WEST MIFFLIN (KDKA) – The Fourth of July weekend is here and Kennywood, Sandcastle, and Idlewild are hoping it will jump-start the summer back to pre-pandemic levels.

The pandemic resulted in some changes at Kennywood and the park is planning for its future, but right now the focus is the holiday weekend and if you are looking for fireworks.

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“Idlewild is going to be the place to go this year,” says Nick Paradise, Communications Director for the amusement park company, “If you’re looking to combine riding with some fireworks, they’re going to have a firework show out in the Laurel Highlands. Starting at 9:30, weather permitting.”

This weekend is also about honoring veterans.

“At Kennywood, Sandcastle, and Idlewild free admission from Friday through Sunday, all the way through July 5 You can get in free, and then you can military can bring up to three guests for just $20 per ticket,” Paradise says.

Paradise says a popular attraction has returned to Sandcastle.

“The lazy river back in and slowly floating again,” he says.

As for Kennywood, “live musical performances throughout the weekend, community bands and things of that nature, then the winner 100 dachshund races will be happening Saturday at 2:00.”

All happening as the park extends its popular Bites and Pints.

“We’ve got the seven specialty stations with international cuisine, specialty cocktails, and adult beverages,” Paradise explains.

When it comes to rides the Black Widow is still suffering from a mechanical issue otherwise, “barring unexpected developments day of, people should expect that everything’s open.”

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The only remaining COVID restriction is in heavy touch areas. So the 4D Theatre and the children’s play area in Thomastown remain closed.

Meanwhile, Kennywood is planning for the future while keeping in mind the park is a piece of everyone who grew up here.

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“We recognize there is that generational pull, that tradition, and that appeal,” says Paradise.

But sentimentality can’t reverse the impact of time and the expense of repairs so during the off-season the Kangaroo, Paratrooper, Bayern Kurve, and Volcano were removed from the park.

Paradise explains, “You know those attractions what they needed last season, and you know the situation we found ourselves in, we felt like it was the best. The time was appropriate to, you know, move on from those, those attractions.”

So those are some big holes to fill and he says the park will look at Kennywood as a whole as they consider what arrives as replacements.

“When that goes for whether it’s rides, whether its food, whether it’s, you know, game or retail opportunities kind of everything that full experience,” Paradise says. “And, you know, that’s how you look to fill things.”

He says replacing those family rides with new family rides will be considered.

“Certainly that’s an exciting thing we look forward to being able to get back to announcing things like that,” he says.

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No timetable has been set for bringing in the next generation of Kennywood memory makers.