Kennywood 2005

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June 22, 2005
Pittsburg PA

Kennywood is one of my favorite parks. It has one of my favorite coasters, good food, and was reasonably close to where I lived in West Virginia in 2005. But my only prior visit had been in October of 2003 and only for 3 hours, meaning I only had a chance to ride the coasters once and nothing else. I’d been wanting to get back ever since. Because of West Virginia Day, I would be off for 4 days in a row, so I took the chance to head to Kennywood.

I worked Sunday nite, got home just after 7 AM, and tried to take a nap. My brother and sister had sent their kids to stay with us for the week, which was another bonus reason for me to leave. Since they were coming down here, I went up to where they live to visit.  So I left that evening and headed to my grandmother’s home in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, where I’d lived for quite some time. I arrived around 10 PM, tired and ready to settle in.

The next morning I woke up early, went for breakfast and to visit some friends, then to visit more friends at a restaurant where I used to work, then back for a nap. That evening, among other things, we met up with friends of ours for basketball and tennis. I wanted to sleep till 7 AM the next morning but because my sleeping schedule was out of whack I was up at 6 AM instead, so I decided to go ahead and leave, getting out of town around 7. The trip to Kennywood was around 3 hours. My morning didn’t go so well.  There were some issues with my ATM card and I had only limited cash on me. Then it stormed the entire way to Morgantown. I almost had an accident at an intersection as well.

Around 9 AM I was almost in Morgantown so I called Lori to make final meeting arrangements.  Then, once I passed by Eighty Four (they have really weird names in PA, like Eighty Four, Laboratory) I called again so she would know to leave for the park.

The park opened at 10:30 but the rides didn’t start running till 11. I arrived and parked in the free parking area. Since it was early I didn’t park too far from the pay parking and then I headed to the beautiful new front gate to wait on Lori. The day turned out to be very nice in Pittsburgh, sunny and warm. The new entrance really fits in with the park.  It looks like it had been there forever, and the fountain with the carousel horse was a nice touch.

Around 11:30 I spotted Lori. We exchanged pleasantries and made our way into the park.  Seeing Kennywood in the daylight was much different. After we emerged from the tunnel we headed to our left. Both of us needed a bathroom break and some water to take various motion sickness and pain pills. Lori lives close and comes more often than I do so she was all for whatever I wanted to do.  Let’s see, we’re in Kennywood, walking to the left, what is there to do? Oh, yeah, Phantom!

Phantom’s RevengeThe wait wasn’t very long all day.  We went directly to the back car and waited maybe 15 minutes.  They hadn’t yet added the second train but it was on the transfer right beside the final brake run, ready to be added later.  Once we were finally on board I was slightly nervous going up the lift hill.  Would Phantom live up to the memories I had after my last (and only) ride?  Would it still be my number 1?  The first drop was better than I remembered.  Then up and over the big hill.  Not quite as shocking this time since I knew what was coming, but amazing none the less.  The ride definitely stood as my #1 coaster at the time. I remember the second half being out of control, but not like this!  That bunny hop after the midway turnaround yanks me up outta my seat and over.  That followed by a double down?  Simply amazing

What a great way to start off the day. There is a reason that Lori prefers the back, and I’m just glad she took me along with her. I won’t be able to tell you exactly how we did everything because I was honestly having too much fun to remember what order we did it, but I’ll still cover everything. We walked over by Thunderbolt, but with one train running the line was too long to wait for now. Instead I mentioned that I need the Exterminator credit so we rushed over to Old Kennywood before the line for the mouse got too long.

ExterminatorMost mice scare me because I don’t like that feeling of almost going over the edge around the curves. But Exterminator doesn’t scare me since you’re in a building and there’s less awareness of the sharp curves. The ride is a lot of fun, though, because of how disorienting it is. The themeing, while not the absolute best ever, is descent and just being in the dark on a spinny mouse is fun We didn’t spin a lot, but it was enough for the both of us. Definitely worth a ride, but not a long wait.

Since we were in the area we decided to go ahead and ride Pitt Fall. I’m very afraid of heights, and Intamin drop towers scare me to death.  I really didn’t want to, but I didn’t want to skip it either, so now was as good a time as ever.

Pitt Fall-It was really, really good! I wasn’t so scared this time. I’m not sure why. I didn’t like the clanking noise it made, but the ride itself was fantastic. I would have rode more during the day but we never got back around to it.

We walked back over by Thunderbolt but the line was still long and they hadn’t added the second train yet. Goldrusher, however, had no line and I’d never ridden. I love dark rides so Lori said we should go ahead and ride it.

Gold Rusher-What a funky little dark ride. It kind of reminds me of the mine ride at Knott’s, but with a ‘spooky’ theme. It was fun, and a nice rest from the heat. Later in the day the line grew significantly longer.  

As we walked thru the park we passed by Auto Race, the only one left in the world. Lori said we needed to ride, so who was I to dispute a Kennywood expert.

Auto Race-This was an interesting old ride. Hand slapping between Lori, who was a car in front of me, was fun.  The ride wasn’t really a thrill, but was definitely fun and interesting.  And any time you can ride a one of a kind ride, I’m likely to take the opportunity..

Next we walked over by Log Jammer, which hadn’t opened yet so we walked towards Racer. I’m not a huge Racer fan so I said I’d rather get in line for Jackrabbit first. I know some people didn’t like Jackrabbit’s new (at the time) logo, but I thought it was cute. The line wrapped around between Jackrabbit’s first drop. We may have waited 20 minutes with two train op.

Jack RabbitEven with the new seatbelts, this ride was still just as good as ever. They don’t tighten the seatbelts at all, so it was much like riding it with just the leather strap. There was no change to the ride experience. The first drop is still great. The first time we rode, the double dip scared both me and Lori, as we both came out of our seat, but I went just a bit higher than Lori. I’ll never hold my hands up on that double down again. Okay, maybe I will. Even knowing how frightening it was the last time, I wasn’t expecting it. Still a great old woodie.

The line for Racer was now an average wait. We figured we’d better stop now, since they line was sure to be about the same for the entire day. I think we may have waited 20 minutes once again.

RacerWe rode in the back of the red train on the right side facing into the station. Wow, these trains look like they just rolled off the production line! PTC did a great job refurbing them. The ride was good, with a shot or 2 of airtime. But I still don’t ‘get’ Racer. I don’t dislike it, but it definitely isn’t my favorite coaster at Kennywood because they have such good rides.

Thunderbolt finally added its second train so now was a good time to get in line. My only complaint is that the queue doesn’t have any covering, but thankfully the wait wasn’t long.

ThunderboltWe sat in the back seat, of course. As good as Thunderbolt was on my first visit, nothing could compare to this… Thunderbolt was running wild, with a great drop out of the station. Thankfully, Lori got in first; otherwise she would have gotten flattened in the helix. This thing was running great. But this wouldn’t come close to what we got later.

At this point Lori and I were both hungry so we headed over by the Potato Patch. The line was long so we skipped by and went to the other Potato Patch in Lost Kennywood.  There was a line there as well, but it was much shorter so Lori ordered some fries with Xtra cheese and I got Chicken strips and fries with cheese.  They were hot out of the grease, but very good. We sat at the bottom of Phantom’s first drop for a long while, eating and talking.

The park was fairly crowded, and some lines were fairly long. Kangaroo had a long line, Swing Around had a long line, and quite a few others as well. Phantom was stopped on the lift when we were heading over to Lost Kennywood, but it had started running again so we jumped in line for another ride. This one was just as good. I really love Phantom. I won’t do a rundown for each ride because each one was really great. We sat in the back each time. Once, the kid in front of us left his hat on, which blew off going down the second drop.

I think we did Noah’s Ark after Phantom this time. The line wasn’t too long. I love dark rides, especially walk through attractions, and this was another rare ride with only 2 left in existence.

Noah’s Ark-Yes, the horn is annoying. This ride seems smaller than it is on the inside. The ‘elevator’ wasn’t working, but the rest of the ride was interesting, and I loved the rocking back and forth in the ark. I wish there were more of these around, it really is fun and a nice break from the heat. I didn’t quite get the last room, but it was all still fun enough for at least once each trip.

I would love to have ridden King Kahuna, but it really does drench the riders and since I didn’t stay till the evening, when Lori said they turn the water down, I didn’t get to ride.  Volcano looks really cool as well, but even with Ginger pills I didn’t feel quite up to it. So we went to the Merry-Go-Round.

Merry-Go-Round-I hadn’t ridden one in many years.  I love them, but usually forget to ride when I’m at a park. The paint job looks amazing, they’d just finished recently I was told.  Even the blue leather on the benches (which I sat on) was in good condition.

We walked over and took a spin on the train, which is something I’d started doing more at parks. This one was a bit different, a great break from the heat. Then we went to see what the line for Log Jammer looked like, but it was way too long after they opened it.  All of the water rides had a decent line, and I didn’t feel like waiting that long to get drenched on the rapids and Shoot-the-Chute. We walked thru the park some more. I wanted cheese on a stick, but we couldn’t find any. Lori said she thought they stopped selling cheese on a stick, but I noticed they do have it at one place in the park once I looked at my park map after I got home.

We headed over to the Old Mill to ride Garfield’s Nightmare. I didn’t get to do the Old Mill on my last visit, so I was looking forward to this.  The line was decent, but you’re in the shade most of the time.

Garfield’s Nightmare 3D-The 3D effects were okay, but the paint was more fun than the cutouts. The ride was cute, quirky, and fun. We managed to get our own boat. Since there were only 2 of us, we caught up to the boat in front of us. I would have liked to have ridden the Old Mill, though.

Swing Around was closed when we walked by a few minutes before. We stopped for another shot of Jack Rabbit, then the other side of Racer. We also took another spin on Thunderbolt and Phantom. When we walked back by Swing Around, we waited near there drinking water till they opened it back up and then hopped on.

Swing Around-I think I may have ridden one of these at a fair once. But this was different as it was on top of a building. The forces when you swing low are really intense, and the feeling at the top of the swing gave really good airtime. The cycle was pretty long. In fact, they give a long cycle on all of the flats we rode.

We headed back over to Lost Kennywood once again, stopping for our final Phantom ride of the day along the way. I don’t think I could ever get tired of this coaster. Phantom is short. Not too short, and it really packs a punch. I was so afraid I’d have to re-evaluate it’s ranking after having rode almost 3 times the amount of coasters I had under my belt during my first Phantom ride, but it stood firmly at #1 for a while longer. Finally, when we walked by Kangeroo, it had a smaller line. This looked insane.

Kangeroo-What a great old flat! Why aren’t there many more of these? The nice pop of air on top of the hill really made this ride stand out. Slightly less tame, really, really fun, and I’d like one of this out front in the yard, please .

After that, we went over and walked around Lost Kennywood some more. I had been wanting to ride a Whip for the longest time, and today was the day. My father had told me about riding Whips when he was a kid. The line had shortened from our last traipse through this section of the park, so we hopped in line.

The Whip-Another cool old ride. This was another exciting ride that you just don’t see much any longer. You really do whip around the corners, and the ride cycle was quite long. The breeze made it even better since this Whip no longer has a cover. Now I see what all the fuss is about. 

I believe that The Whip was our last official ride of the day. I could be wrong, but either way it was a nice way to end it. We walked around a little more. Lori was hungry as was I so I stopped for a pretzel and she went over to Pedro’s where she got a taco salad that she couldn’t even finish because it was so large. Even though we rode quite a bit, Lori and I spent a large portion of the day just hanging around, sitting and talking, or walking and talking. This time we sat and watched King Kahuna cycle some more.

There were a few other flats I would have rode, but I told Lori that I would be leaving at 7pm, and it had quickly gotten closer to 7. We walked around for another Phantom ride, but the line was longer than I wanted to wait, so we headed out of the park. All in all, I had a really great time. Kennywood is just that type of park that you can hang out at, not even spend the whole day riding, and still have a great time. What would I change about Kennywood? I’d make it closer to where I live, and that is it.

I really had a nice time finally meeting and hanging with Lori, even if the rest of the Uhings didn’t get to show up. I’m thankful Lori tagged along and acted as my guide, I just hope I didn’t bore her too much. and now I know where to get cheese on a stick.

After getting out of Pittsburgh, I headed south on I-79. I got in to Morgantown and got gas. Then got to Clarksburg as it was getting dark. I called mom to let her know where I was and that I’d probably be stopping somewhere to rest along the way as I was sleepy from the different schedule. I finally stopped in Weston at Sheetz for a little while, but after waking back up and driving for just a few miles, I was still in no condition to drive and thankfully passed a sign stating there was a rest stop just ahead. I pulled off and slept till 5am. The next morning, I woke up and headed home for my own bed.

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