WEST MIFFLIN (KDKA) -- Since it opened in 1936, Kennywood's "Noah's Ark" has been a staple for everyone who visits.
This year, the ride celebrates its 80th anniversary with a big overhaul, restoring it to its retro, funhouse roots.
"We knew we had to bring back the whale and the tongue entrance that people remember from their childhood," said Nick Paradise, Director of Public Relations for Kennywood Park.
The giant blue whale was removed before the 1996 season.
"For the 20 years it was gone, it was definitely a missed attraction here at Kennywood," said Marie Ruby, Director of Ride Operations at Kennywood.
Monday, crews installed the whale's "squishy" tongue.
"The whale always had one special feature and that was a squishy tongue, so everyone would get excited to go into the whale to go across the squishy tongue," Ruby said.
It won't be exactly the same, but will be accessible for everyone.
"We tested a number of different surfaces to find the squishiest possible that a guest in wheelchair would still be able to get into the arc on," Paradise said.
While crews are trying to keep a lot of what is happening inside the ark a secret, we can expect more animals and the return of the shaker boards, along with a blow hole that will add a water element.
"The Noah's Ark ride in general used to be found in parks all over the country, but now we are one of the last remaining Noah's Arks around," Ruby said.
It's a special part of what makes Kennywood so memorable. The ride should be ready for opening day on May 7.
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