August 12, 2006
This morning, I awoke at an undisclosed location in Columbus, OH with some sore shoulder blades from the Ohio State Fair the night before. Nothing a nice hot shower couldn't soothe away. Shortly after 9AM, Rideman collected me from the undisclosed location and we started making the drive to Kennywood. It was a mostly uneventful drive, we scored some cheap gas up in Cambridge, OH, and listened to the NPR lineup while we drove to the park. We were all smiles and making time, even made it through the Fort Pitt tunnel and onto I-376 okay. Then we found ourselves in a slow moving traffic jam, just after passing exit 3, which meant we were committed to crawling along at a snail's pace for at least 2 more miles. We wound up taking exit 5 and following the way to Sandcastle from which we could easily plot a course to Kennywood.
We pulled into the Kennywood parking area, and opted for the free parking. Kennywood has three or four lots, and the one closest to the park costs $5, all the other lots are free. It doesn't look like it matters as those who had headed for pay parking look to be returning to the free parking lane. Signs indicated to go to Lot 3. That is actually a good thing, because from lot 2, you take an escalator to lot 1, then walk through lot 1, lot 3 has a sky ride that floats you down the hillside, over lot 2, over lot 1, before gently depositing you directly outside the front gate. Did I mention the sky ride is free, and that lot 3 is free? The line of cars to get up to lot 3 was backed almost all the way back to Kennywood Blvd. This can't be a good thing.
We finally arrive at lot 3, and happen to notice a space on the end of an aisle that is empty and almost right by the exit to Kenny's Parkway (the sky ride). We snag the convenient parking space, and prepare to trek down to the park. We head over towards Kenny's Parkway despite the "Sorry, closed" sign, and note the line stretched pack across almost the width of lot 3. While waiting in line for Kenny's Parkway we note a blue and yellow swing set and other playground equipment appear to be setup in a corner of the parking lot. Remember that, a blue and yellow swing set. Kennywood could do something about the queue for Kenny's Parkway as it crosses over the main roadway through the parking lot. At least the line is constantly moving, and before too long, we are entering the station. We are given lane numbers then told to walk behind the chair in front of us and stop at the line, then sit down on the chair behind us. It's a smooth operation and soon we are on Kenny's Parkway heading towards the park.
My what a wonderful view of the park is afforded by the Skyway, you can see a good aerial shot, particularly of the Lost Kennywood section. You can also see their new for 2006 ride, the Swingshot, which looks just like a giant's blue and yellow swing set. See, I didn't make you wait too long for the payoff on that one. It's a nice leisurely ride down to the park gates, where we exit Kenny's Parkway and head to the entrance plaza. It should be noted there are other options, you can make the nasty looking hike down the hillside from lot 3, or the park will drive you from lot 3 to the main gate in a minibus. Kennywood has totally renovated their front gate plaza since my last visit, but they way in which they renovated makes it look even more classic and traditional than it looked before, if that makes any sense. We duck into one of the newer restrooms and find it to be way too small.
This summer Geauga Lake and Kennywood have been fighting it out for customers. Geauga Lake took the dubious step of renting a billboard less than a quarter mile from Kennywood and plastering it with an anti-Kennywood advertisement. "The park that's closer, isn't even close" That tasteless billboard has since been removed, I mean you don't backslap someone else's park, particularly a park so beloved by its fans as Kennywood. One great thing to come from this, however, is Kennywood started marketing visitkennywood.com in the Ohio area. From that targeted portal, Funday tickets to Kennywood only cost $18 as opposed to the regular $28.95 list price. I note that a child's ticket is normally $18, so they are using that old carnival come one "For a limited time, we're making you all children again! For a limited time everybody can enter on a child's $18 ticket" I pull my eTicket out of my pocket and turn it in as we go through the turnstile and metal detector.
Along with the new entrance plaza, the park has made it so that you can use either ramp to get down to the tunnel that goes under the main highway. It used to be there were two one way ramps. That said, the bulk of the crowd still turns right after entering the gate to head down the traditional way. At the bottom of the ramp, you go through a tunnel that takes you underneath the road and lets you out inside the park. This is still one of my favorite park entrances, the transition from the mundane parking lot then the tunnel to come out into the park is fantastic.
Well, I can see by my watch it is already 3pm and we are just entering the park, but we had been on the road since 9am, so the rides will have to wait just a little bit longer. We take care of business then head to the traditional starting off point, the Jack Rabbit.
The line for Jack Rabbit was all the way through its relatively small queue area and then wrapped back around the front of the ride almost reaching back to the exit ramp. We join the queue, from the queue area, I notice some things have changed with the Jack Rabbit. I really like the new logo with the rabbit that has a rocket pack strapped on. Also the trains have been repainted, instead of pink/blue/white, they are now pink/blue/green. Looking at the pink train again, the trim work does appear to be red, which would make the trains red/blue/green which is the same set of train colors as their other two wooden coasters. Today they had the green and red trains running, the queue area runs down one side of the coaster and while waiting in line we could see the ride has received a lot of recent trackwork. The line then wraps around the front of the ride and up into the station. Eventually we find ourselves heading to the front seat of the back car, where we sit down, and I notice the leather strap seatbelts are gone, and are replaced by regular automotive style belts, with the big square lift latch buckles. At least they left the classic slide-under lap bars intact.
We took a ride on the vintage Jack Rabbit. You make a turnaround out of the station and ride alongside the queue area, then down the first drop, back up, through a tunneled turnaround, then down the second drop and back up. At this point you come to the rides lift hill and you go way up, make the next turnaround over the station roof, and now you are running parallel to the first drop, when you encounter the main drop. The main drop is the infamous double dip, the first half takes you down so that you are about even with the approach to the first drop, then you level out of a little bit, then you go down the second half of the drop. In the back car the airtime, especially on the second half of the double down is unreal. You then head back up, go through the last turnaround, then one last dip and back up into the unload station. It's a fun little ride, maybe it's a one trick pony, but what a trick.
In accordance with one of the unwritten laws of Kennywood, we next headed to Racer. The line for Racer was completely through its queue area and wrapped around the shooting gallery. I also noticed the Pastimes area to be gone. The park has a way of making changes so that when they are done, you are convinced that things never changed, that it has been the new way all along. We carefully waited in the Racer queue, you see I said it was wrapped around the shooting gallery, and it's a shooting gallery that shoots back! It shoots back with water of course, but the gallery doesn't care if it hits players or innocent bystanders.
We made our way through the Racer line and were soon taking seats towards the back of the green train. (Green and blue running today). These trains are reputed to either be new PTC trains, or newly rehabbed PTC. They have the new open-style PTC seat dividers as seen on Legend, and now sport individual seatbelts, but they retain the more traditional double bar. Racer is one of only three single track racers in the world, which means when you come back you finish at the opposite side of the station than you started on. We were soon on our way along this relatively gentle figure 8 shaped racing coaster, there was some hand slapping going on around those turns however. We returned to the midway and took a walk around the lake. I noticed the one stage that had the Swing Around on top is gone, as is the Swing Around. We eventually walk all the way around the lake and wind up at Midway Refreshments for some Philly Cheesesteak. Hey, is it even right to order Philly Steak in Pittsburgh?
The park has done some interesting things, for starters it stays true to its roots as a picnic park, and so if you want to bring in your own picnic lunch and eat in their groves, you are welcomed and encouraged to do so, just don't bring in any alcoholic beverages. What this means for food prices, however, is that you get something that even though its not exactly street pricing, its much closer to street pricing than most other parks. This means the lines for the food stands are often long, and more amazing you will see people munching on snacks they got from one food stand while waiting for another food stand.
So we get in line at Midway Refreshments, and for $6.55 each later we have ordered a Philly Steak sandwich and a frozen beverage each. The park makes a great deal out of these frozen beverages, serving them up in souvenir quality take-home cups that look like the kind of cups you might get a margarita in at a tropical bar. They have some interesting flavors, namely tangerine and sour apple, which I remembered are also the flavors for the frozen Moose Juice/Goose Juice beverages at Islands of Adventure. So we have received our frozen beverages, and are watching the grill cook toss real steaks onto the grill, finely chop them up right before our eyes, add seasonings and toppings and several slices of cheese. Its going great, they scrape the sandwich off the grill, place it in a bun, put it in a paper boat and set the sandwiches on the back counter for the server to retrieve and serve to us. Only one small problem, they had just had their 4pm shift change. The cashier who was being relieved failed to inform the person coming on about what orders were still due. So our sandwiches sat on the back counter, the people BEHIND us in line were getting served. No one seemed to have the slightest clue who we were and why were still standing at the food pick up area. We tried the nice way of getting somebody's attention, but since they took no notice, we switched to the loud and rude way to get somebody's attention. This had the desired effect of getting us our sandwiches. We grabbed our food and headed over to the condiment counter. This was where the stand foreman came over to us and we discussed what had just happened, why we were angry, and all that. The foreman apologized for the bad service and did offer to remake everything. So a bit later we were enjoying our lunch. It was a great sandwich by the way.
After lunch, we decided to head towards Lost Kennywood. We got sidetracked and headed to Garfield's Nightmare. The queue for Garfield was almost but not entirely full. Garfield's Nightmare is the latest incarnation of the Old Mill. While you wait for the ride a documentary plays about the history of the Old Mill, including the famous bowling ball test. The documentary alternates with the safety announcements which Garfield makes, and throws in jokes after each one. The queue has been moved to the other side of the trough between the show building and the waterway. It still uses the same classic Old Mill boats and the same show buildings and waterway. We get grouped with a family and se take the back seat of the boat. As we head into the show building we are handed what must be the dirtiest pair of 3D glasses in existence. The inside of the building has been painted in bright vivid colors, no more dark areas, now it's a bright and cheery family dark ride. Rideman calls it a Garfield morality play, and that description fits because we see Garfield being his usual self - over eating, tormenting Odie, etc. The scenes of Garfield acting bad alternate with scenes where the tables are turned and suddenly Garfield is the one being tormented. It's a cute family ride, and includes a photo opportunity at the end. The building that was the Old Mill station now houses on ride photo booths for Garfield and the Turnpike Cars, as well as a concession stand.
We passed by the Grand Prix, Flying Carpet, King Kahuna, Wipeout and Musik Express. Wait, what happened to the Bayern Kurve? We find ourselves heading to Phantom's Revenge. According to the sign at the entryway, Phantom's Revenge will be a 30 minute wait, and the line stretched back just beyond the long bridge almost back to the queue maze. Phantom's Revenge is the new for 2001 renovation of the Steel Phantom arrow multi-element into a Morgan non inverting hypercoaster. The cars are very interesting as they retained the arrow track style, so it has unique two bench cars with low seat backs, but more interesting the lap bars fold down from the sides of the car. After waiting through the line, we headed for the front seat of the back car. I happily note they still don't have queue gates. We take our seats fasten the belts, drop the lap bars and off we go. The ride starts out like Steel Phantom as it uses the same lift, first drop and second hill How many times are you at the top of a 200' coaster and have to look UP to see where you parked. After the second hill, the track plan is all Morgan, and it is an airtime feast in that back car. Nice laterals and air on almost every hill, and not gentle air, some strong airtime as well. The lap bars give no place to grab a hold of, which helps to exaggerate the airtime effect. Interesting layout, interesting forces, unique back story and great airtime, what more can you ask out of a coaster? We exited the ride down into Lost Kennywood.
We walked past where the Roll-O-Plane used to sit, and made the turn by Pittfall. Pittfall had a scary looking line so we skipped PittFall and headed to Exterminator. Exterminator had an even scarier looking line, posted at 1 hour. We decided to head out of Lost Kennywood. We did stop at SwingShot, it had a full queue as well, but that was on my 'must-do' list. SwingShot is a brand new S&S Screaming Swing, its one of the larger ones, with two 16 passenger swings. The concept is that is an oversize playground swing that has some kick to it. Its one of those real simple ride ideas that makes you think "How come no one thought of this before?" After a lengthy wait in line, we are admitted to the ride area. No sooner had I sat down on the ride then we were all asked to return to the holding pen. Great, the ride has just gone down mechanical. I don't know what went wrong but it was solved by an technician who inserted a key in a panel, which caused a loud hiss from the air tanks, then they ran a test cycle, then they reopened.
I sat down, and the attendant came by and lowered and adjusted the lap bars. These bars also fold down from the side, then once it is down it goes straight down to tighten up across your hips. A short time later we were happily swinging back and forth while kicking our legs in the air and the whole bit. The swing swings fast and high, but the best part is at the top of each swing. There is no pause before the swing changes direction, which means you get an airtime moment as your body still wants to go up as the swing starts going back down. I especially noted this on my first ride when I had a loose lap bar. I know see why Cedar Fair has ordered a boatload of these, as they are a real fun ride with a small footprint.
From Swingshot, we headed to King Kahuna. Rideman sat out on King Kahuna, the King had a full queue but that was only 2 cycles long. I don't get the part of the queue where you walk through a volcano, particularly since the Enterprise next door is labeled Volcano. King Kahuna is a HUSS Top Spin, the regular sized edition, which still has the ball buster automatic lap bars. The ride started out with so much promise with 5 flips almost right at the start of the ride, but then petered out and didn't really do much after that. Also, the water effects have been cut down so they can't spray the riders. We did walk past the carousel which was playing Snow White music, namely the seven dwarves theme, hey exactly whose park am I in?
From the Top Spin, we start to head to Noah's Ark, which has a full queue. We skip Noah and head to the Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt also has a full queue, but it didn't spread out onto the midway. Thunderbolt also has a security guard there to enforce the line jumping rules. While waiting in line for Thunderbolt, I heard "This is the Voice of Kennywood: Kennywood Park will close tonight at 11:30" Thanks, Voice of Kennywood. The line for Thunderbolt moved pretty fast and we eventually wound up in the back seat. Rideman announced HE was the smallest rider, and therefore had to enter first. Thunderbolt has some strict no single rider rules, and furthermore they dictate which side of the seat you sit on. One of the more mysterious practices the park has is to not have a set operating schedule, sure the park may open around 11AM, but the closing time is not set in advance, except on certain special occasions. Therefore, its prudent to keep your ear open for the public address announcer (who goes by the moniker "Voice Of Kennywood") to reveal the closing time. Now we have a better idea of how much time we have left.
We take off on our Thunderbolt ride, I thought Thunderbolt was running rough, but it should be noted that Thunderbolt running rough was a better ride than some other parks wood coasters on their best days. After loading the train you are sent right out of the station and down a drop into the ravine, you come back up, turnaround, and drop again into the ravine, you are then brought back up and then engage the chain lift for a trip up 70', coming off the chain you turn right and drop into the 'spaghetti bowl' as i've heard it called . A double helix with hills in the back half. The helix generates ungodly laterals that squash the person sitting on the left. After the helix you hit the mid-course brake and then take the rides reported longest drop (95') into the ravine, to come back up, turnaround, drop again to come up into the brake shed, where you are stopped and then slowly brought through a turnaround into the station. I still like Thunderbolt, but not as much as I used to. Sorry, Thunderbolt, but there is a new Voyage.
We headed from Thunderbolt and then took a walk through kiddieland. I noted the line for the Traver Auto Race to be just a bit longer than I wanted to wait in. The park was getting hit hard today, "Nobody goes to an amusement park on a Saturday anymore, it's way too crowded" While in kiddieland, I do take a ride on Lil' Phantom. Lil' Phantom is the parks kidddie coaster. Its by the Great American Coaster Company, which apparently has the Schiff product line. In other words this is a classic style kiddie coaster. Last time I visited the park, you had to rent a kid to ride this, now the rule is "No maximum height restriction" I shamelessly joined the full queue that was spilling out onto the midway. Several cycles later, I was climbing into the back seat, fasten the belt, lower the lap bar. Yes, I think we received the usual strange looks from other park guests and a look of "Whatever floats your boat" from the ride crew, we were allowed to ride. I like how the ride uses a manual brake lever as its primary control, something missing from their classic wood coasters. We received our two laps, and man that's violent for a kids ride, not quite as violent as the Allen Herschell Little Dipper, but still it makes you wonder how many children get scared off of coasters by rides like this one. "You can't say you've ridden all the parks coasters, unless you've ridden all the parks coasters" A credit counter clicks off coaster #262 for me.
We continue to tour the kids area and note a real odd looking kiddie ride. It looks something like a mini tip top under a tent except the cars are geared to constantly spin. I haven't seen anything else quite like it, and Rideman noted that he hadn't either. We made our way out of kiddie land, saw a pavilion that would be just great to move the Whip to, and started to head back to the big park. We walked past Aero 360 (long line), we did take a walk through the cafeteria building but didn't order anything there. Instead we stopped at the Potato Patch and had some Potato Patch fries $3.60 and soft drink $1.90 while watching a magic show on the Kennyville Stage.
After our potato patch fries, we headed to Noah's Ark. Noah's Ark is a walk through fun house like attraction. The queue for it was about 3/4 full when we joined it. By the time we had gotten through the queue maze and were walking around the end of the ark Kennywood switched to night mode and all the lights started coming on. We eventually get to the front of Noah's Ark and I note they have loose article bins for the fun house. We are led into what must be Mt. Ararat and we head to a mining elevator. Our guide says the elevator will take us up to the ark, and we start to go up in the elevator while the automated spiel gives some hokey history about the elevator and the ark and all kinds of nonsense, when something happens, the elevator operator goes "Oh no, not again!", then the elevator crashes back down to the bottom of the shaft. When the elevator door opens you aren't back to the entryway, instead you down in some mine apparently beneath the park. Okay, that's one simulated elevator fall stunt.
Stepping out of the elevator, we go down a couple steps into the mine tunnel. Here the floor is all soft and squishy, you follow the squishy floor for a bit till the hard floor returns then you round a corner and come out into the catacombs. The stunt makes it look like you are walking across a pair of wooden beams and have to balance yourself to avoid falling into the crypt below. Part of the way across, the wood beams are reduced to stepping stones. Ignore the plexiglass that actually covers the crypt area. From the catacombs you enter a long area with just plain hallways painted black on both sides, really there is nothing to do or see here. I am about to turn a corner when this life size figure that looks just like Rideman pops out from around the corner. From there you make your way out of the Mt. Ararat area and onto the dock leading to the pilot house of the ark. Now, all the time the ark itself is slowly rocking back and forth, so while you are in the ark area you have to watch your footing. So you step off the steady dock and into the rocking ark. You pass through rooms that have tableaux showing what it might have looked like inside the ark, really they are well detailed. You do have to navigate a couple stairways that are also rocking back and forth, as well as some classic fun house floor stunts like shaker boards. There are few animated stunts that get triggered via magic eye placed a short distance in front of the stunt. Perhaps the most effective of these is a pop up gag that takes place at one end of the ark. I know its gotten me twice, because you think there is a solid wall on the other side, but there isn't, this is where the bottom of the ark is so instead of a wall it's a slanted floor/wall combo. Twice I have almost fallen in this same spot, you would think I would learn. The next set of stairs is where you step off the rocking part of the attraction back to solid stationary ground. You then head through a room in the underbelly of the ark that appears to roll from side to side. It's the haunted swing illusion, except it only rocks a little bit and doesn't roll over. Coming out of there its past the spitting cobra, then down a ramp into another queue area. To keep you entertained in the second queue there are some crazy mirrors and some neat light effects made through one of those persistence of vision tricks. You are then led into an area that looks like a submarine, and how does that fit on an ark? Anyway the intended effect here is that the boats walls have been compromised and you are taking on water, a lot of water. You see the walls buckle in and water starts spraying about the room. Just as the water is about to soak the metal bridge you are standing on the automatic doors behind you open up where upon you run out, hopefully screaming, just like the end of a Girl-to-Gorilla side show. However the effect doesn't really impress, and folks just wait for the doors to open up so they can exit.
We headed back into the Lost Kennywood area. We returned to check on Pitt Fall which was posting a 45 minute wait. We saw that it only had two of its four sides open. Seat belts have been added to Pitt Fall, and I noted they have added a sign cautioning that due to changes in the safety restraint, some riders, even those who were able to ride in the past, may not be able to ride. I was not interested in a 45 minute wait for a Giant Drop. We skipped it and headed over to Exterminator, which was still posting a 1 hour wait. I know that's an awful queue to wait in, so we skipped that one as well. We did take a ride on the Whip while we were in the area. They still haven't replaced the cover over the Whip building since it was destroyed in the tornado of 2002. It was a few cycles wait to ride the Whip but it was well worth it. I had forgotten how intense the forces on a Whip can be, the crushing g-force as it throws you back into your seat as you whip around the ends of the elongated oval course.
From the Whip we noted that Pittsburg Plunge did not have any riders, but it was a bit cold for that. We skipped the Swingshot for now and made our way back towards the front of the park. Phantom's Revenge was now posting a 1 hour wait as well. I knew from the website status page that the Flying Carpet had been down for some time, but they were nice enough to turn on the lights so I could see it lit up. We headed to the Wipeout. In the past the Wipeout was a no-single riders ride, but they have since relaxed that rule, probably about the same time they installed individual seatbelts in the seats. We sat in separate seats and were able to find a level of comfort not usually found in a Wipeout. For once I am glad that it seems Kennywood has slowed this ride down, before it was spinning almost too fast, particularly when you have another rider squashing you. Now it runs at a fast yet respectable speed for most of the ride, and kicks into high speed overdrive for the last 20 seconds or so. They also score points for the custom Kennywood scenery panels.
It's now dark out, and I am getting my first ever taste of Kennywood at night. It's not the neon paradise that Lakeside is, but it is so beautiful none the less. If Kennywood were a magic land during the day, at night it really is a blast from the past. Parks don't like to stay open late anymore for whatever reason. Kennywood regularly stays open late, and not only that for the most part the crowds seem to stay right up until close, even buying more food right up till close. The park has really shattered a lot of the myths started by the big major corporate theme park chains about what people want in an amusement park. They do it be simply continuing to operate their park the good old fashioned way.
We headed to the Grand Prix, again a few cycles wait, but then it was to a free for all bumper car ride. Seatbelts are optional, there is no center barrier in the floor, no one way driving rules, and apparently no rules against head on collisions. It's the way bumper cars were meant to be. After the bumper car ride we headed over to the Kangaroo where we waited a few more cycles to go on another ride from the past. The Kangaroo is an innocent looking ride with several three seat cars that go around in a circle. The trick to the ride, and it is a one trick pony, is that there is a jump ramp and one by one one each revolution your car goes up the jump ramp, goes airborne for a split second then comes gracefully back down to the ground. Several shock absorbers help smooth the cars decent. The upshot of it is that you get an airtime moment with each revolution. This is the original Flying Coaster. Often imitated recently, but never duplicated.
From the Kangaroo we head over to the Racer. Its getting late and they have security guards overseeing the Racer queue area. The Racer queue is at least within its permanent queue area now. We wind up on the same side in roughly the same spot as before, but sitting on opposite sides of the car so that Rideman can have the hand slapping fun this time. We then follow the Rule, and head to Jack Rabbit. The queue is back to where you start to go down the hillside, so it's a bit shorter than before. We get into the station and I head to the back seat, Rideman for some reason heads to the second to back seat instead. We go around the course, and when we hit the double dip, I decide to let out a blood curdling scream as I experience airtime nirvana, I mean it was nice strong airtime even after the loader had pulled my seatbelt tight. How blood curdling was that scream? Enough that Rideman turned around to make sure I was okay, you see I have ridden numerous coasters with Rideman, and I very seldom if ever scream. We do return to the station and exit the ride. I look at my watch, and it looks like we have time for one more ride.
We head over to Swingshot. The queue for Swingshot is near deserted so it's a much shorter wait. Again we enter the holding pen for next ride just in time to hear the autospiel announce the ride was going down mechanical. Not again, and with only 15 minutes till park close I was worried they may just close the ride and give up. We wished they would make some kind of announcement so that we could decide if we wanted to head elsewhere. The good news is the technician did arrive, insert key, turn key, air hiss, test cycle, reopen. I was able to get my second ride on Swingshot and it was just as fun as the first, I really want one of these closer to home.
As we exited Swingshot, the Kennywood closing music was playing, at least that's what Rideman said it was, we were in an area where you could not hear the PA system well, so it was just faint music I couldn't really pick out. We figured we were done for the day and started making our way to the front of the park. As we started to pass the Musik Express I darted into line and we were the last people admitted to the Musik Express. It was an interesting Musik ride because big nets have been added to the fronts of the lap bars that run from the top of the bar down to the floor, there will be no sliding out from under the lap bar on this Musik ride. It wasn't as fast at the Musik Ride we rode at the Ohio State Fair, but it was a fun ride anyway, and when it was done, Kennywood was closed for the day.
We made our way back past the Grand Prix, turn at the Turnpike to head through the tunnel that goes under the main road. One more ride tonight, and that is Kenny's Parkway back up to lot 3. When we got there the line was just starting to overflow out of the queue area, by the time we were halfway through the queue the line looked to stretch across the entrance plaza I thought it was a real nice touch when they tell each and every person "Thanks for coming to Kennywood, Goodnight!" as you board the chairlift. We took the nice calm relaxing ride up to Lot 3 and I realized that they have a built in system, to help reduce the crunch at the park gate in the morning, and to reduce the traffic crunch getting out of the lot, the speed of the chairlift really controls how fast people can move.
We make our way up to lot 3 and I note they have guards stationed observing the chairlift. We get to the upper lot, and as I mentioned we went through the chairlift exit gate and practically walked right into our car. Now I know why the spaces along the main roadway were left empty. Our car was a maroon purple when we pulled into the lot, its now a dust brown. We get the windows cleaned off, and get everything ready to go, and by the time we are heading down the ramps to exit the parking lot, its just after midnight. We head to Swissvale and back to I-376. We had already decided we were not going to attempt to head back to Columbus, OH tonight, and instead checked into a reserved hotel room at a Comfort Inn near the Pittsburgh airport.
That nighttime beauty in the park is special. Why do so many parks, even busy ones, close at 8 or 9? One more thing to remmeber. Ride Thunderbolt and Phantom after dark. They are both awesome when the sun goes down. By the way, I also like to finish up with Musik Express as my last ride.
Food prices? You hit it right on the nose. And when the food is as good as it is here, who can resist having some of it. Six Flags, take notice. No wonder SFWOA is history. As for the prices, they are even better than they appear because all food prices at KW except for Parkside Cafe include the 7% tax.
The nation needs more parks like this. Pittsburgh has it so lucky when you think about cities that have no major park at all or one with high prices and poor operations. There are a few others, of course such as Knoebels, Lake Compounce, and Holiday World that have similar operating philosophies. It would just bo so much better if there were more.
I can't remember how many years ago they moved it. Arthur will know, I'm sure! :)
Originally, the Whip was located where the southern part of the Thunderbolt (the "spaghetti bowl")stands. In those days, the northern part of Thunderbolt (including the ravine) was a smaller coaster called the Pippin. When the new track was added to the coaster during the 1960s, the Whip was moved to make room for the additions. It was then put in the location near the (not yet built) Log Jammer that is now a picnic shelter.
I particularly appreciate your report of Kennywood's entrance. Walking through the tunnel for me is exactly as you describe. I feel like I am leaving all of my stress from the outside at the gate and entering to my "happy place".
Linda Barnicott is an area artist who paints renderings of Pittsburgh favorites. She has done many paintings of Kennywood. I have a print of her "Magical Entrance to Kennywood" at home in my living room. It is a great reminder for me of that feeling I get when I walk into the park.
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