By: Shivani Gosai | Student Columnist
In the Bible, God asked Noah to build an ark that was fitted with shaking floorboards, ghastly skeletons and a dark maze of optical illusions.
Wait, that’s not right.
Kennywood, the Pittsburgh playground for locals, is taking its guests back in time — and through a whale’s mouth — for an award-winning, revamped Noah’s ark attraction.
The Noah’s ark ride at Kennywood won the prize for the world’s best Funhouse/Walkthrough attraction at this year’s Golden Ticket Awards. The Golden Ticket Awards are the amusement park industry’s top awards and this year’s awards ceremony was held at Cedar Point located in Sandusky, Ohio.
Recently, Noah’s Ark went through a serious revamping for its 80th anniversary, turning the previously creepy attraction into a brand new, less-terrifying funhouse.
The attraction had been experiencing reports of continuous floods in the fake boiler room at the end of the ride, which ultimately lead to the ride closing last year.
The iconic “walk-through” dark ride has been renovated with new installations, which removed most of the previously eerie details, such as better representations of the animals, re-structured tunnels, a neon tilt room and a giant, gaping whale whose mouth leads you into the ride.
“Rides like these, the funhouses, you’ll find that they need a refreshing about every 20, 25 years to not get totally stale,” said Kennywood spokesperson Nick Paradise, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
The ride was first built in 1936 and was one of almost two dozen of its kind built in the U.S. Now, it’s the last remaining ark in the country.
The Noah’s Ark ride I remember as a child was a pretty scary one. Its dark halls and creepy music made my friends and I less eager to be the first people inside. The ominous “Noah” statue on the outside of the boat looked more like a corpse than anything else, and so did the animals inside. The fake animals were around every corner, their unsettling appearance made me want nothing more than to run off of the rocking boat. Eventually, we would get to the end of the ride: the boiler room. We would watch for the “fake flooding,” and hold our breath as we were crammed into the humid room with other sweaty park visitors before we were able to exit.
Lindsay S., a junior at Duquesne University, recounted her memories of the old ride.
“I remember being around 6 or 7 [years old] and going into Noah’s Ark, and being so scared to walk across the glass floor with the skeletons at the bottom,” she said. “I thought I was going to fall and be stuck down there with them. Well, when I was 6 [years old] that was pretty scary.”
The skeleton room is still there, unfortunately for Lindsay, but now, the funhouse has been taken to a safer, more entertaining level with its modern renovations. The terrifying elevator at the beginning of the ride — its purpose nothing more than to scare children — has been replaced with a squishy whale tongue that leads to the neon attractions inside. The flooding boiler room has been removed as well, and the attraction (and new stuffed animals) couldn’t look better.
The fun, engaging renovations inside Noah’s ark will hopefully bring all Pittsburghers in, two-by-two.