Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, USA
I'd like to apologize to all you Usenet users in advance for the length of this report, but I want to make sure I cover everything, as I'll be sharing it with people who haven't ever even been to the United States, let alone to Kennywood, so I wanted it to be thorough! Also, this is only the first of 8 or 9 parks I plan on visiting before the end of June, so if my reporting needs to be tweaked or altered in any way so that my future trip reports can be the best, now is the best time to let me know!
I had never been to Kennywood prior to last year, so those of you with more experience/knowledge/history are welcome to teach and share with me everything you know! I'm always interested in learning more about parks, especially ones I plan to visit no less than once yearly.
There were just 2 of us at the park today (as is normally the case when I visit a park, since a large group is annoying to keep track of and/or meet up with throughout the day). We left from the Akron, OH area at around 8:30 in the morning with our Buy One Get One admission in hand! To Kennywood! The drive was easy, except Pittsburgh, as always, is a mess of roads that cross each other and twist and turn so much that you'd think they're going to strap a coaster to the streets and ship it off to Phantasialand. Just look at what kind of signage you're dealing with in the area
The part that I thought was super weird was that until you're at the exit you need to take to get to Kennywood, there's not a single attraction sign anywhere that says "HEY WE'RE OVER HERE! COME THIS WAY!" Luckily, we live in a world with GPS, so we found our way just fine.
Once we got to the park, we took advantage of the free parking (paying $7 to park closer doesn't seem reasonable to me, but I know people do it at other parks all the time), got our drinks (it's so nice to have the ability to bring in your own food and beverages!), and headed down to the park!
Last year, on my first visit, the escalators down the parking weren't operational, so we had to walk around the long way, so it was nice to see them functioning as expected today.
After waiting in line for slightly longer than necessary due to a snafu with the woman in front of us, we successfully paid 43 American dollars in exchange for two entries to the park. What a deal! After battling with the incessant number of strollers trying to get through the metal detectors and bag check, we arrived INSIDE of the park at last!
We stopped by Jackrabbit Pavilion #7 to drop off our cooler and extra bag, and away we went!
I had planned to head straight to the back of the park and work my way forward, avoiding the major crowds as we went, but after seeing that many of the rides were able to be walked on to, we started at the front of the park anyway and made our way around.
First stop: Jackrabbit! It still shocks me that this country still allows this ride to operate with only a seatbelt (and not even an individual seatbelt!) holding riders down. I'm certainly not complaining about it, though, because this is such a great coaster for airtime, and a lap bar that holds you in your seat would be so disappointing. The famous "double dip" is one of the best elements in the park, and it's awesome how it's built directly into the terrain of the land. It was nice that this was one of the coasters running 2 trains today!
Racer was our next stop, and the uniqueness of this ride never fails to impress me. Unlike so many other racers, the fact that this is Möbius coaster is the only of its kind in the country means that if you start in the train on the left, you get out in the train on the right - the track is continuous! We chose the blue train that started on the left and promptly lost to the red train that ended on the left. :(
Next on the list was the iconic Aero 360, now with brand new lighting that really emphasizes the fact that you're at Kennywood! It's a shame you can't see this ride when you walk into the park. This would be a great centerpiece. I can't seem to find any other installations of this ride anywhere, and it doesn't even look like the the manufacturer, HUSS, has this on their website at all, but it's kind of like an old Ranger, but modernized! I'm not sure if the employees are the ones controlling the ride or if it has different programs, but ours immediately started with a few full 360° turns, then went into some reversals and half turns with suspensions. Always a GREAT time and you never know what's going to happen!
Closing out the tour of the parks classic woodies, we headed over to Thunderbolt next! It was only running one train, which seems fine, since the trains weren't even full at this point. Luckily, I had a partner, because no solo riding is allowed on this coaster! I know some people were disappointed when they built a brand new steel coaster right through the middle of this ride, but for me, it adds a lot of layers to the experience - it's a near-miss, which is always fun, it reminds you of the excellent architecture in this seemingly mountainous land, and the mixture of new and old is what keeps a park fresh and entertaining for multiple generations. I'd forgotten all about the layout of this ride until I got on it again, and though it's a bit rougher than I prefer, even for a wooden coaster, it provides all the thrills one can expect out of it!
We opted to then escape the heat for a little bit (even though it was only 11:45 at this point!) and headed into Ghostwood Estate. I skipped this last year because I wanted to make sure I spent as much time as possible on the 'big' rides, since it was my first time. This seems to be a run-of-the-mill sit in the car and shoot at the targets dark ride, and it was, but the thing that fascinated me was that the cars aren't on tracks at all! They just know where to go. I'm sure the technology isn't that complicated for it, but it's still cool to me!
Having successfully vanquished the spirits in Ghostwood Estate, we headed over to the Turtle! One of only two (permanent) rides like it, it's a great family ride that even I have fun with. If you allow it to, it can really throw you around, which I think is part of the fun!
I had heard rumors that Noah's Ark, the Golden Ticket Award-winning walkthrough/funhouse attraction had gotten some updates, and I was eager to see what those were all about. I was pleasantly surprised, as last year, much of the exhibits inside were in complete disarray, but this year, they had replaced MANY of them, repainted a lot of things, added new lighting effects, and generally improved the attraction tremendously! It was a pleasant surprise that I don't think many people would have expected!
We continued into Lost Kennywood and got to the Black Widow exactly as it opened, so we were the first ride of the day on this! With my home park being Cedar Point, Black Widow is similar to maXair, but it spins in both directions instead of the same way the whole time! After the ride, the woman next to us became physically ill, causing the ride to close for cleaning. After it reopened, it ran one time and then was shut down the rest of the day due to mechanical issues, so we were lucky we got there when we did.
We moved on down to the Exterminator, a highly underrated ride. I know it's just a traditional spinning wild mouse coaster, but it's also inside, and this year, they've seemingly turned off all of the lights - maybe in hopes of competing with Laff Trakk? You couldn't see ANYTHING inside this building, so I was constantly getting jerked around and spun about and thrown into the air, and I loved every second of it. It's a shame they've hidden it so far into the corner of the park - it looks so unassuming and interesting from the outside. The queue didn't have the TVs on and it seemed like the button didn't work for anyone who pressed it, so that was a little sad. :( Also, when we rode it later in the day, it seemed like there was some sort of problem, as the staff had 5-6 cars lined up with people waiting to get to the lift hill at nearly all times. Not sure what that was all about, but it seemed to really be slowing things down.
The Whip was next, and what a classic it is. It does exactly as its name promises! It's unfortunate that the pavilion collapsed and was not rebuilt, because in 90 degree weather, you can almost be completely broiled before the ride starts moving.
Next up was Swingshot, which isn't as big as Skyhawk, but offers just as many thrills. These Screamin' Swings are among my absolute favorite flat rides, so this is definitely a don't miss! Skyhawk's older, smaller brother doesn't seem to skimp out on any of the stomach sensations you feel, so make sure you don't eat before this!
The attendant working the entrance to Phantom's Revenge told us the wait was half an hour, which would have been approximately 15 times as long as we'd waited for anything up to this point, but we decided that was fine. Turns out we only waited for 2 trains, which is longer than it sounds, because it was only running one train. Not sure why, because there were plenty of people waiting in line, and plenty of people working there and a perfectly good second train just sitting on the maintenance track. We sat in the back and it was a lot rougher than I remember. I heard somewhere that they got new trains, so I asked about them, and the attendant said this was the 2nd season for these trains, so unless they got them in the middle of last season, there was no reason for it to be any worse this year than it was last year, but it seemed to be. Could have been the weather.
Now, we ate! Parkside Café has become a cafeteria-style restaurant, full of many offerings from cold cut subs to hot meals, fruit, vegetables, desserts, etc. We ordered a turkey dinner and a chicken tenders dinner and a large soda that we split, and it was under 25 dollars, which I'm not complaining about. We ate until we were full and had food left over, which is great. It's not stated anywhere, but you just leave all your stuff on the table, and they have buspeople that come and clean up after you when you leave. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to leave a tip or not, but I decided not to, since I wasn't sure where it would end up.
Cosmic Chaos is a ride that I didn't understand was so closely related to Cedar Point's Pipe Scream. Zamperla puts them in the same family, which makes sense now that I think about it. Cosmic Chaos is just so much more interesting of a ride than Pipe Scream that I don't think I would have made the connection myself that they're both Disk'Os. It's definitely a ride that's more intense than it looks like it should be, so if you ever see one of these, hop on it!
Pirate is a classic swinging pirate ship ride, and we got to ride it twice in a row without getting off since nobody else was in line. It's things like that that make me appreciate the small-park-feel that Kennywood has. Those kinds of things don't happen at Cedar Fair or Six Flags!
Next stop was an engine start at Grand Prix. Bumper cars that thankfully don't have a track to circle, but are a free-for-all bump-'em-up! Signs all over say "NO HEAD-ON COLLISIONS" but that's just silly, and I pounded into anyone and everyone that came near me! It was a blast, and highly recommended. I fear these kinds of things are a dying breed.
Sky Rocket was next, and the line was as short as the ride! It's a thrilling little coaster that does exactly what it needs to do. Churn people quickly and provide a great view when you enter the park. It's not very tall (under 100 feet), but the launch and the two 'big' drops keep this ride exciting from start to finish. Smoothest thing that I rode all day.
The carousel is a classic! For some reason, the park calls it a Merry-Go-Round on their map, but everything else says it's a carousel. The Wurlitzer organ played awesome music and everything functioned exactly as it should. A traditional ride that can't be missed.
Just like the Kangaroo! The only one of its kind remaining, it's a small little ride that provides big time fun! I can't see Kennywood EVER getting rid of this, no matter how expensive maintenance gets to be.
We swung through Kiddieland just to take pictures of everything and then rode the Olde Kennywood Railroad. I didn't realize it was an out-and-back until it started coming back. I'm so used to trains that take you around the park!
We didn't ride a few rides that either we weren't prepared for (the water rides - who knew these would be operating this early in the season?!) or didn't feel the need to ride, but we took pictures of nearly everything, which you can find in the full album.
Kennywood isn't known for its live entertainment, but nothing we saw was horrible. We caught part of the show called Throw Back at the Garden Stage, and though the lead singer was a bit overzealous at times that caused him to be a little off-key, nothing was TERRIBLE about it. However, the magician (whose name I didn't catch, unfortunately) that was on the Kennyville stage was both entertaining and impressive. A good show!
Before we left, we bought a couple souvenirs, and of course stopped at The Potato Patch for a pile of fries (with cheese and gravy) and a soft serve at The Pagoda.
All in all, it was a GREAT visit, in spite of the unbearable heat and the fact that the Beer Garden wasn't open yet, which disappointed at least one of us.
If you've never been to Kennywood, definitely put it in your to-do list because it's got tons of things you never want to miss.
I took a few pics of the 4D Theater construction, but there isn't much to see, really:
Also, it's sad to this park is so stuck in the past. I mean, where is the equal gender representation?!:
Check out the full album here: Kennywood May 10 2015
Thanks for reading!
Great TR. KW is such an amazing place to visit. And it's the uniqueness that does it. I would visit for the Kangaroo alone, that's how much we love that ride. And Phantom's Revenge is a top tier coaster for me as well. Can never get enough, and one of the reasons is just how re-ridable it is. And for me, that's saying something, because I'm a guy who can nauseate out easily on some of the more intense coasters.
I'm only sorry that my response is not nearly as good as your TR.
That was definitely thorough. I think the photo gallery included pretty much every attraction and food stand in the park! What really sets Kennywood apart for me is how it manages to strike a great balance between flashy modern rides and old classics. Most other parks seem to either focus primarily on modern thrills (Six Flags, Cedar Fair) or are stuck in the past due to lack of money for expansion (Lakemont, Conneaut).
By the way, Aero 360 is a Zamperla Hawk, so I wouldn't expect it to be found on the Huss website.
Well, that could quite explain why it wasn't on the Huss website, then. :P Thanks for the responses!
Jack Rabbit always has 2 trains running. I cannot understand the logic behind the Phantom's lack of two trains at opening until early afternoon, especially on days that the park is going to be very busy from the start. To correct the employee, the Phantom didn't receive new trains last year--just the bodies were replaced.
Exterminator was the first attraction built outside the park's original boundaries and always draws long lines. The lighting and sound effects were working on opening day--not sure why they were off this past weekend.
Lastly, from what I understand, the shows weren't ready this weekend--they were just rehearsing, which is probably why some of it was off-key. The magician at the Kennyville Stage is temporary until the scheduled shows are ready when daily operation begins.
Great TR and I loved the photos. Despite being at the park nearly every week, I never noticed the Lucky historical sign--thanks for posting pretty unique photos!
I'm pretty sure that Dorney Park has a ride like Aero 360.
Great trip report! I really like the insertion of photos along with the story, and it was very well organized. Thanks for sharing.
After Mr. Six told me I had the wrong manufacturer, I checked, and there are a few other places that have a Zamperla Hawk, and Dorney Park is indeed one of them. Watch for that park's (and other's) review - coming to a CoasterBuzz near you in early June!
My wife and I were there on the 10th as well. It was my son's first amusement park trip. We decided to get season passes for Kennywood this summer opposed to renewing our Platinum passes to Cedar Point. Not my first choice, but my wife doesn't get many days off in the summer and we lack in the consistent babysitter department so we can't make frequent CP trips this year.
We couldn't ride much that day because we had a two year old with us, but I'm willing to bet we passed you as you were getting off of the Black Widow. As we walked by, the ride was down and I noticed a sick woman. I said to my wife, the Widow just had a protein spill, lol.
Every time I'm there I see someone get sick on that ride. That's the only reason I never rode that or Maxair. I have a vomit phobia and am paranoid that someone will spill and get it on me. I always wait for the front in coasters for the same reason.
David Barber said:
...just had a protein spill, lol.
I've said that to my wife too. Just never at an amusement park.
David Barber said:
We couldn't ride much that day because we had a two year old with us, but I'm willing to bet we passed you as you were getting off of the Black Widow. As we walked by, the ride was down and I noticed a sick woman.
I'm nearly positive we almost ran into each other, not that we'd have any way of knowing it. This was a shorter, heavier woman who was (unfortunately) wearing a white A-shirt tank top that was covered in... her insides.
As a parent of a young child, were you pleased with what was offered? It seems like quite a nice Kiddieland for the size of the park they have, and the Dino Dig seems to be fun. :)
Then after it was all said and done she went over and sat under the Pittsburgh Plunge near the restrooms! I was glad that she didn't paint the sidewalk when we were walking by the area.
To answer your question, yes we were pleased. We live about 45 minutes away from the park. Being locals, Kennywood isn't exactly our favorite park, but it's definitely a solid park to call our home park. It's an even better park to take my son to and get him ready for bigger parks. My wife and I usually don't get very excited to go to Kennywood like we do with Cedar Point, King's Dominion, or etc, but knowing it was his first trip, we were excited to go on Mother's day.
Funny story real quick. I work for Clearview Federal Credit Union which if you notice advertises on Kennywood's park map. The week of the 4th of July, several of us go out to work a Clearview booth during the day near the Pagoda. Last year, my friend wanted to try the Black Widow. I opted out due to my vomit phobia. My friend Keith who is also a member here on this site volunteered to ride with him. I worked the tent alone while they were gone. When they got back, my friend Tim was pale and Keith was laughing his ass off. Tim was like you were right! The kid next to me puked and I thought I got it on me. It ruined the rest of his day, lol. I felt bad for him, but it confirmed why I avoid things where I'm stuck riding next to strangers.
Oddly, (except to those who know me really well) the Lucky Stand is one of my favorite things about Kennywood. I always take the time to stop and stare at it, then at nighttime I come back and stare some more.
If I had an amusement park you can bet I'd have a whole lot of that going on.
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