PA Vacation Part 3 - Kennywood

Associated parks:
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Saturday, September 11, 2004 1:02 PM
Well, after a few days away, I'm finally getting around to finishing my TR from my PA Vacation the week prior to Labor Day. On the return trip to Michigan from Hershey, we decided to break up the 10 hour drive, and also visit another new park, Kennywood. Besides my wife and I, her younger sister and our 5 month old son were travelling along with us, so we could all ride, yet have somebody to watch the kid at the same time.

At any rate, on 9/1 we arrived at Kennywood Park for the evening at 5:30 (it was only open from 5:00 that day), and left a half hour before park closing at 9:30. So we only got 4 hours in the park that day. But boy, were those 4 hours worth it!

Before I go into talking about the park though, I just wanted to comment on the drive to get there. As I'd heard before, Kennywood is a bit out of the way to get to. Luckilly, following maps and signs, we made it there without getting lost. The part of greater Pittsburgh you drive through to get there isn't the greatest looking area, and the unsightly factory accross the river wasn't a great view either. However, the park itself was still beautiful, and sat on the hillside as a stark contrast to the dreary environment around it. After parking in the near empty parking lot, we headed inside the park, to experience this classic for the first time....

I've always heard people talk about how great Kennywood is, and how it's one of the best amusement paks out there, despite it's size. While I didn't doubt the people's sincerity, it seemed strange a little, old, park like Kennywood would garner such praise and admiration. I have to admit, I was skeptical as to how much I would like the park. Having been there now, I repent of any doubting I had of others. Kennywood is a great little amusement park, and there is so much in the way of friendly service, atmosphere, rides, and fun, that it's far better than you average larger amusement park. While it's still not my favorite amusement park, it's high on my list, and I am eager to return again in the not too distant future. Both of our families also are really wanting to go now as well, after hearing our report, and seeing some of the home video.

Without further adieu, on to the rides! The first coaster we hit was Phantom's Revenge, which was a walk on. We wanted to wait for the front, so there was a little wait there, but not much. With the incredibly sparse crowd that evening, there was obviously only one train operation on PR, and every other coaster there as well. Well, to sum up my first ride on PR, awesome! I was blown away by the sheer intensity, speed, and fun on that ride. What a winner! I rode again right away with my sister-in-law, also in the front, and had another great ride. Both my wife and her sister also loved the ride. We rode it two more times while still in the area, one of the times, in the very last seat.

The airtime on Phantom's Revenge is very interesting, as I got more overall airtime sitting in the front seat. From the time I went up the second hill, I was out of my seat, all the way down that 228 foot droo. I got air over much of the remainder of the ride as well. In the very last seat though, I didn't get the air at all early in the ride, but then got very violent ejector air over the final bunny hop part of it. I found the differnce to be interesting, but nice, since it offers different kinds of air, depending on what kind you prefer. My sister-in-law and I got on the ride as our last ride of the night, right before we left the park. It was completely dark by this time, and there were more people at the ride now since the parade had ended. We still waited for the front seat, and then got treated to one of the awesomest coaster experiences I've ever had. There aren't many things that compare to the thrill of PR in my opinion, the main one being Millennium Force. That would explain why Phantom's Revenge has now become my #2 favorite coaster, behind only MF. Both are such awesome, exhilarating, experiences, that become even more unbelieveable at night. Needless to say, I was very impressed with PR!

Quickly now I'll relate the rest of the rides. Exterminator was the second coaster we went on that day, and it was a hit with both my wife and her sister. I liked the ride as well, just not as much as them. I think it has something to do with pretty much all the effects being off on the ride, making it simply a spinning coaster in the dark. However, that in and of itself was great fun, and I wouldn't have minded a re-ride, if my wife hadn't insisted on taking the re-ride with her sister. So I watched the little guy while they rode it. Like I said my wife loved the ride, and it's one of her very favorite coasters now. She couldn't stop talking about how fun it was for days. So that was cool to see her so excited!:) She also really liked the Bayern Kurve, and rode that twice. It was her first times on that exciting flat, since she never rode it while it was at Cedar Point. I had, but it was still fun to ride it again. It's too bad they took it out of CP, since it's a pretty fun flat ride, better than a lot of what CP still has. Oh well. At least there's a place like Kennywood that has a bunch of flats, including a lot of the older ones.

I also wanted to comment on what a nicely themed area Lost Kennywood was. The Pittsburgh Plunge was a very pretty centerpiece to the area, cleverly integrated into the courtyard and fountain pool. We also rode the Pitt Fall, which was a very freaky experience. Sitting up so high on the hillside already, you are really up there when you reach the top. And that free fall.... I've always said that the free fall drop towers are much scarier than the thrust drops. And the Pitt Fall was no exception. That was quite the thrill!

Thunderbolt is always ranked high on wooden coaster lists, and now I know why. It's really a fun and unique coaster! It was great that neither my wife nor her sister knew the frist drop was out of the station, so their reactions to that were priceless! The whole coaster though was just good fun. Due to not wanting to wait for the front seat, I rode in the middle/front both times. But the ride was still great there.

Gold Rusher was... well... interesting. We'll just leave it at that! ;)

Jack Rabbit was a mystery to me, as I didn't know much about it. People don't seem to talk about it as much as the other coasters there. It was dark by the time we rode it, and once again got treated to a nice surprise drop to get things started. I love how Kennywood uses their hilly terrain to their advantage with all of their coasters. It's really makes for an exciting ride. There was a oderate line that wrapped around the first bend of the track, and there was no choice in where you sat. Luckilly, my wife and I were able to get the front seat when we rode it, due to our timing. The double dip was great, and my favorite park of the ride. One strange thing about the ride is the old seat belts. They seemed a lot like horse reins, or something like that. I couldn't see any way to adjust them, and when my sister-in-law and I rode, the belt in the seat we were in was huge. It din't even come close to being securely over us. I figured everything would be fine, and we did survive the ride. However, at the double dip part of the ride, both my sister-in-law and I flew out of our seats to what seemed like a standing position, which was a little freaky. She was really holding on tight to the bar after that, but I thought it was ok... since I didn't fall out! It did seem a little unsafe to me though. Nonetheless, Jack Rabbit is my second favorite coaster there, behind Phantom's Revenge. I thought that old coaster was really a blast.

The Racer was ok. Maybe it's because all the other rides offered such new and unique experiences, and The Racer is so similar to other racing coasters, but I wasn't overly impressed with the ride. It was good, and fun. But nothing too special or great in my book. I rode both colors, and started on both sides of the station. After my second ride, I figured out that the train starting on the right side always has the advantage, and will likely win. So I got one winnning ride!

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do much more there, which was a shame. I'd definitely like to come back and focus on doing all of the littler things that Kennywood has to offer, since there are plenty of them. One thing I'm very glad I didn't miss, was the Potato Patch. I'd read about it in discussions here before, and wanted to make sure to try some before I left. So, on my way out, I stopped off there, and got their Bacon and Cheese Fries. They were awesome, covered in bacon and cheese, and I felt a great price as well. That was a great way to end the day, and I'm glad I didn't miss out on those!

Sorry this has been so long, but I just had so much to say about my exciting first trip to Kennywood. It really is a special place, and I look forward to returning again soon. Everybody was so friendly, from the ride ops, to the people walking around the park sweeping. You can tell they really put an emphasis on customer satisfaction there. I liked as well how they didn't obsess over stapling, or any other rules. I felt perfectly safe on all the rides (well, except for that one part of Jack Rabbit!) yet still could enjoy getting a good ride on their wonderful coasters. That's such a refreshing change from a certain prominent park that I like to attend frequently, where lately I've felt like the fun and customer satisfaction has been getting sucked out in favor of unnecessary rules, and restrictions. That's not to get off into another topic, just to say that I was very pleased to have such a good experience at Kennywood. Almost everybody here raves about the place, and now I see why, and will join them!

So, that completes my trifecta of Trip Reports. I know they've been long, but for those who've read through them, thanks for your time and interest. Both Hersheypark and Kennywood are great family parks, which I look forward to returning to many times with my family over the course of the years. In an age where higher,faster, and limit pushing is so popular, it's nice to see that some parks still focus on just giving the attendees a great experience, with fun for the whole family. Congratulations Kennywood and Hersheypark, and to qoute the Governator "I'll be back!" :)

EDITED for typos *** Edited 9/11/2004 5:04:21 PM UTC by DILinator*** *** Edited 9/11/2004 5:15:56 PM UTC by DILinator***

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Saturday, September 11, 2004 2:54 PM
Great TR!

I too was almost standing on the Jack Rabbit, very scary, especially if you didn't know it was coming.

That sucks that Exterminator's effects were off, they really do add to the ride.

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Friday, September 17, 2004 3:05 PM
Nice trip report, its always nice to hear from frist timers at Kennywood, because it such a different experience than your Six Flags/Cedar Point.

I totally agree with you about Phantoms Revenge. Back when I rode it in 2001 it instantly rocketed up to my No. 2 spot as well. Its an awsome coaster that never gets enough praise. As for Jack Rabbit, about it not being safe...lets just put in this way...its had those restraints for many, many years. Way before most of us were born. Nobody has ever fell out to my knowledge. Just proves that as long as you dont do anything your not suppoused to, any rollercoaster is really quite safe. But then you hear of accidents on all these new high tech rides with high tech restraints. Just makes you think a little bit I guess.

Its a shame you didnt get to experience the walk-through attraction that is Noah's Ark. While ive heard the elevator at the begining isnt currently working, it still wouldve been majorly worth your while to try it. Its I believe the last of its kind in the country, one of only 2 in the entire world I think. It was re-themed in 1996 and now has a few higher-tech gags in it, but thankfully it still maintained a couple of the older gags that really made it worthwile. Anyways, just to briefly sum it up: Its a walk-through attraction themed rather loosely to Noah's Ark, with awsome fun-house type gags throughout. During a large portion of the walk through, your actually within the boat, which is constantly swinging rather far from side to side, which just makes the gags that are within the ark that much more interesting. I wouldnt want to completley ruin it, but lets just say there is one gag in particular that is just absolutley awsome, you definatley wont forget it.

Anyways next time your there be sure to do Noah's Ark. *** Edited 9/17/2004 7:07:48 PM UTC by stljason1***

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