Idlewild and SoakZone - Amusement Park and Rides

Last summer I took my kids (ages 5, 6, and 9 years at the time) and my mother to Idlewild and SoakZone (http://www.idlewild.com/) for a mini-vacation. However, we didn’t bother with the water park since we have tons of those locally and it seemed like a waste of our time. To save money on the trip I booked a package deal with a hotel close to the park. The package included 4 preview passes (bought 5th additional), 4 full-day tickets (bought 5th additional again) and one room overnight with two queen beds. After our first day at Idlewild we ended up purchasing the package again and staying a second night for a total of 2 days at the park. Otherwise we knew we’d never get to see and do everything we wanted.


Luckily I live close enough to Pennsylvania that I was able to drive the entire way in less than 3 hours. On our trip through Pennsylvania we saw road signs detouring traffic off the expressway due to bridge demolition. That sounded very interesting so we pulled over to a McDonald’s rest area, propped open the back of my truck and waited to see the show – along with hundreds of other people. We waited about 20 minutes before we heard a rapid series of blasts and saw giant puffs of black smoke roll across the sky. I’ll admit the detonation didn’t live up to my expectations of what I’d seen blown up on television but the sound of the still gave me the chills. An hour later we crept back onto the expressway and continued our journey to Ligonier, PA and Idlewild.


Story Book Forest

Entering Story Book Forest
Entering Story Book Forest | Source

The Playground

The kids are crossing a swamp in the playground at Idlewild and SoakZone
The kids are crossing a swamp in the playground at Idlewild and SoakZone

Once in Ligonier, we stopped at the hotel and dropper off our clothes. We also picked up our preview passes for the day. We moseyed on down a mountainous road and 10 minutes later entered the park. We went straight to Story Book Forest. We walked through a giant story book and entered an imaginary land of fairy tales. Actors and actresses were dressed up to play some of the fairy tale characters, the kids got to walk on the Goodship Lollipop, they got to try their hands at pulling out the sword in the stone, and they ambled through several little storybook houses. All three ages had a blast, even though my youngest was afraid of Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf – he was sleeping in Grandma’s bed. At the end of Story Book Forest we came to a small cottage and guess who was inside. Yup, Santa Claus! It was Christmas in July so the girls got photos taken and were then handed lollipops from Santa in his shorts.


From Story Book Forest we moved out into a giant playground area with Bigfoot’s Mudslide and a huge ball pit. The kids loved it and I even went down the giant slide with them. We spent over an hour exploring the huge playground climbing nets, swinging on ropes, crossing swamps, and playing the giant jungle instrument. The neatest part of the playground, in my opinion, was the three story Tree House but the girls loved the giant slide.


Raccoon Lagoon

Riding little cars at Idlewild and SoakZone
Riding little cars at Idlewild and SoakZone
A view of the mountains from the top of the Ferris wheel at Idlewild and SoakZone
A view of the mountains from the top of the Ferris wheel at Idlewild and SoakZone

After the playground we were more than ready for some rides. We ventured overto Raccoon Lagoon where all the rides and attractions are geared towards children ages 2 – 6. Thankfully my oldest was very petite for her age and she was able to enjoy the rides with her little sisters. At just over 9 acres, Raccoon Lagoon is one of the largest Kiddie Lands in the United States. The kids rode mini-bumper cars, a tiny caterpillar roller coaster, circling speed boats, more little cars than you could imagine and took a pony ride (which did cost extra put it was worth it).


Out in the larger part of the park were the rides you’d find in any typical amusement park. There were only two rides my little two couldn’t ride even with an adult, the wild mouse and the bumper cars. Other than those two rides my children were able to ride anything else they wanted so long as each little one had an adult rider. My three daughters, my mother, and I spent a great deal of time on the carousel and a smaller roller coaster called the Rollo Coaster. Even in July, at peak vacation time, the lines were reasonable for all the rides. More often than not we were able to get off a ride and be back on it within 10 minutes – if not immediately. We also rode The Spider, The Scrambler, a giant Ferris wheel, teacups, tilt-a-whirl, swings, hot air balloons and airplanes.


Mister Rogers
Mister Rogers | Source

When we were ready for a small break from rides we took a train, the Loyalhanna Limited Railroad, to get from one end of the park to the other. We then visited Mister Roger’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe - THE best part of the entire park. I was most excited to share this part of Idlewild with my daughters so they could experience a fond memory from my childhood. We rode a trolley through The Neighborhood of Make-Believe, heard a story and interacted with robotic characters. The girls had a great time but I wasn’t able to talk them into taking the trip twice. Can you guess where they all three wanted to go? You betcha – back to the rides!


I think I chose the perfect age range during which to take my daughters to Idlewild. If I would have waited any longer my oldest would have been too old to appreciate and enjoy some of the younger aspects. Likewise, if I would have gone sooner my youngest would have been too small to enjoy many of the rides or attractions to their fullest.


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Comments 12 comments

Haunty profile image

Haunty 4 years ago from Hungary

Wow, what a blast of a vacation this must have been for the girls! Sounds like they are close enough in age to appreciate the same things, you just have to plan smart. :) Loved this account and the pictures are just too cute! Well-done, Ardie!


daborn7 profile image

daborn7 4 years ago from California

Sweet! That place sounds like fun, Too bad I live so far away..my kids would love it! I was a big Mr. Rogers fan as a child too! Glad to hear you guys had such a lovely time. Thanks for sharing! Great hub!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Hey Haunty, I had SO much fun on this trip - it was an awesome park but I also had my four favorite people with me!! The girls are slowly growing further apart in maturity levels...I know it will even out soon but one is almost a teen now so she wants to be a grown up :(

Hi daborn7! Thanks for reading. My kids couldn't believe Mr Rogers Neighborhood was what I wanted to see the most. But he's a classic! Won't you beeeee my neighbor :)


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This article popped up in my newsfeed. I said that can't be the same Idewild.. and sure enough it is. I was raised in this area about 30 minutes away in rural Pennsylvania. This park was the only thing to do for miles and I spent my summers there for 12 straight years. If you take Rt. 30 about 30 more miles east you will come to Stoystown and Shanksville where the plane crashed on 9/11. A memorial is there now and across the street is a rose garden in dedication of the terrorist victims. This is where I was raised until I graduated high school and moved away.

I occasionally go back to that area to visit friends and family. When my boys were 11, 12, and 13 I took them to Idewild. I am a big fan of Mr. Rogers and I insisted they ride the trolley into the land of make believe. They were so mad at me. But when they got to see our favorite icon, Daniel Tiger they felt better.

Idewild is awesome. If you go back, make sure you avoid the ball pitts in the Western section. It is not just an urban legend that there are snakes in there.

Very awesome! Small world.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Awww Ardie - sounds like you had a blast! This had everything:) Do you think kids know the Goodship Lollipop song much anymore? I love that song! You saw Santa in his shorts and the cars are adorable - and you got to get on the Mr. Rodgers train? I always wanted to ride that so bad! LOL I remember a little sheep or something that always got to - and it was kinda whiny! haha

Super fun hub - made me think about pulling over to watch airplanes land at the airport with my girls in the beginning:)


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Tammy, you lucky girl! I would've loved to spend my summers at Idlewild. Its such a neat little park. My kids STILL talk about it constantly and they want to go back - even the big one who loves Cedar Point (close to where we live and we go often). I WILL stay away from the ball pit - eew.

RHW - we did have so much fun on this trip. What's even better was that it was a girls only vacation :) My kids didn't know the Goodship Lollipop but they did get a lollipop and got to talk to a pirate haha so all was good.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

What a lovely outing!

But must admit, Ardie, when I read the word 'Idlewild', I thought you were going to confess that Idlewild Mint was the first cigarette you smoked without you parent's permission.

As it was mine....! I was such a damn rebel! Thank God I was never introduced to worse stuff I could have used to demonstrate my resentment and unhappiness.

Voted your outing to Idlewild and SoakZone up and lovely!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi Martie! :) Oh my goodness - I didn't even realize Idlewild was the name of a cigarette hahah I was a boring good kid growing up so I didn't even smoke until I was 17. Thanks for the votes!!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

I hate to admit it but I thought you were talking about the airport in NY (now LaGuardia) at first, duh! Sounds like a great place for kids. We visited a similar place years ago where everything was kid-sized. It was one of my kids fondest memories. I'm sure you made some great memories with your kids. Nicely written up too..even us old folks enjoyed!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

HAHA!! I bet an airplane ride could've been just as fun...but a lot less interesting to write about. I hope my kids do remember this trip for a long time. And if they don't I will shove the photographs in their faces every few months just to remind them :)


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

sounds like great fun. i love amusement parks. Ohio has lots of good water parks, so I understand u forgoing that on this occasion :-)


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland Author

Hi PDX, Ohio DOES have a lot of good water parks! I have visited some and I should write about them too. Thanks for reading :)

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