Kennywood- What's with all the Hype!

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Monday, August 27, 2001 6:41 PM
P>esterday (8/26) I visited this park in a state of high anticipation. I'd heard "rave review" on several web sites, and seen the park featured on Discovery channel specials. I knew it was a small park and with a long history. I think that I had pretty realistic expectations about what to expect. This is an opinion, but was shared by everyone in my group./P>
P>Why does everyone think this park is so awesome? Every review/opinion of this park seems to come from people who grew up in the area, and have visited this park over and over since they were children. I have this same kind of nostalgia too (for other parks) but if you really like this park for nostalgic reasons- THEN SA SO!!!! I know some "coasterheads" just care about the rides, and it wouldn't matter if the park looked like a trash dump. I'm not one of these. Especially if I'm paying 25 bucks./P>
P>First of all it was "hell" getting to the park. It took 1 1/2 hours on narrow city streets just to drive about 2 miles. Can't this park work with the county to fix/enhance the road into the park! Potholes everywhere./P>
P>The parking lot was a joke. Ok, we parked in the free lot, but the pay lot was just as crappy, only closer to the entrance. Parking lot workers (there to direct the traffic) couldn't have cared less about being there. They were no help and basically got in the way./P>
P>THE PARK! Here's my review/ratings (Beware!):/P>FONT size=2>
P>( 1: totally sucked - 5: average - 10: Amazing)/P>
P>ATTRACTIONS = 6 (total ride rating)/P>
P>9: Phantom's Revenge: es this is truly a great coaster. Great drops and airtime. /P>
P>9: Thunderbolt: Great old coaster. Amazing airtime for for an older woodie. One thing, a mechanic was working on each train before it left the station. Tightening bolts. Didn't make me feel comfortable./P>
P>6: JackRabbit: Again, great old coaster. Liked the double dip. /P>
P>4: Exterminator: Lame attempt at "themeing." Would have been better as a totally dark ride. The pre line ride area was hot about 105 degrees, and the "theming elements " were filthy. Looked liked someone had hawked loogies on the view monitor about 2 months before and nobody cleaned it up. Liked the ride itself: cool wild mouse ride. Great violent turns and drops./P>
P>Most of the other rides were standard state fair material. Some of the historical rides were charming, but basically lame. Did like the Turtle. Cool old ride./P>
P>STAFF = 2- Seemed like they could have cared less. Actually, the bored ones were the most polite. The security guard at the entrance metal detectors (what is this about? Is someone going to bomb this park?) screamed at us to empty our pockets while we were busy doing it. Very nasty. We had line jumpers on 4-5 rides and none of the staff did or said a thing. /P>
P>CLEANLINESS = 2- Trash bags were littered all over the park. Left for somebody to pick up, but no one did. All the walkways were black with spilled pop. We stuck to everything: walkways, railings, etc. Our feet (we wore sandals) were totally black when we left. On the building roof by the wait line for Phantom's Revenge there were about 10,000 pieces of gum. Maybe it was a collection. Lots of trash in places where the park thought people wouldn't be looking./P>
P>PARK LOOK/LANDSCAPING = 4- Very inconsistent. Some places were landscaped and picked up. Other areas seemed landscaped just to hide the trash./P>
P>FOOD = 4 Basic park food. At least it was cheaper than some parks. Unfortunately, the persistent smell of urine (all over the park) didn't help my appetite. /P>
P>OVERALL = 5 I really liked the coasters, but on the whole the park didn't come off well. When I was on the rides, I was happy. The rest of the time, I just wanted to get out of the park. I don't see a lot of money going back into this park. Just seems like the owners will build/keep a few really good rides to rope people in, and rake in the bucks. /P>
P>Folks, I'm not a very picky person generally, but everyone in our group agreed, "Well, we've done that, now we NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK." /P>
Monday, August 27, 2001 7:19 PM
You're in a severe minority of people who don't like Kennywood. I don't live anywhere near the park and I liked it both times I visited. I've never had any of the problems you mentioned either. It sounds like you're one of those people who goes into a park looking to have a bad time, just so you can post a trip report with a title like "What's with all the Hype!". I mean seriously, you're commenting on the roads leading to the park (not their responsibility), and the parking lot at the park. It's a place to park your car, what are you looking for? I don't just like the park for it's nostalgic qualities either. I liked the whole park. The comment about raking in the bucks was particularly offensive. It's a probably a very good thing you'll never go back.
Monday, August 27, 2001 7:30 PM
I agree...Kennywood is my favorite park, not just because it's my home park. At Kennywood u can pretty much do all the rides in 1 day and ride them several times. The park isn't that big and everything is pretty close together, making it better than some larger parks like Cedar Point, where u have to walk all over to get to different rides.

U must have been looking to have a bad time, cause I never once have had a bad time at any amusment park. I could see u complaining about long waits for Phantom's Revenge, but I don't get where your trying to get to in writing this TR.

Most people rate Kennywood very highly for everything and it is a very well run amusement park.


Monday, August 27, 2001 8:04 PM
Intstead of using the quote feature, I'm gonna do this the old fashioned way.

"...if you really like this park for nostalgic reasons- THEN SA SO!!!! I know some "coasterheads" just care about the rides, and it wouldn't matter if the park looked like a trash dump. I'm not one of these. Especially if I'm paying 25 bucks."

As opposed to paying 40 to get into a Six Flags that looks like a trash dump? (Note: I said a Six Flags park, not all. :))

"Can't this park work with the county to fix/enhance the road into the park! Potholes everywhere."

Apparently you didn't notice: the park is eight miles from Downtown Pittsburgh. Most small roads in that proximity to a big city can't be well kept, simply due to the cost and number of roads. You can't hold that against the park.

(You will note, though, that there's currently a campaign to widen and re-pave Kennywood Boulevard. The whole road has been plauged with accidents.)

"Trash bags were littered all over the park. Left for somebody to pick up, but no one did."

Not once have I ever made a trip to Kennywood without seeing the famous "Litter Gitter" at least three times.

The persistent smell of urine? What park were you visiting? Almost everything you've described I've never seen at Kennywood. It's one of the cleanest, well-kept, friendliest, best parks of all the ones I've been to... and no, that's not just because it's my home park. I admit the park has its faults - it might not even by my very favorite park - but personally, I think you're just looking for a fight.

That TR was your first post here. I sure hope the rest aren't as brash.

Matt Lynch
Co-Webmaster : Kennywood Boulevard

Monday, August 27, 2001 8:35 PM
Despite some of the problems he described that were none of the park's responsibility, it just seems to me that he went to KW, wasn't overly impressed with the park, and didn't feel the pressing need to go back. Let him have his opinion! It doesn't change yours!

I mean, what you see in the park and what he sees in the park are two completely different things! It may be your home park, or you may visit it quite often, and because of this you don't tend to focus on the little details of every trip. This was his first trip, and maybe he was overly critical, but you only get one first impression. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so don't deprive him of that!
Dictate a memo to myself - Try to find if I'm the only one in complete health
Consult contemporaries if there's some to see
There really isn't anyone who's in my league...

*** This post was edited by dmb-crush on 8/28/2001. ***

Monday, August 27, 2001 9:19 PM
Yes I will say Kennywood has some problems, the pr line building probably the worst there.  But I don't believe I have ever smelled urine at any park everywhere.  Not even Six Flags.  The $25 bucks to get in is pretty cheap, just look at SF, Paramount, or Cedar Fair.  On the Transportation thing, we are building the Mon-Fayette Expressway.  If all the funding goes right, it will cross over Kennywood Boulevard about 150 feet from the park.  Transportation in and around Pittsburgh is horrendous, that you should have figured out.  If you drove through Swissvale and Rankin to get there you would understand why they need metal detectors.  Maybe you should give the park another chance.
Tuesday, August 28, 2001 12:29 AM
No Enigma2 you're not the only one who thinks the park is all hype. I thought the food and prices were good, but the park was not well maintained, the staff were useless, the restrooms were disgusting, and I did not enjoy my experience at the park at all.

And before anyone acuses me of "going to the park to look for the bad things", why would I travel 4,000 miles from the UK to do that, I'd rather have a great time like I did at Knoebels.

Let the world know your Top 10 Coasters at

Tuesday, August 28, 2001 5:18 AM
I'm not going to be quite as cruel about it, but I was expecting quit a bit from Kennywood when I visited it last year. Stacked against the hype, it was a let down for me. The only one of the coasters that I can "rave" about is Jack Rabbit for that one crazy hit of air time on the double dip. Thunderbolt is an "okay" coaster, but personally there are other wooden coasters I have run into that I enjoyed more (including Skyliner at Lakemont which I rode the next day). Racer while unique for its mobius design is nothing out of the ordinary. I can't comment on Phantom's Revenge since my visit came in Steel Phantom's last season... all can say is that the old SP was painful!

But when stacked up against other parks (and not the Kennywood Hype), Kennywood is an average to good park with a very unique collection of rides (including 3 dark attractions!).

An addition to this post... like someone said in a following post... do not blame Kennywood for the condition of the roads. Ever try dealing with a municipality to get some road work done? Not easy. Besides, bad roads and PA go hand in hand.

PA's new tourist motto "Welcome to PA: Road construction next 200 miles"

*** This post was edited by SLFAKE on 8/28/2001. ***

Tuesday, August 28, 2001 6:04 AM
While I've never experienced any of the problems Enigma did, and Kennywood is my all time favorite park, it's easy to see how one could be let down.   We (Kennywood lovers) have a habit of making the park out to be some sort of "magic wonderland." The only problem with that is that it's just a great park.   I had a similar experience a couple weeks ago when my friend and I made a PA trip.  I had hyped up Kennywood to him for so long that it couldn't possibly live up to his expectations.   If there was no hype, Kennywood would have blown him away.  As it was, he was a little let down, but still had a great time. 
Tuesday, August 28, 2001 6:31 AM
When I visited the park, I enjoyed the park, because I knew it was an amusement park with an old time feel to it.  There is way way to much hype about this park.  I thought the park was clean, cheap, frindly, and nostalgic.  I think the Phantom's Revenge is a waste and I enjoyed Jack Rabbit and Exterminator more.  All in all, I would go back, just not every year.

People must realize that this is no Cedar Point, nothing compares to Cedar Point, some try but don't come close.  Kennywood has a nice little niche' and that is about it.  If you were trying to be like Cedar Point you would fail misearbly, just look at SFwoa!!  I don't know anyone who wants to go back there, anyone want to buy a parking ticket for $4.00, got one left and I have no intention of using the ticket.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001 9:23 AM
The roads in Pittsburgh are impossible to keep up with. The geography in the area is very extreme and is constantly shifting. this is what causes the roads in the area to be so bad. And actually the city has done a much better job in recent years. Regardless, I am going to call FOUL because this has nothing to do with Kennywood.

Also, I am a local who does not "LOVE" Kennywood. I enjoy it for what it is, but it is a small park, with limited attractions in an ugly neighborhood and they manage to do a pretty good job.

"Looks like you've been missing quite a bit of work lately"
"Well, I wouldn't say I've been MISSING it, Bob."

Tuesday, August 28, 2001 11:46 AM
I never said he's not allowed to have his opinion, but the whole thing reeks of trolling to me.

Having a bad park experience is one thing, but coming on and all-out bashing the park is another. Not only do I dislike that when it's about my homepark, I dislike it about any park. SFWoA, for example, I've always said takes more hits than they really deserve, and I think this TR is doing the same to Kennywood.

Matt Lynch
Co-Webmaster : Kennywood Boulevard

Tuesday, August 28, 2001 3:38 PM
Thanks for all your responses. I knew I'd take it in "the chops" for expressing this opinion. Maybe my original post was a little harsh, but I was rather disappointed in Kennywood.
One of my first amusement parks was Coney Island (Cincinatti) and I have a real appreciation for older parks. The first time I visited Cedar Point (in 1968) it hadn't become the "mammoth coaster world" it is today. It was an old park with history, boardwalk-like feel to the main midway, old wax museum, etc. I miss the fact that so much of that history has been lost at CP.
Remember, I didn't criticise most of the "revered" rides. I liked them. I thought the rides (on the whole) were worth the visit. Also, I didn't complain at all about the lines or crowds. They were the same as any other park. I liked the fact that this park has kept and retained its history. Its just that every single coaster site I've visited, in addition to every single Discovey Channel special has basically touted this park to the skies, basically paraphrasing "It's the best older park in the US."
It just didn't live up to the hype as far as I was concerned. Maybe my impression might have been different if the staff had seemed to care (once I got into the park). We had only been in the park for 10 min and we'd already been "barked" at by 3-4 employees. Even if they had just ignored us, I wouldn't have felt so bad.
The park just seemed like a really beautiful woman that had gotten older and the great beauty had gone to seed.
It just seems with all the publicity going around about the park that many people will be visiting for the first time. I just felt that it didn't make a very good first impression.
Tuesday, August 28, 2001 3:46 PM
One final thing... Hey I like Pittsburg. Its got a lot going for it (in some cases more so that that other sister Industrial city: Cleveland). I know the roads are crazy and often bad. I don't hold it against the city.

Kennywood made me think of the Cincinnati Zoo. Of course a zoo ain't a amusement park, but... Cincinatti's zoo is in a bad area too and hard to get to, but you forget about that when you're in the zoo. This zoo is very good and offsets the negative impression of getting there.

Just a thought, I was hoping Kennywood would do that to. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2001 3:54 PM
I have been to Kennywood twice before and I have never experienced any of the problems or disappointments that it seemed that you faced. I don't live anywhere near Pittsburgh..... I live near D.C. which is a 3 1/2 hour drive, and even I still loved Kennywood. I love small and history filled parks. Kennywood is kept very clean, friendly staff, amazing old and new coasters and a few exceptional flat rides. Turtle and the Kangaroo ( the old one left of its kind) are very fun and there is the ancient Old Mill ride made in 1902 if I remember correctly. Thunderbolt has amazing lateral g's and is a favorite among coaster enthusiasts. Jackrabbit has an amazing double dip and Racer is pretty fun. Most of the rides are very old and very well-maintained. Racer, Thunderbolt (formerly Pippin) and Jackrabbit, along with the Old Mill, and the Kangaroo are old and still fun rides. Kennywood is one of the cleanest parks I have visited and I would rather shell out $26 for a great clean park than $45 at a mediocre SF park that only has a few good coasters. The overall atmosphere of Kennywood is great and ranks up there with the best parks in the US. Also, Kennywood does not have much control over the surrounding roads (because they aren't Kennywood property) and you should not let the roads hurt the potential fun that you could be having at such as wonderful park. I think you need to go there again and slowly walk through the whole park and realize all of the surrounding history that you are witnessing. Kennywood itself and its rides are National Historic landmarks for heaven's sake. Kennywood is a great park!!! I have not had one problem in the two times I have been there, and I strongly urge you to make another trip to Kennywood again to hopefully clear your mind of your "bad" past visit. I guarantee you will have a wonderful time if you keep my suggestions in mind.

*** This post was edited by ACE15 on 8/28/2001. ***

Tuesday, August 28, 2001 4:00 PM
That gum under the bridge to PR has been there for years. If you think that is bad, you should've seen the Thunderbolt wall a couple years ago.

Hey its Pennsylvania roads. What's more to say?

I'd rather ride a KW flat ride than something that can fold up and put on a flatbed truck and taken somewhere two times a week

Assistant Webmaster
Kennywood Park Unlimited

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 5:49 AM

Beeman65 said:
"I'd rather ride a KW flat ride than something that can fold up and put on a flatbed truck and taken somewhere two times a week"

Okay, these are obviously the words of someone who:
a) has never ridden a Huss Jump, Zamperla Power Surge, or Mondial Top Scan
b) is not a flat ride thrill seeker.
Sorry, but none of KW's flats match up, not even the great Bayern Curve (though it is close :))

Anyway, I too was a little let down by KW. It wasnt this great "Mecca" I was led to believe it was (note: T-bolt was closed). PR was all that and then some! The prices were GREAT. The fries were excellent for park food. Everything else just made me think of bringing some little kids. It would be a wonderful "Tweener" park, a little more thrilling than DisneyLand, but not Six Flags style.

Oh and one more thing, I didnt notice any "family-like, traditional" atmosphere. It felt every bit like a so-called 'corporate themer' to me.
--I've got one word for ya.......CORPORATION!

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 7:21 AM
Hmmm... I guess I'm easy to please. For me, it lived up to the hype and its one of my favorite parks. I only have two problems with Kennywood:
1. Getting there (900 miles round-trip)
2. Leaving the park

To each his own...

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 10:16 AM
I had a great time there even though it was pouring rain. I think park experience also has a lot to do with the mood you're in. Sounds like you were off to a bad start from the very beginning.

The only problem I saw was an employee being rather nasty and rude to someone who wanted to get in to the gift shop as it was closing. I would normally not mind, but the park doesn't post the closing time (we got in just barely), and the employee was really mean about it.

Other than that, it was a neat park...and it didn't smell like urine.

Yeeee Haaawwww!

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 1:24 PM

You were talking about the Cincinatti Zoo being in a bad neighborhood but being such a nice place that one forgets about the neighborhood when he/she enters the zoo.  Kennywood has the same effect on me.  Yeah, I know that it is in a pretty bad area of town, but I forget that once I come through the tunnel and see the beautiful landscaping and cleanliness...sorry, but either you caught KW on a really bad day or I caught it on really good days during my 2 visits.  Kennywood is one of the cleanest, most meticulously cared-for amusement parks I've ever been to. 

As for the atmosphere, prices, and quality of the experience, I believe that they can't be beat.  Kennywood won't be a park I visit every summer, but it is definitely a park that I look forward to visiting when I do go.

It's a simple equation: CCI + CP = #1 Wooden Coaster!


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