Kennywood VIP Coaster Tour, July 4th

Monday, July 5, 2010 2:29 PM

I went to Kennywood yesterday to experience Sky Rocket. I hoped that if I got there at opening, the line wouldn't be too long and I might even get a few laps in before the big crowds rolled in. Yeah, right. I'm always the dreamer.

The line extended all the way back to the pavilions before the ride even opened. So you figure, you either wait an hour in line by getting to the park when it opens and being up front or you wait an hour after the ride opens and the queue is full. Either way, you're waiting for the coaster for a while.

That is unless you partake in Kennywood's VIP Coaster Tour. I gave it a whirl. $15 gets you a through-the-exit reservation for each of the 6 coasters. You ride one at the top of every hour starting at 1:00 PM and ending at 6:00 PM. When you buy the pass, they have 6 different pass rotations. While I didn't memorize the orders of each pass, take this as an example. Pass 1 will start at Sky Rocket (1:00 PM), then Jack Rabbit (2:00 PM), Phantom's Revenge (3:00 PM), Thunderbolt (4:00 PM), Exterminator (5:00 PM), Racer (6:00 PM). Pass 2 may start with Phantom's Revenge at 1:00, then go to Sky Rocket at 2:00, etc.

They sell one pass for each seat on a train, so when you buy your pass, you pick your seat for the tour. Your seat will be the same on every coaster. So, they are only sending the equivalent of one train of VIP reservations on each coaster at the top of the hour. Though, everyone does not have to show up at the exact same time to ride together, so that's cool.

The only hitch to that process is they try to sell out the individual Pass tracks one at a time. They want to fill a train before moving onto the next rotation. So if you don't get there first, you have your pick of the middle of the train. Boo! That is unless you are cute and charming and talk them into opening another rotation so you can pick the seat you want. That worked for me. :)

They also have a Junior Pass which is $10 and only serves the four main coasters: Sky Rocket, Phantom's Revenge, Thunderbolt, and Exterminator. That's the one I should have done, since I wasn't planning on staying all day, but there was some confusion on my part. I thought the Junior Pass was like the Junior Fun Day and was only sold to younger folks. My bad.

They also have a Night Pass, but I don't recall the pricing or what it covered. And they have single passes that run on the 1/2 hour schedule. They are $3 a piece or 2 for $5. But they are NOT selling single passes yet for Sky Rocket. They say they are still working on the operations flow for Sky Rocket and aren't ready to open it up for full reservations. I'm guessing it's more of a strategic business move knowing that most people will only want/need to buy a pass for Sky Rocket at the moment. They would be selling themselves short to offer that golden ticket individually this soon.

There was a problem with the printer when I bought my pass. You are supposed to get a VIP pass to hang on a lanyard and the pass has your picture on it. When you use it at a coaster, the ride op is to hit it with a hole punch so it's known you've been to the coasters. They were having trouble getting the ink cartridge replaced on the printer, so instead of making me wait, they gave me 6 single ride passes instead. (That's how I know how they work.) That worked to my advantage, though, because then I could pick my seat on each coaster which as I explained you can't do on the regular pass. You get a regular pass card (no picture) when it's a single card and you hand it in to the ride op when you go to ride the coaster.

They let me go back and get my VIP card anyway, though, as a souvenir. They of course still hit it with the hole puncher so I could not reuse it. But I did not get to use all of my single pass cards and I still have those.

I highly recommend the experience. It seems to be well managed. The ride ops knew exactly what to do and how to handle it. It's not expensive. And like I said, the wait for Sky Rocket is ridiculously long.

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Monday, July 5, 2010 3:21 PM

It sounds like a fantastic deal. And, so long as they limit sales, it won't make for a huge encroachment on the folks who actually have to wait in line for the ride...

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Monday, July 5, 2010 6:09 PM

Soo... how was the park? Coasters? Sky Rocket impressions? Good to know how the coaster tour works. I was sort of hoping it included some actual touring... kind a like the behind-the-scenes action that the coaster tours at Busch Gardens have, but for a pay-to-cut program they seem to have a good system set up from what you describe.

I can't imagine every needing it for more than Sky Rocket though on most days... maybe for Phantom if they're only running one train, but even then you can usually just pass on Phantom for a few hours until they add the second train. That said, if I ever visit on one of the crazy days (Italian Day springs to mind), I'd probably invest.

Plus, buying an all-day pass from the local Giant Eagles (grocery stores) brings the ticket price down to $25, so if you were to buy that plus a Junior pass, you'd effectively get into Kennywood AND 4 front-line passes for the price of standard admission (~$35 I think). Not bad!

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Monday, July 5, 2010 9:40 PM

Hi Bill. The park was great as usual. It wasn't as crowded as I would have thought, but I think the Pittsburgh Regatta helped with that. I only rode Sky Rocket, Jack Rabbit, Thunderbolt and Phantom and they were all running well.

Sky Rocket is a great addition to the park. I wouldn't describe it as an adrenaline machine, but it's definitely fun. I suspect the park regulars are going to eat it up like they do the other coasters. I had a front row experience and only rode once. I would have loved to have been able to ride in the back, too, to compare. But that will have to be another time.

The first half of the ride is definitely the most thrilling and the back half is a bit more tamed. There's enough air time to keep it all fun and interesting and the ride experience is smooth as butter. The seats are very comfortable, too. Two thumbs ups.

I think you're right; the coaster tour isn't likely to be necessary on most of the coasters. But since you can't get a single pass on Sky Rocket, then you might as well go for it and reduce all of your waiting. It seems like a no-brainer to me. You just have to remember to get a pass early as they will sell out and you want to be able to pick the seat you like the best.

Oh, and I'll mention my favorite part of the day. Linda Barnicott had a booth set up selling her prints of the park and area land marks. I decided to look around as I have a new office at work and need things on the walls. I got to talking to Linda about how I already have her "Magical Entrance to Kennywood" print at home. So she started telling me all the back stories about her paintings and who all the people are in them and such. It was neat.

When I settled on the piece I was going to buy for my office (a framed strip of 5 of the prints she has done of the park) she signed the back for me with some nice words. It was pretty cool. She's a nice lady and I recommend her work if you have an affinity for the park or any of the Pittsburgh landmarks.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 10:29 PM

Carrie,

Can you tell me where you go to buy your VIP Coaster Tour Pass?

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 10:44 PM

Sure, Mike. There's a VIP Coaster Tour stand right inside the front gate on the corner of Garfield's Nightmare. Sky Coaster is on the right as you walk in and then there's the midway heading back to the pavilions and the stand is on the other side of that midway.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 11:04 PM

I'm probably more cynical (savvy?) than average, but by NOT offering Sky Rocket solo, they're accomplishing the goal of not disrupting ops on the new ride TOO much....but they're also selling more of the "full tours"....

Are CF parks the only places left where you don't see "moderately-priced premium experiences"? Is that even the appropriate term?

I'm really happy for KW and the new ride...(and Premier). Still think the only real mis-step the park has made in my memory was the Garfield Nightmare, er, Fiasco....so many hits though -will always be one of my favorite "nostalgia" parks.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 11:17 PM

Yeah, that's what I said, too (above even :).) They'd be selling themselves short to be selling the individual passes on Sky Rocket this soon. I'm thinking that decision is strategic on their part.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 11:42 PM

rollergator said:
Are CF parks the only places left where you don't see "moderately-priced premium experiences"? Is that even the appropriate term?

I think so. Much to the chagrin of of the haters of such systems, of course.

Just another of the many things that makes the CF parks feel like they're falling woefully behind the other chains. Really disappointing how often they seem to be 'not getting it' at their parks lately.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010 2:42 AM

Thanks for the details Carrie. We will have to consider doing this when we go to Kennywood soon!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010 12:59 PM

Great Trip Report Carrie! I was at the park on the 4th as well, but I literally only went to ride Sky Rocket (season passholder). I got to the park at 10:00 AM and waited for the gates to open and went straight there. Luckily I was about 10 people from the front of the line. Unfortunately the ride was late opening but I was on the ride by 11:15. I agree wholeheartedly with your review of the ride. Not the most thrilling ride, but it was definitely fun.

I also agree with the Linda Barnicott praise. I love her prints. I'm hoping to get the Kennywood prints as well, but I didn't see the strip of 5 that you mentioned (insert sad emotion here). I wonder if you can purchase it on her website?

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Thursday, July 8, 2010 3:15 PM

That's cool, Josh.

I don't know if you are on Facebook or not, but Linda has a page. http://www.facebook.com/lindabarnicott Maybe you can contact her that way and ask where to find the "framed 5" so to speak. :)

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Thursday, July 8, 2010 8:24 PM

I checked her site out, I may order some prints, those are really amazing.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010 9:20 PM

Awesome. Some advice, though... If you can, you may want to buy a framed print from Linda. The print I have at home I had framed myself and it was more costly than what Linda offered at Kennywood on Sunday. Plus her frames have a brass plate with the name of the print at the bottom and they come complete with the hardware for hanging them. I don't think you can beat that anywhere.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010 11:07 PM

Seems like Linda may think the Blue Streak is worthy of her talent...and gift.

15% of profits donated

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Saturday, July 10, 2010 1:47 PM

^ Aren't there more worthy places to put the money, like cleaning up oil?

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Saturday, July 10, 2010 2:09 PM

I don't know why comments like that are necessary. I wasn't going to comment on the Blue Streak prints, but now...

Take a moment and compare the pricing on the Blue Streak print over this Kennywood print or this one. What do you see?

Linda is in the business of capturing memories, so it makes perfect sense for her to do a painting of Blue Streak. If you are inclined, I strongly encourage you to purchase a print. You will have the memories of the coaster forever.

But keep in mind, purchasing this print would have the same net effect as purchasing any of her other prints and then just making a direct donation with your money to the Blue Streak. It's funny how that works.

Last edited by Carrie M., Saturday, July 10, 2010 2:11 PM
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Saturday, July 10, 2010 7:48 PM

Most of the times I agree with you, Bear. But have you given up your trips to Knoebels and donated what you would have spent there to the oil cleanup efforts? If not...well. And it IS the same thing, discretionary income.

Everyone has their charities and I don't really care who thinks my charity is less deserving than theirs. If I (or anyone) would decide to buy that print and it has the added benefit of supporting a cause both the artist and the buyer feel is worthy, then so much the better for that cause.

And no, I'm honestly NOT trying to be an ass.


EDIT: RGB, if I was supposed to visualize a winky in your post, I apologize ahead of time. I missed your posts in the other thread.

Last edited by obxKevin, Saturday, July 10, 2010 7:57 PM
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Saturday, July 10, 2010 10:27 PM

Why would you donate money to clean up the oil? That's BP's responsibility. Helping out people who lost their jobs or whatever is one thing, but clean up is another.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010 10:36 PM

RGB was being sarcastic in reference to Josh's comment in the ACE thread.

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