Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Impression: Kennywood

Kennywood is a great little park, the perfect mix of big and small, old and new. I've wanted to visit Kennywood for a long time, but had not had the chance until now. I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the park. They have a fun and eclectic ride collection, a trio of great wooden roller coasters, and two magnificent steel coasters as well, not to mention the refreshing small-park atmosphere. Once again, it became another fun park visit for us.

We arrived at the hillside park around 11 to find a parking lot that was not very full at all. We had no trouble finding a spot right by the entrance, so I quickly grabbed my new camera and into the park we went. In just a few moments, we had passed through the tunnel and were now in the middle of a true old-fashioned amusement park. Thick trees surround the whole area, with a very old games building to the left and the historic carousel building in front. I wouldn't have known it was the 21st century had it not been for the shiny blue launched coaster to my right and the other steel coaster just barely peeking above the trees.

We immediately head past the games building and are immediately sidetracked by the collection of flat rides. We start with Bayern Kurve, undoubtedly one of the most nauseatingly fun flat rides I've ever been on. You don't truly realize how fast it's going until you're on it, racing around the track with your hip being jammed into the side of the car. This is a ride that I can only do once in a while; it was very fun, but I was definitely happy when we got off. We headed across the midway to Cosmic Chaos after that, their relatively new Mega Disko. I could take or leave these. They're not really all that exciting, and frankly, the restraints hurt a lot. A more pleasurable experience was Volcano, the enterprise, which we did next. It's good to see some of these still operating, and it was certainly more comfortable than the previous two rides.

As Kennywood was a new park for all of us, we had a bit of trouble finding Phantom's Revenge. We ended up in Lost Kennywood, where I insisted on stopping to ride Pitt Fall. I wanted to make sure I rode it in case it is removed in the near future; another fun drop tower. We moved back toward Exterminator next, which did not seem to have much of a wait as there was only a short line that begun outside. We soon found out that an attendant was sending people inside in groups, and ended up in a stuffy, crowded room for 45 minutes just shortly after getting in line.

By the time we finally did get on, I was not very impressed. I don't usually mind spinning Wild Mouse coasters, but this one was very uncomfortable. For some reason or other, I was thrown on my side constantly. I know that these coasters are known for the tight turns, but these were particularly bad. I didn't dare put my hands up either because they kept banging against the back of the car. I was very happy to get off; not only was it uncomfortable, but definitely not worth the wait.

We tried to make up for it with a ride on The Whip next, which is one ride I had really been looking forward to. It had no line, so we got right on and quickly took our seats. We were really flying around those turns once we got going! What a fun, old ride! We skipped Power Surge for now, as the line was too long and Thunderbolt was waiting for us. Before that, we stopped for some lunch at the Parkside Café. It was great - The turkey I had was great, along with the stuffing and cranberry jelly. It was very thanksgiving-like, and very delicious.

We headed out the other side of the building and made our way over to Thunderbolt. I wasn't sure which of the three woodies I was looking forward to the most, but I was still very excited. As they were only running one train, we didn't want to wait the extra few cycles for the front, so we took the third row instead. We plummeted out of the station and down into the ravine, coming up at the last second to enter the turnaround. We headed down another great drop, before we headed up into the chain lift. The turn off of this drop was really intense, and luckily, we looped around into another great turn. It was up a small hill before one last massive drop into the ravine, narrowly missing Phantom's Revenge, before we turned around, went through a little dip, and hit the break run. What a coaster! This is easily one of the best wooden coasters I've ridden. The turns were great and had very good laterals, but the ravine drops were really the highlight. They're all hidden so well, yet they're so big - and they offer some pretty good airtime. Thunderbolt had made it into my top ten.

Sadly, we skipped a ride on Ghostwood Estate, which had a horrendously long line. We did stop for a ride on Noah's Ark, which was a fun, historic experience. It was tainted slightly by the large group of screaming girls in front of us, but other than that, I enjoyed it. We headed back up to the top of the park, where we took a ride on their beautiful Musik Express. It was another crazy flat, but really well maintained and still a lot of fun.

This is about the point where we realized that it would make sense to put the Phantom's Revenge entrance right by the big sign.... We walked right under the drop and didn't stop until we were in the station - there was no line. I quickly hopped in the second row and made it on the next cycle. I took advantage of the long lift to look around at the park, but soon enough we were cresting the hill. We started flying down that drop, quite smoothly and faster than I was expecting. As we came over the top of the second hill, I looked down just in time to see Thunderbolt below us, before we went straight through it's support structure. The turns that followed weren't particularly exciting, but gave me the chance to enjoy the view on the side of the hill. Some of those bunny hills near the end had some really good airtime as well, I was quite surprised. Overall, I really enjoyed Phantom's Revenge. I know some rank it very highly, and while I do think it's a fun and thrilling coaster, it just wasn't quite "top-ten" worthy. The airtime was great, turns were fun, and that second drop was great - but it felt like something was missing. Regardless of that, it was definitely one of my favorite rides that trip.

As we got off of Phantom's Revenge, we decided that we needed to start wrapping it up. I still had three coasters to ride, so we decided to head back towards the front of the park next. I had to stop for a ride on Aero 360 though, and I was not disappointed. It was both thrilling and nauseating, fun and terrifying. I like daring myself to ride these types of attractions. My only complaint was that the ride was a little short, but other than that, it was a lot of fun. We also had to try Log Jammer, as I never like to pass up a good log flume. This one was just as fun as others I've ridden; nice and leisurely, although the last drop was surprisingly fun. Definitely a good decision to ride it.

Next up for coasters was Racer, which to me seemed like the least exciting of the woodie trio. After waiting for maybe about ten minutes, I got on the blue train somewhere in the middle and we departed. There's not much for me to say about Racer. It was a lot of fun, but didn't have any airtime to speak of, and its turns were nothing crazy. It was a nice ride however; not rough, of course, and just generally fun. The next woodie was Jack Rabbit, which I was quite looking forward to. Once again, the line moved quickly and we took the second row from the back. Jack Rabbit is not your average woodie - the turns and drop at the beginning already make it unique. The best part of the ride is obviously the famous double down, which is known for its airtime. Maybe it was just the row I was in, but I didn't think the airtime was particularly amazing. It was good, yes, but I had much better on Knoebels' Phoenix, and even the little bit I got on Phantom's Revenge was just as strong. After that, we hit one more turnaround and then a lift back to the station. Like with the Racer, it was fun, but it didn't quite meet my expectations.

One last ride before Sky Rocket was Kangaroo, which is the only ride of it's kind still in operation. I had seen some videos and had to try it. When we got on, it went surprisingly fast, and flying off of that ramp can be scary. Once we had done it, I wasn't worried about it. We sort of just "hopped" off of it, but I did come out of my seat a few times. Kangaroo is a lot of fun - this is a must-ride for anyone who visits the park.

Last but not least was Sky Rocket. I was surprised to find that it only had a short wait, so I hopped in it immediately. Once we got into the station, I got a good look at the trains. My feet were definitely a little cramped as I sat down, but as we came around the turn, I was distracted but the unusually quiet launch. We flew up the top hat, slowed and held at the top of the hill, and then released just to fall straight back down. The cutback that followed was certainly unique and a lot of fun, and the rest of the ride that followed was glass smooth. The barrel roll gave me some good hang time in the front row, and the surf curves were great too. The ride wasn't particularly exhilarating to be honest, but it was fun. What was really great about Sky Rocket was its smoothness. I don't think I felt a single bump the whole ride, and it felt great. The ride was absolutely flawless in that aspect. My issue with Sky Rocket is that it never felt very exciting. In fact, it was so smooth that it felt almost too controlled - there was virtually no thrill aspect aside from possibly the top hat. If you're looking for forces and that out-of-control feeling, this might not be the ride for you. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun, good ride, but definitely not as thrilling as I'd have hoped.

As we're on our way out of Kennywood, I'm trying to plan out this review in my head. What I came up with was this: Thunderbolt and Phantom's Revenge are great rides, and Sky Rocket is pretty close too. What really makes this park great, however, is it's atmosphere. It's so unique, it's like the perfect mix between the old and new. I can't think of any park where you can be getting off an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster with a 1920's style station, and then walk down the midway and hop on a gleaming new steel launch coaster. My personal recommendation for the future is a B&M Inverted Coaster. Even though B&M isn't being as daring with their designs anymore, the terrain at Kennywood would suit the ride perfectly. Kennywood has so many great things going for it: the rides, the history, the atmosphere; this is definitely a park I will have to visit again, soon!

Overall Park Rating: 8/10 Stars
Click here to view all Kennywood pictures.


Post a Comment