Trip Report: Kennywood (08/25/2012)
Place: Kennywood (West Mifflin, PA)
With summer winding down, fellow URC’er Jeff M and I decided to take a trip to the outskirts of Pittsburgh and spend a few hours at Kennywood. Apparently, everyone in Pittsburgh had the same idea as the crowds were very high with full and overflowing queues for just about every ride as the afternoon wore on. We opted not to buy the VIP Coaster Tour option as the times didn’t coincide with our schedule, so we trudged it out with the "common folk" and still managed to have a good time in spite of the crowds.
Since we arrived at 11, we were able to get a few rides in before the crowds got out of hand. Our first stop would be Phantom’s Revenge, where we walked into the station and had about a 3 train wait. We opted to ride in the first seat of the last car and what a ride we had. Phantom’s Revenge is a rather underrated ride in my opinion. The first drop, even when it was Steel Phantom, is a unique and smooth twisting plunge that gets you going, only to setup for the ride’s amazing second drop. Dropping over 225 feet through the structure of the Thunderbolt at 80 mph is a pretty crazy experience. After a long turnaround back through Thunderbolt, Phantom’s Revenge begins to toss you skyward over a vicious series of bunny hops. The airtime here is pretty unreal and it really does feel like you will be thrown from the train, especially on the double down. Now in its 12th season, Phantom’s Revenge remains smooth, thrilling, and is definitely a highlight of any trip to Kennywood.
We decided to head over to Exterminator next to get the low capacity ride out of the way before the lines got unbearable, and that was definitely a good decision. As we walked through Lost Kennywood, Black Widow (the park’s new Zamperla Giant Discovery) sat dormant. It seemed weird not seeing PittFall there after so many years. I had to laugh though as Kennywood said they were replacing PittFall because it was down so much. From various reports I have read, Black Widow has been down quite a bit too. Perhaps they just need to get the “bugs” worked out. Anyhow, we encountered about a 15 minute wait for Exterminator, which was the shortest it would be all day. For those unfamiliar, Exterminator is a standard Reverchon Crazy Mouse placed inside a building and themed to a ride through the sewers. The brakes on the top switchbacks were all off, resulting in some vicious laterals as we flung around the turns. Once the car hit the release point to begin spinning, I don’t think we stopped spinning until we hit the brakes. The car was spinning like crazy, and in the pitch blackness, it resulted in an awesome ride. What a difference between this Crazy Mouse and the one I rode at Martin’s Fantasy Island a few weeks ago. Exterminator is awesome and it’s easy to see why it is one of Kennywood’s most popular attractions.
Next stop was a ride I haven’t ridden since 1999, the “legendary” Thunderbolt. Having Jeff with me this time meant I didn’t have to pair up and get up close and personal with an unfamiliar rider. Way back in the early 80’s, Thunderbolt was called “The World’s Greatest Roller Coaster”. Even back then I thought that was a bit much and to this day, I consider Thunderbolt to be highly overrated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good ride… but that’s about as far as I would go with my assessment. The drop out of the station is definitely unique, the whirlpool section has some nasty laterals, and the “surprise” of the biggest drops being the last ones is something you don’t see every day. But calling it one of the world’s greatest coasters is definitely a bit much. I doubt I’d even rank it in my Top 10 woodies.
The lines started to grow faster by the minute, so we headed over to my favorite ride in the park, the incredible Bayern Kurve. I’ve said this many times before- Bayern Kurve makes me happy. The ride runs blazingly fast (or so it seems), makes a ton of noise with its drive wheels and rattling sleds, and when the horn blasts as the ride hits full speed, you’ll find me grinning from ear to ear. I give major props to Kennywood for maintaining this Schwarzkopf classic. The ride looks great, it runs great, and it definitely sounds great! The GP seem to enjoy it as well, although on Saturday, they were enjoying whatever rides they could get on.
Took a break for lunch at the Parkside Café. I had the open-faced pot roast sandwich with mashed potatoes and was impressed. The meat was soft, the gravy was good without being overpowering, and the mashed potatoes were of the instant variety which I definitely enjoy (no lumps!). It wasn’t the best meal I have ever had, but for amusement park food, it was pretty darn good.
At this point, the lines for everything were spilling out of the queues and the temperature was soaring. “Word on the street” was that the wait for SkyRocket was only 30 minutes, so we got in line and sweated it out. 30 minutes later, we climbed aboard the back seat of this unique Premier Rides launched coaster. I’m not sure why this ride doesn’t seem to get a lot of love because I really enjoy it. Right after the train leaves the station, riders are launched from 0-50 in just 3 seconds, climb a vertical tower, momentarily slow down at the top, then drop 90 degrees down the other side, resulting in some serious airtime. An overbanked turn follows and leads into a pretty wild inline twist. The train is braked for an instant only to drop nearly 90 degrees again with another nice pop of air. A corkscrew turns you upside down again and then the ride enters a strange “slalom” section of track before hitting a pair of bunny hops and then returning to the station. It’s not a long ride, but it is smooth, fun, and very rideable.
Racer was up next and it had the longest line I had ever seen, backing up past the shooting gallery nearby. It took quite a while to get on, but in my opinion, Racer is Kennywood’s best wooden coaster and was worth the wait. Racer runs very smoothly, has some nice moments of airtime, and we had a very tight race as our blue train barely edged out the green train at the finish line. In one of those “you had to be there” moments, when the ride op announced that the blue train had won, I threw my fist in the air and let out a “Yeahhhh!” like Peter Griffin did when he jumped off the couch and got stuck in mid-air. That led to about 7 other people doing the same thing. It was funny because no other train that exited while we were in line even cared that they had won. Like I said… you had to be there! :)
Speaking of long lines, Jack Rabbit’s line started at the games area next to the station and worked its way through the usual queue. With two trains running, it was a pretty long wait. I don’t know the exact wait time, but we only rode Racer and Jack Rabbit between 2 and 3:30. As for the ride itself, if it wasn’t for the double-down, Jack Rabbit would be a pretty lame ride. There really isn’t much to it. Drop, tunneled turn, drop, lift, double down, turn, drop, thanks for coming. But that double down is one of the most insane coaster moments anywhere. I threw my hands up and I floated right up to the lap bar, almost as if I was going to fly right out of the train. That is good stuff right there! Again kudos to kennywood for their coaster maintenance as all three woodies ran smoothly.
Our final ride of the day would end up being Garfield’s Nightmare. With a full queue, we waited approximately 45 minutes for a trip through the oldest ride in the park. Allow me to say this. I do enjoy Kennywood. Really I do. But this ride is just absolute garbage. I guess the idea is that you are riding through a comic strip, which would explain all of the cardboard cutout props and the various rooms where nothing happens other than the boat passing by a full sized, 3-panel Garfield comic. In my opinion, this dark ride sucks. The music is annoying, the person doing the voice of Garfield that you hear say the same things over and over sounds nothing like Lorenzo Music, and the rides intro scene includes product placement for Pepsi, Ruffles and Mountain Dew. I can’t say enough bad things about this ride. I keep hearing that Kennywood’s license with Garfield is supposed to be up soon and that a re-theme is possible, but that was a few years back and we still are stuck with Garfield’s Nightmare in the Old Mill.
Overall Jeff and I had a great time at the park and managed to have fun even in high crowd conditions. The park looked very nice as the grounds were clean and the landscaping immaculate. The employees were the usual mixed bag. Some seemed friendy, others could care less.
No pictures again this time, but I did scrape together a small video of a few rides. I will warn you that the last 3+ minutes is a condensed trip through Garfield’s Nightmare. If you don’t wish to watch that part, by all means turn it off when you have the chance. It is good for a laugh if you’ve never been through and want to see just how lame it really is. Not one of my best works, but at least it’s another new video to add to my YouTube channel. :)
Thanks for reading!
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
I loved the video too. Even as a Garfield fan growing up, I did a face palm when I saw what they did to Old Mill. It was still the Old Mill when I was last there in 2002. Is it possible to re-create "old and cheesey" and switch it back?
I liked the video too, as always. I didn't read or see anything about Black Widow. That ride looks insane - it looks like it puts the Huss models to shame. Did you ride it?
* This post was modified at 8/28/12 10:22:40 PM *
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.94 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.56 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28%
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I didn't read or see anything about Black Widow. That ride looks insane - it looks like it puts the Huss models to shame. Did you ride it?
Drachen, Black Widow was down for the day. We probably would not have rode it anyhow as I know I tend to get nauseous on these kind of rides. It is an impressive looking structure though!
As always, thanks for the compliments everyone. :).
I have to say that Racer was the surprise of the day. I remembered enjoying it but not as much as I did this weekend. Fun stuff. The post-race excitement was very funny indeed. I'm actually surprised that we didn't hear anyone else celebrating wins before our train did. Maybe because our race was so close.
I also enjoyed Sky Magnet (what is is name again?) much more than I expected. The first half was flat-out tremendous. It seemed to die a bit in the second half, but that's about all the negatives I can say. The airtime on the first hill and one of the inversions were extreme to say the least. Loved it.
Thank you for riding Garfield. I'm glad I was with someone as understanding as you because I'm sure that wasn't easy for you to sit in that line for a ride you didn't enjoy without complaining. I enjoy indoor boat rides and hadn't ridden this since the Garfield makeover so I really wanted to do it.
Me, I can't sit here and pretend it was a good ride. I liked it to a degree (we were on a boat and it was dark) but it just seemed wrong. I mean, I don't expect the world on a ride like this but it didn't make sense. In fact...I'll even say I liked the idea but they didn't execute it properly. If they had one of those strips, and then a scene that went with the strip, and then another strip that either advanced a story or at the very least didn't completely change the story...then it would have worked. But in one scene Garfield was preparing food, then he was being eaten, then he was preparing food again, etc. A bit more consistency would have actually made it a decent ride. But alas.
And the best part of the day is that I made one of your videos. Yeaahhhhhh!!!
Garfield seems even more lamer than Cedar Fairs Peanuts. Please try to get back on track with a prompt TR's. Thanks!
The post-race excitement was very funny indeed. I'm actually surprised that we didn't hear anyone else celebrating wins before our train did. Maybe because our race was so close.
That’s true. We literally edged out the green train by a nose. I’m not usually into the whole “who won the race” thing, but you couldn’t help but get caught up in it when it’s neck and neck down the home stretch!
I also enjoyed Sky Magnet (what is is name again?) much more than I expected.
It’s SkyRocket, Jeff. The name of the ride is SkyRocket. :)
The first half was flat-out tremendous. It seemed to die a bit in the second half, but that's about all the negatives I can say. The airtime on the first hill and one of the inversions were extreme to say the least. Loved it.
Agreed. That is some serious air down the first drop and through the inline twist. We even popped out pretty good on the smaller “vertical” drop. The ride does peter out a bit towards the end, but it’s still a fun ride.
Thank you for riding Garfield. I'm glad I was with someone as understanding as you because I'm sure that wasn't easy for you to sit in that line for a ride you didn't enjoy without complaining.
I think we both compromise when we go to parks. I’m sure me walking around with the camera trying to make videos is annoying, but you don’t ever complain and I appreciate that. Same goes for Garfield. Just because I don’t like the ride, doesn’t mean I’m going to throw a fit because a good friend of mine wants to try it and form his own opinion. We always manage to enjoy the parks we visit and I think our attitude of just taking the rides and attractions as they come and having fun while doing it is what makes for a good day.
If they had one of those strips, and then a scene that went with the strip, and then another strip that either advanced a story or at the very least didn't completely change the story...then it would have worked. But in one scene Garfield was preparing food, then he was being eaten, then he was preparing food again, etc. A bit more consistency would have actually made it a decent ride. But alas.
That is so true. It seemed so very random as things just sort of happened after the initial bombardment of neon-painted ads. I understand that dreams and nightmares don’t make sense, but you’d think they’d try to present a coherent story on a ride like this. Maybe they’ll switch it back to the Old Mill or Haunted Hideaway sometime soon. Then again, we may be seeing Cat Stew for years to come based on the length of the line!
And the best part of the day is that I made one of your videos. Yeaahhhhhh!!!
I didn’t even realize I had gotten you in the video until Sunday when I started to put the clips together (which leads into my Kevin responses!). Yes Jeff, you will soon be an Internet Celebrity!
Thanks for hanging out on Saturday. It was a great day.
And now for Mr. Reid…
Ray I am very disppointed in you because your TR TAT (Turn-Around-Time) has slipped. I was expecting to read this TR on Monday. Knew from your Facebaook update that you and Jeff were at Kennywood.
I know Kevin. When my prior TR’s came out the following day (and that was 2 parks!), I did slip a bit with this one. I know my adoring fans expect better from me, so I will try to get any future videos and accompanying TR’s up as fast as I can. Heck, if I got a better phone, I could probably write the TR as I go while at the park!
We have both copies of Jacques his Kennywood books. Have you read them?
I have them both as well. They are both outstanding. Kennywood is really a unique park. They still respect their history and continue to modernize without losing the charm and neat touches that makes the place special.
Please try to get back on track with a prompt TR's. Thanks!
I will do my best sir! Either that or I’ll stop checking in on Facebook from the parks I visit… ;)
Thanks to all for their comments!
I haven't been to KW in a long time but you may be swaying my plans for next year. A tour of PA might be in order! I miss Phantom's Revenge - I agree that it is underrated and it is so much better since they redesigned it from the original Steel Phantom layout. And I love Jack Rabbit if only for that one double down...and the classic style trains.