Kennywood's new coaster named Sky Rocket

Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 11:40 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Kennywood has announced that their new launched roller coaster, set to open this spring, will be called Sky Rocket.

Read more from AP via KDKA/Pittsburgh.

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Friday, December 11, 2009 9:29 AM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Every time I hear that song I think of Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Anytime I think of Matt Damon is a good moment, so... yeah, I like the name! ;)

I'm pretty excited about this coaster, really. Adding a launch coaster to what will always be my favorite amusement park is completely awesome in my book. Still trying to determine how that suspended drop after the launch will work, but I'm looking forward to finding out. Really, a 50 mph launch isn't that fast compared to what we've experienced with other coasters, so maybe that's just enough to bring it over the top slow enough to suspend without much of an abrupt stop.

Looks like my Mom and I will be returning to Kennywood next year for our Mother's Day tradition. Awesome.

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

Friday, December 11, 2009 9:56 AM
KnoebelsGrandCarousel's avatar

rollergator said:
To those of you who don't recognize the original version:

I hate you. Get off my lawn. Don't make me put the hose on you. Thank you and goodnight.

Well I wasn't alive for the original but I still *know* it. So does that count? :)

Regarding the Anchorman version - I find this to be highly entertaining as I use to work at a TV station and those kinds of characters really do exist.

Regarding Sky Rocket - has anyone ridden Wicked? What did you think of it and do you think the two are comparable?

Friday, December 11, 2009 11:35 AM
LostKause's avatar

I have a lot less conspiracy circuits than I used to, Gonch. Yes, I heard about that. Maybe Kennywood believes that the new coaster has potential for being very busy and they think that a Q-Bot or something will somehow help with that issue?

I guestimate the ride's capacity to be about 1,200 riders per hour. Has that been officially disclosed? That's not too awefully bad, except that the ride is new, and is being built right at the entrance of the park.

I'll never understand why large parks buy single car coasters.

Friday, December 11, 2009 12:08 PM
rollergator's avatar

KnoebelsGrandCarousel said:
Well I wasn't alive for the original but I still *know* it. So does that count? :)

Sure, close enough, you can stay on the lawn, LOL... ;)

Regarding Sky Rocket - has anyone ridden Wicked? What did you think of it and do you think the two are comparable?

This looks like a longer layout with more "elements"...hopeful it'll turn out as smooth and fun as Wicked was...the "surfing" portion could be VERY fun (thinking of the trick-track type of trackage on the return run of Voyage as you near the station). Swoopy! :)

Last edited by rollergator, Friday, December 11, 2009 12:09 PM

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Friday, December 11, 2009 12:34 PM
obxKevin's avatar

Like the name, still hate the song. Don't quite get the whole launch into a brake thing, though. Overall, excited to see this coming.

The poster formerly known as 'Zcorpius.' Joined 2004
Friday, December 11, 2009 4:59 PM
janfrederick's avatar

I'm liking those "suf curves" in the layout!

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Friday, December 11, 2009 5:22 PM

Wasn't Skyrocket (one word) the original name for the Screechin' Eagle at LeSourdsville Lake?

(user checks rcdb...)

No, correction: Sky Rocket was the original name for the Geauga Lake Big Dipper. LeSourdsville's coaster was apparently known for a while as the Space Rocket.

Still, it is an interesting coincidence...

I wasn't too concerned about the 12-passenger trains until I saw that there will be only two of them. At a 60-second interval, which I doubt to be possible, that's 720 PPH. A 65-second interval, which means the second train launches as the first train approaches the station, would be 664 PPH. 664 PPH isn't as pathetic as it could be, but it isn't great either. For reference, that's about what they get out of The Beast these days.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Friday, December 11, 2009 6:50 PM

When I was a kid, LeSourdsville's ride was named Cyclone, and had a large neon sign over the station. I have a feeling the name Space Rocket came next, because when i returned to the park in the mid 70's the name was Shooting Sky Rocket. I first found ACE members in 1979 at the park and by that time the name had been changed to Screechin Eagle.

I like the name for Kennywood's ride. Sometimes smaller, traditional parks do themselves no favor by attempting themes for rides or areas, and, imo, they came teetering close to the ridiculous with the re-theme of the Volcano, Top Spin, and Pirat into a little south sea isle. Even though this will be a modern coaster, the name somehow befits the traditional aspect of the park.

However- do I understand correctly that the entrance should be across the path from (or near) their DiskO / Cosmic Chaos? Uh-oh. That little corner could become Space Land if they're not careful. The entrance to Kennywood has always had a lovely traditional feeling for me, and I hope the placement of the ride doesn't alter that too much. From pics I've seen, along with (argueably) the best Turnpike ever, went quite a number of trees...

Friday, December 11, 2009 7:53 PM
LostKause's avatar

Gator, all you have to do to get me off your lawn is to play that song on the boom box from your front porch. I'll run away as fast as I can.

664 PPH, Rideman? That sucks. Looks like Kennywood will be selling a lot of line cut passes next year. Lower capacity equals more line cut sales. Cha-ching!

Last edited by LostKause, Friday, December 11, 2009 8:00 PM
Friday, December 11, 2009 10:01 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

LostKause first said:
I have a lot less conspiracy circuits than I used to, Gonch.

Aww. :(

LostKause later said:
Lower capacity equals more line cut sales. Cha-ching!

There we go! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009 10:46 PM

I had to go back to 1999 to find measured capacity numbers for Kennywood for comparison purposes. Note that operations have changed in significant ways on all of the coasters since then...

Jack Rabbit: 875 PPH
At the time, Jack Rabbit had not been converted to magnetic brakes, which means the trains *had to* run on interval for safety reasons. Today, it can safely stack trains in load and unload, so its actual operating capacity is lower now.

Racer: 939 PPH
Racer no longer allows riders to preload the platform, and the load procedure now requires a belts first, then lap bars, so its actual operating capacity is lower now.

Thunderbolt: 450 PPH
This was after the collision, so the coaster was running only one train. With the new control system, Thunderbolt's actual operating capacity is considerably higher now.

Exterminator: 758 PPH
I have no idea whether anything has changed here.

Steel Phantom: 1,039 PPH
This one has been completely redone, so this isn't meaningful for comparison anymore.

So while Sky Rocket promises low capacity, I am not certain that it is going to be quite the problem we're expecting when compared with the other coasters in the park. Also, we have no idea what the real capacity of the new ride is going to be. Looking at the diagram, I still wonder if they couldn't manage to squeeze a third train onto the thing just to get the interval down...that would require a staging block or a dual load configuration, but it would improve capacity...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.
(edit: one signature is plenty!)

Last edited by RideMan, Friday, December 11, 2009 10:47 PM

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Saturday, December 12, 2009 1:13 AM

I think Moosh found that video a bit too easily. :)

Wouldn't it be awesome if the pre-launch spiel consisted of those gals singing "Skyrockets in flight" and you get launched simultaneously with that badass guitar riff? I bet that would make even Lost Kause spring for a Q-bot just to hear that over and over! LOL

I think it's only fair that Shoot the Rapids gets its own 70s video.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 2:12 AM
kpjb's avatar

RCMAC said:
However- do I understand correctly that the entrance should be across the path from (or near) their DiskO / Cosmic Chaos? Uh-oh.

It will not. You'll enter near the old turnpike station.


Saturday, December 12, 2009 10:36 AM


From my experirence as a ride operator, 664 pph is not a typical amount for the Beast. Although I did work 2 seasons with the magnetic brakes, and not seat-belts, a typical amount is closer ot 800 pph. 900 pph would be considered a good hour, and 1000 would probably be maxed out (like best for the year).

Of course this was prior to seat-belts, but I would think that 664 would be still a bit low.

Regarding Kennywood's new coaster, I think my only concern is whether they have a holding brake on the top of the first hill. It would feel odd to launch 50 mph and have a holding and pause at the top of the hill. Hopefully it just slowly crest over and their is no holding brake or other mechanism that grabs you up there since it would likely not be the best for the pacing of the ride.

Regarding capacity for this new ride, I am not sure if it will be as big of a deal as it seems. They sometimes run Phantoms Revenge with one train, and exterminator likely has low capacity as well. 700 pph is not great, but I don't think the park really needs something that pushes alot more. Sometimes even with a third train, with a ride that has a launch and tracke length of 2100, it would stack probably anyway. For 3 trains, you would also probably need a seperate unload and load as well, with a track length this short and the potential for the trains to stack.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 2:56 PM
LostKause's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:
... and you get launched simultaneously with that badass guitar riff? I bet that would make even Lost Kause spring for a Q-bot just to hear that over and over! LOL

Did you just say that Afternoon Delight had a badass guitar riff? lol That is good comedy right there.

I think it's only fair that Shoot the Rapids gets its own 70s video.

That song's not nearly as corny as AD, even if they are lip syncing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009 11:02 PM

Yeah, I guess that was a bit of an exaggeration for The Beast. I've seen it run that slow, but that's not quite typical. That's a weird one, actually...I've seen dispatch intervals on it anywhere from about 110 seconds (1,178 PPH) to five minutes (432 PPH), and there doesn't seem to be any discernible pattern to whether it's running fast or slow.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Sunday, December 13, 2009 3:18 PM

I could be wrong but even by 1999 Racer was hardly ever pre loading back then. The changes to Racer and Jackrabbit have done capacities no favor as loading is slower. It really doesn't matter that much because your average day the waits for Racer, Jackrabbit, and Thunderbolt are pretty much what they always have been on your average day. The two trains on Thunderbolt would make a difference with those figures.

The real important question is will it open on time? Then again they are opening later and later it seems every year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009 5:19 PM

I can't speak for Racer, but the interesting thing is that on Jack Rabbit, nothing that they did should have had a negative effect on capacity. In fact, changing to modern seat belts should have been an improvement because that system is a configuration people are expecting, unlike the old snap-hook belts. Switching to magnetic brakes and allowing trains into both stations at once could even potentially improve capacity, just by reducing headway. But the net result has been a *decrease* in capacity because the new controls remove the urgency from the operation. It doesn't matter how long it takes to get the train out now because the other one can reliably stop in unload. That's the big change, and capacity took a hit as a result.

I thought Racer was preloading most of the time until the mid-00's...?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Sunday, December 13, 2009 6:14 PM

You would THINK that people would know how to work those seat belts but they don't. Out of the nine seat belts on a train, I can assure you that probably 95% we had to buckle at least one of them. More often, it is around 2 or 3. Most of the time, they are trying to put them in the wrong side. I actually had some people try to stick them in sideways, into the solid metal side of the buckle. Obviously, that didn't work out well.

The old seat belts had at just two latches right? Therefore, operators didn't have to tighten all the seat belts as well. Now when we check them, we tighten them. That takes time. Plus they can get twisted and knotted, and usually we had to work that out for the guests as well, and it took us a while sometimes too.

Something you may not have considered is how guests with disabilities are loaded on. From what I understand, with the old brakes, they had to jump in and go. With the new brakes, we MUST have both trains in the station. The guest with the disability gets in the train that is on the back brake, while a full train sits on the front brake. We can't send the loaded train until they are seated and checked on the back brake. And again, when they come back in, we can't dispatch the train in front of them until they have exited. It's a safety feature built into the ride. When running two trains, the ride will automatically E-Stop if one train is still on the back break when the other train reaches the top of the lift hill. Instead of risking an E-stop, we just hold the train. There were times too that if we noticed a guest had difficulty getting in, we would hold the next train to avoid a potential E-stop. The Rabbit's a pretty popular ride for all guests, including those with disabilities. They can dramatically slow down operation, especially on the days when they come in groups such as the handicapped days that Kennywood holds.

Another thing to consider is how many operators are on platform. This year, Rabbit only opened with an operator on controls, and another on height/platform for the first hour. At 12:00, another person came in, giving Rabbit two people on platform checking belts. That crew rotates from platform every 30 minutes though, so for about 7-10 minutes, every 30 minutes, someone was on platform by themselves. That means doing height, all the seat belts, and any guests with disabilities. Normally though, that didn't make too big a difference. And actually, when the park gets so short on help that they needed to start pulling from places, that was one of the first places that got pulled. Reason being that unlike most crews, Jack Rabbit just rotated out of boats instead of platform. We hated it, because in those 7-10 minutes you were by yourself at boats, you could really get swamped. Plus, it meant you were always by yourself up on platform.

Point is, it was fairly common to be up there by yourself. Not the majority of the time, but fairly frequently. If we're flooding the platform, that means we're counting guests as they come up on the platform, and not watching them as they line up. A lot of people just aren't comfortable flooding the platform when they are up there by themselves. The minimum height for that ride is just 36 inches. We have a ton of kids, and we don't trust parents to watch their kids. We also don't trust adults. People are stupid, and do stupid things, and we were there to yell at them is basically how it seemed to work out. Just getting them to line up was a struggle. They would come up and stop walking on the platform, and then you couldn't get any more on and were trying to get them to move down so you could fill the train. Or they were standing on the yellow line after you just told them not too. Every once in a while they would fight for the front seat. And groups, cannot forget groups. Let me just say, you have not lived until you've tried to split up groups to fill a train. Trains would come back in and they would sit there. We'd gesture, yell, use the microphone to try and hurry them out to avoid an E-stop. We only just barely made it a few times.

I mentioned counting earlier. It can actually be pretty difficult. It probably takes a couple weeks to actually get good at it. You have to recognize when 6 people are actually two groups of 3, which takes up four seats instead of three. You also try to accommodate smaller groups, and especially families. It just adds to the confusion though.

I think I covered most of it. I should probably go back to studying for finals now. This took way too long.

EDIT: I forgot the mention Racer. I think the reason they do not preload is that the loose articles boxes are located in the center of the platform. Since the trains switch sides, you can't simply but the boxes across the track like Phantom. When the ride is over, everyone wants their cup and stuffed animal back. Its a big problem on Jack Rabbit as well. People will crowd around the loose articles box instead of sitting down, holding us up as well.

Last edited by ideame, Sunday, December 13, 2009 6:17 PM
Sunday, December 13, 2009 7:59 PM

That's a lot of good information/experience. Witnessed some of the handicapped that you mentioned and that would explain it. The old seat belts on Jack Rabbit had two latches, loose and really loose. I do miss those, but we all manage.

That is a decent explanation for Racer. It just seems to me it was a long long time since they pre loaded there regularly. One of the elder regulars would have to confirm that for sure.

All this talk about seat belts and the ability to load on these classic coasters makes me wonder how things ran back in the 20s. It probably wasn't this complicated or having to worry about the intelligence of people. I wonder what the original trains on Racer rode like since I never got to rode them. I bet the final drop of Pippin/Thunderbolt with original cars was pretty insane but I would have to be really old to know that feeling.


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