Kennywood, 7/1/13

A few weeks ago I found out we were taking a road trip to Pittsburgh to see the Phillies play the Pirates. I thought this might finally be my chance to get to Cedar Point but since it was still around a 3 hour drive from Pittsburgh, we decided to save Cedar Point for an Ohio roadtrip so it was just Kennywood for this trip.

The original plan was to go on Monday, with an 80% chance of rain and rain when we left the hotel that plan got cancelled. There were supposed to be thunderstorms Wednesday as well (Tuesday we went to the baseball game) so it looked like we may not get to the park and went to the Carnegie Science Center instead. The entire afternoon it wasn't raining and after the museum closed at 5:00, someone had the idea to try to go to Kennywood the rest of the day. We called to find out what time they were closing since I thought they might close early if crowds were low. The person on the phone said they were closing at 10:00 and the park wasn't crowded at all because the forecast kept everyone away. The GPS said it would take 17 minutes but with traffic and stopping at Giant Eagle to get a coupon we didn't get to the entrance of the park until a little after 6:00 and I was a little worried if just under 4 hours would be enough time to ride all the coasters and all
the other non coaster rides I wanted to try.

Giant Eagle had coupons good for this past week only for $10 off admission. I was surprised that it was valid on the after 5:00 admission rate and not just on the full gate price. That made the ticket price $14.99. The entrance was interesting since I didn't know you had to walk down a ramp and under the road to get to the park.

The first ride was Jack Rabbit. 2 trains were running and it was a 2 train wait. I was surprised to see the fixed position lap bars. The double down was great and there was some really good air time. It was also very smooth which I wasn't expecting.

We went to Racer next. 2 trains were running and I didn't know ahead of time that you didn't wait in the station and like Jack Rabbit, you just go to the train right from the queue. The only bad thing about this setup was that it caused lots of empty rows to go out. It didn't matter today with basically no line but I could see it being annoyed on a more crowded day. We went to the left side first and like Jack Rabbit it was very smooth. I liked the coaster a lot more than Rolling Thunder and Rebel Yell but slightly less than Lightning Racer. It was also cool to end up on the other side of the station since it's a mobius coaster.

Log Jammer had no wait so we went there next. The uphill section after the first drop was fun and I wish Great Adventure's log flume still had that element.

Racer still had no line so we went back there this time riding the right side so we could say we had ridden the entire track and get the full credit.

Garfield's Nightmare was next and had no line. I knew that a lot of people didn't like the ride after they rethemed it to Garfield but I figured it couldn't be that bad. It was one of the worst dark rides I have seen (Jersey Junkyard at Morey's is the worst). I was expecting more than just neon glowing signs with pictures of Garfield with some show scenes thrown in most of which were stationary.

When entering the park I saw Sky Rocket was running 1 train with a line past the stairs but now was running 2 trains and was a 2 train wait unless you wanted the front. The only Premier coaster I had ridden before this was Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Orlando. I went for the 3rd row and liked how the ride made a turn out of the station before the launch. I wasn't expecting so much air time on the ride and although I have ridden Schwarzkopf loopers before, going upside down through inversions other than a vertical loop, especially the zero g roll with just a lap bar was interesting. The last section of the ride with the surf curves reminded me of Cheetah Hunt. Like the other coasters, I ended up liking Sky Rocket a lot more than I expected to.

The bumper cars had no wait and I was surprised to see no island in the center of the ride and no rule of one way driving but no head on collisions were allowed.

I saw the entrance to Phantom's Revenge was nearby so I was going to stop there next since no one else wanted to ride that coaster. Unfortunately only 1 train was running and I saw the line probably was around 25 - 30 minutes so I skipped it for now and planned to get to it later in the day when the line would be shorter. I also couldn't believe how far the station is from the queue entrance.

Next was the Turtle which I was really looking forward to trying since I have memories of riding the kiddie version at Hersheypark themed to a ladybug but haven't ridden it in over 12 years since you can't ride it without a kid. The cycle was over 3 minutes and it was a fun ride.

Auto Race was another ride I was looking forward to trying. The wait was around 10 minutes and 5 cars were running. I had no idea that the cars moved so fast. Storybook Land used to have a similar type of ride where the cars where not on a guide rail and turned with rails of wood on both sides of the car and it was a slow moving ride which I thought this would be like. It was way more fun than a regular antique car ride. If we had more time, I would have liked to have gone back for another ride. Since the train was right next to Auto Race we stopped there next and I liked how they had pictures up showing older rides the park used to have.

Ghostwood Estate opened back up and there was no wait to get into the pre-show. I liked how the pre-show wasn't just a video screen like at The Dark Knight and was over quickly. I was very impressed with Ghostwood Estate. The rooms were really detailed and there was so much to see. Unfortunately I was paying attention to the targets more than everything in the rooms so I missed a lot of the theming. Ghost Hunt at Lake Compounce was may favorite dark ride not in Orlando but this ride was even better.

Thunderbolt was running 1 train and there was no line. I knew about the no single rider rule ahead of time and they made announcements not to board the train if you were a single rider. I can understand why they don't allow single riders after getting to the part of the ride near the entrance where you be thrown around the train if you riding alone. Like the other 2 wooden coasters, Thunderbolt was very smooth and I'm not sure if Racer or Thunderbolt was my favorite wooden coaster at the park.

I went back to Phantom's Revenge and saw it was now a 3 train wait. I wasn't expecting much since I knew it was a Morgan coaster and while Steel Force is a fun coaster it doesn't even compare to Nitro so I thought it would be similar to Steel Force. I soon found out I was wrong. The trains were different with the Arrow chassis and the lap bars that you had to lower from the side of the train. It felt like Scream Machine with lap bars during the lifthill and first drop. By the time the train got to the 2nd drop through Thunderbolt I realized this was no Steel Force and the ride was way more intense. I also liked the banked turn (I'm not sure if that is the right term or not). The only bad thing about the ride was that it was short for a hyper coaster and I wish it had another 1000 feet of track.

Noah's Ark was nearby and I was looking forward to trying it since it's a rare ride like so many other rides at Kennywood. I didn't know about the ruins section and when you got into the actual ark, it was a little disorienting walking around with the ark rocking and trying to walk down stairs. I was glad to try it but if it was something at a local park, it wouldn't be something I would go to more than a couple of times a season.

It was around 9:15 at this point and I saw Noah's Ark was now closed. We walked into Lost Kennywood and saw the Whip also was closed which we had wanted to try but not a huge loss since it looked like it was a Mangels Whip like at Dorney just with more cars. I wasn't sure if closing rides early was normal or not. Some rides in the other section of the park like Racer had signs up saying they close a certain amount of time before Fireworks and don't reopen but these rides didn't have those signs.

Walking past the Whip, I saw we were right at Exterminator. The queue was themed ok but it looks like they have it setup where a full queue would take a very long time to go through. I also was surprised that they said seatbelts were optional for anyone over 52." It was interesting how during the first part of the ride after the lift, the floor was right under the track instead of the supports going all the way to the bottom of the ride like on the standard outdoor model of the ride. The ride itself was themed well and I liked it a lot more than The Dark Knight.

Since we still had a little time left, I wanted to try Bayern Curve. I last rode a Bayern Curve at Canada's Wonderland in 1996 and remembered enjoying it. I enjoyed this Bayern Curve too until the horn sounded and it got to full speed and then it was a little much.

On the way out I wanted to stop at Sky Rocket for another ride. This time I went to row 5 waiting 2 trains again and got even more air time from the 2nd car.

I had seen the Kangaroo ride when we first got into the park and wanted to try it if there was time but unfortunately, forgot about it until the next day when it was of course too late. Hopefully if I ever get back to Kennywood, the ride will still be there.

I couldn't believe how much of the park we were able to see in less than 4 hours and I ended up liking the park a lot more than I expected to with the wooden coasters all smooth, Phantom's Revenge and Sky Rocket being great and an excellent selection of non coaster rides to choose from. If it was a local park, I'd get a season pass without even thinking twice about it. It was also nice getting to a park other than Great Adventure or Dorney since although I like both of those parks, I hadn't been to a park other than those 2 since January 2012 in Orlando so I think that made the trip to Kennywood even better since it was refreshing to try some different coasters.

Glad you liked it! It's nice to hear positive feedback on Noah's Ark as most people just complain about (perhaps you were unbias as you never experienced what it was before its current state). I have a season pass and am there almost every week for a few hours--like you, we are able to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Even on busier days, the park knows how to move people.

kennywood is my favorite park and if you do go back make sure you do try the whip because its one of the best ones i have ridden. I have phantoms revenge as my #2 steel just behind bizarro at sfne. When i went in june the park closed at 5pm due to in coming weather and as we were leaving park management was standing at the front entrance handing out tickets to everyone to return at a later date, how awesome is that? I don't know why people hate Garfield because it is such a rare ride. Yes i have to admit the theming isn't as good as Ye Old Mill at playland in Rye NY but its still a great classic ride!

Did you ride the Old Mill when it was the Old Mill? That's why people are mad.

The Whip is ok at KW. if you want a good Whip, try Camden.

^^And if you want a GREAT Whip (with airtime!) try Playland!

The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

LostKause's avatar

There is just something about Kennywood. I have a great time every time I go there.

Garfield's Nightmare sucks. I loved The Old Mill so much. Those stupid skeletons standing around doing Skeleton stuff. It's not an exciting ride, but it always made me laugh. Didn't someone close to the park once say that they were going to kill Garfield and retheme the ride again soon? Like three or four years ago?

The Whip at Kennywood is awesome, but the one at Camden Park is still much better, for some reason. Of course, I am biased, because I live only an hour from Camden.

You made me miss Kennywood. I need to get back there again. I was there once last year. Maybe I should put it in my schedule for this year.

Edit - I just want to point out... I hate Garfield.

Last edited by LostKause,
Bobbie1951's avatar

Good report; makes me want to go to Kennywood. (Never been there.) Phantom's Revenge is looking very tempting. If I do it will have to wait until after September, as that's when airfares drop. I don't understand why fares are so much higher during the summer but that's the way it is. To fly from Philly to Pittsburgh now would cost $330 each way and in the middle of September only $131 each way. Same with Philly to Erie but that's not even an option because Waldameer closes at the beginning of September. I thought about going to Canada's Wonderland but the fare is only $10 less after the summer so I guess I won't be going there.


Raven-Phile's avatar

LostKause said:

You made me miss Kennywood. I need to get back there again. I was there once last year. Maybe I should put it in my schedule for this year.

Just don't tell anyone when. You wouldn't want them showing up at the park when you're there. :)

Tommytheduck's avatar

They don't sell Fastpasses, do they? haha. Need to get back there as well.

They do have a paid line skipping system, but it's much cheaper than Flashpass and Fast Lane. $15 to skip the line on all 6 coasters:

LostKause's avatar

That pass allow you to skip only once per coaster, which I see as a really good thing.

birdhombre's avatar

The Kennywood VIP coaster tour is a sweet deal for $15, and I was going to link to my post about it from back in May, but apparently I never wrote it. They give you a little card on a lanyard with your schedule: Each hour, you have a 40-minute window to ride a specified coaster (which means your visit has to be at least 6 hours long, of course). You can even buy a pass for just one ride for $5, which was handy because my friend's kid was only tall enough for Jackrabbit.

I know we've had discussions here about whether "scheduled" things remove the spontaneity of visiting a park, but I actually found it more liberating. Instead of worrying about getting on all the big rides, we could relax and move at a slower pace because we knew we'd get on the coasters right away. At the top of each hour we'd ride the designated coaster, then look for flats or other things to do nearby. It also removed a lot of that "what should we do next" group decision-making frustration, because again, we had plenty of time to spare.

Last edited by birdhombre,

Anybody familiar with kennywood know how busy it can be on a Saturday or Sunday at this time of year?

We have been there on dead days, but since KW drops everything to 1-train ops lines get quite long... And on busy days, they run multiple trains and lines can be about the same length.

How busy are Saturday/Sundays in regards to wait times? We may head there this weekend and are curious if we should wait for another time or not.

kpjb's avatar

It has rained pretty much every day for the past month, and this weekend is supposed to be nice. I'd bet on busy.


Never been to Kennywood, either, but some of those classic, old rides look awesome! Especially the Bayern Curve and the Kangaroo ride, it was so fun seeing parents and kids riding together, having a blast. Sigh. Wish I lived closer.

bjames's avatar

Yeah 5 hours seems like a good amount of time to get through Kennywood, glad you were able to hit all the coasters!

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