Kennywood Thoughts (5/11/08)

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Sunday, May 11, 2008 10:12 PM
Just some random thoughts on our latest visit to the 'Wood...

The best thing about us Pittsburghers are that we're creatures of habit. Even though KW is small and you would think everyone would spread out and crowd all areas fairly equally early on in the day, it's just never the case. Everyone has their own traditions...

Phantom Phreaks - these are the 100 or so that stand in line first thing in the morning until they open the queue. Nothing deters them.

Counterclockwisers - Start at the Turnpike and "rock around the clock." Even though these folks wonder how-in-the-world this little park got so busy right away, they like sticking with the crowds all day long.

New Riders - See that "NEW!!" icon next to Ghostwood Estate on the park map? It's like the blueish glow of a bug zapper to them.

And then there's us...Exterminators - we're the folks that recognize that, indoors or not, Exterminator has a very slow moving line that zigzags back and forth in the same boring "boiler room" for 30 minutes or more. So get to it early and enjoy the rest of the mostly abandoned back of the park.

Props to KW for continuing to maintain most of the effects on this ride. Yeah, the main part of the ride has been Cedar Pointed and is now just a darkened coaster ride for what used to be a pretty neat power plant looking place, but the animatronic figures still work and surprisingly the TVs in the waiting area show no sign of flicker or blurriness that usually happens after several years of constant use.

On to Swingshot with no wait and a short cycle time. Has anyone noticed that since Aero 360, every new KW flat ride has had some variation on a swinging, back-and-forth, motion? It's getting just a teensy-weensy annoying, but they appear to remain popular.

Thunderbolt next, and it's still the well-oiled machine as always. I wish the lawyers would let them ease up on their terribly conservative station block timing though.

Ghostwood Estate was right across the midway, so we ventured over. The queue is where the waterwheel and scenery for Gold Rusher used to be. The main ride is still located in the inconspicuous upstairs of the game building, just like Rusher's. Right off the bat, you're thinking that this has to amount to Haunted Mansion Jr. and as soon as you enter the room for the pre-show, you're assumptions are confirmed. The fake firplace. The busted picture frames. The chandeleer that looks a little too expensive but also a little too delicate... But if you're expecting cool subliminal effects like HM, don't. The pre-show is an CGI character imposed on a large picture frame. Nothing more than a little backstory that ends up being shorter than the safety disclaimers.

The ride's surprisingly good. But the one annoying thing about these blaster fun houses is that in order to see the cool effects, you have to blast the targets. But in order to blast as many targets as you can (and see as many effects as you can), you really can't spend too much time looking around and admiring the details. So it's a double-edged sword of either observe and see nothing, or blast the devil out of the place and only get an idea of what the designers had in mind.

We next did the old standbys of Auto Ride, Log Jammer, Racer, and Jack Rabbit, which is still the ultimate one-trick-pony coaster. Nothing new with any of these guys.

It looks like Phantom received yet another new braking system in the off season, it's 2nd or 3rd in its relatively short lifetime. Now there are magnetic brakes on top of the double-dip near Pitt Fall, the ones that used to be on top of the last bunnyhop before the brake run have been removed, and new ones are in place on the hill rising up into the brakes. Overall, I felt that this made the speed scrubbing much more natural-feeling, and it doesn't feel like it's robbing the ride of any airtime.

We decided to give Garfield's Nightmare another ol' college try, only because we both felt that a ride with this much history and regard should be spending it's later years with a little more respect than what it's currently getting. It's obvious that the GP feels the same way. On a very busy Saturday, they were not running very many boats, and the line was 5 minutes at worst. No one wears the 3D glasses anymore (smart for them), and unless KW's locked into a long-term contract with the Garfield people to keep the theme as part of the deal with the character licensing, it's days may be numbered...

I'm going out on a limb and state that the Turnpike is the best antique car ride installation ever, even compared to Autopia's. It's the most beautiful, is one of the longest, and actually feels like a private drive through the backroads Western PA. It's too bad that on this day, the electric cars decided it was better to stall and collide with the ones in the rear and shut the whole ride down for over an hour.

There's also a new up-charge game in the old Playdium building near the Grand Prix, where the object is to crawl and climb over green laser beams without touching them in the fastest time. The fastest of the day wins a Steelers jersey. A good idea, even though it's ripped off from a "Top Model" episode a few cycles back. Who'd ever think that reality TV's latest pop culture contribution would be $5.00 amusement park up-charge attractions?

Leaving KW is starting to look worse and worse. First the Ponderosa closed, ending the family tradition of polishing off a fun-filled day with all-you-can eat wingdings. Now the taco bell is shuttered, and it appears that the local graffiti artists spared no time to get started. Maybe their leases ran out and weren't approved since KW wants to bulldoze it all in a few years for expansion, but that could be awhile, especially with it being tied to the Mon-Fay Expy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008 11:20 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar Did you mean to put 5/10th as your date of visit? You mention Saturday. Today is the 11th and the park was rained out.

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

Monday, May 12, 2008 1:39 AM
A couple notes...

Thanks for the review for Ghostwood. Dark rides can be hit or miss, so it's good to see positive comments for the ride, given the detail that the park put into the facade and building.

While the magnetic trims on Phantom's Revenge seem to get moved around every year, the big overhaul came last year, when the park installed a new control system as well as magnetic brakes that can raise or lower on the brake run.

Finally, Taco Bell closed because it needed repairs to the sewer system that it couldn't afford, IIRC. I don't think that row of restaurants is affected by the park's expansion plans.

Monday, May 12, 2008 10:28 AM
^(There has got to be a joke there someplace about a Taco Bell over using its sewer system so much that it costs too much to repair)
"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"

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