Kennywood August 28 - Escaping Irene - Chain Restaurants - Pittsburgh

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:47 PM

First the park and then you can opt out…for the rest of the story...

I haven't been to Kennywood in about five or six years...what I found was something that my family really needed...a pleasant way to take our minds away from the hurricane damage our home was going to face and a way to just hang together as a family. This was clearly a family trip as opposed to a "me" trip so some of the things I report on will reflect that.

Preflux is now above 52 inches and he was game for almost everything so that was a big plus. Weather - Partly Cloudy - High in upper 70s

Got to the park on or close to 12:30. We paid $6 for preferred parking and landed a few feet from the gate.

Sky Rocket (Once - Front seat - Twenty minute wait) I haven't read a lot about this ride but for a launcher it was very interesting. As it slowly loped out of the station to the launch fins it didn't stop and just WENT! That was a nice feeling. The main hill was a nice rush...though not as intense as "Ka" and it seemed to hold up there for about half a second. I also appreciated the easy to get in and out of seat and no OTS. This coaster had to be one of the smoothest coasters I have ever been on. It was sort of like Nitro when it was brand new. The inversions were fun too! Wish it were longer. Preflux had never been on a launcher or on a ride that inverts. He was shaken up but later admitted he was terrified. He also admitted that he like it though.

Jack Rabbit (Twice - Mid Train - 30 minute Wait) - This was running smooth and it was also an easy to get on and off ride. Very comfortable seat and some leg room. It has aged well and is well cared for. It also remains very popular. The double dip always comes and always lifts my butt on the way down.

Kangaroo - (20 minute wait) Fantastic...tough on the belly though and again, I need to drop a few pounds. I think the odd numbered seats are on a higher hinge than the lower ones which would affect the arm length, but somehow each car got the same "launch time." I don't know how or why that was but I do know that this is a pretty easy design to replicate and it would be nice to see more of these.

Paratrooper - (40 minute wait) Again tough on the belly as the gate protrudes inward. Gentle speed...perfect for families. Fun.

Carousel - (Walk on) - No seat belts just climb up and enjoy. In between the traditional tunes they were playing holiday music. "Here Comes Santa Claus" didn't seem right in August. This ride is in nice shape though and well lit...even during the day.

Racer - (40 Min Wait) - This one was a bit on the shaky side. On the turns I felt the seat bending with the track. There wasn't a strong sense of competition and our train clearly started a second earlier. For what it is it's ok. It's not Lightning Racer.

Log Jammer - Only water ride operating today. It's good but not great. Not as much bumping against the trough as you would get at Great Adventure...more like a rubber tire on rubber tire sound and feel.

Train Ride - I have re-discovered these and try to do it each time I go to a park. This one gives a nice history of the park and beautiful views of the Ravine. The laughing lady in the glass is a hoot.

Auto Race - (40 Minutes) Very unusual attraction! We have been on gas powered cars before, but this reminded me of the mechanical bunny at a greyhound race. Once the pole grabs you there is very limited control of the car over the course...but it had a little zip to it and it was beautifully themed.

Kiddie Land - Only did the "Frog Jumper on a pole ride" (Forgot the name of it) - Gentlemen, if you ride this with your kid let's just say you will be sore down there for a while. Ladies, if you do this one - you can be thankful that you are not a guy. Kiddieland was hopping though and our future riders are being well catered to at Kennywood.

Bayern Kurve (1 cycle Wait) I have waited ten years for this one and it was fantastic. Great speed, comfortable cars, nice legroom, great horn and later at night the old familiar lighting sequence was pure nostalgic bliss. This is one of the rides that made me love rides and it's great to have it back!

Thunderbolt (1 cycle wait) - (second seat) - This was fun and fast but too shaky for me. I know this is a signature ride for the park...but if it ran as smoothly as the jack rabbit I would have loved it.

Turtle – Cute! Fun! Historic! Gentle! (& Lots of Leg Room!)

Paddle Boats ($3.00 Upcharge) - This was a family trip and thus, I did the paddle boats. They don't move to fast, the steering is lousy and they hurt your butt. By the time they called us back in (30 minutes) I was in pain. The view of the sky tower poles show you what height really means. Walking away from the attraction shows you what leg pain really means. Normally I don't participate in up-charge attractions at parks, but I was voted down.

Garfield's Nightmare - The theme is lame and waiting an hour for it is the real nightmare.

Exterminator - (40 Minute Wait) For some reason, we got a lot of spinning action on this run. It was a lot of fun and the open door in the queue line provided a helpful breeze. This was the one line where I saw a lot of coaster and parks shirts from around the country. Geeks unite!

Pitt Fall - We walked up to it (10 minute wait) but Preflux deemed it to be too high. I bid it a silent farewell, but I did not ride. We also didn't ride Ghost Wood Estate Ride as Preflux (and dad) were a little scared.

Whip - Closing as we were trying to ride it.

Wave Swinger - (No Wait) - I always like this ride and the cycle had some speed to it. Nice!

Swing Shot - (No Wait) - I wasn't prepared for this ride. I thought it would be a high swing. It had enormous force in both directions and I was trying to figure out "how" to ride this correctly. By the time I got my bearings, it was slowing down. Wow this thing was intense! Preflux was a little shaken up - but he liked it. Mother Fluxer was nervous. Moms can be that way. She would not ride anything all day and night. She was worried about everything going on at home.

Phantom's Revenge - (2 Cycle Wait) - The biggest question that everyone seems to ask at Kennywood is "What Time Is Kennywood Closing?" The second biggest question is "Where is the line for Phantom's Revenge?" I've heard that the answer to the first question changes every night. The answer to the second question is "Somewhere in West Virginia." This had to be the longest line that wasn't a line that I've ever seen in my life. Johnny Cash would have died ten years earlier if this was the line he was walking in his classic country song. Thankfully, none of the fence chambers were full, but wow this felt both endless and senseless.

The ride itself was very fast...but a little too bumpy / shaky for my taste. Preflux was getting nervous on the lift - but it was a nice ascend. With a little TLC (maybe new wheels) this would be phenomenal.

Music Express - Nice Forward Motion without intensity overkill. No backwards at all and a stupid repetitive disco song. Wouldn't it be great if you could plan the music for these rides?

Pirate - Last Ride of the Night - (one cycle wait) - Remembering Wildwood - upon boarding I stopped by the center decorative mast to give it a few firm pulls. It was very strongly mounted to the boat. This baby was safe. got some nice swings on it - but of course after Swing Shot it felt like more of a kiddie ride. Preflux noticed that there was a “graphic” image of a mermaid on the mast. If that was the last thing to smack into someone – as was the case in Wildwood – what a way to go!

Even though we did a lot - we didn’t get to do everything – which shows the scope of what this park has to offer. There are so many great things to do in Pennsylvania – but unfortunately they are very far apart from each other.


We didn’t eat too much, but what we had was decent and priced below what you would expect to pay at Great Adventure.

We ate our main lunch at the Parkside café which set us back about twenty something bucks. We would eat dinner there too. The restaurant had kid – friendly choices and a few items more geared to adults (turkey or chicken Alfredo) (mashed or French fries) soft drinks. It was the only indoor restaurant in the park and the quality was good and the portions were adequate.

Mom and son had a pretzel in the park (2 for $5) and I had a hot dog that I didn’t really care for.

Crowd – Very family oriented – very well behaved – No line jumpers at all. Smoking was only in the designative areas, but one of them was awfully close to the merry go round.

Hey! Those aren’t roving gangs - they are marching bands. There was a parade that we mostly missed by high school kids playing their instruments. This is what “Music In The Parks” should be!

Cleanliness – Nothing unsightly to speak of.

Random Thoughts – NOW GET OUT! I messed up a few years ago when I first went to Kennywood and I screwed up again. When the park closes…IT CLOSES! I wanted to buy a t-shirt and few other goodies, but alas - it was not to be.

The only thing I felt was missing from this park was a Ferris Wheel.

Family Vs. Solo – It is always nice to go on rides with your kid. But we lost a few hours due to someone else’s late start…and sitting down and eating full family meals. If it’s me I eat on the go and get to everything I can. I also would NEVER go on the paddle boats. On the other hand…I like the gentle things too…I just wish we weren’t limited to one day.

Bottom Line – The people of Pittsburgh have a fantastic amusement park that they can be proud of.



It turns out, we live in “Zone A” which was facing evacuation. We were scared as we have had problems with water in the basement before and we had just completed a battery of hard driving rain storms a few days earlier. We could either stay home and face what could be a night of terror or we could high tail it out of there. The Mrs. wanted out and so after looking at the storm tracker from the weather channel, the western edge of the storm was touching the center of Pennsylvania. Despite my fear of hotel bedbugs, we quickly booked a room at a Hampton Inn in Washington Pennsylvania…(right near a race track and a casino). At least it was in the Pittsburgh area (and that means Kennywood!) The plan was to leave at 3 AM on Saturday and scoot passed all of the traffic jams that would come later.

We left 3:30 I decided to plunge through the city. I saved a toll by taking the Queensborough Bridge into Manhattan and we used the Lincoln Tunnel out to Jersey. Mother Fluxer could not believe how many women were walking the street alone in the middle of the night. Some near the tunnel were actually peddling their “wares.” On the news-radio were reports of things that were happening with the storm down south and things that were to come. We were worried about what would happen to our home. At least we were though the city in five minutes – which could take at least 3 hours during the mid-day traffic or rush hour. We would not have to stop the car or slow down until we took a break for breakfast. My strategy worked!

Chain Restaurants:

Bob Evans – You know what you are getting and it’s usually good. Not the best for you…but good – especially for breakfast.

EatnPark – We had never done this one before and I was surprised by the quality and quantity.

Waffle House – Should be named “Awful House” The Mrs. said “Bisquick from the store is better.” There were flies on the windows and the place was just dirty. Never Again!

Flying J Truck Stops – I mentioned a year or two ago my fascination with truckers and their lives and how difficult their jobs must be. This place (Like the TA Plazas) was a world unto itself. As I was looking at CB radios (Remember Those) and every truck gadget you could think of I head the announcement, “Customer #122…your shower is ready.” I never met customer #122, but I hope he (she) had a great shower and that he (she) has many safe and happy miles ahead.

Hampton Inn – Washington PA

I swallowed hard and I used a flashlight to check the drawers, the beds, the mattresses, nightstands and tables to make sure we didn’t have additional guests or evidence of prior visitors. I found nothing. The pool was nice and there was a room with two small computers for us to borrow (for hurricane updates mostly). The only problem was that it was too close to the Waffle House…and if the wind was blowing just a little bit, you could smell….oh never mind.

Pittsburgh – Fort Pitts Tunnel

I have never been though Pittsburgh before, and my last visit to Kennywood was at a hotel near the park…so when we followed the directions and entered the Fort Pitts Tunnel, I never expected to see the view that would emerge from the other end of the chute. The tunnels on I-78 and I-80 have nothing on this. WOW! Pittsburgh was gorgeous! It was a great combination of bridges, rivers, rails, etc. I wish we had some time to explore the city and discover its secrets…but that will have to be for another time. WOW what a view!


After a full day / night at Kennywood, a decent night sleep and a long way home…we got to our house and thankfully the windows were all there and there was no water in the basement. We dodged a huge bullet! A block away a tree took down a power line with a transformer and caused a ton of damage. Let’s hope we don’t have another one of these for a long time. (And if we do, we now know where to go!)

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Last edited by Richie Reflux, Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:49 PM

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 4:33 PM

Re: Eat 'n' Park/Waffle House...

My nephew, who grew up near Pittsburgh, always referred to Eat 'n' Park as Eat 'n' Barf. He would never go there when suggested on my visits. I didn't actually eat in one until 2009, and thought it was god-awful. Maybe fried fish wasn't the best thing to get at a place like that, but I haven't been back.

On the other hand..I had never been to a Waffle House until a few years ago..we don't have them in Jersey. First time, I had a full scale breakfast, which was more than decent. On subsequent visits, I discovered what none...the El Toro of breakfast sandwiches. Their bacon-egg-cheese biscuit it outstanding. And their fresh-brewed iced tea is no slouch, either.

I'm heading down to VA for my birthday weekend in less than two weeks (9/9-9/11) Hitting KD on Saturday, and SFAm on my way home Sunday. I'm staying in Fredericksburg, within walking distance of a Waffle House and VERY short driving distance of a Golden Corral (can you say Breakfast Buffet with Bacon, boys and girls? I thought you could.) Coasters? Who needs 'em? ;)

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:16 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Mike Gallagher said:
My nephew, who grew up near Pittsburgh, always referred to Eat 'n' Park as Eat 'n' Barf.

As a native Western Pennsylvanian, I can back this. Eat N Park is generally regarded as crap.

The exception is 2:30am on the weekend when you need after-bar eats. Then it's a must-stop.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:19 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Come explore! I can give you the names of some amazing NON-chain restaurants. :) Glad your home was ok.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:37 PM
LostKause's avatar

Next time you go, Richie, you must try the boardwalk fries at Kennywood. Best. Fries. Ever.

I haven't been to Kennywood in ages. I miss that park. Maybe I should go soon.

My circle of about 100 friends would descend upon Eat 'n' Park (or Denny's across the street) every Friday and Saturday night for a decade. They hated to see us coming. I have great memories.

The food was tolerable. I always got a cheeseburger and fries.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:59 PM

When you go to a Awful Waffle you go for the experience of bugs and piss-poor service. Personally I've had alot worse foods at restaurants that are clean and more expensive.

As I side note I try to hit a Waffle House on every vacation I go on.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 6:15 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

LostKause said:
Next time you go, Richie, you must try the boardwalk fries at Kennywood. Best. Fries. Ever.

Meh. They're alright, but I've had better.

As far as Waffle House - had one experience there in Charlottesville last November. 1:30 AM after a concert and many beers. Our waitress was pretty young, but had all of her teeth pulled. She didn't have dentures in or anything, just gums.

I found a huge, nasty, dark hair in my hash browns, and went hungry the rest of the night.

Never. Again.

R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:28 AM

One thing I did notice at ALL of these places...was that the waitstaff mostly consisted of significantly older people. They were generally friendly and very hard working. They also were kind to my son...who engages most waitstaff in conversation every time we go to a restaurant. We tend to overtip - especially at breakfast.These folks deserve it.

I don't know - I had the fried fish and the salad bar at the Eatnpark and it was very good. (Similar to a Bickfords in Massachusetts).There was a Chinese Buffet right near everything that I would have loved to have tried, but the rest of the family doesn't care for it.

We didn't plan this trip - it was a basically a "Shoot 'n Scoot." It was a lot of driving for a one day park run.That is why we stuck to the places on or close to the man roads.

I also would like to visit Idlewild and Sand Castle.

One last thing I want to mention is that my wife and I felt that the people in the area were very nice. Nobody cut anyone off on the road, and people were generally polite.

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 8:34 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
The exception is 2:30am on the weekend when you need after-bar eats. Then it's a must-stop.

For me, that stop was White Castle.

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 9:57 AM
rollergator's avatar

Richie - do get to Idlewild before Preflux grows too much taller/older. That place is awesome (the mouse is incorporated beautifully with the natural landscaping and the wooden coaster is a "mini-BoulderDash). Plus, there's plenty of flats and see/do type stuff - StoryBook Forest in particular was a walk back in time!

KW's Auto Race - to me, that is one of the premier attractions in the country.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:27 AM

I'd take Eat n Park over Denny's any day (or night). Having lived in SoCal since the mid 1970's, I've seen the so called family resturaunt business reduced to fast food and Denny's. The latters menu has shrunk markedly and the quality decline over the last decade. When we go home to Western PA we always hit the Eat n Park in Rostraver. Never had a bad meal there. Of course there are still a lot of mom and pop places that can't be beat in the area, especially for old school Italian, which is non existent in San Diego.

Last edited by Dutchman, Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:28 AM
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 1:47 PM

I'll be spending 2 nights in Pittsburgh, and hitting Kennywood on Friday Oct 7th. I plan to hit Primanti Brothers and Quaker Steak & Lube, (both recommendations from Man vs Food). Any other suggestions? I will also have some free time for exploring the city...anything I should see?

Last edited by SFGAdv lover, Wednesday, August 31, 2011 1:50 PM
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 1:50 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Replace Quaker Steak with Fatheads. Where are you staying?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 2:21 PM

I hope you're going to the ORIGINAL Quaker Steak in Sharon.

I can't believe there's 42 locations now. The first time I visited, there were two (my brother lives in Sharon.)

Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Wednesday, August 31, 2011 2:45 PM

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 6:16 PM

Carousel - (Walk on) - No seat belts just climb up and enjoy. In between the traditional tunes they were playing holiday music. "Here Comes Santa Claus" didn't seem right in August. This ride is in nice shape though and well lit...even during the day.

This is actually an old tradition, practiced at many old carousels. It's an old joke, as many of these rides are not open for the winter holidays so they pick the hotest day of the year to play the Xmas rolls.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 6:42 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Mike Gallagher said:
I hope you're going to the ORIGINAL Quaker Steak in Sharon.

I can't believe there's 42 locations now. The first time I visited, there were two (my brother lives in Sharon.)

And none of them have it quite right compared to the original.

Quaker Steak as a franchise is ok. Typical chain-restaurant wings. Definitely could do better/more unique in the area - unless, like Mike said, you're heading to Sharon.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 6:59 PM

Fatheads looks great, think I'll add it to the itinerary, thanks. I'll remove Quaker Steak, since I won't be anywhere near Sharon. I'm staying a few minutes from the airport, at the Four Points by Sheraton...not thrilled with the reviews I'm reading about the hotel, but that's what I get for naming my own price on Priceline.

Any sightseeing opportunities I shouldn't miss?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 7:38 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Since you're staying out there you can hit Mad Mex as well. A very untraditional version of mexican food. Get the black bean dip as an appetizer.

As for sights, the south side where fatheads is, is a walkable district with some cool shops and what not. You could go to station square and take a boat ride or rent a bike to ride on the river trails. The trail along the river outside of PNC Park is not to be missed and the Andy Warhol museum is over there as well.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:09 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

The only "must-do" restaurant on my list in the 'Burgh right now:

R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:49 PM

eightdotthree said:
Replace Quaker Steak with Fatheads. Where are you staying?

This. Absolutely, definitely this.

As for late-night munchies after a bar, Ritter's or just keep drinking and get a sandwich at Primanti's.

"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."


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