Return to Kennywood

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 2:24 PM
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, and like many like me, Kennywood was considered "the" park to spend your summer days. And, while I knew Cedar Point was bigger and better, Kennywood was the home court, if you will. It very well may have been the first park I ever went to.

I split PA in '92, my parents left shortly there after. Lots of summers have passed, and I've hit lots of other parks, some in different countries. But, no matter where I was, or what I was riding, "Man, I'd love to go back to Kennywood" was always somewhere in the back of my brain. It was my home court, after all. But, let's face it, Pittsburgh isn't exactly the easiest place to get to, it's not like you pass it on the way to somewhere else. It requires a special trip. But last week, I found the opportunity for that trip.

Six months ago, my friend was relocated from NYC to Pittsburgh. In July he called, begging me to pay a visit. Suddenly, it hit me. "Is Kennywood open?" I asked (that used to be an euphemism for your fly being down. If someone told you Kennywood was open, zip up. Terrible western Pennsylvania humor). He said that should be, although he's never gone. A month later, I'm in a rental car screaming across PA, on my way back home(I thought about stopping by Hershey, which is awesome, but time didn't permit).

'Nuff of that, let's get to the nitty gritty.

We get to the park at around 1 PM on Saturday. It's packed, despite the fact it was pouring all morning (I guess I'm not the only person who watches the weather channel, because I, and just about everyone else, knew it was going to clear up)

Pay the $29 to get in (!!! I remember when it was $12) I get rather bummed that the Old Mill, is now some Garfield the cat theme ride. Oh well, wasn't really planning on riding it anyway. First stop...

Jack Rabbit
This was the bomb when I was a kid. The double dip would propel my 8 year old body to an alarming height. I probably have ridden it 30 times, and that's a small estimation. The line was loooong. About twenty minutes, the longest I ever remember waiting. My cohorts are antsy, "let's just do something else." Nonsense, I didn't drive 500 miles to do something else. Jack Rabbit all the way. We finally board, and let's face it, the Jack Rabbit has never been about anything but the double dip. I've heard countless accounts that accuse the rest of the ride as being boring. It's not boring, it's foreplay! It lulls you into thinking you're on a tame ride, then POW! You're a foot out of your seat, wishing you had something other than a thin leather stap across your lap. I would never call the Jack Rabbit a great coaster, but it's definitely something you won't get anywhere else.

Racer
The Racer is strange, it's underrated even by those who have ridden it countless times. Until they get back on, and realize what a solid, well designed, and straight up fun, coaster it is. I suppose it's the lack of "gimmick" (other than it's, well, a racer) that makes it fade from your memory. But, I challenge anyone to walk off of this one, and not want to get right back in line. It's definitely best coaster for pure enjoyment. Lots of nice big drops, good curves, and decent air. It won't have you grabbing the bar for dear life, but it doesn't have to.

Log Jammmer
Water ride with one nice hill, and one awesome hill. Take it or leave it. I took it, and was glad.

Thunderbolt
Or the Pippen, to my grandparents. Perhaps, I have had too many drinks in the past twelve years, or maybe this ride bashed a few too many brain cells to death. But, I forgot how brutal this bad boy is. Second only to the Cyclone for various bruises, bones being rearranged, and fillings being shook out. One of my cohorts popped a few Advil immediately after stepping off, and I couldn't blame them one bit. A fast and furious wooden behemoth, that like the Cyclone, or a hard night of drinking, is fun, but not without it's price. Those who have an those having a problem with being squished to death, should probably grab the inside seat.

Phantom's Revenge
My first new ride of the day. One I have only heard about from lore, and sites like this. The last time I was at Kennywood, this was called the Steel Phantom, and come to think of it, it was probably the reason I forgot how brutal the Thunderbolt was, because that ride seemed like more of a form of torture, than a ride of amusement. It wasn't that I didn't like the Steel Phantom, I despised it.

So I'm happy to report that the while the Phantom is now extracting his revenge, he does it in a rather painless manner. This is a ride with a few surprises, ones I'm glad weren't spoiled for me, so I'm not going to spoil them for anyone else. The thing I liked most about this coaster is that it proves you can give an extremely intense ride, without resorting to 300 loops and corkscrews. In a lot of ways, I feel it's perfect for Kennywood, it's a very modern thrill ride, that has a very old old school method of dishing out the thrills. It's stanchly classic, while other rides of it's type are always looking for some new gimmick. My one gripe about it, is that it's terribly paced. The majority of the ride is spent climbing the first hill, the Blammo! Non-stop to the finish. No breathing spaces at all. Which, I know to some is a plus. But, I'm really a fan of the "give a little, let you cool off, give a little more, another cool down, then a big finish" school of coaster design. Anticipation is part of the fun.

Exterminator
Second new ride. I really knew nothing about this one, except it looked like a haunted house, and had a really long line. I gathered from talking to folks, it was an indoor coaster, but didn't really have any other info. So, allow me to inform those who like me, had no idea. It's an indoor wild mouse, with a spinning car. Also, allow me to inform you, it's freaking awesome. Easily, the best mouse I've ever had the privilege of waiting in line for. I know there's many of you that simply don't care for mouse coasters, and I'm not saying that this one will make you change your mind. But, I strongly recommend, you give it a shot. I wish I could give you specifics on the ride. But, to be honest, I haven't a clue. Because, at about the halfway point, this ride turns from a seemingly normal mouse, to absolute chaos. Lots of hills, lots of spinning. Lots of fun. I would got right back in line, if it wasn't for that 45 minute wait.

So there you have it. Not exactly "the roller coaster capital of the world" as their sign states. But, there's enough for a worthwhile trip, and a great day rediscovering my youth. I do have two big gripes about the park, however.

I'm sorry, $29 is steep. Most parks the size of Kennywood, charge much less. I know it's half price after 6, but if the lines were anything like they were for me, you're probably only going to get on about half the rides, before the park closes.

Gripe #2, I'm not a junior high school teacher for a reason. Therefore I have no desire to constantly yell at rugrats for cutting line. And yet, every line I waited in, this happened multiple times, not only to me, but everyone else, too. In the Jack Rabbit line, a guy a bit ahead of me, had a group of kids basically push him out of the way, and cut. When the guy yelled at them, one of the kids cocked his fist back like he was going to hit him! C'mon... I know line cutting happens in every park, buy not multiple times in each and every line I wait in. I'm not saying they should turn the park into a police state, but they shouldn't let it be over run by obnoxious brats, either.

But, with that fiscal burden, and reoccurring annoyance, aside. The return to Kennywood was a happy return.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004 3:06 PM
I agree with you on the price... Kennywood is still my home park and I get there at least once a year, however (and I know you wouldn't have known coming from so far) I look for the discounts that are available... This year I got an awesome deal through a friend's company which was a $17 Ride-All-Day ticket which also came with $10 in Food Coupons good anywhere in the park... so $7 to RAD and $10 for munchies... definately worth it... Usually Blockbuster offers discounts earlier in the season for about $18 also... so if you come back for a visit, check in with them and see.
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Thursday, August 26, 2004 3:54 PM
Also, I heard (after the fact, of course) that if you go on a weekday with a pepsi can, it's half off. Six Flags has a similar with Coca-cola.
I'll probably go that route when I return (hopefully, sooner than 12 years)
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Friday, August 27, 2004 10:14 PM
You never talked at all about how much the park itself has changed in 12 years...I mean the whole addition of Lost Kennywood, new this and that here and there, no more Le Chahoot, and you missed one MAJOR change...Noah's Ark.

Not sure if your aware, but it was completly redesigned in 1996, while they kept some of the neatest elements, new tricks were added, and a totally new ending. You really should have given it a try, you would have been surprised.

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Friday, August 27, 2004 10:47 PM
Unfortunately, West Mifflin raised the amusement tax on Kennywood, so I guess that partially explains the high admission prices and increased paid parking prices. It's a shame, because I feel it is pretty overpriced too. Although the prices inside the park are usually a lot less than other parks. However, if you look around, you can find some good discounts.
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Friday, August 27, 2004 11:11 PM
You're totally wrong about Kennywood being overpriced. Try Lake Compounce, which has two wood coasters (one of which was just named number one), and a Boomerang, one dark ride and very little else. It was $30.95 to get in. Kennywood at least has a ton of flat rides that LC doesn't have. Of course, the Kennywood Corporation owns both. Clementon Park in NJ isn't cheap either, and they have one coaster which hasn't opened yet for the year, and half of the Chance rides lineup. Holiday World is $31.95, has two wood coasters, and a few flat rides. Care to rethink the overpriced comment again? *** Edited 8/28/2004 3:16:42 AM UTC by Intamin Fan***
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Friday, August 27, 2004 11:18 PM
Does the Lake Compounce admission include the waterpark? I had no idea it was that much. But then again, they offer a season pass.

I think Kennywood is overpriced because the locals usually like to go a few times a year, but that is pretty tough when it costs so much for the family to go. Other parks offer a season pass, which usually pays for itself after a few visits. The whole season passes at Kennywood argument is whole different topic, and I'd rather not get into it right now, ha.

*** Edited 8/28/2004 3:21:38 AM UTC by acewepeel***

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Saturday, August 28, 2004 12:00 AM
you may think that the $28.95 is expensive but we always have deals to get the ticket between $5-$18.00.
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Saturday, August 28, 2004 3:57 PM
They changed Noah's Ark?!?
Wow, I had no idea. I mean, the outside looked the same. I just assumed...

Come to think of it, I did notice it had a line, which I thought was strange, since you used to be able to walk straight through.

That was one of the last old school funhouses in the country. I hope the changes were improvements.

Strangely, despite substituting kiddie land with Lost Kennywood, I was more surprised how the park hadn't changed. Other than minor tweaks, here and there. The Enterprise was now the Volcano, and even though it's the same ride, I thought the Enterprise was a much cooler name. I was a little bummed to see the Monongahela Monster gone. I remember really liking that ride as a kid. And to be honest, I can't remember what that Aero 360 ride used to be (Round-Up?)

But, the meat and potatoes were intact. Right down to the shooting gallery under the Racer. I was really happy to see them sticking to their roots, rather that mucking it all up in attempts to modernize.

And, about the price. I'm not saying it's the biggest rip on the planet. It's just that I've been to much bigger parks, for the same price, if not $5 less. Ultimately, it's my fault. I should have done a little homework, and found a discount.

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Saturday, August 28, 2004 9:48 PM
While I never tried the old Noah's Ark, I think you'd enjoy the new version. If you didn't know, Enterprise is the manufacturer's name for the ride whether it's made by Huss or Shwarzkopf. I think it's kind of cool that they named it something different and gave it theming. My friend has the Amusement Park Guide by Tim Obrien, and he says that many of the small parks charge the same or more than the larger parks.
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Saturday, August 28, 2004 11:23 PM
The "new" Noah's Ark is pretty good. It would be better if the elevator was working but stuff like that happens. I do, however, miss 'Jaws' and the foamy whale entrance of the old ark.
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Sunday, August 29, 2004 2:44 PM

carrouseler said:
The "new" Noah's Ark is pretty good. It would be better if the elevator was working but stuff like that happens. I do, however, miss 'Jaws' and the foamy whale entrance of the old ark.

Same here...Jaws and the foamy whale entrance are the two things I miss the most about the old ark. Also the bridge with the hippos over it. That was neat from what I remember. I honestly dont see why they couldnt have kept the foamy whale entrance...its not like they replaced it with anything...simply gone. When I was there in late June, the Elevator was working fine, Im not sure when you were there. Maybe its broken down since then? Thats a shame if it is, because its an integreal part of the ride IMO.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004 2:46 PM
JJ: I believe the Ferris Wheel was where Aero 360 is now. And what do you mean the shooting gallery UNDER the racer? Dont you mean...next to the racer?
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Sunday, August 29, 2004 3:27 PM
Shooting Gallery is actually above Racer. Well, part of it stretches over the track.

Round Up was were Aero 360 is now. It was also the location of the park's first Swing Around and Wonder Wheel.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004 3:41 PM
Also about the price, you arent paying the $8 to park like you do at other parks. I have been there three times this year, I have never felt ripped off.
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Sunday, August 29, 2004 4:33 PM
You can buy a Lake Compounce season for 59dollars and use it at kennywoods. Your addmission to Lake Compounce does include the water park.
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