Idlewild and Soakzone – A Great Outing from Pittsburgh for Kids

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on July 31, 2019.

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Idlewild and Soakzone in the Laurel Highlands is one of the nation's most popular children's theme parks (not to mention the oldest amusement park in the state), and is a spot we've been wanting to check out for quite some time.

Except we had one problem- we don't have kids.

It wasn't until our friends at the Laurel Highlands invited both us and our friends at UncoveringPA in for a visit that we had a light bulb moment- we could steal their son for the day in order to visit the park!

Okay, fine, we didn't actually steal UncoveringPA's son, but we did get to enjoy Idlewild through his eyes all the same during our visit, and that is pretty much the same thing.

Idlewild is a Huge Park in the Laurel Highlands

Idlewild Near Pittsburgh

Upon entering Idlewild, we had two first impressions hit us right away. First, the park is much bigger than we anticipated a kids park being. Second, they really go all in on being kid friendly.

Idlewild in the Laurel Highlands

Most of the rides in the Idlewild section of the park are flat rides- conventional favorites like the Scrambler or Merry Go Round that spin on the ground or, at most, rise 20 or so feet in the air. 

This makes sense as these rides are friendlier to the younger audience and can accommodate kids 36″ to 42″ tall.


The park is home to a few larger rides, like the Rollo Coaster (42″), Wild Mouse roller coaster (48″), and Paul Bunyan's Loggin' Toboggan log flume (36″), but by and large are all designed to accommodate those who may not be able to ride many of the attractions at other nearby parks (like Kennywood).

We spent a fair bit of time in the Raccoon Lagoon area for UncoveringPA's son to play in, and this area is a rather large zone dedicated to those exclusively between 36″ and 56″ tall in height. Take all the rides in the main section of Idlewild, shrink them down for the littlest kids, and this is what the area is like.

Daniel Tiger Ride at Idlewild

While most of the rides here are designed solely for young children, we were able to ride on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood where we helped Daniel Tiger find his neighbors for the big hug-n-song party at the castle.

The kids seemed so thrilled to have helped out by the end, and really that is the magic of Idlewild (and Daniel Tiger) at work.

We had hopes at riding a few of the larger rides, but during our visit several of the ones we were looking at were unfortunately closed (the Wild Mouse coaster being a notable one here). That being said, guess that means we'll just have to go back!

SoakZone is For Guests of All Ages


The second half of the park at Idlewild is the aptly named SoakZone- a rather large water park that is home to Float Away Bay (lazy river), Hydro Racers (face-first slides with a racing component), the Wowabunga Wave Pool, and much more.

During our August visit the crowds definitely flocked here to cool off in the summer heat, and with the number of attractions available we can safely see why that is- its perfect for a day on its own.

Like the main park of Idlewild, SoakZone has a rather robust area for kids including a children's pool and fun area was well as Captain Kidd's Adventure Galley (36″+) featuring kid friendly slides and spray activities. But since the entire park is focused on being kid friendly, this one should be no surprise.

Pricing of Idlewild and Soakzone

Idlewild Rides

One thing about Idlewild and Soakzone that is worth noting is that it comes in at a fairly high price point, $44.99 for a weekend visit in the 2018 season, and is the same price for ages 3 to 59.

But while this may be a high price point, Idlewild also offers a number of other discounts on their website such as family discounts, weekday specials, seven day advanced ticket sales, and more that vary throughout the season (find them all here).

As such, with a little advanced planning you may be able to save a fair bit of money over the regular ticket cost- so be sure to check out the offers before you go.

Overall, Idlewild and Soakzone is a beautiful children's park that is best for kids that are at least 36″ tall and preferably over 48″ tall for most of the rides in the main area of the park.

Teenagers are probably going to be less interested in the rides portion of the park and instead be of the age where the SoakZone is the place to be.

We are glad to have visited this one with our friends to enjoy the park through their young son's eyes, because as it is one thing to visit a kids park as a grown adult, it is another to enjoy it with those who it is designed to entertain.

We'll just have to convince them to let us tag along again next year.

Idlewild is located at 2574 US-30 in Ligonier. We'd like to thank the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau for inviting us down for a visit to Idlewild, and our friends at UncoveringPA for letting us enjoy the park via their son for a day. As always, all opinions are our own. Be sure to get your sticker in your Westmoreland Heritage Passport when visiting!

Looking for more spots in Pittsburgh to take kids? Check out the National Aviary, the Pittsburgh Zoo, The Laurel Caverns, and the Children's Museum (review is from a 21+ Night, however).

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