USA 06/22 – Kennywood
The excitement of our long awaited trip finally beginning made me forget all about the previous day’s misfortunes, and the fact I had only had 2 hours sleep max.
The 3 hour drive to the park flew by quickly as the excitement grew further, and the much needed energy drink kicked in.
Kennywood was easily one of the more anticipated parks of the trip, for me at least. The ride line up is so different than most other parks out there, mixing unique modern coasters with no less than 3 old school woodies. I’d heard the place compared to Blackpool Pleasure Beach many times, for many reasons, and for me at least, that’s a strong compliment.
As you may have gathered from the introduction I try to keep tabs on Kennywood, and one thing I’ve learnt is that having Steel Curtain open on your visit is not always guaranteed. So that’s exactly why we headed there first after seeing it running.
I went into Steel Curtain with as open a mind as possible, but I couldn’t shake the voices in my head that were telling me it probably wasn’t going to be a top 25 coaster. And it wasn’t, but is it about as good as it could possibly be to just miss out.
Steel Curtain is a fantastic coaster, with a terrifying lift hill, pre drop, dive drop start, that leads into a fast paced layout full of fun and snappy inversions and strong pops of airtime, all while sitting in a very exposed position.
No one part really stands out and slaps you in the face, but Steel Curtain as a package is awesome and was the perfect welcome back to the US coaster scene.
But it wasn’t as good as Phantom’s Revenge…
Before this trip, whenever I saw someone rank Phantom’s Revenge in their top 10 I thought they were going insane. Now though, I can absolutely understand the love this legendary coaster gets.
First off, if I felt exposed in the Steel Curtain trains, which I did, Phantom takes it to the next level. It honest to God feels like you are sitting in your favourite arm chair at home, not about to drop 228 feet, travel 85mph and get ejected into space multiple times. I love it so much, it adds so much character to a coaster that’s already dripping in it.
Then the layout, oh my God, talk about a coaster with 2 clearly defined sections.
The first half of Phantom’s Revenge (not including the lift hill) is great fun, and what all old school hyper coasters should be, smooth, fast and with a few decent airtime moments. The second half however is absolutely outrageous with some of the strongest ejector airtime moments I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve experienced a lot.
You can never prepare yourself for the second half of Phantom’s Revenge, and if you’re anything like me you’ll spend the whole first half of the coaster trying to ready yourself, fail completely, and then spend the whole second half laughing in disbelief at what you’re experiencing.
Phantom is amazing and was easily one of the best surprises of the whole trip.
Next up we rode the first of the park’s old school woodies, and easily its best, Thunderbolt.
While I’ve certainly ridden better old school woodies, I thought Thunderbolt was good fun, with its location and interactions with Phantom’s Revenge certainly enhancing the experience.
In the slightly lengthy queue for Ghostwood Estate, the park’s interactive ghost train, we tried to work out if it would be a better idea to phone all the hotels separately to update our card info, or to phone head office and get them to do it for us. It turns out both ideas are awful, but not as awful as Wyndham themselves. We will pick this up in a second…
Ghostwood then. It wasn’t great if I’m honest, plus our car kept getting stuck throughout the layout, which I’m putting down to 2 chunky women batching themselves into the back of our car while the staff weren’t paying attention.
We needed to head to the car for snacks, and to reapply sunscreen, so while there we decided to get this hotel crap out of the way once and for all.
Our hotel for the night was currently staffed by a woman who was at best useless. She wouldn’t let us update our card info on her system and kept saying you’d need to phone the head office.
Then you phoned head office, got a confused foreign man, who then told you to phone the hotel.
Getting angry now, Heartline phoned head office 1 more time. Explained how upset he was with the whole situation (read about it here) and asked 1 last time for them to fix it or to explain what we’d need to do to fix it ourselves.
After they hung up on us, and we got back through to the same man, he gave us the only solution he could think of. Cancel all your booked hotels that have the expired card info and rebook them now, 1 by 1, on the phone, at much higher prices.
I don’t think I need to explain everything wrong with that statement, but I will tell you that at that moment we officially decided we’d face all the hotels 1 at a time and stretch resolving them over the whole trip.
You know what would calm us down man, more Kennywood.
Starting with Jack Rabbit, the second of the park’s old woodies.
It wasn’t all that great, but thanks to a family sitting behind us it damn sure was amusing.
We are bouncing along, not much happening, no one else on the train really caring either. Then suddenly this woman behind us shouts “here it comes! airtime! woo!”, and she wasn’t wrong. The coaster delivered a vicious pop of ejector air, it was great, the whole train loved it, then we went straight back to riding in silence, bouncing along with not much happening, it was so strange.
Sky Rocket was meant to be our next ride, but it was currently experiencing a delay, and it was far from the first one we’d seen today.
So, on a bench outside the currently broken Sky Rocket, while I was waving at the amazing Kenny the Kangaroo (see the mural outside Thunderbolt), Heartline phoned our hotel for the night, 1 last time, while knowing we had many different options for the night if they didn’t want to play ball.
Of course they didn’t. So they were told to shove it in as many words as possible while we powered through the short queueline of the now reopened Sky Rocket.
Sky Rocket was far better than I was expecting, and so much better than the terrible Sky Rocket 2 models.
Fun punchy launch, good airtime moments, snappy inversions, and all while being perfectly smooth, a good little coaster.
Racer was next and the last of the park’s old woodies, and honestly probably the worst.
It didn’t really do much, positive or negative, and the racing aspect didn’t even work properly with 1 train winning every time.
I can’t fault it too much though because from the second we stepped off of Racer the park stepped up its game and transformed into the Kennywood I’d read about online, and became one of the best parks of the trip.
It all started with our 3rd lap of Steel Curtain.
As we took our seats in the train, nervous that we wouldn’t have enough time to complete the park, and spend quality time with the Phantom, we were asked to leave our seats and step back behind the airgates because there was a fault with the restraints.
It was the after market seatbelts, the ones that have caused multiple headaches in the coaster’s short life.
Cue around half an hour of comedy gold, including but not limited to.
- The ride operator cycling the seatbelt system every 30 seconds, producing a fast paced clicking noise, that we could perfectly replicate in our axe damaged hire car.
- The ride operator answering a question from someone in the queue with, “I’m just pushing buttons”, which once again we adopted into the hire car.
- The already displeased engineer dropping his spanner through the track 30 feet to the floor below.
- The sheer excitement on a new staff member’s face that they were now trained to operate the coaster’s handicap elevator.
Best of all though, they managed to solve the fault and we were able to get a 3rd lap, which was probably the best of the whole day.
With Lil’ Phantom and Old Mill both being closed, Exterminator was the last ride we needed at the park before we finished the day at Phantom’s Revenge.
The queue for Exterminator was awful, dark, loud and crowded, it helped to remind me that I’d only slept for 2 hours. The coaster itself though was pretty great, just for how much it spun and how intense it was to experience that in the dark.
Then it was Phantom time, and my God, it was awesome.
No queue, hyped up staff and the coaster running even better than it was earlier in the day. The perfect way to end a great day at Kennywood.
Thank you for reading, click here for day 3 of trip report, where we visit the fantastic Kings Island.