Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, USA
For my Boobuzz side trip I went with the suggestions of fellow buzzers and took the 3 hour drive to Kennywood. We spent most of Saturday checking out Pittsburgh, which was a surprisingly gorgeous city. I was picturing it to be an industrial factory fest…..and I found it to be the total opposite. It reminded me a lot of Valparaiso, Chile, with the murals on the walls and the funiculars on the hillsides. I have never seen so many different types of bridges in one city. A bridge geek’s paradise! Also, I was impressed with the Steeler pride……they have the Oakland Raider fans beat by a long shot. There was a game in Sunday and the whole city was covered with black and yellow.
Anyhow, in my excitement, I suggested to my travel bud Petr, that we leave at around 5:45 to get to Kennywood. The GPS said it would take us 20 minutes, but everyone said the park would be packed, and I was determined to get quick rides on Sky rocket and Phantom. There are no highways to Kennywood, I can imagine if we waited we would hit quite a bit of traffic getting to the park. We pulled up to the parking lot at around 6:15….FREE PARKING???? Nice! At around 6:30 they opened the ticket booths and we bought our tickets. We were ahead of the crowd, and a swarthy guard’s woman kept barking at people to get back until they opened the turnstiles. At 6:45 they opened the turnstiles, and there was a mad rush of people. This was my first running of the bulls….that was interesting.
We sprinted towards Sky rocket…..which I thought would have the longest line because of the low capacity. It took us a while to figure our way around. We didn’t stop to get a map, the underpass was filled with smoke and the park has an odd layout. Anyhow, we followed some kids and headed to the Sky Rocket entrance. They tested for a few minutes, and then opened the gates. We were on the second train out, front seat. Sky Rocket was a decent ride…….well the first half atleast. The launch was mild, the top hat with the holding brake was a nice touch. My favorite part of the whole ride was the 0-g roll…..full of air. The second half was as thrilling as a Vekoma roller-skater. I think they could have done without the holding brake at the second drop and add a MCBR. (+ one more train) It meandered through the course and limped back the station. After hitting Maverick the day before this was a kiddie coaster with a launch. Meh - 6.5/10
By this time the line for Skyrocket was at least 2 hours long. Poor bastards. Our second ride was Phantom , and by this time I noticed quite a few people heading in the same direction. They were only running one train….Lovely. If they were anticipating crowds that night why wouldn’t they start with two trains? Anyhow, we waited 25 minutes for an in station wait….nice (not)! The ride itself was good, especially the series of bunny hops at the end taken at warp speed. Not sure if it cracked my top ten…..which could be a combination of its length (short), my annoyance at the slow operations and the frigid weather. A solid ride though - 8/10.
By the time we got off, Phantoms line tripled in size. Oy Ve! Our next ride was Thunderbolt….and by this time I was cranky because I kept bumping into people, I was freezing and my stomach was growling. But, angels smiled at me, because ahead of us was the potato patch. Nothing to cure a bad mood than some artery clogging, deep fried carb fest. The line for the French fries was long….I guess that it’s a testament to its goodness. I had my French friends drowned in cheese, ketchup and seasoned salt. Yes! It was all that…and then some.
We had our fries and headed towards Thunderbolt….Which again was only running one train. We waited 30 minutes for the middle of the train. I have never studied the layout of Thunderbolt….the only thing I know about it is that Phantom is intertwined. Imagine my surprise when the train drops out of the station. That took me by surprise…..a very nice touch. The ride was amazing…..how is this not ranked higher in Mitch’s polls. It was smooth, full of nice drops and some nice g’s. I like the drop from the lift hill and the hard bank right….reminds me of a slower, smoother Hercules. Then the final two drops before the end were the largest of the whole course….another surprise again. 8.5/10
Our next ride was Racer. Petr wanted to hit some of the haunted houses……but I persuaded him that coasters took precedence…..and we can see all the haunted houses we want at Universal and Busch Gardens. Racer has the most beautiful nostalgic station I have ever seen. We waited 40 minutes for and then we were off. I was not aware how tiny Racer was. It has some nice drops and it wasn’t too rough….but it was no Lightning Racer. I loved the red stained wood though…and the fact that we ended up on the opposite side of the station from which we started. Is this the only mobius coaster in the world? 7.5/10.
Our next ride was the star of the night. Jackrabbit is one of the oldest coasters in the US….and is now my #2 wooden coaster. We waited 40 minutes for the middle of the train…with the odd restraint system, and sofa soft seats. Old Skool. I had to slide under the bar with my abnormally long grasshopper legs. We departed the station, curved left, and again were greeted with a delicious first drop. (I love these coasters that are built in valleys) We then climbed the tiny lift hill than then WHAM….we were greeted with an airtime laden double down. I also liked the tunnel filled with fog…..very nice. Overall I think Jackrabbit is the underrated star of Kennywood. I hope I’m not being a philistine…I know many sing the praise of Phantom - 9/10
Our next ride was Noah’s Ark….another horrendously long line. But according to Ensign Smith it was a ride not to be missed. As the line crawled along, I noticed some really egregious line cutting. I was busy updating my status on facebook when three burly sistas slid under the railing right in front of me. Wh-wh-what?? I said excuse me and they stared me down like I had 6 heads. I pushed through them knocking them over like a bowling ball hitting pins. I was already cranky, and I was not opposed to getting ‘Brooklyn’ on some line cutters. I then called Petr to come over….and he nervously passed them and joined me. The people watching laughed….sorry, wrong person. Anyhow, after 1.5 hours, we entered the fun-house. It was transformed for Halloween I reckon…and the whole walk through experience was one of my scariest…EVER. Some areas were pitch black….and I had to feel my way through. There were ghouls at every turn…and one part I was so startled I fell to the floor. I also loved the shaking floor section….nice! Well worth the wait (except for the line cutting). 8.5/10
It was not about 12 am and I didn’t want to miss Exterminator. I knew this one would be a long wait as well…I was prepared. About 45 minutes in the line…I was cold, my feet hurt and I was over my potato patch high. Two sistas (surprise!!!) were just passing people willy nilly saying they have to meet their friends ahead. Then they reached me…and I was ready to issue a cuss out if needed. They kept saying excuse me….and I didn’t move. So she gets out her phone to call her friend ahead. Minutes later this giant amazon comes in front of me and told me to move. I just glared at her for 15 seconds…then she waddled back to her spot in line. Her friend behind me muttered something about pushing me out of the way. The other one then replied that I was too big…hahahaaa. The line inched along for the next .5 hr…and I still blocked the way with my hands. Then I heard some shuffling in the bushes… apparently the jumped over the railing, took to the bushes to join their friends ahead. I hope they got attacked by wasps.
Anyhow….glad I stood my ground. They didn’t seem to have any security guarding the lines. Scandalous! Anyhow, back to the ride…..we entered the building…and were blasted with cold air. Seem like the geniuses had the air conditioning blasting. Ugh! Luckily we were on the ride in 10 minutes. The cars looked like the ones on Primeval Whirl. Oh Great…I thought Primeval whirl was a snoozefest. However Exterminator was a pretty good. I’m not sure if it was because of a different layout or the darkness…but this ride was on fire. I love the backwards drops in the out of control spinning. Also liked the theming….not bad for traditional amusement park. 7.5/10.
By this time it was a about 12:55 am…and my hands were numb. I couldn’t get to the car fast enough. Overall, Kennywood was an awesome park with great wooden coasters….and Phantom…..and Noah’s Ark …and the French fries. I think I need to go back on a warmer, less crowded day so I can experience it more. 8/10Last edited by delan, Wednesday, October 20, 2010 1:54 PM
Seems that I remember hearing when I was visiting Pittsbugh that only Vienna, Italy has more bridges. It might just be a local urban legend.
Delan, hope you had a nice time despite the crowds and weather. Kennywood is a little gem of a park, and it's not so little anymore (but still a gem).
James, do yo mean Vienna, Austria or Venice, Italy? I'm guessing it would be the latter that has the most bridges.
Venice... the canals and all that. Sorry.
Glad you had fun. Sadly, KW always opens certain coasters with one train. But Phantom at nite (after a long, terrible day) with no wait is worth it.
Yeah, the T-Bolt and Phantom have to open with one train due to the braking setup. It's a PIA for all those involved. There's a "sweet spot" in both of the queues where the second train will be added.
The thing about Venice is not an urban legend. We gots lotsa bridges, 24% of which aren't falling apart.
For what it's worth, there is an article on Wikipedia stating that Pittsburgh has the most bridges...
Glad you managed to have a good time despite the crowds. We go early in the Halloween season to avoid them!
You're not alone in your feelings for Thunderbolt. After almost 600 coasters, it's still one of my most favorite. The back seat is a crazy good time! And I feel pretty much the same way as you do about SkyRocket. Great description of the ending. There is some sick air in the back going down the two big drops though. Too bad they forgot the fun after the last inversion.
Phantom grows on you. You'll learn to love it after repeat visits. And there are two other Mobius racing woodies... the absolutely magnificent Grand National at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Montaña Rusa at La Feria Chapultepec Magico in Mexico City (I've yet to experience this one).
I don't think you're a philistine either. Jack Rabbit was my favorite coaster when I visited Kennywood too.
Eh, the Burgh and its bridges. I've been to/through the city many times, and I don't think I've ever used the same bridge on consecutive visits. Seems like in even years, the Rankin bridge is closed, and in odd years, it's the Homestead bridge. Did you get to ride any of the inclines, er funiculars?
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