Kennywood 7/29/06 (W/ PNC Park and other PA nonsense)

Associated parks:
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Friday, August 4, 2006 3:02 AM
Our original plan was to visit a friend that I knew from college in Pittsburgh and check out PNC Park Saturday night. He ended up having free tickets for Kennywood the next day for some sort of company picnic, so we stayed overnight and headed there the next day.

PNC Park is everything people make it out to be. Being a small park and only 2 decks every seat is close to the field and great for watching baseball, as even the last seat in the outfield stands is a good seat. The architecture is fantastic as it mimics the steel and bridge image of Pittsburgh, much like our own park here in Cleveland. Our seats from the main grandstand were incredible looking out over the river at the bridges and building lit up at night. Even though the park was sold out (I guess to watch old man Bonds Fall down and run slow ;) ), the park is well designed to handle the crowds. The only thing that needs improvement is the scoreboards, as the main scoreboard lacks something and there aren’t very many on the façade of the grandstand for quick looks. To sum it up, it has great views and designs with the cozy feel of a minor league ballpark (well there is a minor league team playing there ;).

Next morning, we needed one more ticket so before we left for Kennywood. I remember seeing ads here in Cleveland for cheap tickets on a website so I logged on my friends computer. I got all day ticket off visitkennywood.com for $18, which is an awesome deal, better than any AAA of pop can discount. It doesn’t seem to matter where you live either, this discount looks to be for everyone.

We got there a little after 11, and the park had a decent crowd in it. It stormed for over an hour around 3 which I thought would clear the park, but the crowds picked up afterwards. I’m guessing it was because the evening admission and the picnics were over.

Walking in the new entrance looks fantastic, much better than the old one. Brick is such a classy and timeless look it should be good for a while. First up was Phantoms Revenge, and this ride continues to impress me. In the heat it was running insane, as there was even mass air at the top of the 2nd hill floating all the way down. I think it’s every bit as good of a hyper as the S:ROS’s, albeit a tad short. I think it’s actually a better front of train ride because there seems to be more air up there. Plus for whatever reason the “wind factor” make it feel just as fast as MF; heck it prolly goes just as fast into the brakes.

The line for the ride was just on the ramp with a full station, which made for about 20-25 minute waits with just 1 train running. Granted that’s not horrible, but seeing the other train just sitting there made me think I could be playing more skee-ball or eating more French fires, since being from out of town meant an early exit. The crew was somewhat slow too, that is until when the crowds picked up and they added the 2nd train. When running two trains they have a nice recording which says something to the effect “other train is out there get moving.” With 2 trains on they hustled like crazy never stacking.

Adding two the slowness of the wait is the badly engineered lift. They need a new motor or something to make it haul up there during 1 train ops and also when the block ahead is clear during 2 trains, Also there needs to actually to be a difference when trying to vary the lift speed while running two trains.

The next coaster on the list was Jack Rabbit, which I haven’t ridden since the slight train renovation and new braking system. The New logo looks pretty stupid, but the new padding on the seat makes for a real comfortable ride. The “leather strap” was also gone and replaced with a modern seat belt. I had the best double dip ever as I was thrown form my seat but gently slammed back down on the soft seat. Even though the queue was to the midway it went by fast with the 2 trains and fast crew. I’d say the ride is better now with these small improvements.

The Racer was next and had a fullish queue, which it always seems to have. Before we loaded a Bill Cohwer esque looking guy in a Steelers Hat (not him just looked like him ) boarded the one side with a special access pass, so we decided my Pittsburgh friend would ride in his train and the race would be Steelers Vs Browns. The Steelers train pulled off to an early lead and looked like it might take it as usual, but the Browns Surprising made a comeback on the last turn to take it by a car at the end. One of the more fun rides in the park, but my question is why doesn’t anyone ever slap hands on this ride?

The Last Coaster ridden was Thunderbolt, but not by me. It was my Pittsburgh native friend’s favorite and the other hadn’t been on it yet. So instead of one of us going through the hassle of waiting to pair up for another rider I just grabbed some fries and played some skee-ball (again ;)). They rode just after the storm passed through, but 45 minutes later when I met back up with them the queue was more than ¾ full with running only one train due to the rain with skids. Now, I’m all for “tradition” but an archaic controls, sensors, and skids that add nothing to the ride experience but severely limit its capacity is hardly a good tradition. The load/unload also makes things even slower, so this thing really should be running two trains if there is any sort of crowd. I’m not sure if it’s feasible even, but since they did such a great job on Jack Rabbit with Magnet brakes it seems like this would be the way to go.

Besides the coasters, we did the usual assortment of flats. For the first time I rode the Enterprise and it’s one of the better around. It goes Completely vertical and you get a good 3-4 revolutions at that stage. The new Swing Shot was only running one side with a large line, so we skipped that since we were short on time.

Finally the “catered” food in the park was simply the best “catered” park food I’ve ever had. Not the typical hot dogs and beans crap normally served. Burgers, BBQ chicken breast and Italian Sausage were on the menu. Everything had tremendous flavor and tasted like it was prepared fresh. There was even fresh watermelon for desert. I’ve never had anything bad at KW, and it’s all reasonably priced. I’d say Kennywood gives Knoebels a run for there money in the food department.

We left the park around 7ish because of the longish drive home. I didn’t know about the GL billboard, so it was quite a shock when we saw it. I think I laughed all the way back to the highway just on how absurd it was. I don’t think GL going aggressively after the Kennywood doesn’t make much sense. Neither does Kennywood putting billboards up in Elyria which is well west of Cleveland. Now the GL billboard is a senseless low blow, but for those who haven’t seen the TV ad in Cleveland for Kennywood it seems like it’s in response to that (or vise versa). Basically the Kangaroo Jumps around Cleveland by the Rock hall, and one person mentions that Kennywood is better than the parks in Ohio. I’m not sure who called out whom first, but saying local parks are poor compared to ones in which the majority of locals never even heard of seems like poor marketing.

Finally, we were going to stock up on some cases of Yuengling but of course buying beer on a Sunday (or buying beer period ;) in PA is an impossible task. Still I’ll trade the coasters for the worst highway system and liquor laws in the nation :). It took forever to get back to Cleveland as we hit some major storms on 76 and 80. Coming down the hills of PA I saw some of the most impressive ground to cloud lightning shows I’ve ever seen. There were strikes within 5 seconds of each other, but the only bad part was we headed right into it and nearly got washed out due the damn retaining walls not allowing for drainage.

All in All a great trip, and I would recommend a PNC/Kennywood weekend trip to anyone in Ohio for a cheap weekend getaway.

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Friday, August 4, 2006 7:39 AM
I love KWs Enterprise (Volcano). There are so many other great flats there as well. KW may not have as many coasters as CP, GL, or HP but their assortment of other rides makes up for this. Some of there rides such as the Auto Race and the Kangaroo (Flying Coaster) can't be found anywhere else.

I agree about the food. Good food at a reasonable price. I just wish that Shapiro would make a visit here as well as to Knoebels and HW.

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:38 PM
I have a queston about that visitkennywood.com site. I see you can purchase individual tickets for 18 bucks, but it appears that you have to have them shipped to you, can you not print them off?
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Sunday, August 6, 2006 10:44 PM
Hah, we have only the second worse liquor laws in the nation. (Utah's are supposed to be worse). But I do feel bad for you as I decide which I want to take next from my fridge-- a Yueng premium or a Lager. :)
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Monday, August 7, 2006 12:25 AM
Thankfully, I attended a party this weekend in Ashtabula and someone brought a few cases of the Lager over the border :). That stuff is crack in a bottle and the best beer for your buck. Far better than your typical American foamy gold dyed water.

stljason1- I thought the same thing actually since it doesn’t give you any options, but I turns out print at home is the only option even though it doesn’t really say. Once you buy they give you a PDF with the tickets.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 9:23 AM
Awsome, Joe that sounds like a great deal, this way I wont have to bug my relatives to go find me discount tickets like I usually do! I live In Illinois and will be making my yearly visit to Pittsburgh. Kennywood is a must for me every year.
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Monday, August 7, 2006 1:49 PM
Joe E., somehow I can't see "Crack In A Bottle" being part of any Yuengling marketing campaign in the near future. :)
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Friday, August 18, 2006 2:08 PM
Well, at least in PA, there's a Giant Eagle WITH a state liquor store in it. and yes, All our roads in rain pond in the tire tracks, even concrete roads. (especially I-376)

Oh, I can give you two valid reasons to the PR's slow crew.
1. a new Computer program (arg if it ain't broke, don't fix it)
it was working well, the lift slowed down partway up and sped back up ala MF when the 2nd train hit the station sensor. Dispatch is permitted when the train breaks the optical sensor located by the T-Bolt station.
One thing they need to work on it enthusiasm. The employees are dull and swallow the mic too much.

2. My slow/whiny ex works on the team. Most of the crew on the PR/Pit Fall over the years, especially when I worked there, has performed really well, even during the inaugural season where only one train ran before the installation of the pre station trim brakes.

Well, what am I to know, I only lived right there always watching the reconstruction of SP to PR from my window in my room.

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