From the Idlewild Management Company Ledger Book. 1931-1948. Courtesy of the Idlewild and SoakZone Archives.
A thorough history of the Pretzel Ride and its parent company can be found here. A dry version of the pioneering Old Mill attraction, Idlewild’s Rumpus whisked riders in two-seater cars along a single electrified track that wound throughout a wooden building, all controlled by an outside operator. Two people could fit into each car, whose sides were marked with the unmistakable twisted shape of the salted snack.
“They jerked. They didn’t really go real smoothly. They would turn real quickly.
Not anything like the Wild Mouse, but you could feel the turn.”
– Ina Mae Smithleyii
The Rumpus was the second Pretzel ride that the Macdonalds procured for the parks they owned and/or managed, which, at the time, were Idlewild Park in Ligonier and Rock Springs Park in Chester, West Virginia. A few years earlier, in 1932, they installed a Pretzel at Rock Springs in the park’s former tavern building.iii Presumably, the “laff ride” was successful enough at Rock Springs (reportedly attracting as many as 8,000 riders per day) that the Idlewild Management Company believed it would work at Idlewild as well, given that the Latrobe Bulletin described the Rumpus as a duplicate of the one in West Virginia.iv If accurate, other newspaper descriptions of the Rock Springs Park Pretzel might give additional clues about the design of Idlewild’s Rumpus:
Plenty of thrills are provided in the way of ghostly pictures, weirdly lighted areas,
sudden loud noises, bumps and near collisions.”
-The Evening Review

Like its Rock Springs Park counterpart, although the Rumpus ride was brand new, the building that contained it was not. In fact, it dated back to Idlewild’s earliest days as a simple picnic grove for the Ligonier Valley Rail Road. The Rumpus was installed in a repurposed pavilion located along the Loyalhanna Creek just west of the bridge crossing, across from the Fishing Pond.
The future Rumpus building appears in the background of this pre-1936 image used for a souvenir postcard. Originally an old dining hall, the structure was converted to hold Skee-Ball alleys, then an early penny arcade. The left hand sign on the front of the building indicates Skee-Ball inside.
Courtesy of Mark Clemens
The 40-by-60-foot frame buildingv first served as a dining hall – one of the earliest buildings constructed at Idlewild in the 1880s – and was slated for five new Skee-Ball lanes as part of the 1931 expansion.vi It appears to have served as an earlier arcade before the park’s longtime penny arcade building was added to the midway in 1936.vii The eastern side of the building was decorated with billboards sporting fun advertisements for the Rumpus:
“Of All the Rides You’ll Like The Rumpus.”
“If you Love Your Wife Ride the Rumpus.”
“Grandma Likes the Rumpus.”
“Did YOU Ever Have A Rumpus?”
Painted monster faces peek from both sides of the entrance to the Rumpus House, pictured here in 1942.
A blow hole was installed under the walkway to tease the ladies.

Courtesy of the Idlewild and SoakZone Archives.
“When the women got off of the Rumpus and came out, it would blow their dresses up.” – Ina Mae Smithley.viii