Day 5: Kennywood’s Open!
Pittsburghers are really friendly. Ever since I arrived, people have been telling me “Kennywood’s open,” even though they didn’t know that’s why I’m here. And they were right, Kennywood was open all day long!
I arrived at opening and made my way over to rope drop Phantom’s Revenge. Now, for those of you who don’t know, this park has what they call a “soft open” and “soft close.” The rides don’t necessarily open when the park opens, and closing time is announced on the PA in the afternoon. This “play it by ear” style can catch some off guard, so go prepared! On this occasion, it meant that my rope dropping Phantom was actually a 45 minute wait for it.
This is a fantastic coaster. I’ve been on the three CF Morgans, and while except for Steel Force they’re fun, decently forceful in places, but nothing to get worked up about, Phantom is on a whole other level. The turning first drop is fun, but then as you go up the second hill, it laughs evilly and says, “Nah man, just kidding. THIS is what I can do” and you plunge into the abyss, narrowly miss Thunderbolt, and laugh your A$$ off the entire rest of the ride. So good, so worth the trip out here just for that.
I next went to the Screamin’ Swing, the Whip, and Black Widow…and I then noticed just how slowly the dispatches on Phantom were. Hmm, I’m not going to get very many rides with operations like that. No worries, I had set aside money for VIP Unlimited, so I just made my way back to the front of the park.
It was then that I realized the worst. I hadn’t seen this back in Lost Kennywood, but every single person in Pittsburgh was at Kennywood today. Apparently word got out about Kennywood being open. Again, no big deal, I’m getting a VIP pass.
I went up to the desk by Garfield’s Nightmare, asked for my wristband, and was told due to staffing they couldn’t sell it. Oh sh*t. They were willing to sell me up to two of the single use wristbands, and discounted them due to Exterminator and Sky Rocket not operating that day, so on the plus side it was half what I would have paid for Unlimited. On the minus side, I’d rather have paid twice as much for unlimited.
The strategy for the day changed. Now I was going to spend all day in hot sweaty lines, but there was enough time to ride everything once, and of course I was going to get on the four coasters that were open twice.
Well, let’s start with Garfield, I guess. Now when I was a kid Garfield was everywhere, and for some reason we loved it. My brother and I watched the Saturday morning show in between Shari Lewis’ “Lamb Chop’s Play Along” and “Looney Tunes.” Yes, kids, I’m old. Deal with it.
Let’s face it, I’m not really riding Garfield. I’m riding the Old Mill and Garfield just happens to be in it. It’s a cool old ride, the 3D stuff was wonky, the jokes weren’t funny, but that’s Garfield for you. Like most things, it’d be far better if he were removed.
Next up some coasters! Jack Rabbit is fantastic. It actually gets more intense as the ride goes on, building up to the finish. And the double down in the back row.
Racer is also great, longer but a bit less intense than Jack Rabbit. And you end up on the opposite side of the station from where you began, it’s kinda weird. Loved it.
Okay, time for lunch. There is only one place I want to eat lunch here, and that’s at Potato Patch. I seriously stood in line for about 40 minutes to get the best fries ever. Fortunately the sausage cart right next to it had a very short line for me to complete my lunch.
While I’m right here, I went over to Noah’s Ark. This is so cool! I love old walkthroughs like this. The scale is much bigger than I expected. It must have been built by Timelords.
Let’s get started on flats. The one I most wanted to ride here was Turtle, so I got in line for that, and about an hour later, got to ride the best Turtle ever. It was really fun, but holy crap that line.
Thunderbolt is also great. 3 for 3! But you didn’t expect otherwise, right? People don’t keep old coasters around if they suck. Another ride on Phantom’s Revenge and first wristband complete.
Now for some more flats, preferably ones with shorter lines. Bayurn Kurve was really great, also a must do for me here. And now that I was sufficiently dizzy, gift shopping time! Seriously had to walk off that ride. It was fun though.
One more must do flat, the Kangaroo. This is incredible! Probably my favourite flat there. It’s basically the same as a frog hopper, but there’s a seven foot high ramp that you drop off to start bouncing. Not an exaggeration, that’s its actual height. Again I waited about half an hour, because there’s no way to skip it, but it was still great to go on once.
They announced a closing time of 9:00, so let’s kick this into gear. Another round on Jack Rabbit and Racer, again fantastic, then over to Thunderbolt…only wait, what’s this? Ghostwood Estate had been closed all day, but it was open now! Loved this, it’s a cool trackless dark ride with some great hidden targets and a fun, slightly creepy but not too creepy but not too not creepy, story.
Thunderbolt and Phantom’s Revenge finished off my day. It was fun, but I was tired and hungry, so I headed over to the local mall for a much more pleasant kind of hell than standing in lines of 30-60 minutes for every single ride.
Overall, I enjoyed the day. I want to love this place so much, and there are aspects to it that are awesome, but the huge crowds and understaffing really put a damper on it. I will be back to give it another chance; there will be 3 new coasters if nothing else. I didn’t dislike any rides there--Garfield’s Nightmare was the one I liked least, but it was still cool—but with shorter lines and better operations, it would really be fantastic. I’m not at a place of “I drove all this way for this?” and my experience with the park was certainly far, far better than Prozach’s, but even with expectations that I think were well informed and reasonable, it didn’t quite live up. I think it’s fair to say that had they allowed me to throw money at the problem like I had prepared to do, I would have a different opinion.