As it turned out, those fears were absolutely incorrect. We arrived at the park at 9:45, and were allowed inside. We headed over to the area near X-Flight where the employees held the guests until park opening. At 10 AM the park opened, and we walked over to X-Flight.
I was afraid that I would dislike the ride, as its predecessor, Stealth is among my least favorite coasters. Clumsy restraints, horrible loading times and a lack of a flying sensation were my reasons for not liking Stealth. As it turned out, none of those were a problem on X-Flight. We were on the second train of the day, somewhere in the middle of the train. We actually overheard an employee say "we have to get these trains out faster," something I thought I would NEVER hear at a Six Flags park. Wow, what awesome ride ops on this ride! They secured the train in short time, a true feat on a Vekoma Flyer. And the ride was every bit as impressive. X-Flight has a great balance of inversions and flying time. I liked the horseshoe curve, and the loop felt better than Stealth’s. The two barrel rolls at the end were icing on the cake for me. Very cool stuff. And the helix was intense and enjoyable. Wow! What a well done ride. FAR better than I ever expected. It’s actually ranked as #11 on my steel coasters countdown.
Next we moved onto Superman: Ultimate Escape. This was my first "regular impulse." I had been on Six Flags Marine World’s diagonal V2 and Wicked Twister. This would be my first standard one. And as a matter of fact, I liked it quite a bit. No clue why, but I felt it was better than Wicked Twister! The twist felt tighter and the launch more powerful. A very likeable ride, and a nice surprise. I can see why this ride is being reproduced everywhere.
Next up was my 75th coaster, Mind Eraser. Not purposely, it was just right there, so we decided to hit it. Not altogether horrible for a Boomerang. But still just a Boomerang.
We walked over to Big Dipper, but the line was fairly long. We figured it would be shorter later, but it wasn’t, and we never did get to ride it that day.
So next up was another Vekoma, Serial Thriller. Well, at least the padding was really soft. So soft that I didn’t feel any of its massive headbanging. We rode in the front, which gave us a decent ride. Since I didn’t get hurt, I’m not complaining. It was better than Six Flags Marine World’s Kong.
Moving on to one of my most anticipated rides of the day, Batman: Knight Flight. It really breaks the typical B&M mold of inversion after inversion, placing many twists and turns into the layout. While it was different, I wasn’t really as bowled over about it as I thought I would be. Anticipointment perhaps? It’s a solid ride, but even so, I prefer Medusa west by a long shot.
We went towards Raging Wolf Bobs next. Another long line. Knowing that we didn’t have a lot of time, we opted to skip it.
Villain was up next. At this point, this was my second CCI, Ghostrider being the first. My expectations were of a mediocre ride. Pretty much sums it up. The Gerstlauer trains don’t track too well, giving a less than ideal ride. But worse, I wasn’t too impressed with the layout. Just didn’t have the unpredictability and forcefulness that Ghostrider has. Not a bad ride by any means, just not too good.
Looking for a credit, we hopped on Roadrunner Express. I thought it was funny when the ride op said "enjoy the rest of your day at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure" as part of his opening spiel. That aside, the ride was cute. I prefer the landscaping of Cobra at Six Flags Marine World though.
So that was it at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. We had a good time, and we both really wanted to ride Raging Wolf Bobs and Big Dipper, as well as do X-Flight and Batman a few more times. But at the same time, we both really were excited to return to Kennywood. A few pictures later, we loaded up the Mustang and were off to Pittsburgh.
This is where things got interesting. Both of us had been to Kennywood before, and both of us got lost in Pittsburgh on our respective visits. Care to guess what happened this time? It started when we missed an exit to a freeway leading to the city. The next place to turn around was 12 miles. We said "forget it," and found an alternate route. Lets just say the alternate route became a grand tour of Pittsburgh. Driving through good neighborhoods and bad ones, we traversed the city. Nearly an hour later, we found the park.
Arriving at 5 PM, we missed the discounted evening admission by an hour. At this point, neither of us was willing to wait.
Josh had been on the Steel Phantom, but never had the joy of riding Phantom’s Revenge. I visited in 2001, and got to ride Phantom’s Revenge. In 2001, I remember the weather was pretty bad. Some things never change. Ominous dark clouds were on the horizon. It was just a matter of time…
But in about 20 minutes time, we were aboard Phantom’s Revenge’s front seat. My only ride on Phantom’s Revenge was in the back. Wow. Still an amazing ride. I still consider the rides second drop, (the one through the Thunderbolt) to be among my favorites on any coaster.
It was time for another backseat ride. This is where the Phantom shines. Airtime galore. The ride was running fast today, and this was before it started raining.
Next up was the Pitfall. This would be my first Intamin drop ride. I’ve been to several parks that have such drop rides, Cedar Point, Six Flags Magic Mountain and World of Adventure, and of course, Kennywood but somehow never got on an Intamin drop ride. I have to say that I did like it, however, I still prefer the S&S turbo drop. Even so, I’m glad I finally did an Intamin drop ride.
But we didn’t have much more time before the rain set in. As we walked over towards Jackrabbit, it started coming down. That didn’t dampen our spirits much, as I can’t ever get enough of the pure insanity that is Jackrabbit’s double dip. And it was every bit as good as I remember it! Absolutely sick airtime. It may be a one trick ride, but much like Dragster, if you have a good enough trick, it doesn’t matter. And believe me, this is a GOOD trick!
Next up was the Racer. The rain was really coming down now. We waited for about 15 minutes before taking a seat near the back. This ride may not be the biggest, fastest, or most forceful, but its just plain fun. I enjoyed the ride on my last visit, and that has not changed.
After Racer, we did the third of the KennyWoodies, Thunderbolt. Before the trip, this was my #1 wooden coaster. That changed at Holiday World, but we’ll get into that a bit later. The ride, while still good, wasn’t the perfection I remembered. Still a great ride without a doubt, but I after a few more rides, I couldn’t see myself as eager to reride as I am every time on Ghostrider. Even so, this ride has a marvelously creative layout, and the most evil lateral G’s around.
Being a dark ride freak, I really wanted to do Noah’s Ark. The park was crowded on my last visit, and we never got the chance to do this. It was quite cheesy, but that was pretty much expected. It was a lot of fun! The Tower of Terror-esque elevator ride was interesting, as was the rocking boat scene. The finale of the ride is a bit out of place with the rest of the ride, but it was impressive nonetheless. And most importantly, beware of the holographic monkey that stares at you as you walk by (a Haunted Mansion effect with the statues). But having a monkey doing the staring makes it ten times more entertaining.
Aside from that foolishness, we went over to Exterminator. I thought very highly of the ride on my last visit. It turned out to be the only blemish on our day at Kennywood. Both times we got in line, the ride was broken down. However, neither the ride op taking tickets nor the one directing guests into the show building said anything about this. So we just sat there not moving until we got off the ride frustrated.
The frustration eased as we headed to a now dark and very wet Phantom’s Revenge. Wow. It doesn’t get any more insane than those rides. Even the ride ops were laughing at how fast it was taking the course. Most parks would have shut the ride down, but not Kennywood! As a result, we got the single most insane ride on Phantom’s Revenge imaginable. Insane air as the ride absolutely blew through the course. We did this twice, and both times we came off the ride amazed. Its no wonder the ride is ranked in my top 5 steel coasters.
Those rides capped off our night at the park. It was just 9 PM, but we knew we needed to get on the road, since we had a very long drive ahead of us. Insane really. We were hoping to get to Sean Flaharty’s house, who lives in Columbus, Ohio.
We left the park and headed to the Taco Bell across the street from the park. Not a good choice. The employees had apparently never seen a travelers check before. Took them a while to figure that out for me. Next, half the restaurant was closed because of a spill. They didn’t clean it up, they just closed it. How lame is that? Finally, Josh’s tacos were about 1/5 of the way filled. As in, there was next to nothing in his tacos. Yikes. Pretty sad, all in all.
But the night never really got any better. We followed our mapquest directions out of Pittsburgh only to find freeways detoured and closed all over the place. Once again, we were lost in Pittsburgh. Finally, we stopped at a gas station and tried to figure things out. 30 minutes later, we came up with a route leading east out of the city, which was OK except that we wanted to go west to Ohio. We knew that, but it was the only way we could find that didn’t involve going through the area of heavy construction and detours. I hate Pittsburgh, and make no apologies about saying so.
Hours later, we realized that we had no chance of making it to Sean’s house. We called him and at that point decided to find a hotel. We were in Washington Pennsylvania, and our first choice was the Red Roof Inn. Sold out. Next stop was the Motel 6. Score! We arrived at 1 AM and felt like fools for asking to get a 4:30 AM wake up call to get up and drive to Paramount’s Kings Island. Either way, the night from hell was over, and we were happy to get whatever sleep we could.
TOMMOROW: Paramount’s Kings Island!
The Trip: CP, SFWoA, PKI, KW, HW, IB, SFGAm, MiA and LeSourdsville too.
8 Days- 10 parks. May 2003
SFWoA TL 2003!
Somehow, backs of wooden coasters were not made to be enjoyable (I think the same was made to Villan, as it was much more intense than the front, but again... a little bumpier too)
X-Flight- I was really happy with the guest service at the park. I wasn't sure what exactly to expect, but as it turned out the park did a great job- I know I would make SFWoA part of my trip whenever I return to Ohio.
The Trip: CP, SFWoA, PKI, KW, HW, IB, SFGAm, MiA and LeSourdsville too.
8 Days- 10 parks. May 2003
Kennywood Park, America's finest traditional amusement park.
Track Record: 60 coasters at 17 parks.
Life is Short, get one
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