"Our mission is to provide the finest in family fun and entertainment. "
Idlewild started in 1878 as a simple picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, and was conceived by the Mellon family, owner of the railroad as a way to increase passenger traffic. In its beginnings it featured simple amusements like hiking trails, boating, and large gardens. Pavilions were built and a large dance hall for entertainment purposes. Amusement rides began to appear in the 1890s with a steam powered carousel.
When the Mellon family brought in CC Macdonald to manage the park in the 1930s is when the park really began to grow as an amusement park with the addition of several iconic rides like the current carousel and Rollo Coaster and also a large swimming pool. The Macdonald family continued to build up the park and eventually took over ownership from the Mellons after the discontinuation of the Rail Road in the 1950s. The Macdonalds added a kiddie land and created the iconic Story Book Forest as well as building many of the key buildings that served the park as restaurants, eateries, gift shops and more. They also presented many large free acts as entertainment to the guests that attended. The Macdonalds continued to manage the park until 1983, when it was purchased by Kennywood Entertainment, owners of nearby Kennywood park. Under their ownership, the park began to grow as a theme park with separate theme areas. The western town, Hootin’ Holler, and Jumpin’ Jungle were added and Story Book Forest which had been operated as a separate park by the Macdonalds became one theme area of Idlewild. With the ever-growing popularity across the country in water parks, Kennywood built up the water park with dozens of water slides and spray features, labeling it the H2Ohh Zone, and later SoakZone. They also continued to add new rides and attractions, such as the steel coaster, Wild Mouse and Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe to continue to draw visitors to the region.
In 2008, the park, now known as Idlewild and SoakZone, was sold to Parques Reunidons, one of the world’s largest amusement park operators, and was managed by Parques American subsidiary, Palace Entertainment. Palace continued to upgrade and add new attractions like a family wave pool and lazy river to the SoakZone waterpark, and a beautiful new Enchanted Castle to Story Book Forest. The future of Idlewild is one of growth and continued improvement. Despite this progress, the park will always maintain the natural beauty and romantic atmosphere that attracted families more than a century ago.
Idlewild is the oldest park in Pennsylvania, and the third-longest operating amusement park in the United States. The park has been recognized as one of America’s Most Beautiful Theme Parks, one of the top parks for families, and Best Children’s Park multiple times. Also, in October 2012, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission recognized Idlewild, and its long history, with a roadside market – a fitting tribute to its longevity and dedication to family entertainment.
Idlewild has participated in the Day of Economic Understanding and Career Day programs sponsored by the Chamber's Education Committee for many years. Taking place at St. Vincent, the Day of Economic Understanding teaches high school students principals of marketing and challenges them to put what they learn to use in developing a marketing plan for a new ride or attractions that they conceive for one of the western Pennsylvania parks – Kennywood, Idlewild, or Sandcastle.
We also have representatives participate in Career Day and mock interview workshops, giving students a valuable experience.
Jeff Croushore, Director of Marketing for the park says "We love being active within our community and participating in Chamber events allows us to do that better. The programs that we help with are educational to the participating students, giving them knowledge and know-how to certain professions and job skills, but it also is beneficial for us as an employee who hires over 700 workers each season. These are opportunities for us to get in front of potential employees and has been a great recruitment tool."
Idlewild Park has been a member of the Chamber since 1964 and looks forward to many more years of partnership!