This summer, long-time guests to Kennywood will have a new attraction to look forward to. Sky Rocket is set to open to the public this season and will be the first new roller coaster built in the park since the Exterminator in 1999. However, riders are going to have to wait until well into the season before they get a chance to conquer this multi-million dollar rocket.
Sky Rocket was designed by Premier Rides. This new thriller will launch riders 55 miles per hour in three seconds and then send them 95 feet skyward. From there, riders will experience three inversions, several highly banked curves and numerous moments of weightlessness as they blast through the 2,100-foot course.
While the park’s opening day is set for May 8, Sky Rocket currently has an estimated opening time of early June. Major delays in construction were encountered due to the massive amounts of snow that crippled the east coast this past winter.
The national organization known as the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) has been eagerly awaiting its chance to experience this new attraction since it was announced in August. Bill Linkenheimer III, former national president and current regional representative for ACE, said he is “ecstatic that Kennywood is finally putting in a new coaster.”
Linkenheimer also admires how the park “manages to blend the old and the new together” with the coexistence of older, classic rides and the newer high-tech rides currently on the market for amusement parks.
While many people are thrilled with the idea of a major new roller coaster being erected at Kennywood, the new addition does not come without sacrifice. Sky Rocket will be located on the site of a longtime favorite of the younger riders, the Turnpike. This choice was met with mixed emotions from the general public. Opened in 1966, the Turnpike was an antique car ride that took Kennywood by storm with its scenic course and the opportunity for children to drive. Jeff Filicko, a Kennywood public relations spokesman, said the choice to remove the Turnpike was made due to space restrictions in the park.
“It was all about compromise,” Filicko said. “You can’t put a big new ride in here without changing the land in some way.”
Kristina Brown, a junior jazz dance major at Point Park University, is not sorry to see the classic ride go.
“I’m more of a coaster person, [and] I think they need to update their rides more often,” she said.
ACE historian David P. Hahner, Jr. called the departure of the Turnpike “bittersweet.”
“I’m excited to see a new coaster opening at Kennywood, but I am also sad to see Kennywood’s first ‘theme park-style’ ride be removed,” Hahner said. “It’s good to know that it’s not only being replaced with what promises to be an exciting addition for the park, but that it may return in some form in the very near future.”
King Kahuna has also been removed from Kennywood due to its lack of popularity and high maintenance costs.
“It’s sad that they have to get rid of so much at once,” Michael Mann, a sophomore education major who never had the chance to ride King Kahuna, said.
It is currently unknown exactly what the empty space left on King Kahuna’s site will be used for. Phantom’s Revenge has also undergone what Filicko referred to as “surgery” on its second hill to fix a small bump in the ride that was the result of a re-tracking that the coaster underwent the previous winter.
Kennywood will open to the public on May 8 with FunDay passes set at a price of $35.99 and Night Rider tickets costing $20.99. Limited season passes are also currently on sale for $89.99.