Skip to main content

4th of July Vacation - Day 2 - Kennywood Park

On the Top Ten Places I enjoy going to the most, you would find Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. I was fortunate to have grown up a 25 minute drive from the park, and after years of going on school picnics, marching in fall fantasy parades in high school and college, you can easily take the park for granted.  It wasn't until I moved to North Carolina that I truly realized how special a place Kennywood is.

On this trip to PA, my mom, dad, Maggie and I went to the park.  This was Maggie's first visit to the park, and the first time for me since 2002.    We got to the park at around 2 p.m. beginning a memorable day at the park!

Here's the photo set on flickr.

Kennywood, in operation since 1898, is one of the oldest amusement parks in the country.  Home to five roller coasters, which includes three classic wooden coasters, Kennywood is a roller coaster enthusiast's playground.

The first coaster that I always go on when going to Kennywood is the Racer.  The Racer is a racing coaster that has been in operation since 1927.  It's a great introduction to the park to first time visitors and also to first time riders.  What is unique about the Racer is that unlike other racing coasters that are two separate tracks, the Racer is one continuous or a moebius loop track.

The entrance facade of the Racer is designed to resemble how it looked in the 1920s.  It's one of my favorite rides.

IMG_7181

The best part of the Racer is that for nearly all of the ride you are running side by side with the other train and slapping five with the riders of the competing train as you go by.  For the day, I was 2-1 on the Racer.

Next, is the Jack Rabbit and the famous 'Double Dip'.  The Jack Rabbit has been in the park since 1921, the famous double dip gives you the feeling that you are flying out of your coaster seat.  You're not.  But the air time you get is a great feeling, and is one you will never forget when thinking of this ride.

IMG_7384

Before we head on the Thunderbolt, let's stop and have some of Kennywood's Famous Potato Patch Fries.

IMG_7214

Mmmm Potato Patch fries, with you choice of toppings - cheese, salt, bbq salt, vinegar, bacon, garlic salt, and I know I've forgotten one or two others, are so good that the lines for the fries are sometimes longer than wait lines for the rides within the park!

IMG_7276

You think the lady above has more than enough?

The Thunderbolt is by far my favorite coaster in the park.  Originally constructed in 1924 as the Pippin, the Thunderbolt is a 1967 redesign that stands the test of time.  

IMG_7215


There are a number of unique features that make the Thunderbolt special.  First, unlike many coasters where you start with an uphill hill climb (often with help of a pull chain), the Thunderbolt leaves the loading station and immediately drops into a wooden ravine.  From this point, the adrenaline rush continues.  Two helix curves at a speed of nearly 55 miles per hour are the lasting memories of this ride.  It's hard to describe the excitement this ride brings - so I'll let the next few photos do the talking.

IMG_7271

IMG_7273

The Thunderbolt Rocks!

Kennywood has three steel coasters - the Sky Rocket is the newest in the park, and opened in June 2010.  When we got there, the ride was closed.  And by the time it opened, lines to ride the new coaster were nearly 90 minutes to two hours long.  The Sky Rocket is unique as the harness system is at the waist versus over the shoulders.  It is also the only coaster in the park that has loops.  Though we didn't get to ride it, it's on the list to ride as soon as we get in the park on our next visit.

IMG_7322

The park also has an indoor coaster, "The Exterminator."  It is a wild mouse type coaster and is located in Lost Kennywood.

The last of the major coasters in Kennywood is the Phantom's Revenge.  Phantom's Revenge is a 2001 redesign of the popular Steel Phantom, built in 1991.  The ride features two lengthy drops, the first is 160 feet which is followed by an uphill climb to a 232 foot drop down a ravine, through the wooden structure of the Thunderbolt, towards the Monongahela River, at a speed of 85 miles per hour.  A banked turn sends you back up through the Thunderbolt and a series of curves and bunny hops to the main station.  It is a fast an intense ride...for first timers the ride going through the Thunderbolt is definitely one of the highlights.

Phantom Descent

IMG_7248

But there is a lot more to Kennywood than just its great coasters.  Maybe my favorite flat ride in the park is the Bayren Kurve.  It is a flat ride that is set to simulate a ride through the corners of a bobsled track.  As the ride increases speed, the 'sleds' tilt inward giving that higher speed feel.  When the ride hits maximum speed, a loud blaring horn goes off and for some reason is one of the best parts of the ride, at least to me.  See if you can locate me in the photo!

IMG_7310

There are three water rides in the park.  The Log Jammer, the Raging Rapids and the Pittsburg Plunge.  If you wanted soaked hit the Rapids and/or the Plunge.  If you want a less soaking ride but a nice cool down on a summer day - hit the Log Jammer.  It's been in the park since 1975, and unless you rock the boat to create some waves and splashing, you're not gonna get that wet.

Log Jammer Splashdown

The Raging Rapids is set to simulate a white water rafting trip and you can get soaked.  But perhaps the ride that can soak you - and innocent bystanders - the most is the Pittsburg Plunge.  Located in Lost Kennywood, this modern version of the classic Shoot-the-Chute ride will leave you drenched.  It's been in operation since 1995 and certainly makes a memorable splahs.

IMG_7256

IMG_7258

Lost Kennywood is one of my favorite parts of the park.  Modeled after the early 20th century Luna Park, Lost Kennywood is one of the prettiest areas of the park.  A number of old-styled rides like the Whip and Wave Swinger find their home in Lost Kennywood.

IMG_7254

IMG_7232

IMG_7233

Kennywood also has a number of classic rides.  The carousel opened in 1927 and is known for its detailed beauty.

IMG_7347

IMG_7352

Noah's Ark is only one of two of its kind in the world.  The walk-through Fun House like dark ride was built in 1936; it has had a number of changes over the decades but is a classic attraction.

IMG_7362

The Auto Race has been open since 1930 and is the only coaster like auto ride remaining in the country.  The neon sign over the entrance to the ride is original, but the number pained on the car is the last two digits of the year of when the entrance was repainted.


IMG_7370

IMG_7372

Every person and every family has their own traditions at Kennywood.  For myself and my family, the rides have always been the centerpiece of that tradition.  Over a century of family ties is the key fabric to Kennywood.   For me, my sister once worked and my brother currently works at the park, all three of us marched in Fall Fantasy parades here, Mom & Dad have numerous memories of Kennywood, my grandparents eloped after a visit to Kennywood over 60 years ago.  It is those memories and traditions that make Kennywood one of my most favorite places in the world, and I'm very excited that I have been able to begin new Kennywood traditions for Maggie and myself for the years to come.  I encourage all of you to start your own on a visit to Kennywood soon!

Comments

Ed Szuba said…
Great to see the Bayern Kurve back in operation...last time we were there, Matt was 2 (four years ago) and it was in storage.

Popular posts from this blog

The Relief Route That Wasn't: The Never Built I-70 Bypass in the Mid-Mon Valley

In June 1963, a small blurb in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read that The Westmoreland Engineering Company was awarded a $24,060 bid to study the proposed construction of Interstate 70 in Westmoreland and Washington Counties.  The study was to see what the construction and right-of-way costs "...to modernize the existing highway to Interstate requirements within eight months." (1)  This small, non-attributed, three paragraph article came less than a decade after the completion of a four lane highway that linked the Mid-Mon Valley to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This would be the start of a 15 year process to upgrade and improve Interstate 70 - a process that ultimately never produced a single foot of new highway.

This is the story, albeit brief, of the I-70 that never came about.

Background:
What is now known as Interstate70 from Washington to New Stanton began as a connecting highway for the region to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Known as the "Express Highway", construct…

A look at Pittsburgh's Saw Mill Run Boulevard

Saw Mill Run Boulevard - Pennsylvania State Route 51 - runs through the narrow Saw Mill Run Valley.  It begins at the intersection of Clairton Road and Provost Road at the City of Pittsburgh Line with Brentwood.  It ends at the West End Circle at the entrance to the West End Bridge.  A four lane highway for its the entire length, Saw Mill Run Boulevard consists of interchanges at the South Portal of the Liberty Tubes and with the Parkway West.  It is an expressway from the Parkway to the West End Circle (West End Bypass).  One of the most well known traffic tie-ups in the Pittsburgh area occurs between Maytide Street and PA 88 (Library Road) which is simply known as 'Maytide and 88.'

History:
Saw Mill Run Boulevard was part of the 1928 Allegheny County 'City Beautiful' bond issue.  The bonds resulted in the creation of Saw Mill Run, Ohio River, Allegheny River and Mosside Boulevards. (1)   After the completion of the Liberty Tunnels in 1924, Downtown Pittsburgh was offic…

The Many Failed Plans of Pittsburgh's Wabash Bridge and Tunnel

The December 27, 2004 opening of the Wabash Tunnel ended over 70 years of proposals and speculation for the use of the over 100 year old facility.  The tunnel, which is now a reversible roadway that is an alternative route for rush hour traffic, saw many failed plans during the 20th Century.  These plans included options for mass transit, converted and new bridges for vehicles, and other forms of transportation.

Brief History:
Constructed in 1902-04, the Wabash Bridge and Tunnel was planned and financed by rail mogul, Jay Gould.  Gould began his "Battle of the Wabash" with the established railroads of the city in 1890.  He would finally emerge victorious, but during that struggle, Gould would see many setbacks that would eventually result in the railroad's bankruptcy in 1908.  On October 19, 1903, when the two ends of the bridge were to be joined together over the Monongahela River, the 109' bridge collapsed; killing ten men.  Construction would resume four days later …