KW Preview Day: 4/14/01 (Long, but season opener!)

Associated parks:
None

Saturday, April 14, 2001 10:32 PM
(Note: This is a basic clone of my rec.roller-coaster and CoasterBuzz TR's, with a few changes here and there. If you've read one of those, no need to read this'n too. Also, I apologize for any discrepancies. I'm doing my best to port it from place to place and make it site-specific at the same time, but I probably fouled up in a few places. ;))

After 6 months and change, the off-season is over!

The day I'd been waiting for since the 2001 schedule was released finally arrived, and me, Joe Cernelli, and Jason Rollison weren't gonna miss it. Everyone met at my house at about 11:45. After a quick gas-up, we started on the 45/50 minute trek north to Kennywood.

We arrived at the park about a quarter of 1:00. I give credit to Kennywood; they stuck to their word. The mass of people didn't start filtering through the gates until just about 1:00 on the head.

At this point, I'll let you all know that I was adorned in jeans and my Shivering Timbers shirt today. I didn't see anyone else with one on, so if you saw an ST shirt around the park, you saw me in it. ;)

We first headed towards the traditional first ride on Jack Rabbit, but, after a side-trip to the restrooms, took a spin on the Kangaroo.

First ride of the 2001 season: Kangaroo

Even after our Kangaroo ride, we didn't hit Jack Rabbit. The line wasn't "long" by any means (as it wouldn't be all day), but we decided to ride Racer instead.

First coaster of the 2001 season: Racer

From there, we continued the loop towards Aero 360. After about *8* months away from this bad boy, I was freaking out. After the first revolution, I was fine. It's still, in my opinion, the most intense ride in the park. (Personally, I don't think PR will be more "intense." More fun? Probably. ;-)

Did ya'll see Swing Around's new color scheme? I like the blue, I do.

From there, we headed towards the construction end of the park. It was quite a bit depressing seeing Thunderbolt sitting there not moving, both ripped and patched up at the same time. Damn collateral damage. Ditto for Turtle. But, speaking of Turtle.

As we rounded the bend around T'bolt's bowl and the Potato Patch, I got my first up-close-and-personal look at PR's supports around the Turtle. I couldn't help but think back to the first time I saw Millennium Force in person ("Look at that!" / "Look at that turn!"). I kept repeating "I didn't know they were that BIG!" over and over again. Maybe I'm just uneducated, or maybe I'm just an idiot, but even though I looked at all the pictures available (twice), I had no clue they were going to be that big. Getting more hyped up with each passing day...

To Lost Kennywood we went. I successfully avoided PittFall... this time. We took our first spin on Exterminator in 2001. What a great ride it is! Again, maybe I'm just an idiot, but it seemed different this year... something to do with the theming. From previous years, I remember walls between each hairpin turn at the top, and this year they didn't seem to be there. Oh well... I love that ride! (Hopefully, the lines will stay relatively short for it this year, with that big green and black distraction a couple hundred feet away.)

Rode Whip, Gran Prix, and Old Mill. After that, we took a few minutes to stand and mourn the loss of Kenny's Arcade. From what I've heard, that great little arcade above the Fudge Shoppe is, sadly, gone for 2001 to be replaced by lockers. At least they moved the "win-prizes-with-points, not-tickets" skee-ball machines over to Playdium. (But, annoyingly, they were *all* out of order.)

Finally got a ride on Jack Rabbit. The crew was really nice, but completely overshot the number of people to enter the station. I ended up being *forced* to sit with a complete stranger, which really didn't bother me at all, but I don't really like looking like an idiot (along with 5 other people) trying to find a seat on a coaster train. But hey, it's Preview Day! I'm sure they'll be into the swing of things by the next time I get back to the park.

After Jack Rabbit, we went on a real picture trip. As of this writing (4/15/01 1:38 AM), only the Phantom's Revenge pictures have made it to Kennywood Boulevard, but we've got a lot of cool stuff planned for the upcoming weeks (and, moreover, the whole summer). Check back every so often over the next week, especially if you've never been to Kennywood. (Hmm... if you've never been to KW, really, whatchu' readin' this for? ;))

http://kennywood.coasterbuzz.com

The yet-to-be-added pics include some of the new stuff around the park, including the new shooting gallery and new games. Speaking of new stuff...

After our picture taking jaunt, we decided to start riding again with a drop on PittFall. I had heard about the new seat belts, and was actually pretty happy about it, thinking I'd feel more secure. (If you remember, I "successfully avoided" PittFall earlier... it gives me the heebie-jeebies every freakin' time.) But, they ended up being one hell of a drawback...

One of the three in our group, Jason Rollison, is a big guy. He stands about 6'6", 270 lbs. (You'll see him in some of the upcoming pics.) Any time he's on a ride with over-the-shoulder restraints, they don't really push down to somewhat parallel with the seat as they would on a thinner person, but they do push down most of the way and secure him with no problem. That's the way it was on PittFall (and SP) last year, and nobody really cared. But this year, the damned seat belt doesn't reach from the seat to the clasp on the OTSR. Because of this, he can't ride his favorite ride in the whole park. I know it's probably a safety thing, but it just irks me so bad because he was able to ride it last year! What are your feelings on this? (That is, if you've read down this far...)

That about wraps things up for the novel-type section of this TR. After more rides, more food, more games, and more fun, I grabbed a corn dog and coke and we headed for the gates at about 7:45, 15 minutes before the park was to close. (Ironically, the rain came at just about 8:00.)

Random Notes:

- 0 for 3 on Racer races today. Oh well... the airtime in the back made up for it!

- I really enjoyed Stephanie Terilli's performace in the Garden Theater. Will she be there all summer? I can only hope... ;)

- A strange character approached me while I was taking pictures of the old Kenny's Arcade skee-ball machines in the Playdium. He interrogated me about what I was doing, who I was doing it for, and what they're about. Ok...!

- Kennywood better put their noses to the grindstone on PR and T'bolt here. The park, in my opinion, really needs those two anchors. It just seems to lack a backbone without them.

- Didn't meet up with anyone. Was on the lookout for people I recognized/know, though. If you saw me and I didn't see you, feel free to reply or email me. Why let it happen again? ;)

Here's looking forward to a GREAT 2001 at Kennywood.

--

Matt Lynch, who actually got sunburned today...
Co-Webmaster, Kennywood Boulevard
http://kennywood.coasterbuzz.com
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Monday, April 16, 2001 6:41 AM
Sorry I missed seeing you there! My decision to come to Kennywood was a last minute, arm-twisting decision (mixed with a small hang-over)! When I heard earlier in the week that Thunderbolt was not going to be open, I decided to bag Preview Day. But somehow, I found myself under a warm glorious sky standing in line at Kennywood with my $12 coupon in hand!

At precisely 1:00, the gates opened. We entered and assembled our group (including my friend Mar-Jean, her husband Dale, Dave Sandborg and Tim Melago and a few others.)

Getting into the Easter spirit, we decided to head for the rabbit. What better way to shake off those winter blues than take a leap off one of the most air-time filled drops on the planet! Mar-Jean coaxed everyone to try something new: as you head for the double dip, look straight up with your arms in the air (yeah, I thought it sounded corny too!) but it really gave a new thrill to the ride!

Next, we headed for the Racer. The op's were very enthusiastic! They did a great job of getting everyone into the spirit! Every time I hop on this thing, I am always astonished at the amount of laterals this thing delivers! If only there were no seat dividers, this would be a good way to get to know your riding partner a little better!

As we disembarked, we strolled past Aero 360. Kennywood president, Carl Hughes came up to say hello (as he recognized Tim) and chatted with us for a moment. We then headed over to check out the construction around the Phantom.

I was shocked to actually see how close to the Potato Patch this thing really comes! If it were closer, the Patch would have to install a drive-thru! There is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. The area around the Turtle is still a muddy mess. We took notice that the sign for the Turtle was not up. Judging by how big the sign actually is, we were puzzled to how it was going to fit back atop the Turtle, with PR track so close. It is a classic neon sign, that has jumping turtles at night. I hope that they will somehow incorporate it back in (like as a queue entrance). Off to the right, I noticed carpenters were working diligently on reassembling the Thunderbolt. Mr Hughes mentioned that it (Thunderbolt) should be open by next Saturday (the official start of the season.)

We then headed over to Pit Fall. It was strange walking up to the tower and not seeing Steel Phantom circling. As we rode up the tower, we could see the footers that mark the path for the final turn-around on PR. Track went as far as the first turn-around after the second drop. All other supports were in place, so you were able to visualize the flow of the track and the bunny-hops. We remarked that PR is going to provide some intense laterals, but may be lacking airtime. We'll just have to wait and see.

Back to the thrills... We headed for what was my most hysterical ride on the Exterminator. Our group screamed and giggled from start to finish three times in a row! This ride is the definition of fun! Good times!

The hunger was starting to settle in as I could start to hear my name being called from the direction of the Potato Patch! As I headed for the patch, the rest of the group headed for the stand across the way for corn dogs, when all of the sudden I heard "What?!?!?! No cheese-on-a-stick?!?!?!?!" As I grabbed my tray of heart-attack goodness smothered in cheese and gravy, I headed over to see Tim and Dave filming Mar-Jean's reaction to the girl telling her that they do not have cheese-on-a-stick! Dave and Tim opted to jokingly start a campaign on www.savethecheeseonastick.com!

The rest of the afternoon was spent revisiting the entire park to notice the changes instituted for this year.

Changes for 2001:

- Shrubbery was cleared near the windmill, you can now see the windmill as you enter the park.

- The water game across from the main arcade is now housed in a cool new art-deco building.

- The Old Mill has some new props and security cameras installed all over.

- The taco stand next to the racer has a new 3-D sign above it (ala Knoebels).

- Swing around has new colors.

- There is a new skill games that involves toilets, but none of us can seem to remember the name!

- I noticed some props in the Exterminator that I never noticed before; the "panic" button in the queue line that you can hit to set off the alarm (it's near the "control" wall towards the loading platform) and a rat's hand that tries to grab you right before the spinning section.

- The queue entrance to Phantom's revenge was moved from the area behind Noah's Ark to the area behind the Pirate Ship. It looks like the queue area directly below the first drop is going to be revamped.

- The Skee Ball games were removed from the pavilion above the candy factory.

- The shooting gallery has gone hi-tech. There are new props, and the targets are digital.

- The bridge and stage where Skycoaster is has a new paint job.

- Cheese-on-a-stick is gone!

- The art-deco, pastel colored refreshment stand across from the Jack Rabbit is now painted in an ugly brown (though I think this was the case last year.)

It was indeed a perfect day! The crowds were light, and almost everything was a walk-on. However, this trip just didn't seem to be complete without a few rides on the Thunderbolt.

Stay tuned for my complete report on Phantom's Revenge on the very day it opens!

*** This post was edited by Neil on 4/16/2001. ***
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Monday, April 16, 2001 6:59 AM
I really wish I'd made it, although I was off doing more important things (like seeing my nephew Ryan take his first steps!)

After spending the afternoon with the family, I went over to Kennywood, hoping they'd still be open. I got there at 7:45, only to discover they were closing at 8. Sigh. I still went in, with the free general admission coupon, but nobody was selling any tickets by that point.

I spotted Tim and Dave. We chatted briefly, then I went over to a gift shop. They had cool PR tshirts, but none in my size, so I passed on those, but DID pick up a PR coffee mug (I collect park magnets and mugs). So the day wasn't a total loss -- now I don't have to worry about going back to the car on opening day after the gift shop run ;)

Good news on the Thunderbolt!

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--Greg

http://www.pobox.com/~gregleg/
*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 4/16/2001. ***
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Monday, April 16, 2001 9:59 AM
The new toilet skill game is called "Bombs Away." ;)

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Matt Lynch
Co-Webmaster, Kennywood Boulevard
http://kennywood.coasterbuzz.com
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Monday, April 16, 2001 12:14 PM
Hehehe Potty humor. :-)

I can't wait to go to KW in June. I am so geeking to finally visit the park!

-Eric
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E Blitz Entertainment
Bay City, Michigan
A division of LCA Entertainment
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