisure.
-- There is parking all along the park's perimeter. While cars gravitate to the available spaces by Storybook Land you may find other sections of the lot more to your liking -- especially if you arrive later in the day where the choice spaces in the front may be scarce. For instance, you may want to park towards the back by the water park which will make it an easy walk back to the car if that would be your last stop of the day.
-- The longest lines? The old-style mouse coaster is a slow loader so lines do tend to build there fairly quickly. Yet perhaps the longest wait may be for the Mister Rogers Neighborhood trolley attraction because the vehicles do leave at long intervals and on busy days you may have to wait for a few trolleys before you get a chance to board.
- Reviewed by Rick Munarriz
Official Park Link - Idlewild
Unofficial Park Link - Tim Melago's Unofficial Idlewild
Nearest Hotels with online booking discounts:
-- Ramada Historic Ligonier -- 1 mile away
-- Campbell House Bed & Breakfast -- Victorian cottage in Ligonier itself!
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