I made it out to Kennywood on this past Saturday, May 10, 2003. The annual Laurel Highlands Day brought me $20 tickets, but also brought some seriously nasty thunderstorms around 8:00 in the morning when I woke up. With plans that had been set up well in advance, though, there's no turning back. After picking up a few friends and meeting a few more fore breakfast at the world-famous Randall's on lovely Rt. 51, we piled in my trusty '97 Grand Prix and set out for Kennywood.
The bad weather, which had been called for all week, really kept people away from the park. The park wasn't "dead," but the lines stayed very manageable all day. My longest wait would probably be about 15-20 minutes for the Phantom, which was only that long due to the one-train operation they used midday. The best part of it all, though, was that the last bit of rain we really felt was about 12:30, just as we finally entered the park. The weather cleared up a bit and it actually ended up being a pretty nice day.
Now, the good stuff.
The new Volcano Valley area of the park, which includes a revamped, rethemed, repainted Enterprise, now known as "Volcano," the old Pirate ship, and the new King Kahuna, a relocated top spin from sisterpark Lake Compounce. The whole area is beautiful and really livens up that section of the park. The theming, while obviously not something straight out of Islands of Adventure, really fits in without detracting from the fact that you're in the middle of a classic American amusement park like Kennywood. King Kahuna itself is a great ride, and while not as intense as Aero 360, the line moves much quicker and makes for a great "Hey, let's ride this" attraction. It was a real hit with everyone I talked to -- all non-enthusiasts, mind you, and they're the ones who matter. Thumbs up!
The Phantom is running sweet. PR was the first coaster I checked out on Saturday, and therefore was the first coaster I'd ridden after my back surgery in October 2002. (For those of you who don't know, I had a semi-serious back operation [decompression laminectomy on disks L5-S1, if that helps] back then. For a while, it looked like Lynch and Coasters would no longer live in harmony, but luckily that's not the case. I caught a lot of flack from my parents the night before about it, but I decided to test it and see how everything goes. After a ride on PR, the ole backeroo was doing just fine. I'm back. Score one for modern medicine!) She seems, to me, to be running much smoother than in years past (though it could be because I was in pain in years past), and the airtime is as sweet as ever. I still haven't heard anyone say they don't like the new Phantom. Sure, there are your people who want some loopedy-loops and whatnot, but if it's not official yet, it should be: this one's a winner. Three trips on it for me.
Plus, the Phantom really seems to fit in now, compared to even last year when it still looked a little construction-yardesque. The entrance is snazzy, the Phantom at the station entrance fits, and the landscaping around the coaster looks sharp. The old miniature golf course, which had been long shutdown and was a true eyesore from the Phantom's line, has been removed. A new simulator, the Ham On Rye Theatre, sits in its place. I didn't check this out, but from what I saw, everyone on it enjoyed it. Anyone given it a whirl?
The Big Three Woodies are running fine as well. I notched two trips on the Thunderbolt, three on the Jack Rabbit, and two wins and one loss on the Racer.
And now some notes:
I really dig the new Volcano themeing, and the ride is as fun as its always been. ... The Roll-O-Plane is gone, replaced by some nice landscaping. No one I was with the entire day noticed. ... The new bathrooms by the Gold Rusher, replacing the ones that stood where King Kahuna now stands, are about as sleek-looking as bathrooms are gonna get. Nice job. ... Corn dogs with cheese are still awesome. ... Country Korn remains MIA. ... The roofless Whip is still a sad site. ... Didn't ride the Exterminator. (Longest line all day, so we skipped it, waiting for the opportunity to jump in line when the rain came -- it didn't.) ... My buddy Kenny nailed 11 out of 11 shots at the basketball game, taking a bigass Pooh Bear away with him. ... The Big Red Pad hanging from the Phantom's big drop over the Thunderbolt appears to be gone. It will be dearly missed. ... Kennywood still does a great job busting line jumpers, which is a big morale booster for those of us who obey the rules. ... And finally, Kennywood has once again given me that renewed appreciation for the female anatomy. Mm-hmm.
Thanks for reading through my choppy, subpar, late-night trip report. Some of you may or may not remember my epic TR's from back in the day, which read more like novels than forum posts. I'm sorry I don't have the time or energy to put those together anymore. But again, thanks for reading!
(P.S. I hopped in line for King Kahuna right after it had come back online after a short repair. As I was walking through the queue, I got into a small conversation with a mechanic [Chris, maybe?]. Anyway, I told him to tell KPBJ [though I used his real name] that Lynch said hello. Did you get my greeting, old friend? For that matter, did you recognize the name? ;))
Matt Lynch, who absolutely loves replies (and he's not kidding)...
"You know we got a good thing goin and I don't wanna see it end" --Reel Big Fish
Kennywood is the park I've been wanting to hit for quite a while now, but unfortunatly won't get around to visiting for a year or two at best. These TR's just make the anticipation grow.
Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.
And yes, there is more "stuff" to finish at the Volcano Valley. There's fog, sound, and lighting that will all be synched together with the rides and theme. I'd say in about a week or two things ought to be done.
Come on, fhqwgads!
Assistant Webmaster, Kennywood Boulevard
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