TR: Kennywood (5/13/02)

Associated parks:
None

Saturday, May 25, 2002 11:49 AM
Trip Report: Kennywood
West Mifflin, PA
May 13, 2002

This is the second of four installments on the latest Eric and David Coaster Trip

Today started out much like yesterday. We awoke, stepped out of our hotel to discover: rain. Ah no, not again! Undaunted, we drove into Pittsburgh and were soon exiting I-376. Ya know I thought this was always exit 9, but it was exit 7, hmmm. I was first dismayed to find the yellow Kennywood arrows replaced by boring blue highway signs pointing the way to Kennywood. Not to worry after the first two turns the yellow arrows were back. Soon thereafter we arrive at the park. Noting the rain, we opt for preffered parking. It's $4 but we get to park in the lot closest to the gate, and with no activity from the Kenny Skyway it looked to be a wiser option tday. We then make our way to the gate. When Kennywood advertises gates open at 10:30, rides at 11am, they are reffering to the ticket cages. The rides, and the tunnel to the park both opened together at 11am. $22.95 later we had a cash register receipt that served as a ticket. We then joined the crowd at the congested plaza waiting for the gates to be opened. Looking around I noted a lot of younger guests entering on pre-sale tickets. Why don't we just go for the Trifecta: Rain, Cold, School Outings. Optimisn is fleeting as we make our way through the tunnel to the park. (Yes, Kennywood has metal detectors and has had them for quite some time now).

Upon entering the park we head straight for the Jack Rabbit. The queue isn't that bad it merely extends to the chain they can drop to shunt off the queue down the hill. A few trains later we found ourselves as #3 and 4 to go through the turnstile for the next ride. On Jack Rabbit we noted that they start allowing the next group into the station as the previous train is cresting the lift hill. We head up the ramp and head dutifully to seat 3.2 per the signage. "The Jack Rabbit seats from back to front". "No waiting for specific seats", "You must take the next available seat" Last time I checked this was an ACE Coaster Classic, however I though assigned seating was grounds for expulsion from the Classic status. But wait, the riders who were sent to 3.3 told us "We don't want the back seat, do you want to trade?" Well before they could change their minds, the deal was done and we swapped places on the platform before the operators noticed. The pink train rolled up, we jumped in under the fixed-in-place lapbar and fastened the seatbelt. (No extender needed!) Jack Rabbit runs trains that are now unique to the Jack Rabbit, they feautre nice padded seats, no headrests, no dividers, no locking lapbars, instead the bar is rigidly mounted and you slide in under it, the bar being slightly curved at the train opening to allow you to slide in underneath the bars. The ride has seatbelts but even they are unique, a leather belt is employed with a dogclip to hold it. There are two possible settings, with extenders available if those two don't work for you. The ride just lost its skid brakes to a magnetic fin system this season. We noted the white train was on the transfer track, and the blue train was MIA. This would be one-train operation whenever we were in sight of the Jack Rabbit today. The train advanced forward, around past the queue area, down the drop up the hill, where my gaze at the lifthill was interupted by the tunel, through the tunnel turnaround, down the dip, up the lift. The lift has been modified to make accomodations for the newbrake fins, and they took a different tactic than PKI did with the Beast to solve the same issue. Crest the lift, turnaround, the airtime filled double dip, final trurnaound, final dip into the station brakes. The moment of truth, and quite frankly there is no noticable difference to the ride with the installation of the new braking system. Its odd that there are two brake fins per car, but the general effect is the same. The train pulled into unload and we exited down to the midway. I dunno, I like the air on the double dip on Jack Rabbit, but it is not the most airtime laden, or even the strongest airtime jolt I have felt on a coaster. I giess the Jack Rabbit stands as a nice historical footnote.

From Jack Rabbit we made our way to Racer, following one of the Kennywood Bylaws. The Racer queue was about halfway through its queue area, which isn't even as bad as that may sound becuase the cutoff point has been moved back. Previously the turnatile (and holding point) was approximately underneath the operators doghouse. This year the final tiny queue has been removed, and the chain has been moved so that so when the chain is dropped you make a sharp left hand turn and walk back into the station. We opted for 1.3 of the Green train (The blue train would sit today out) That is one feature I like, when a coaster has mulitple trains they should be different colors. I know its all asthethics but, it still counts in my book. Racer runs PTC's which still feature the double lap bar. Its classic status only spoiled by seat dividers, I wonder if the park has ever given thought to ripping those dividers out, I mean it worked for Libertyland on the Zippin Pippin and the Racer has no real lateral forces to contend with. Anyway, I know the double bar is supposed to be the same from one train to another, but it seems as if the ones on the Racer, must be pushed down a bit further, even though once locked they will rise to the traiditional double bar position. I also noted a clever signalling system to tell the loaders that the lapbars are unlocked or locked. A red light bulb has been added to front of the doghouse for each track. Whenever the lap bars are released the bulb lights up, when the bars are locked, the light goes out. We soon are making our way up the lift and then complete this novel fiqure 8 shaped racer. There is still some nice air on the last dip. We reneter the station, wait for the red light to come on, and then exit the train on the opposite side of the platform.

We then hoped to continue our tour of the Kennywoodies, Thunderbolt was closed as was Phantom's Revenge. Besided Phantom doesn't sound all that fun in the rain. We headed back to Exterminator where we noticed folks riding the Pittsburg Plunge. The line for Exterminator was completelyt contained in the building and was the queue room was about 3/4 full. I guess everybody else thought the indoor coaster was a good idea in the rain. Unfortunately the main queue room is very bad for noise. It seems like everything anybody says is magnified tenfold. Then you fill the kid with teens talking loudly and excitedly and you get pure tortue. Maybe I'm getting older and can't stand it anymore, but this was torture. Worse Kennywood went to all the expense to make a preshow video, but given the accoutical properties of the room it can't be heard. Mercifully the buzzers were not working. You see, there used to be a button that was unlabeled, and barely in guests reach along the final twist of the queue up by the 'big machinery' If curiosity got to someone, and they pressed it loud buzzers would sound and red police lights would flash for a few seconds. Very annoying and grateing. Especially when you would get some jerk who would continue to press the button. It was funny the first time bud, okay? Mercifully, this season, the box for the button is still mounted, but the actual button is missing which means this effect can't be triggered. But our luck was about to get even better. We made the turn by the fake fire (where you pass the grouper, but one level below, you see this queue area is a series of ramps, although there are cutoffs, they would involve hefty 'steps'. Anyway we were walking past a grouper who either took mercy on us, or merely needed a group of two, but she offered us a "Get Out of Torture Free" card. We were permitted to legally linejump to the head of the queue at this point and were immediately shown to a ride vehicle along with two small girls. To the girls credit they did not scream in a high pitched shrill for the entire ride as has been our experience with girls on other rides. i noted the disued seatbelts before sitting down, The lapbars were lowered and we started our journey on this Wild Mouse meets Dark Ride meets Tilt-A-Whirl. We had the tub so unbalanced that as soon as we passed the unlocking switch we spun like a top. A favorite moment was taking one of the last dips while spinning wildly. I really do like the Exterminator, it offers a wild spinney ride, now if we could add some noise reduction materials to the queue area.

Upon exiting the Exterminator we followed Kennywood Bylaw 2, a ride on the Whip was in order. This is also one of my favorite Whips. A nice long course insures that the whipping effect is truly appreciated. After our Whip ride we noted the rain had stopped, so we figured it would be a good time to go ride Phantom's Revenge which appeared to be open.

We entered the queue area for Phantom and noted that someone had recently taken a trip to Cedar Point and had constructed a very un-kennywood like but very CP like mega queue maze. Never mind the long bridge from the queue area to the station. The line was backed up to about where you pass over the Lost Kennywood sign. We soon entered the station passing under the giant Phantom likeness and noticed that the ride still does not have queue gates, still has mega long seat queues, and that the wait for the back seat was no longer than any other seat. We decided to ride in the back seat. Several trains later we were invited to board. The back seats of these cars have LOADS of legroom, so they already score lots of points, the retractable seatbelts were long enough and fastened easily, now its time for the goofy looking lapbars. Phatom has wierd lapbars thay look close to, but not exaclty like those on a Chance Falling Star. That is they are hinged on the outboard sides of the car, and fold down towards the center. The lapbars leave ample room even for big riders. We were then dispatch on the train with teal trim closest to the top. The only train operating today, though we did note the workers seeming to prepare the other train for some after park hours testing. Another curiosityis the transfer table, while one side has a magnetic brake plopped down between the two friction brakes, the side in use did NOT have a magnetic brake plopped down between the two friction brakes. This seems to indicate that the magnetic braking system is only used for two-train operation. Anyway up the lift hil we went, and it feels so novel to be able to look around the park as you accend the lift. We did a turnaround while we noticed how empty the parking areas were except for long yellow vehicles, then we did the drop, and the rise, and the big drop, then hey wait this ride surpasses Steel Force for airtime. The backseat has ejector style air on just about every hill. Its WONDERFUL. Two hands up for the Phantom's Revenge. Kennywood has taken an un-re-rideable MESS and turned it onto a world class performer.

We exited the Phantom's Revenge and noted Thunderbolt still wasn't open. We also noted that we were getting hungry. We had a goal this trip. Everytime we go to Kennywood, we wind up eating at the Parkside Terrace Cafeteria. We were going to eat somewhere other than Parkside. We reviewed the park map in its case by the Parkside and scouted out the food options. First we tried the Carousel Food Court. Burgers, we'll pass, then we tried the Pizza Deli in Kiddieland. Well its Pizza or Deli but neither sounded appetizing, We sawhot dogs at the Pagoda, and after much thought and debate, guess what, we're headed to Parkside Terrace! The rest of the food stands at Kennywood just didn't seem that appetizing next to the cafeteria. We entered the Parkside and whats this "Hot Foods Closed, Use Other Side" I turned around to see a Deli counter. ARGGHHHH. We walked around by the deserts and then around by the other deli counter and noted that the hot foods section was open on the other side. We got in a slightly disorganized line, and for three straight trips to Kennywood in a row, I went with old faithful: The Turkey Dinner, complete with mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, dinner roll, and cranberry sauce for $6.30, somewhere between the hot foods counter, and the dessert counter (Lemon Creme Pie), and the beverage counter. (hey nice big yellow "Kennywood" cups this year!) I finally got to enter the dining room $11 later. ($11 is not far off from what that would cost me at a restaurant so Kennywoods prices are, I feel very reasonable) Eric had some wired meatloaf thing atop texas toast with mashed potato, gravy and cheese piled on top. We then had a pleasant lunch at the Parkside, I really do find this cafeteria to be so relaxing We finsihed up our lunch and decided to go to Potato Patch for good meaure. I now have a new favorite frnench fry topping: Beef Stock Gravy! We split an order of fires. Of course now we felt like limiting ourselves to attractions with an intensity rating less than 3 :).

We restarted riding with the Gold Rush. Gold Rush is a modern dark ride located on the second floor of a building. Legend has it that the loading station used to be at midway level, but the cars couldn't handle the lift hill if fully loaded. Now the riders take a flight of stairs up to a second story loading area. Gold Rush was a walk on, and I find it to be mainly funny, it does have the train scene in it. Nothing too scary perfect for the whole family. We exited the Gold Rush, climbed back down to the midway and headed to the Old Mill. (Yes, I know those two are far from each other, but we were letting dinner digest) We got to Old Mill fo find it to be a walk on. The brake levers are now totally gone, and there seemed to be some operator confusion navigating the boats through the station. We boarded a boat, and first you sail past the 'video surveilance room' then the lift hill, then you start your pleasently funny trip through what seems to be an old west themed old mill. Some scenes being outside, and others inside. I like the sallon, scene, the skeleton band, the funny tomstones and it is just another reminder of how fun these rides were. When we exited Old Mill we noted the queue area had filled, so we hit this one just in time. We noticed the Turnpike cars were closed today, we had really hoped to ride them.

We noted the all day locker rental system next to Grand Prix has been converted to a coin operated syste located above the candy stand. We then also noted that the Bayern Kurve was closed, but we headed to Noah's Ark anyway. The new Pirate area is finished and looks nice. Noah was another walk-on. The spiel claims something about a centuires old elevator, yaday, yada, the Ark is a registered landmark and I beleive the only Noah's Ark left in America. (It also means I can't use the Noah-Build-The-Ark quality rai comment at Kennywood becuase Noah has already built the Ark at Kennywood) You first walk around the queue area which wraps halfway around the ark, then you get caught in a holding area for the next 'elevator' Then you enter the overplayed industrial elevator scene. This elevator scene scores points in that it does actually move, just not the way you expect. This time I also paid attention and noticed the elevator went haywire and started 'dropping' which explains why you wind up in a cavern and not up in the ark as the spiel would indicte. After some dark cavern you come to the stepping stone room. This is ar oom where you climb walk over a pit of skulls using only two wooden beams, then a series of stepping stones. Of course you can't really fall into the pit, but thats part of the fun, and I think it does help to space people out as they have come off the elevator all at once. If you pay attention there are actually two routes here, the long regular one, or a much shorter one they can route you through. After the pit of skeltetons you start accending the ramps and hallways up to the Ark. Eventually you come out on the gangplank of the ark, which you notice is rocking and the animals are moving. Remember the animals came in pairs except for the worms, they came in apples. You then enter the Ark in the captains area or bridge, my leaving the stationary gangplank for the slowly rocking Ark. You then tour the ark looking at the exhibts including Noah himself. Twice as you tour the ark you must navigate stiarways that are moving along with the Ark. At the bottom ot the ark section you have some traditional funhouse stuff with shaking floors and movingg floors, before coming to the next big element, the rocking room, where you are inside the ark and it is slowly rocking back and forth, a few more turns of the halls and you find yourself looking at some fun house mirrors before bunching up again in a holdong area for the finale that doesn't make sence. Who knew the Ark was a submarine. You go into a very modern looking engine room of the ship, the doors are sealed, the walls start buckling in the water starts flowing harder and faster towards the metal bridge you are stuck standing on, the lights start flashing and just before you get drenched the automatic doors behind you open to let you escape. A highly entertaining walkthtrough.
We proceed from Noah over to the Thunderbolt, get in line for the Thunderbolt, and first notice that even though the line extends down to the midway (using the shortest possible configuration), they are sending the trains out with lots of empty seats. We start to go up the ramp when they announce the Thunderbolt was closed. We do notice how they have stacked the lifts for Raging Rapids and Thunderbolt. We exit the Thunderbolt plaza somewhat disapointed and walk past the games of skill area where we notice the Kennywood games people do NOT badger or bluedgeon you to play their games. A nice refreshing change from the way most parks operate their games of skill with hard sale pressure tactics. We noted the Auto Race was closed today, but evnetually found ourselves walking back to Racer. Green train again, 1.3 again, half full queue again, what was different is that theyonly disptached the green train. Sure the red train was dispatched but we were already like halfay up the lift. I don't know if this was done to prevent hand slapping or what, but it seems Kennywood has fallen into the ranks of parks that have a Racer and don't Race it.

A Racer ride, must of course be followed by a Jack Rabbit ride, or vice versa. (KW BL 1) We got in line for the Jack Rabbit, the line was now halfway down the hill, we waited through the Jack Rabbit line, we dutifully went to our assigned seat (2.3) where we noted some confusion as to where on the platform to stand for which row. Possibly some red or yellow dots painted on the station floor would help. We wound up not lined up but the op was quick to point out which seat we were in line for. We took our seat, and just as we are fastneing the seatbelt the rain looks like it may be getting harder. We exit the station, yep the rain is defintaly getting harder, we reach the first dip that "Noah Quality" rain starts, and I never realized Jack Rabbit was a water coaster before. The ride was NOT at all fun, and we were eager to make a mad dash for Pastimes as we exited. What shocked us is that they sent the train to load, and more riders climbed into it. Meanwhile we found shelter in Pastimes. Pastimes needs to be visited by a repairman as at least a fourth of the machines were inoperable. Add to this the price of a game at 10 cents, players happily playing with rolls of dimes sitting in front of them. We knew we wouldn't get to play Pastime (Its some tic tac toe game, looks like a fascination parlor at first glance, speaking of which I didn't see a Fascniation parlor at Kennywood anymore)

The rain cleard enough for us to check out the Penny Aracde. The old mechanical amusement games appear to have been removed, but some old 1970-1980's era video games have taken their place. I played some Austin Powers pinball, and took a walk around to see what they had in the way of games. We then walked around the park some more and it started getting real cold real fast, we took a trip to the car for warmer clothes, "A wristband is all you need to re-entry" By this time the KP stamp that had come with my wristband was long gone. Upon renetering the park we checked back at the Thunderbolt, we saw a train going through the course, but it was parked and what appears to be a person in charge left the ride giving a visual cue that the ride wouldn't be open anytime soon. We were cold and deicded to check out the gift shops, you know 'read' the sample copies of Kennywood Memories, I ventured out of the warmth of the gift shop to ride the Turtle. I don't get what is so fun with this ride, I mean its an old classic and all. But the Turtle ride was COLD. I tried a corn dog at the round stand and was glad that they dipped it into a vat of mustard instead of handing me little packets of mustard like some parks.

We the headed for another Phantom's Revenge ride, the line was fully within the seat queues on the platform, and we opted for the back seat again. (Why mess with perfection?) Another perfect, albiet chilly Phantom Ride) BTW, I have to give the track record counter a nudge (#192).

We doubled back past a closed Thunderbolt, and headed to the train ride. The train ride would be closed for a bit but we waited out the refueling and took a ride. I especially like the animated attract sign of a train rocking while traversing a never ending track. The tape recording for the train ride was off-kilter with the scnerr you were viewing butit was still a pelasant train ride. Shortly after the train ride the rain picked back up again, it waqs feelng colder than ever, the Thunderbolt was closed, the "Voice of Kennywood" informed us that Phantom's Revenge was closed. We then came to a mutual decision that we weren't having fun, we were wet, cold, feeling miserable, in short we decided that since we weren't having any fun, it was time to leave Kennywood.

At least we came out ahead on the Ride All Day wristbands,but we made our way to the parking lot.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY/WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you are leaving Kennywood and heading WEST, namely heading to 22/30 (I-376). The Fort Pitt Tunnel (and Bridge) are CLOSED to westbound traffic. Ft. Pitt tunnel leads to I-79 and Route 60, both are key routes for getting to Ohio. There are two well marked detours one involving the Liberty Bridge, the other involving the West End Bridge. Expect serious delays getting out of Pittsburgh. (Though the West End detour involves one of the most hideous road signs I have seen, it has a sign that shows directions, like a little map, and it mas the most complex map of turn offs ever.


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David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 8:45 PM
Nice Long TR, Rain sucks!

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X-Flight World's Only flying coaster!
Batwing World's only flying coaster!
S:UF World's only flying coaster! Don'tyou love SF ?

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Monday, May 27, 2002 6:59 AM
I agree with you on the Racer I went to Kennywood this past thursday and the two trains weren't racing each other??? The other blue train was way in front of us???????????????????????????????

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:)KENNYWOOD:)

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 10:32 AM
I haven't ridden the Gold Rush since my first trip to Kennywood in 1994. Am I making this up, or is there a scene where you hear bat noises, then "feel" bat wings on your face? (I assume something like streamers hanging from the ceiling)

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He let the contents of the bottle do the thinking; can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 11:16 AM

The "bat room" is still there, although it's been a while since I've felt anything going through it.

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--Greg
"Are you justified in taking life to save life?" -- The Great Debate, Dream Theater
My page

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 11:23 AM
They are indeed racing the racers. It is impossible not to race the racers considering its continuous track. If the one train gets ahead on the lift its because one of the operators was bein a jackass and held the train in the station a little longer than the other.

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Token from KPC.
Let's just say there is no such thing as a small order of fries at the Patch.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 11:23 AM
I always assumed those were supposed to be spider webs since that room occurs right the giant spider. which by the way, still freaks me out even though I have seen it a million times.

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"Looks like you've been missing quite a bit of work lately"
"Well, I wouldn't say I've been MISSING it, Bob."

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 11:35 AM

I only did ride the racer once because the ride bascally sucked! Are ride went so slow! The operator stopped us at the turn just before you begin the lift hill, then slowed us down where the trains switch the track, and then he actually made our train go faster on the final drop!!! I should have looked who the name of the operator was! You shouldn't be able to do that!!! EVERYONE on the train was soooo mad when we got of the train!

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:)KENNYWOOD:)

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 11:46 AM
"Made your train go faster on the final drop"?!? Please explain to me HOW he sped up gravity.

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--Greg
"Are you justified in taking life to save life?" -- The Great Debate, Dream Theater
My page

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 11:58 AM
The turn around just before you hit the final hill sorry!

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:)KENNYWOOD:)

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 1:16 PM
Again, there's nothing there they can do to make the train "go faster" intentionally.

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--Greg
"Are you justified in taking life to save life?" -- The Great Debate, Dream Theater
My page

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 3:06 PM

Maybe they used the Force.

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Joe Cernelli
Webmaster, Kennywood Boulevard
"If you want to follow me, you've got to play pinball."

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 3:38 PM
Yes, Yoda is buried under the final turn...

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--Greg
"Are you justified in taking life to save life?" -- The Great Debate, Dream Theater
My page

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Tuesday, May 28, 2002 8:29 PM

Naw, we decided to go with someone more powerful and buried Anakin under the ride. You people give up so easily on the Racer. Oh geez, so you lost one time. Boo hoo, cry me a river. I will admit that there are some people on my crew, the Racer crew, that are jackasses but I most certainly are not one.

Coasterman Mike

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Kennywood, Celebrating 75 Years of Racing Sperm ;)

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Wednesday, May 29, 2002 2:57 AM
I'm not mad that I lost, I'm mad because of the slow ride!

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:)KENNYWOOD:)

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Wednesday, May 29, 2002 12:44 PM

Gain some weight, the train will go faster.

If the trains are even on the lift, you can blame the rest on God because He's the only one that can change the force of gravity.

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"When I was growing up, we were taught something called manners. You'd understand that if you weren't such an idiot." - Jack Handey

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