Kennywood: First Time!

Associated parks:

Sunday, October 17, 2004 2:06 PM
Kennywood has been a park I’ve always wanted to go to. It doesn’t have the most AMAZING rides but everyone always raves about it. I certainly thought the park was good and definitely agree that it is beautiful. Did it live up to expectations completely? Well… yes AND no.

We left UB in Buffalo, NY (my college) at about 6:30 in the morning. We had purchased our Kennywood tickets off eBay for $8.00 a piece. However, we had to pay an extra $7 at the gate. $15 overall wasn’t too bad at all. Let me just do a quick summary of the drive because it was VERY interesting…

The first 3 out of 3 ½ hours was eventless. It was a boring drive. We reached Pittsburgh and things began to get out of hand. First of all, the city of Pittsburgh is gorgeous. The way you drive up to it is really nice. I love the look to it. It’s nestled in a valley. Anyway, we were supposed to get off of exit 6E. As we pulled near the exit we noticed it was blocked off with a few cop cars in front of it. Because the traffic wasn’t TOO bad we pulled over on the exit. After all, this WAS the exit we were supposed to get off. It’s not like we lived there and knew our way around. We had no idea what to do. We pulled up to the cop, rolled down our window and said,

“What are we supposed to do if we needed to get off exit 6E?”

He replied, “What are you talking about? Where is exit 6E?”

The cop was being VERY rude when he was talking to us. I didn’t understand it. With a sign of disgust in my voice I replied to the cop’s stupid question by saying,

“Your cop car is blocking it.”

He proceeded to tell us he didn’t know what we wanted to do and that our best bet was to go across the bridge and come back from the opposite direction. He was NO help. Right as we were pulling back onto the highway about 5 cars stopped at the exit we were just at. They were probably just as confused as we were. As we were leaving we heard another cop say, “Once one stops, they ALL stop!”

Well let me tell you something… you are blocking an exit that you are apparently unaware of and don’t think it will cause problems?! JEEZ!

Okay I’m done with my rant, on to the park. ;)

We pulled into Kennywood at about 11:00a.m. (when the park opened). About half an hour after that, we found the parking lot. About a half an hour after that, we found the entrance. We were definitely having a rough morning. Since we were the ONLY people at the park we didn’t know where to park. We walked WAY over to one of the parking booths and asked if we had to pay. They replied, “Well you can, if you want.” After a nervous giggle we slowly backed away and started heading toward the park (or so we thought). Ten seconds later the parking attendant yelled “The park is the OTHER way.” Oh my God I was laughing hysterically. We had no idea where we were going. SO what did we do? We walked ACROSS the street and headed toward the right (if you are looking for the park). After not seeing an inlet anywhere, we walked up to a Kennywood employee and asked where the entrance was. How embarrassing. He told us it was across the street and we broke out into laughter. He didn’t smile. I guess he was serious….

So we walked back across the street and walked around the parking lot for a few more minutes until we saw it. The entrance! I had never before read in any TR that you enter the park through a tunnel. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting it. What a surprise. So… after an hour of aimless walking we FINALLY made it into the park.

The park was EMPTY. My friend Alicia and I must have been 2 of 10 people there. It was great. The park was very charming. There were trees everywhere and overall, it was a clean place. On our way to Phantom’s Revenge, we stopped at a few flats. The Kangaroo was our first stop. I had seen this flat on a video before and couldn’t wait to ride it. It looked so fun. The ride was a lot of fun but I was expecting the “hop” to be a little more intense. Great ride though.

The next thing we hit up was the Bayern Curve. Up until this point we still hadn’t seen Phantom’s Revenge running. I was starting to get worried. The Bayern Curve wasn’t a bad ride at all. At first it was uncomfortable. Halfway through the ride though it picks up speed and the cars slant. What a surprise. As our ride on Bayern Curve came to an end, we saw that Phantom’s Revenge was running! That was definitely our next stop.

Phantom’s Revenge:

I was so excited walking up to this coaster. I thought of its history and it made me grin from ear to ear. The fact that I was at Kennywood, riding a classic and famous coaster made it that much better. Not to mention it is the 6th fastest coaster in the world. ;)

There was no one waiting in line. They were running only one train but another one was certainly not needed. They were letting people re-ride, which was really cool. The only rule was that if someone was waiting to get into your ride, you had to move. We headed right for the front.

The trains on this coaster are GREAT! They are SO roomy. There were so many people working on this coaster. Three ride ops on each side and one in the booth. It was crazy. The ride was just what expected. Not too intense but still a lot of fun. The first drop was actually really steep but the bunny hops were just… ok. The pop of air you get going down the “hyper” drop was an unexpected surprise.

After our front seat ride we took three rides in the middle and then one in the back. What a great start to our day!

Ride Rating: +3 (-5 to +5)

On our way to Exterminator we hit up Pitfall. Once again, no line. We walked right on.


Now this is a scary drop tower. The view facing the river is really the best. No matter where you sit though the drop is intense. I love this generation of Intamin drop towers. I don’t know why but they just get me every time. This was certainly the biggest thrill in the park. We rode about 3 times each on each side (two sides were running). Every time we were done the ride op would say “y’all want to ride again?” It was great.

Ride Rating: +4

As we walked away from Pitfall we admired the Pittsburgh Plunge and the beautiful fountains the park had put at the far end of it. The park was just so beautiful. This area was definitely the nicest.

Our next ride of the day was The Exterminator. This too was a walk on. At this point I was a little disappointed in the Kennywood staff. When we walked into the room with the video, the employee was sitting down watching a football game. When we entered the station, there were several employees but they were all talking about something. They didn’t even realize we were in there. We waited a minute until someone realized that there were people waiting to ride.

The Exterminator:

We rode this ride several times throughout the day. After all, it was a walk-on; why not take advantage of that. The first few times we rode it I loved it. The spinning on this ride was really great and the ride wasn’t really braked. The more we rode it though the more my side started to hurt. Some of those turns were just plain violent. I was definitely not a fan of the restraints. By the way, they were just using the bars and not the seatbelts. I don’t know if this is normal or not.

Ride Rating: +1

After Exterminator we hoped over and took a quick ride on the whip. It was a lot of fun. We also stopped for a minute to get deep fried Oreos. Neither of us had ever tried them before. They were sinfully good. We were supposed to get five but the employee threw in an extra one for us so we could each have three. That was nice of him.

We headed toward the Thunderbolt next. On our way we took a walk through Noah’s Ark. I remember a few years back hearing that they restored this ride instead of taking it down. All I can say is thank God. This attraction is AMAZING! It was really long and so much fun. It was a blend of old school fun house with new technology. We did it twice. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a lawsuit from this thing yet though. The moving stairs in the dark are hard to conquer.

We finally made it to Thunderbolt. This too was a walk on. I was so excited to ride this because it had been rated the number one wooden coaster years back.


The ops were so rude. They were yelling at people coming through the queue to hurry up. They were NOT friendly at all. This was very disappointing. The first half of the ride was ok. I really liked the laterals at the bottom of the first drop. The second half of the ride was also okay. After getting off I just thought the ride was “ok”. It was nothing special. I could think of PLENTY of wooden coasters that were better. I’m guessing it’s rating in coaster polls was based on history and not so much the actual ride.

Ride Rating: 0

We took a ride on the Turtle next. It wasn’t too thrilling but it was a fun ride. We also hit up Aero 360. I wasn’t too impressed but it wasn’t bad. It didn’t look like the racer was going but we walked up to it anyway. To our surprise, there were people in the station and BOTH sides were loading.

The Racer:

I wasn’t expecting too much from this ride but I was still looking forward to it. I took one side of one car and my friend took the other side of the other car. We wanted to race next to each other. What we didn’t realize is that the coasters turn away from each other before going to the lift. This resulted in us being farthest away from each other. It was actually quite funny.

The ride itself was okay. It was a little rougher and much shorter than I thought it would be. It was still fun though. My train, the red train, ended up getting stomped. The blue train finished way before we did. It was totally rigged ;)

Ride Rating: 0

The next thing we did was Jack Rabbit. The only thing I knew about this coaster was that it had an amazing “double down”.

Jack Rabbit:

The greatest thing about this ride are the restraints. It has a fixed lap bar and a leather belt strap. Very interesting. They were only running one train but like on all of the coaster (with the exception of Racer), it wasn’t necessary for two.

This is a very short ride with the lift hill right in the middle of it. You first turn left 180 degrees, go down and up a hill, turn left 180 degrees, go up the lift hill, turn left 180 degrees, go down the “double down”, come back up, turn left 180 degrees, another hill and then you’re in the station. It’s a very short ride but let me tell you about the double down. It is BREATHTAKING. This is the single greatest moment of air time I’ve ever experienced on ANY coaster. I was sitting in the backseat. You come right out of your seat and are just floating. It’s awesome. I can’t believe the coaster does this with the restraints that it has. I’m surprised a small child hasn’t been thrown from the ride yet. This coaster should never be dismantled. Just AWESOME.

Ride Rating: +4

Next we did Garfield’s Nightmare. This was really a lot of fun. The park put a lot of effort into making this ride look good. Next we hit up the Paratrooper. Another good flat. We then went on their car ride. I don’t remember the name of it but it was the longest one I’ve ever been on. It just never ended. Plus, there was an on ride photo. Very interesting but a lot of fun.

We stopped to get a Frozen Lifesavers drink and then hit up some flats. We did King Kahuna and the Volcano. We decided to grab lunch after that at a pizza place near Pitfall. The food was delicious, filling and rather inexpensive. Kennywood definitely wins points for food. We then went back to The Exterminator and Pitfall for a few more rides. We had to wait a couple minutes on Pitfall. There were actually people in the park at this time. Plus, they stopped running one of the sides. They were running two in the morning and now were running only one. On our way back to the entrance we hit up Bayern Curve again, Musik Express and Magic Carpet. Their Magic Carpet is a little rough! Still a great ride.

Only four hours had passed and we had done it all. It was time to go. We had a great time but Pitfall was finally completely down now and Phantom’s Revenge had been down for a couple hours. My friend really wanted to go back and ride The Exterminator a couple more times but I didn’t think my ribs could take it so we left.

Overall it was a great day. No crowds whatsoever and some great rides. A few things annoyed me but nothing to serious impact my trip. Thanks Kennywood! ;)

Park Rating: +2

*** Edited 10/17/2004 6:13:09 PM UTC by rentzy17***

Sunday, October 17, 2004 2:57 PM
Well thanks for the props on the hometown man - wish I could say the same for yours! (have had a few less than steller experiences in Buffalo - most involving rats and fire within hockey arenas ... )

Yea, the basic rule of driving in Pittsburgh: if you don't know where you're going, why the hell are you here? That cop probably didn't know what exit you were talking about because locals rarely refer to exit numbers, it's either by name or by the landmarks nearby (or landmarks that used to be nearby, and if you don't know what those are, then what the hell business do you have driving there?). If you had asked other locals for directions, you might have been told to drive past the Waterfront, or maybe past where that big steel mill used to be. Of course, they could have directed you through the tubes and turned you around in Oakland, where you'd have to go past where Islay's used to be ... get the idea? ;)

Not sure what to tell ya about the parking lot - the free parking sign is as big as day this year, used to be you just had to know where it was. And if you can't get to the park from the lot ... it's like ... straight down the hill ... hmm....

Kennywood's rides rarely don't run. This isn't a Six Flags operation here, you'll never find Racer not running both sides, since it's one track and if one side was left "not running" you'd only get one cycle before you'd have a problem. Search mobius coaster if you don't know what I mean. Phantom's ops have a problem getting up the energy and desire to add that second train sometimes, but they get around to it eventually. The belts on Exterminator are only for little little kids I believe, so no, it's not abnormal that they were only using the bar. Pitt Fall would be the exception to the not run rule, but it seems as if you got a particularly bad day - only 2 sides and down to 1 later? Geez ...

Well glad you had fun.

Brett, Resident Launch Whore Anti-Enthusiast (the undiplomatic one)
Sunday, October 17, 2004 4:11 PM
eightdotthree's avatar Every way you come into the city is awesome, I remember my first few visits being blown away by the views coming in and now that I live here it still gets me.

Pitfall has only run two sides all the four times I have been there this year. Including the scarey river side. Also Impulse-ive is right, the Phantom ops are lazy as all get out. When there are two trains on they hustle but if there there is only one they drag. I would think the constant work that two trains offers would make your day faster, and therefore more enjoyable. But thats me.

I dont particularly love Thunderbolt either, but I do love how unique it is.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 4:14 PM
Nice TR.

I was there once this summer with a 10 year old (there is a TR here somewhere) and I was really scared when he didn't hold on during the double down on JR. I grabbed him and held him down, which may have not really been necessary. Imho, the double down is the only really exciting part on that ride.

I can't remember any of the ride opps being rude, although I have encountered some employees acting like the really didn't enjoy their jobs, especially the ones working in food.

I really like Kennywood a lot, I'm happy you did too.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 4:42 PM
-5 to +5? alright. . . .
Down is the new up.
Sunday, October 17, 2004 6:00 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Actually, -3 to +5 is the griswold scale and it's a total shame more people don't use it as it makes more sense than any 1-10 or "5 star" rating system when it comes to coasters.

It tells you a lot more about how someone felt about a coaster than any other system I see anyone use.

For the record a '0' means average and the +1 through +5 rate varying degrees of better than average and the -1 through -3 (or in this case -5) rate the varying levels of below average.

Less 'interperative' than other rating scales.

As far as Pittsburgh - it's like small town driving on a big city scale. The city make no sense and is confusing as hell uless you're a local - then it makes perfect sense and is easy as pie to navigate.

My relationship with the area is similar to the Bundy's on Married With Children. They're downright hateful toward each other, but stick together to the end against others. I dis the hell out of this town to locals and let then know how sucky or what a friggin' joke it is, but the second an outsider starts, I'll defend it to the end. Weird, huh?

Sunday, October 17, 2004 6:55 PM
I have to say, I understand how he didn't find the park "enterance" and all. My first trip to the Wood last year was great, but getting there was a pain. I didn't have a problem parking, but once we paid, I couldn't see the enterance to the tunnel when you go down the stairs to it, and kept walking back up the other side. And there were alot of others doing this as well.

Part of the problem then was all the fog for Fright Fest. Other than that, though, I had a great time, and found a new #1 coaster. Can't wait to go back next spring.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 8:03 PM
I have no idea why I use the -5 to +5 scale. I guess one day I started using it and it's been like that ever since. If I ever write a TR again I'll probably do 1 - 10. It just makes more sense.

Teckno, I did the same thing. After we finally found the entrance and paid we still didn't know how to get into the park. Our problem is that there was NO ONE there and therefore, no one to follow.

How confusing! ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2004 8:58 PM
I'm pretty sure the phantom ops couldn't add another train until they got an OK from's not because of laziness concerning that.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 10:16 PM
Jack Rabbit was the biggest surprise for me. My only visit was the Friday evening of Labor Day weekend this year so we got night rides on all of the amazing coaters.

As we left Jack Rabbit's station and rounded the first curve, my 11 year-old niece leaned over and said "Uh, I think there's drop coming up!" I glanced up ahead just in time to have the train fall away from underneath me. Sweet. I knew about Thunderbolt's drop out of the station but knew nothing of JR's layout. Needless to say, the double down, in the dark, hands up with minimal restraints, was phenomenal. Pure joy. We WHOOPED! and laughed SO hard all the way back to the station.

I'm not a re-ride kind of guy. Ride it once, move on, back for more later if time allows. Rode JR four times in a row! Only my 5 consecutive, close out the night rides on Cornball beat it.

I was prepared to be underimpressed with Phantom's Revenge. While the first half of the ride was very good, the second half bunny hills had me out of my seat like very few coasters have. Think Magnums trip home and you get the idea. Wow! After the last two hops, my hands slammed into the front of the car - HARD. The momentum was too powerful to stop it. WHOOP! OUCH! WHOOP! OUCH! So much fun.

Having done plenty of experimenting on Ragin Cajun this summer, my sister and nieces have uncovered the optimal laoding and weight distribution on these types of coasters for maximum spinage. Exterminator was another non-stop laugh fest for us. Amount of laughter, those uncontrollable giggle fits, has become my personal measuring stick for rating coasters.

Kennywood's coasters? :) :) :) :) :)

And the park itself? If it wasn't for Knoebels, it would be the most perfect park EVER. Mad love for the 'Wood.

*** Edited 10/18/2004 2:17:15 AM UTC by IBsteve***

Sunday, October 17, 2004 10:37 PM
Never been to Kennywood, but have to laugh at the Pittsburgh driving references. I've gone to the Burgh maybe a dozen times or so since 1980, and have never gone the same way twice. There's always some bridge, tunnel, exit, or stretch of highway closed for some reason. And nothing like having the road you want to take be directly above you, and having absolutely no clue how to get up there.

Every trip seems to have its own believe it or not event. Best experience was the time we nearly turned directly into the path of an oncoming 5K run-- well we went over the same bridge the day before.

One of these years, I hope to get to Kennywood. I just may have to get there via West Virginia.

Sunday, October 17, 2004 11:03 PM
/\Definitly! The part of WV you go thru to get to Pitt is definintly beautiful. I really wanted to to Phantom Fright Nites this year, and drive up whilst the leaves changed, but didn't get too. Oh well, there is always the spring...
Monday, October 18, 2004 1:09 PM
Driving in Pitts is nothing compared to driving in Detroit. I used to drive trucks in and out of the mills in Pitt. (i worked for a hydraulic company in Cleve ohio.) The workers there were hilarious. Yes, pittsburghers stand together: they'd see Cleveland ohio on the truck and threaten to slash the tires during football season... lol (they didn't, but it was funny)

Great Lakes Brewery Patron...


Sunday, October 24, 2004 7:08 PM
The tunnel has been mentioned in several trip reports. I guess not recently though.
Sunday, October 24, 2004 7:51 PM
It certainly was not recently.

Before I go to park for the first time I tend to compulsively research it. I had been reading Kennywood TR's constantly before I went on the trip and I don't remember anyone mentioning it.

No big deal though. It made for a hilarious situation.

Monday, October 25, 2004 2:52 AM
FLYINGSKOOTER, I once worked for a hydraulics company in Western PA and made deliveries to Warren, OH frequently! Tbis was thirty-five years ago,though.Spent way too much time bouncing along the turnpikes with a load that always was just at the maximum for that truck.(this just after spending I don't remember how many hours assembling these power units).Let's just say the trip back was a lot quicker.
Monday, October 25, 2004 4:49 AM
Rentzy17 this season was my first trip to Kennywood as well. I really enjoyed the park. My wife grew up in that area, and really wanted to go back since it had been a long time since she had been there.

We hit Kennywood on our way back from Coastermania. I don't know why I had never made the trip before, but it won't be that long ever again. Nice park.

Monday, October 25, 2004 1:40 PM
Funny. I never read TRs before my 1st trip to Kennywood. I never missed the parking lot, never missed the entrance ..and dont know how anyone could miss the tunnel if you went down the ramp to it! How can you miss a huge hole? and WHY else would think youd go below ground level like that? Unbelieveable. Guess some peoples instincts are MUCH better than others.

I do agree with the roads around there though, they can be confusing. This coming from someone who always drives around Chicago..but IMO, its a lot easier here.


Monday, October 25, 2004 2:12 PM
It's confusing!

When you expect the entrance of the park to be on the side of the road as the park, then yes, the tunnel is hard to find. Not to mention the entrance is hidden with large bushes and trees.

Actually getting INTO the tunnel was also confusing because you see the path go down and then straight back up the other side. That makes you think you're not going in the right direction.

Plus, we were the only ones there. It's not like we had anyone to follow.

As for the driving, I was prepared for the worse. Everyone always says driving through Pittsburgh is rough. Besides the little miss-hap at exit 6, we really had no trouble. I thought the roads were very easy to navigate and the Kennywood directional signs placed throughout the route to the park were definitely helpful.


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