2014 Kennywood Holiday Lights – Our Family’s Thanksgiving Tradition

Traditions… the holidays are full of them, decorations, meals, songs… you name it.  Kennywood Holiday Lights in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania calls itself “your new holiday tradition.”  Currently in its fourth year, I’d say the historic amusement park (founded in 1898) is off to a great start.  Our family has added Kennywood Holiday Lights to our Thanksgiving weekend tradition, attending on the opening Friday after Thanksgiving each of the last three years.  It’s a fantastic kick-off to the holiday season, and a wonderful way for our daughters to get together with their cousins and burn off a few of the thousands of calories consumed over Thanksgiving.  Although, with all the hot chocolate and Potato Patch french fries, it may be a wash as to how many calories they actually burned.  Continue reading for a photoblog of the 2014 Kennywood Holiday Lights spectacular.

Kennywood Holiday Lights

As I’ve already chronicled our previous visits to Kennywood Holiday Lights (click here for 2012 and follow this link for 2013), I thought I would make this more of a photo-walk through the event highlighting our evening.

Our family arrived as close to the 5 pm opening as possible.  I love how Kennywood places characters to welcome guests as soon as you pass through the access tunnel into the park.  We found the Kennywood Arrow (I never knew its name was Parker), Kenny Kangaroo, and a few seasonal additions.

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We reached the Lagoon just as the 5:30 pm Holiday Light show (the first of the evening) began, and watched the 10 minute performance of blinking, twinkling lights synchronized to holiday tunes.  The reflection of lights in the Lagoon is sublime, and it just wouldn’t be Pittsburgh without the classic rock holiday anthem of Trans Siberian Orchestra closing the show.

Kennywood Holiday Lights 2014

We debated which direction to go next, checked the line for Santa, discovered it quite long, and decided to ride the Paratrooper instead.

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Mind you, on a brisk post-Thanksgiving evening, an open-air spin offers a new kind of thrill (and chill), and we laughed as we spun while our eyes watered and squeezed out some tears.  It was time to head indoors, get the kids warm and a little something to eat.  Kennywood’s new Johnny Rockets sported festive seasonal decor and beckoned us inside.  While they may have been cold, it certainly didn’t stop cousins from sharing a milkshake.

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As the children slurped their shakes and gobbled their burgers, Uncle Doug and I took turns stepping outside to release our inner shutterbug and take in the lights.  While there may be rides and shows, my favorite aspect of Kennywood Holiday Lights is just that, the 1,000,000+ lights.

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We huddled under a space heater to watch the end of Doc Dixon’s magic show, pet the magical bunny, and listen to the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Kennywood Holiday Lights 2014

And quickly dashed away, dashed away, dashed away all for our audience with Kenny Kangaroo and Santa.  Even the 16 year old succumbed to a picture with Santa (shhhh, don’t tell her friends).

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Another duck inside to shake off the winter chill, and immerse ourselves in the miniature world of the model train display created by the Pittsburgh Independent Hi-Railers.  And then…

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Fireworks at 9 pm!  As the grand finale capped the evening, our visit to the 2014 Kennywood Holiday Lights had ended.  Another yearly holiday tradition completed until next year.

Kennywood Holiday Lights 2014

However, off in the distance, if you listened closely heading out of the park, you could almost hear Santa say (as he climbed Thunderbolt’s lift hill), “A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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Kennywood Holiday Lights runs from 5-9pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through December 21, 2014.  Admission costs $16.99 for ages 3 and older (plus $1 amusement tax).  You can save $2 by purchasing tickets in advance online or from participating Giant Eagle locations.  New for 2014 is an all-you-can-eat dinner option on December 6, 13, 14 and 20.  While our family didn’t experience this aspect of the event, it sounds like a GREAT deal at $26.99 for adults and $23.99 for kids ages 3 to 12.  That price not only includes dinner (and an audience with Santa), but also your admission to Holiday Lights.

Kennywood Holiday Lights

DISCLOSURE: Adventures by Daddy was hosted by Kennywood Park for the purposes of experiencing Holiday Lights and writing this recap and review.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.