Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, USA
Sunday of Labor Day weekend I made my first trip to Kennywood. We arrived at the park just before 11AM as the rides were beginning to open for the day. We seemed to beat the majority of traffic to the park and found a good spot in the complimentary parking lot (an up-charge parking lot is offered closer to the entrance for an additional $7).
After entering the park we stopped at Sky Rocket just inside the gates for our first ride of the day. After approximately a fifteen minute wait we were in the front row. Sky Rocket was a fun ride and a nice start to the day; the launch is exciting and it is an extremely smooth ride. The inversions offer some nice hang-time; those moments have an added thrill with a lap bar being the only restraint.
After Sky Rocket we continued down the midway to ride the first of three classic wood coasters - Jack Rabbit. With two trains running after thirty or so minutes we were on the back row. This was an enjoyable ride. While brief, the double-down offers incredible airtime and the other drops are fun. Jack Rabbit does not show its age at all, it was surprisingly smooth (it has been operating since 1920 - making it the oldest coaster in the park).
We moved further down the midway to the next classic wood coaster - Racer. The line stretched out of the switchbacks and out into the pathway, with two trains running (one on each side of the track) the wait was approximately 30 minutes. We sat towards the back of the train and had a wonderful ride. This is easily the best racing coaster I have been on. The design was excellent and allowed the trains to remain close to one another throughout the course. We got to do some high-fiving while passing in the turns which was nice.
We had one more historic wood coaster left, Thunderbolt, so we made our way there next. With one train operating and the line about a quarter-full, we once again waited around 30 minutes for a ride in the back row. In this day in age with many rides pushing the limits with 300+ foot heights, vertical drops, and insane inversions; Thunderbolt looks quaint in comparison with a maximum height of 70 feet and a top speed of 55MPH. In spite of the small stature and relatively unremarkable statistics Thunderbolt delivers a nearly perfect ride. The drop right out of the station starts things off great with superb airtime as you plummet down the ravine. The rest of the ride is incredible, with intense lateral forces and excellent drops. Thunderbolt immediately found a spot among my favorite wood coasters.
At this point we were starting to get hungry so we made our way to lunch. Right next to Thunderbolt is probably the most hyped food offered in the park, The Potato Patch. Unfortunately a lot of other people had the same idea as us, so we waited just over a half-hour for our huge serving of delicious fries with various toppings. Thankfully it was well-worth the wait and lived up to hype.
Not far away from The Potato Patch was Noah’s Ark. This classic walk-through fun house attraction is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. To celebrate the occasion Noah’s Ark received a great deal of TLC as part of a large restoration leading into this season. A walk-through fun house sounded like a great idea after having a huge lunch, so we waited around twenty minutes before boarding the ark. This was a fun attraction, not exactly worthy of an extended wait, but still enjoyable nonetheless. There were some fun gags and in general it was a neat way to “step back in time” a bit.
Following Noah’s Ark we still had two more roller coasters to experience: Exterminator and Phantom’s Revenge. Wanting to save the best for last we opted to ride Exterminator next. This indoor spinning wild-mouse coaster had a huge wait extending outside of the building. It was a bit frustrating to stand in a long and slow moving line (that ended up being over an hour long) for a ride I knew would not be worth it. But I also knew I wanted to ride every coaster the park offered and still had ample time left in the day. I have to give the ride some credit as it was much more worthwhile than I expected. The theme is fun, and the spinning and dropping in the dark was surprisingly thrilling and disorienting for a standard wild mouse coaster.
Last but not least for the roller coasters of Kennywood was Phantom’s Revenge. We jumped in line and waited just under a half-hour for a ride in the back row. The first drop was exhilarating, but the second, massive 228 foot drop was where things got really good. After rushing through Thunderbolt’s support structure and to the bottom of a ravine the train barrels into one of the coolest and most intense layouts I’ve seen on any hyper coaster. While shorter in duration than many coasters with a 200+ foot drop, it doesn’t get much more action packed than Phantom’s Revenge. The layout has constant twists and turns and ridiculous ejector airtime. Phantom’s Revenge was excellent and I knew I had to ride it at least once more before leaving for the day.
Not far from Phantom’s Revenge I saw The Whip. I love these classic flat rides and never miss a chance to ride one. We waited a couple cycles for our ride and it was well worth it.
Next we came across the Swing Shot, an S&S screamin’ swing, which had a short line. I never miss a chance to ride one of these, as well. Although the ride cycle is short they are always tons of fun.
It was beginning to get later in the afternoon and we had a long ride back home so we decided we had time to go for a re-ride on the two best rides of the day. First we went back to Thunderbolt for another back seat ride. Thankfully, later in the day they added a second train as the queue was now completely full and roughly 45 minutes long. We then went for a final ride on Phantom’s Revenge which also seemed to be much more popular now. With the line nearly completely full we waited around an hour for a final front seat ride. I enjoyed the front even more than the back, the visuals while flying down the second drop were excellent.
With this last ride we decided to call it a day as the sun was beginning to set over the park and the crowds only seemed to be growing. Suffice it to say it was a very busy day, but also very enjoyable. Kennywood was a lovely park and the coasters exceeded my expectations. I look forward to a future visit and hope to experience more of the classic and unique rides the park has to offer.
Wow, that sounds like the most busy I have ever heard of at Kennywood. I never waited more than 15 minutes for any ride other than Exterminator. Albeit, I haven't been in 2 years, but still.
Hey, let's ride (random Intamin coaster). What? It's broken down? I totally didn't expect that.
Kennywood is annoyingly always busy but this sounds like an extraordinary day for the crowds.
I remember the waiting area for Exterminator was particularly brutal. I remember there being a concrete waiting room with some pre-show stuff, but it felt very claustrophobic. It's been a while since I visited, but I would assume it is still the same.
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