Kennywood 7/9/12 and 7/16/12

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 11:19 PM

I took two trips in different weeks to Kennywood; the first with coworkers from the rides department at work, and the second week I was invited by the managers from the games department at work. Admission was free with park id tag, and both days I spent less than $10 in Kennywood.

Weather: Mid-80s and sunny both days

Crowds: Moderate both days

Overall Rides: 8/10

Overall Park: 6/10

The Positive (Rides):

Kennywood has a smaller collection of coasters, but a quality one with greats such as Thunderbolt and Phantom's Revenge. Thunderbolt is boatloads of fun with quirky pops of air before the lift (experienced near the front) and through the "bowl" section (both front and back). Combine that with some of the best lateral g's experienced on any coaster, and you have a gem that is Thunderbolt. Phantom's Revenge always is spectacular with the combination of intensity and air. Thunderolt (9/10). Phatom's Revenge (10/10).

Sky Rocket is losing it's credibility as a very good coaster in which it's now considered by myself as teetering between "mediocre" and "good." The first half is great with its pop of air on the hill and intense zero-g roll, but the ride fizzles out completely after the mid-course brake run. I even opted for the first row on the second day, and nothing really changed. If there was a better second half, this coaster would be excellent, but I'm left wanting so much more as it is now (7/10).

Jack Rabbit and Racer are great tributes to the history of wooden coasters, but they are lacking in the thrills department. I enjoy both coasters, but nothing about them makes them the reason to make a trip to Kennywood. The airtime on the double-down on Jack Rabbit doesn't seem to have the same kick even in the back seat now that I have experienced other coasters with even more sick airtime. Racer is still a good middle ground coaster for families with a decent pop of air on the last drop, but the rest of the ride is fairly tame. Both coasters (6/10).

Exterminator still remains popular and is a fun ride to this day. The experience as a whole brings a mediocre mouse-type coaster into a unique and rather thrilling experience (8/10).

Kennywood still is home to some excellent flats. Bayern Kurve is a personal favorite, SO MUCH FUN. Aero 360 seems to be losing popularity with the general public as seen by the surprisingly short lines, but the ride still delivers. Swingshot has some great air, but runs an awfully short cycle. And then there is the new kid on the block....

Black Widow is an excellent addition, and the memory of Pittfall will fade rapidly with the general public. The open feeling of the restraints really enhances the experience. Also, the placement of the ride allows it to swing very low over the midway in which bystanders are offered an excellent view. However, if I have one thing to bash the ride itself on is the amount of time it takes to reach maximum height, and lack of time spent running at max height. One thing Huss did do right with their model is the amount of time riders get to experience the ride swinging at max height.

The Negative (Park Experience):

Kennywood is becoming more and more of a bittersweet experience in which the bitter is getting stronger each visit. The rides and coasters in and of themselves are great, but the entire park as a whole seems to be a step behind.

Employees seem to be very inefficient when it comes to flat rides. The sad part for me is that I learned that the employees rotate rides throughout the day. Usually when operators get to change scenery throughout the day, they tend to be more enthusiastic and efficient. Unfortunately, the flat ride employees seemed to literally drag their feet. I can handle lines when I feel like employees are doing the best they can, but Kennywood employees, in particular on Swingshot and Black Widow, kept me from getting in line for re-rides on both days.

Fortunately, the coaster crews were moving fairly well, but the park held their abilities back somewhat. Kennywood is stingy about running more than one train to start the day on Thunderbolt and Phantom's Revenge. I understand that both days were Mondays, but when lines are 45-60 min and longer, I think two trains is justified even to start the day. Thunderbolt added a second train both days later in the afternoon, and Phantom's Revenge only added the second train on the second Monday in the late afternoon. Second trains aren't put into service until lines seem to be really unnecessarily long. Every time I have visited the park, even on a couple Saturdays, I have seen this practice.

Another thing that drives me nuts is how Kennywood handles their queue lines. Several, including the brand new Black Widow and the newer Sky Rocket, are lacking shade and are composed of warped steel attached using a visually unappealing patchwork job of concrete on black asphalt. When most of the day in almost any park is spent waiting in line, I think a little more effort for comfort would be appreciated. Also, like I have mentioned before in trip reports, the overflowing of queues is very annoying when trying to walk through a midway.

Conclusion: Kennywood is home to some great rides, but the entire park needs to step up and improve their infrastructure to enhance the overall experience.

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