After a gruelling 5-hour drive from Six Flags Great Adventure the night before, the third day of our USA trip was spent at Kennywood.
The park has appealed to me since seeing Phantom’s Revenge on an “extreme rides” TV program and with the promise of historic rides and coasters, plus an old-style hyper coaster I was already very excited for this park. But would it deliver?
I am pleased to say that Kennywood is one of the most amazing parks I have ever visited. The place is full of historic rides such as a Turtle Chase, a working Noah’s Ark as well as three wooden coasters, plus lots of historic flat rides. The atmosphere was incredible with everything painted in vibrant colours, and it was so lovely to see how proud the park is of their history.
As we were dispatched on the Whip (yes, a functioning whip!) a pre-recorded announcement proudly told us the ride was over 90 years old and had been in three locations during its time at Kennywood; every historic ride was the same with signage and announcements proudly telling us that it was the last of its type, this many years old etc. Racer even had a reference to the National at Blackpool for being another Mobius loop. As a long-standing fan of BPB who is not happy with the way the park has changed, the pride that Kennywood takes in their history resonated very well with me. Despite building a huge new coaster they haven’t forgotten (or tried to hide) their heritage, in fact they’re very happy to acknowledge that it’s what makes the park special.
The way the park is landscaped is brilliant with it making the most of the hillside and rides intertwining making for such a unique charm that you just don’t find anywhere else. The wooden coasters all had strip lights on them, I would have loved to stay at the park after dark but it unfortunately wasn’t possible.
The staff at Kennywood were all fantastic however I didn’t feel that operations (in terms of through-puts) were anything to write home about. They weren’t terrible, but when you have Phantom’s Revenge and Thunderbolt running one train until the afternoon with fairly long queues, as well as Racer loading both trains with one member of staff (?!) it got a bit tedious. Things did pick up in the afternoon, but dispatches on Phantom’s Revenge were still very slow when it was running two trains. On balance however, Jack Rabbit ran very efficiently with two trains and a queue that we expected to take an hour only took us 15 minutes!
As a result of the operations plus limited time we sadly missed the Bayern Curve, my biggest regret of the trip is waiting 20 minutes for the awful Garfield ride but missing this!
I would like to emphasise that the operations in no way put me off returning, but had they been better (and if there hadn’t been a few ride closures) Kennywood would now be my number 2 park. Everything else was so good it outweighed this and the place left us all on such a happy note, I would definitely return and look forward to hopefully getting on Steel Curtain one day.
Onto the ride reviews;
This ride is INCREDIBLE. After the classic lift-hill you go down a much smoother (and IMO less impressive) version of PMBO’s first drop, but the second drop is when this coaster really gets going.
You crest the hill at moderate speed, but are then launched out of the seat and don’t land until you reach the dip at the bottom. Bearing in mind you’re going down the side of a hill and also encounter a near-miss with the wooden coaster whilst being out of your seat, it made for one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced on a coaster.
Following this, you go into a very forceful (and smooth) turnaround before hitting absolutely insane bunny hills. The ride’s restraint system is very unrestricted which really works to its advantage here, as you’re launched up into the restraint without any hint of discomfort and the force of the turns work well to pin you back down before the next bout of airtime.
Phantom’s Revenge is just an incredible all-round coaster, it’s exactly how a smooth coaster should be; it throws you around and has variety in its elements, but never slows down or feels like it’s dragging on. 10/10.
A very good wooden coaster with a unique layout; you start with a drop down the side of the hill (again making very good use of the terrain) before starting the main lift-hill.
The ground-level turns combined with the fact that there are no seat dividers make for an interesting ride experience if you’re sat on the left, it’s worth bearing in mind that they do not allow single riders (meaning that we saw people waiting on the platform for an odd-numbered group before they could ride) due to this. It’s just a proper classic wooden coaster and feels as though it’s been very well maintained.
Racer is a very good racing wooden coaster, but not a patch on the Grand National IMO.
It runs much smoother and the ride feels like it’s in much better condition, the trains and restraints are also much better. The layout however doesn’t produce much airtime aside from one drop, but it’s still a very enjoyable heritage wooden coaster and I’m appreciative of the fact that Kennywood have kept it in near-perfect condition.
The ride’s station has a plaque proudly displaying that it was restored to its original 1927 appearance; it’s just amazing that they care about details like this.
This ride made very good use of the terrain like Thunderbolt and contained an insane moment of airtime. The ride doesn’t have lap-bars as such, but instead has a seat-belt and a static bar which partially covers the seats. Operations on this were very quick and the staff were fantastic at interacting with guests etc.
Exterminator is a standard spinning mouse but with it being inside and having some decent effects, it’s by far the best of the ride type that I’ve been on. A good example of taking a standard layout and turning it into something special.
Just incredible. Having never got the chance to ride Pleasure Beach’s, it baffles me that they decided to rip it out and replace it with the world’s worst set of Dodgems?! It’s a disgrace to be honest, what were they thinking?
Anyway, onto the ride itself, we were dispatched with the spiel telling us about the ride’s history and on we went, the force generated on the turns was substantial and it was just a huge amount of fun. So, so good.
Another classic flat ride and once again they were proud to tell us it was the only ride of its type left, it basically consisted of hydraulic arms going around with a “jump” part-way round the circle. A very simple but effective ride, and again just bags of fun.
I think we got soaked on these but can’t remember 100%. I’m sure they were good though, because Kennywood.
Incredible, amazing, a piece of history that’s been kept up-to-date whilst not losing its charm. So many cool effects and UV scenes in there, it was lovely. *Insert standard dig at PB boarding theirs up and using it as an entrance here*
As above, a very fun piece of history and the only one left in the world. Going around on this with Thunderbolt and Phantom’s Revenge flying past around us, you could just feel the history of the place and I had a “moment” of appreciation for just how amazing the park is.
Also, the announcement is brilliant, “Turtle! Turtle!”
Garfield’s Nightmare is a disgrace. From my understanding, it used to be a historic River Caves style ride but they’ve turned it into a terrible 3D Garfield thing with the weirdest scenes and nonsensical audio ever. Horrendous.
Ghostwood Estate was a decent enough shooter-style dark ride, but had probably the most terrifying dinner table in the world.
Swing Shot (like Rush at Thorpe) was decent, unfortunately the Black Widow was closed as was Sky Rocket. As mentioned above I’m gutted we didn’t do the Bayern Curve, but all the more reason to go back, I guess!
Overall Kennywood is absolutely incredible and I would 100% recommend visiting, particularly if you have an appreciation for historic rides. Everything from the atmosphere and vibrancy to the sound of the rides, the pride they take in the park and the hillside location, it’s just such a special place.