Monday, May 28, 2018

Kennywood: Project Updates, Trip Report, & Thunderbolt's 50th Anniversary

Today we visit the legendary Kennywood Park. Memorial Day Weekend Ribs and Blues Festival, which brought a number of excellent barbecue companies with their food trucks scattered around the midway. The smell of wood smoked barbecue blanketed the midway. 

Thunderbolt about to plunge down the cliff.
We had a bunch of rides on all of the coasters, except for Sky Rocket, which looks to be down for the foreseeable future. 
 We had a bunch of rides on Thunderbolt

Construction is in progress on the Thomas Town attraction that they plan on opening at some point in this weekend, and some other mysterious construction is happening in the area of the former Log Jammer and in the Lagoon, with the placement of footers. Seeing that the last new rides to the park were added in 2012 with Black Widow, and in 2015 with the renovation of a building into a 4D theater, it is great to see the park adding some major attractions. Judging by the placement of footers throughout the lagoon, the new attraction has the potential of being pretty amazing.   
Barring a surprise, like the creation of an extended deck in the lagoon, this setting for a coaster should be excellent. All sorts of rumors are flying around about who the potential manufacturer will be, and where the layout of the coaster will go, but there is a ton of land that has been opened up with the removal of Log Jammer, and with the land that exists on the hillside and down to the former railyard. The only rumor that has been confirmed by the park is that the new coaster will not be an RMC, though they did retrack the park's Bayern Kurve ride this past offseason. 
 The site of Log Jammer has been fenced in. There are no teaser signs or anything, but the earth moving being done in this area is certainly encouraging.
The barbecue festival throughout the park was pleasant and provided some more decent food options. I would love to see food trucks at the park on a more regular basis. Jim's Smokin' Que, was our favorite of the different BBQ vendors at the festival. 
Jim's chicken and pulled pork are legit!
 Racer had a large portion of its lift hill rebuilt during this past offseason. Kennywood takes such meticulous care of their wooden roller coasters.

 Noah's Ark was a walk on early in the day, so they just let you walk right in through the entrance. 
The updates from a few years ago are pleasant. I would not mind seeing them add more tricks to it though.

 It is always neat seeing this part of the midway from across the lagoon.
 The park's Dentzel Carousel is such a treasure.

Mirror selfie!
Jack Rabbit!
The Thunderbolt midway was especially awesome with the Ribs and Blues Festival. They had a number of bands playing on the stage throughout the day.
This year marks Thunderbolt's 50th anniversary. In 1968, the coaster was reconfigured from the Pippin, a classic John Miller design, to Thunderbolt, which was designed by Andy Vettel. This coaster epitomizes the Kennywood experience through the sheer joy that it induces. The spaghetti bowl portion of the ride after the lift hill is so much fun, and the eccentricity of this ride really makes it stand out. No coaster exists that is remotely similar to this wild ride.
Watching the joy of the riders in the spaghetti bowl section of the ride is so awesome.
There is nothing else out there that is quite like hearing the roar of the train as it passes, along with the screams of the riders. Couple the sounds and feels with the smells of the Potato Patch fries in the breeze and you have an environment that is like no other.

 Now for an obligatory ride on the Turtle. It felt like it had a little more pep than usual on this particular visit. While not approaching the power of the Tumblebug at Conneaut Lake Park, it was still pretty solid. Always a fun ride.
 Back to Thunderbolt! We rode it more than any of the other coasters on this particular visit.

 A series of demolition derby cars were on display on the main midway for some reason. 
 Phantom erupting out of the Volcano
 The Pittsburg Plunge and Lost Kennywood, with Phantom's Revenge in the background.
 Jimbo and the Soupbones were the first band of the day for the festival. They were REALLY GOOD and really added to the ambiance of that area of the park. I always wondered why parks have strayed away from having live bands and entertainment. 
 Enjoying the band and having some barbecue was great.
An excuse to spend extra time on the Thunderbolt Midway is fine by me!

 The area around the Carousel is such a beautiful garden oasis.
 Sky Rocket will be down for the foreseeable future while it awaits parts and repairs.
 The area of the lagoon is especially beautiful as the sun dips and the lights turn on.
 Jack Rabbit, standing tall in Kennywood since it was built in 1920.
Memorial Day fireworks time!
 Time for one more ride on the carousel!
 And one last ride on Thunderbolt! Due to some technical difficulties there was a slight delay as we entered the station. Thanks to this, by the time we rode, the park had completely cleared out and nothing but silence and darkness surrounded the ride. Additionally, the trim on the return down the ravine was on very light, creating some awesome lateral forces and even a decent pop of airtime heading into the brake run. It was one of our most memorable rides on Thunderbolt.
And that ends another nice day at Kennywood.