Kennywood 8/19/19

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I last visited Kennywood in 2012. I was to meet a friend there for the day, and I was looking forward to my first ride on Sky Rocket and Black Widow, their new-for-2012 Zamperla Giant Discovery. After the 3 hr drive from Columbus I walked inito the park and received a message from my friend that he was forced to cancel so I was left on my own. My first (and last) solo ride of the day was the very enjoyable Sky Rocket but the day went downhill from there. Black Widow was closed for the day and shortly before lunch a microburst of some kind hit the park causing a bit of flooding and damage. At about 1 PM the sweet strains of Nighty Night could be heard and the park closed for the day, sending me and the rest of the guests packing with a rain check ticket in hand. I left with a rather bad taste in my mouth- a quick tour of the place had revealed a park that seemed to be in a state of decline. Well, at least it wasn’t the beautiful, sparkling park I had grown to love over many visits since my first in the late 70’s. And my return wasn’t until I was yesterday years old.

Of course, it was the lure of The Steel Curtain that brought me back. I called one of my best friends Sara who I knew had time off to use, was eager for a day trip, liked roller coasters well enough, and had never been toKennywood. I was eager to go, as unexpected acting jobs this summer has kept me short on park visits. So in spite of our KPJB’s previous warning that the park would be busy, off we went. Daily operation ceases on the 20th, so out of necessity...

We arrived after our 3 hour drive around 10:30 and were greeted by a huge crowd at the gate. Once in we decided to opt for one of their pay-to-cut options- for just under 50 bucks we got a wristband that entitled us to one trip on each of their 7 coasters and nothing else which was fine as Sara isn’t a big fan of round-and-rounds and hates spinning.

Our first stop was Steel Curtain where it seemed everyone who had been at the front gate was standing. It also wasn’t operating ( So we started our tour with Racer and Jack Rabbit. And really, that seemed an appropriate place to start a newcomer. Sara, who doesn’t have many true wooden rides under her belt, was amazed at how smooth and well-maintained rides from the 1920’s could be. (That fact isn’t lost on me, either) As we made our way around the circle we stopped at each coaster along the way, also taking in novelties like Noah’s Ark, the Whip, some Potato Patch fries, and Ghostwood Estate (Which was awful, btw). We also did a quick trip around the Thomas Town family area which was cute as hell, and incorporates their previous train ride nicely. I recalled that the park had a rough start and delays with that area when it was new for 18, which I’m beginning to see as a pattern for Kennywood these days. One of my favorites at the park is the Traver Auto Ride and at my insistence got in line. We got right back out though when I saw how sloooow the cars are moving these days. It was always such a speedy little ride, and I’m not sure what’s happened, but not any more.

Finally... it was time for Steel Curtain. This was not the only time that our wristbands came in handy, but boy howdy. Standby was posted at two hours and we walked right on. As we got to the top of the stairs I asked a guy in the other line how long they’d been there and he said 2.5. Yikes. That 50 bucks was clearly some of the best money I’ve ever spent. The ride itself is just gorgeous and was so fun and thrilling. A little nervousness took over during the steep climb up the lift hill, but the release through the “world’s tallest inversion” was only the start of an action-packed thriller. We loved it.

About the area in general. Should I be shocked that it’s not done? After all the hype for Steelers Land and as much of a draw as it is for local fans, I have to wonder what the delay could possibly be. None of the interactive attractions or the food that was promised was available- in fact it was walled off and still very much under construction. With last year’s delay of Thomas Town I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t a hallmark of Kennywood these days. And if so, that’s bit of a disappointment that one entire operating season can pass before a promised attraction can finally open.

All in all it was a fun day and my faith in my old favorite has been (for the most part) restored. Black Widow was closed all day (I may have to resign myself to never riding it). On the way out I remembered I still needed my traditional ride on what is arguably Kennywood’s best flat ride, their beautifully restored Bayern Kurve. And holy crap, what a ride. That horn, tho...

We left the park around 4:00, admittedly not the best time for anyone to make their way from the park to the Fort Pitt tunnel. But that was fine, we had the time. And we reached the Eat n Park in Wheeling (a Pa. favorite of mine) right on time for a nice, relaxing supper. As for Sara, I believe she’s a new fan of Kennywood and ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for reading!

eightdotthree's avatar

About the area in general. Should I be shocked that it’s not done?

I'm not.

I visited in June 2018 after a 10+ year absence from the park and did not have a good experience. Glad to hear yours was better. I'd like to return next year for Steel Curtain, but knew with the reputation the place has in terms of new attraction uptime and readiness it wasn't even worth trying this year.

Steel Curtain opening halfway through the season and Steelers Country still not open at Kennywood... All of Lakemont skipping 2 years instead of 1, and Leap The Dips still isn’t running... Hersheypark taking 2 years to build a new entrance... PA is a mess this year.

But it’s not just PA; West Coast Racers isn’t even close to being open at SFMM.

But then again, what do I know?

Kennywood and its owner have a history of not opening new attractions at the beginning of the season, but I think it's unfair to pin attraction reliability on them alone. Black Widow is down because Zamperla rides are built like ****, which is evidenced by the fact that almost every Giant Discovery built by Six Flags has seen substantial downtime for the same reason (blowing gearboxes). Steel Curtain saw a few days of downtime, but it's nothing compared to how often Lightning Rod isn't operating. Every park is dealing with the ever-increasing complexity of new rides and no chain is immune.

Kenny wood is infamous for closing for rain. I would travel any distance to go there as one is never guaranteed they will operate. Plus all of the closed rides. What a dump it has become.

I just made a trip report about what a nice, productive day we had, and I’m no slouch. All rides but one were up and running and I knew about that one in advance. If you think that park is a dump I’ve got a few elsewhere I’d like to show you.

I kind of get the rain thing. If the park is a wash out and they are passing out rain checks, which they do, then maybe it’s justified. They offer very little indoor space to duck out of bad weather. The park still operates as a local attraction- they know those people will be able to plan a nice day or evening in the future and not be too unhappy about it. The ones I hear being all butt hurt about it are mostly enthusiasts who “would travel any distance”.

My observation, as stated, is a that Kennywood has come a long way since my last visit. The park was pretty, clean, the crowd was nice, and they just added an expensive, stellar attraction. I’m glad I went.

Last edited by RCMAC,

The rain policy is asinine. There are days when it rains all day and I totally get that it's worth not staying open. However, they seem to use rain as an excuse to close any time it's not busy. I can't tell you how many times this summer that the park closed due to an hour of rain in the late afternoon only to have the evening be beautiful. It's not as big of a deal for me because I live 25 minutes away, but they don't seem to understand that people come long distances to visit the park (especially with the new coaster) and don't have unlimited days off, so a rain check does absolutely nothing beyond ruin their day. On top of that, their new policy (started either this year or last year) is that you need a ticket stub to get a rain check. Who thinks to keep a tiny stub or paper receipt in their pocket all day long?

I am glad to hear that you had a good experience, my last visit back in 2013 was not a good none.

Also for Black Widow (Zamperla model) is it it normal for it shift / slight drop when the pendulum makes it to it highest point. When I rode it / watched it for a while, it seems that when it reaches it's highest point it would drop slightly and you see and feel the ride pull (trying to find a way to explain). With other variances of this style of ride you typically don't see that? Without knowing anything about the mechanics of the ride it would seem that the gear(s) would slip slightly, again just an observation, something I had always wondered about this ride.

There is no such thing as a terrible Coaster just ones that haven't been taken care of

Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

I only recently learned that Sky Rocket was down for basically all of 2018, and according to rcdb re-opened the same time as Steel Curtain in July. I don't understand how a park can hope to have a successful season when 2 of its biggest attractions are closed until summer is halfway over.

Coasterbuzz - Coaster enthusiasts, but so much more. We're the good ones.

It would seem so. But like I said, Kennywood is more of a local tradition. People from the area go anyway, and there are so many ethnic days, schools days, parades and picnics to keep regular groups coming that they may not worry too much about attendance. Maybe someone here is at liberty to comment on that subject.

We've all seen the videos and heard the rumblings that the park has gotten rough, but I’m not so sure that doesn’t happen everywhere these days. Even Disney.

I’ve always wished for an amusement park right in my hometown that I could just pop in and visit whenever the mood struck. And perhaps that would get tiresome, I dunno. I also suppose living halfway between KI and CP isn’t a bad place to be either, but we’re always faced with a day trip and a little planning to do that.

I moved to Florida in 2008 and lived 15 minutes away from Geauga Lake until it closed. Even when the place was at its worst (which depends on who you are as to what era you think that was) it was still nice to have right there.

Now I live about 25 minutes from Universal and 40 minutes from WDW. The biggest reason I don't go more is traffic.

When you live that close, visits become part of the weekly/monthly routine. But they've never gotten tiresome.

Last edited by BrettV,
Vater's avatar

I used to live within a 45 minute drive from SFA, and yeah, it was nice to have. Until I got so fed up with the place by 2003 that I never returned.

Recently I was at Canada's Wonderland, Kennywood and Cedar Point who all shut down the park before a significant rain storms hit. It seems they are all watching the weather on Doppler radar and making predictions on the impacts. I would assume sometimes these storms miss the park and the rides are needlessly shut down. But in Kennywood's case I am not surprised they are quicker to shut down rides because of the incident where a micro-burst collapsed a pavilion and killed a woman, 17 years ago. Kennywood is not a chain of parks, it's just Kennywood that has to deal with the negative press of an under reaction to in coming storms. And honestly, I don't enjoy being caught on a coaster during a rain storm.

I thought Steel Curtain was incredible, a great addition to the park. I told the ride operator I tend to throw up after five loops. He just smiled, locked me in and told me to throw up over the side. Kennywood itself seems better then ever, with the exception of recently allowing folks paying to cut to the front. Steel Phantom is still my favorite ride at the park.

eightdotthree's avatar

It’s not an issue that Kennywood shuts down operations for rain. It’s an issue that they close the park AFTER the rain.

Lightning safety isn't a Kennywood issue, or even an amusement park issue. It's a public issue.

I officiate high school volleyball and baseball. When I started baseball in 2007, there was a push at the time to be very cautious with lightning in the area. The rule is that if lightning is seen or thunder is heard, the field is cleared. A game isn't resumed until 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder. Site administration can also alert us to an impending storm, which will also clear the field until that same administrator clears us to continue.

Sometimes this leads to a delay with nothing but a storm passing in the distance. You'll occasionally get someone who doesn't understand or a coach who wants us to continue prior to the 30-minute mark.

Personally, I'm not against the erring on caution that's taken for both sports and parks. Even when BGT shut down for almost two hours while the sun was shining overhead, I still understood why they did it.

eightdotthree's avatar

I understand that lightning delays exist.

I agree that parks are overly sensitive to lightning delays. Planes seem to keep taking off during lightening storms, public transportation keeps rolling, the concert keeps playing and things stay on schedule. But it is the amusement park and the soccer game that needs to stop? Frustrating...

RC Madness said:

I agree that parks are overly sensitive to lightning delays. Planes seem to keep taking off during lightening storms, public transportation keeps rolling, the concert keeps playing and things stay on schedule. But it is the amusement park and the soccer game that needs to stop? Frustrating...

Every single one of those can and does shut down when weather, including lightning, is severe enough.

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