Kennywood – 2021

While Alex had been before, it was my first time finally getting to Pittsburgh’s legacy theme park: Kennywood. Home to a strong collection of classic woodies and modern steel beasts, this had been on my bucket list for a while. Let’s check out what Kennywood has to offer and why you should plan a trip there soon!


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Kennywood’s current entrance is on the opposite side of the road from the rest of the park. As the park outgrew itself, they chose to relocate the entrance and use a tunnel to get guests into the park. It feels like you’re really going somewhere! Let’s take a look at what the park has to offer!

The first area we’ll look at is actually towards the back of the park and is called “Lost Kennywood”, paying homage to the original aesthetic of this trolley park. The area is home to classic architecture, several rides and attractions, including The Exterminator, a lovely Reverchon wild mouse coaster with impressive theming. I liked it so much I actually jumped right back in line. You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

The nice thing about Kennywood is the mix of classic and new rides in a beautiful setting. Whether you just want lush landscaping or come for the views of charming Pittsburgh, Kennywood’s got you covered. One of my favorite modern flat rides is the Zamperla Hawk, cleverly named Aero 360. You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

Speaking of landscaping, between the loud classic wooden coasters and the towering steel coasters, you can find a whole lot of piece. Kennywood is filled with pockets of nice landscaping.

Kennywood’s famous for it’s nostalgic collection of rides, including the Old Mill, which previously carried a Garfield theme. It has been relaunched for this season with a new storyline. We immensely enjoyed the ride. Other rides that you can’t miss are the Turtle, Musik Express, and the Auto Race! For those looking for more modern family fun, this park’s Thomas Town is very impressive.

The Kennywood thing to do is to eat at the Potato Patch, home to fresh potato fries smothered in different salts, cheese, and bacon (or any combination of the three). We actually ended up going here several times throughout the day because it was so good. After the park closed we got to preview the park’s new Bites & Pints food festival. More details here.

Let’s move on to some more coasters! First up, Jack Rabbit! This 101 year old coaster has some of the oldest rollingstock in the world. The trains feature only a seatbelt and a rather large static bar to hold onto. Some signature moments like the double down make for great (borderline scary) airtime moments. Another cool trait of Jack Rabbit is its layout. While basic, the terrain allowed for the coaster’s first element to be a sizeable drop. A great start to this classic ride. You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

Right next to Jack Rabbit is Kennywood’s 1927 Racer, another very classic wooden coaster. I am obsessed with the aesthetic of this coaster. The park has put in a lot of effort to maintain a look that dates back to the ride’s original opening with train colors, chasing lights, logos and ride signage all in perfect harmony. While not very tall (22m), the ride has a nice variety of drops with a killer finale located below the first drop. One of my favorite woodies around now. You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

The third wooden coaster in today’s Kennywood article is Thunderbolt! Thunderbolt opened as Pippin in 1924 and was quite similar to Jack Rabbit, but with a bigger ravine in which the drops were located. In 1968 the coaster got an additional double helix (and extended lift hill) added to it and was relaunched as Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt‘s unique layout starts with a dive into the ravine, a turn around and another dive. Then it navigates up a lift hill and makes its way around the newest part of the ride, filled with insane lateral Gs, after the double helix the coaster’s Century Flyer trains make a final dive down into the ravine before making its way back to the station. Phenomenal ride, though the lateral Gs were almost too much! You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

On to the steel coasters! Ever wondered why the wildly successful Premier Rides Sky Rocket IIs are the second Sky Rockets in the product line? Well, that’s because in June of 2010 Kennywood opened Sky Rocket, the park’s launch coaster. The same Premier Rides trains are found on this coaster as every Premier Rides built since, the biggest difference however is the lack of seatbelts and comfort collars, which made two train operations easy. I will say I was pleasantly surprised with the ride! The first 60% of the ride pack a punch with snappy inversions, airtime, and some solid positive Gs. The finale of the coaster is a little lackluster but the first half more than makes up for it. A funny thing compared to most Premier Rides coasters, this one actually feels much smaller than it is due to having two other massive steel coasters over 67m tall elsewhere in the park. You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

Speaking of the taller, bigger steel coasters at Kennywood, let’s start with the new-for-2019 S&S looper: Steel Curtain. The coaster’s presence inside the park is breathtaking! Amazing views, and a fascinating and intimidating superstructure. While I was slightly nervous the yellow would be too much, it brings a really nice pop of color to that side of the park and I can’t keep my eyes off of the coaster. Super satisfying to look at. Now how does it ride? The layout is phenomenal, the pacing is strong, and every element feels completely different. I really enjoyed that aspect of the coaster. The trains are comfortable, however vibrated a lot. Something that I hope they can work out. If they can get the trains to run smoother on this incredible layout, they may just have one of the US top 10 steel coasters in my opinion. I look forward to a return trip to give Steel Curtain a few more runs, without the distracting vibrating I hope. You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

Last, but definitely not least, is Phantom’s Revenge! In true Kennywood fashion this legendary steel coaster too has seen quite the metamorphosis. The coaster opened in 1991 as Steel Phantom, an Arrow multi-looper with several signature drops. The coaster featured a small vertical loop, a batwing, and a corkscrew followed by a fast helix. The ride’s intensity significantly shortened the expected lifetime of the coaster and in between the 2000 and 2001 seasons Morgan Manufacturing was brought into remove the inversions, increase the drop height, and replace track. The new layout instead featured reinforced track, supports, and new elements such as a variety of airtime hills including a double down. Since then, Dutch company KumbaK has come in and installed magnetic brakes to the rather short brake run as well. The nearly-kilometer long coaster has unique one-of-a-kind trains that are modified Arrow mega looper trains with lap bars. While some of the original Arrow track remains, over the course of the years since its reopening these have mostly been replaced with new track. If you’re looking for bits of the original track, the transfer tracks, pre-lift and lift hill are the places to look. The ride experience itself is out of this world and the coaster is easily in the top 10 steel coasters in the United States, if you ask us. The airtime is over the top, the pacing is amazing, the drops are outstanding (particularly the 2nd drop that crosses under Thunderbolt), and the views are breathtaking. The overall package is there and the crew working on Phantom’s Revenge is nothing short of excellent. You can click on each image and swipe to take a closer look!

Thanks for checking out this look at Kennywood, make sure to tune into Coaster Kings Radio for our Kennywood podcast episode!


One Reply to “Kennywood – 2021”

  1. Gorgeous images! The local in me does have to point out that the tunnel has been there since the park’s beginning in 1899, though it was extended with the widening of Kennywood Blvd. Lost Kennywood was a pay parking lot before the 90s, but previously, it was a gigantic swimming pool. And one other note: Lost Kennywood isn’t a tribute to the park’s past; rather, it’s in homage to local “electric parks” like Pittsburgh’s Luna Park. These were glitzy places that a trolley park like Kennywood couldn’t emulate. But the expensive attractions of electric parks were one-and-done experiences, so that’s why they’re all gone, whereas some trolley parks still survive. Sorry for TMI. Waiting on the edge of my seat for the KW podcast episode! 😀

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