Kennywood Park

Joe

aka TestTrack321
Staff member
Moderator
Feb 15, 2012
11,109
Pittsburgh, PA
ThillGeek will be running my review soon but I'm posting it here for now, I'll link to it when it's up.

Steel Curtain, Kennywood’s seventh coaster, is now open! The record breaking ride is located in the brand new Pittsburgh Steelers football team themed land Steelers Country. ThrillGeek was graciously invited by the park to preview the new coaster on July 12th. In this article we’ll cover our day at the park, the new coaster, and preview the rest of Steelers Country.

I arrived at Kennywood at 6am for the first rider event check-in. Last year Kennywood ran a Project 412 (412 is the area code for Pittsburgh, FYI) contest where guests could win a chance to be the first to ride the roller coaster. These guests and several winning Steelers fans were the first guests to ride the new coaster.

After arrival and drinking a gallon of coffee we positioned ourselves for opening. After a week of heavy rains a rolling, deep fog hung over Pittsburgh and West Mifflin providing dramatic morning photographs. Thankfully the weather held out all day, with the fog lifting to reveal sunny blue skies around 9am. At 9:45am the ride grand opened with a countdown by Steelers announcer Bill Hargrove to fireworks, confetti, and Terrible Towel twirling.

The Steel Curtain breaks several records: it stands 220 feet tall making it the tallest coaster in Pennsylvania (we’ll see what Hersheypark has up its sleeve for 2020), features the most inversions in North America at nine, and the tallest inversion in the world at 197 feet. Unlike the park’s Phantom’s Revenge or other so called “hyper coasters”, Steel Curtain eschews large airtime hills and instead focuses on intense ejector hills and hanging inversions.

The attraction experience starts by entering under the massive Steelers Country archway. On the left are the play area, sports bar, outdoor patio, and gift shop in Steeler Country. Walking forward towards the lift hill is the entrance to The Steel Curtain along with the really cool marquee. The queue for the attraction wraps around the right hand side of the lift hill, be warned it doesn’t offer much shade and no fans were installed on the preview day.

The attraction’s safety spiels and announcements are performed by Bill Hargrove and Tunch Ilkin, the Steelers’ announcers. Yes, there are many announcer puns and jokes including not keeping your hands, arms, and legs inside the vehicle as a safety violation. As the vehicles pull out of the station and make their way up the lift hill the song that opens Steelers games, Renegade by Styx, plays on the lift hill. The boarding station features Steelers banners and decorations but painting the station like a field, labeling each row as yard markers, and painting endzones would have really brought the theme home.

A quick musing on the theme: both the Steelers and Kennywood hold a unique place in Pittsburgh memories through generations, making this a perfect collaboration. While waiting for the attraction I spitballed with several other guests on other sports/theme park pairings and we couldn’t really come up with any that solid as this in America. I expect within the next few years you will find more sports and sports entertainment brands in parks, such as Cedar Fair’s use of Monster Jam, but they won’t mesh as well as what Kennywood has developed.

Steel Curtain’s ride vehicles are minimalist in design, with the football phone looking seats and bright yellow train chassis. The ride vehicles recall the Intamin lap-bar ride vehicles found on Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster which allows the upper body free movement during the ride. If this seems like too much, don’t worry, the lap bars offer grip handles. One thing to note, the lap bars lock into place in the station and do not go down during the ride, so adjust appropriately then.

The lift hill starts off slowly before ramping up in speed after the full train is engaged. Styx plays as guests get an amazing view of Kennywood, the Monongahela River, and the active steel plants across said river. The view surpasses that of Phantom’s Revenge and is a true highlight of the ride. After cresting the hill we’re immediately looking down at the rest of Steelers Country, make sure to look for the red-paint covered support which sports the signatures of Kennywood cast members and construction crews.

The ride immediately hauls, inverting guests nearly 200 feet in the air, creating airtime before diving into the first drop. The following two elements add to the inversion count and draw out the speed but don’t do much in terms of sensations. It’s once guests head out towards Kennwood’s “beer jail” the ride really shines. A quick pop of airtime then sends guests into a roll over which sends the guests back towards Steeler Country, past “beer jail”, before going into a zero G stall above a walkway. The ride hauls through the last two inversions and hits the breaks with speed to spare. The whole ride is breakneck and totally unique to western Pennsylvania.

There are two complains of the ride, one, is the coaster lacks a moment to take in the scale of it all. Outside of the first drop and inversion the rest of the ride is non stop action. This isn’t so much of a fatal flaw than something that could have made this into a transcendent experience. Second, and more worrying, is a low level vibration experienced in the middle to back of the train. In the morning the sensation felt more like low-level resonance between the train and track but after warming up the vibration started to feel more like a rattling. No, it was not painful or head-ache inducing like sitting on the outside seats of an old school B&M inverter. The track is smooth and well aligned, I believe it’s a train issue that can be fixed with some dampening and maintenance if treated early. These two issues, at the moment, are not game breakers but if we’re talking about “best ride of the year” it should be taken into context.

Finally, for the coaster heads, the question always is where to sit. For nearly everyone I talked to the answer was THE FRONT. The front is more forceful, pushes you into inversions, and is in general a more intense ride.

In the end Steel Curtain offers a ride wholly unique to the area and one Kennywood desperately needs. When the rest of the Steelers Country area opens this small section of the park will surely become a hit. Once the indoor sports bar (with beer and TVs!), kids play area, and patio opens this location will become a huge hit. Kennywood lacks one major thing: places to be inside with AC that isn’t a restaurant, and Steelers Country will address this need.

Steel Curtain is a hit with coaster fans and will be a massive hit with the general public. I cannot wait to see the reactions from theme park and Steelers fans alike, Steel Curtain and Steelers Country is unlike anything else offered in North America.
 
  • Like
Reactions: medic2 and Mad Dog

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area
ThillGeek will be running my review soon but I'm posting it here for now, I'll link to it when it's up.
Excellent review.....:thumbsup:....Yes, the link with the Steelers is crucial. Most of the people I've talked to about this are actually even more excited for the Steeler Experience aspects/restaurant than the coaster itself, which tells you a lot about how the Steelers dominate Pittsburgh life and discussions. Kennywood is really just a fairly small local Pittsburgh park that has a nice assortment of classic attractions.. It's hard to get to (though an Expressway coming through in about 10 years will change that dramatically), and it's closely surrounded by the giant regional parks Cedar Point, King's Island & Hershey Park, all within a 4 hour drive, so it's basically cut off from drawing attendance from anywhere outside the Pittsburgh/Youngstown/Morgantown areas. But Kennywood does have a place in the heart of many old time coaster enthusiasts, so it does draw constant attendance and attention from those folks. So far the reviews for the Steel Curtain seem to be very positive.I don't really care much for the aesthetic look of the coaster, and the fact it's really ruined the look of the more than century old classic lagoon, but it will revitalize that corner of the park that had basically become a dead end in recent years.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rideguy70

GAcoaster

V.I.P.
Nov 30, 2012
3,484
Orlando
Have you heard why it took so long for Premier to deliver on that motor? Fourteen months was kind of ridiculous. ....Glad it's back up. For a small footprint coaster, it's a lot of fun.
I'd guess it wasn't Premier but Kennywood that had the issue.
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area
I'd guess it wasn't Premier but Kennywood that had the issue.
I really don't know the specifics, that's why I asked. Last year the local media reported in September that a motor failed in May 2018 and as of September Premier still hadn't delivered a replacement. I don't know if that had continued up to this past week, or a new issue had arisen.
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area

Theme Park World Wide went to Kennywood in June. That Brett dude looks like me back when I was in college...
Takes me about 5 minutes to get used to the UK accent, then I'm OK. Nice video. They really seemed to enjoy the park and rides. Hopefully they get back next year to ride the Steel Curtain and once again operating Sky Rocket. UK Trigg, when he stayed with us last year, really liked Kennywood also.... They mentioned the Kennywood arrow a lot in their video, but I don't think many outside our area understand what that's about. Here's the story behind that logo...Before 1970, Kennywood was probably the largest ride park in this area of the country, plus they had a good number of highly rated coasters for that time period before coasters were a thing. Before the late 60's, Cedar Point was a small amusement park with no coasters. King's Island was just a thought. Hershey Park was real small with one coaster. BGW didn't exist yet. So Kennywood was more of a destination park then. Now it's just a locals park since it's surrounded by those giant Regional parks. Kennywood is hard to get to since it's not located near any major highways. It's in an old mill town just outside the Pittsburgh city limits. So, throughout the states of Pa., Ohio and West Virginia, Kennywood had posted a zillion small arrow signs (Kennywood - Arrow) pointing to the direction Kennywood was in. Back then they got a good chunk of guests from outside the Pittsburgh metro area.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Disneyhead

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area
Update on Steel Curtain..........We stopped at the park Saturday evening at 5:30 PM. Great weather 80 degrees and sunny. Super packed for the Fall Festival Parade that they run during August. We had to drive around the parking lot twice to find a space. Fortunately a few people left early. The Fall Festival Parade is a long time event that's a great marketing ploy. They invited about 15 high school bands for that weekend day's parade, and of course, the relatives come to the park to see the kids march. August is almost always densely crowded in the park if it doesn't rain ( In Pittsburgh just about everyone leaves the park if a big storm comes in :ugh:). Fortunately we just stopped by to eat, watch the parade, and people watch. Ride lines were real long. The Steel Curtain Coaster is back up after being down for maintenance earlier in the week. The line at 6:00 PM was right at the 2 hour line. We checked again at 8:00 PM, after the parade, and it was just a few minutes shy of the 2 hour mark in the queue. They were constantly running two trains. They've done a nice job of landscaping around the queue area, and the Pittsburgh Steeler store is now open in the new Steeler Experience area, at the ride's exit. It's a very large store with as much Steeler merchandise as you would see at Heinz Field. There's also Steel Curtain Coaster themed shirts and merchandise. The indoor football physical games area isn't completed yet, and the sit down Steeler themed restaurant looks far from completion. With all the large old trees removed from that area, the Racer Coaster (1927) stands out really fine in it's ancient glory. Kind of fun to watch it now, since all but the front used to be hidden away in the wooded area next to the now removed Log Jammer ride. I haven't rode the Steel Curtain coaster yet since I don't ever wait in lines that long, for anything. The other coasters in the park all had lines that appeared to be 60 minutes plus, and they were all running their full contingent of coaster trains. The Racer's line was so long that it extended to the entrance of the Steel Curtain queue, which I've never ever seen it that long. Jack Rabbit's line stretched all the way to the Racer Coaster's queue. So not a great day if you wanted to ride a lot and didn't spring for a VIP coaster pass. But we're over 55 Season Pass Holders (only $59), so if we plan on riding we go on quieter days. We're only apx. 7 miles away from the park so it's easy to pop over. And it was nice to see the Sky Rocket running again. It's a really fun launch coaster that was down for 14 months. Everything was running except the Spider Ride that's been broke since shortly after it opened. Crowd was so large that the Ribs BBQ area (which is the only area of the park that serves beer & alcohol) ran out of almost all of their food selections by the time we stopped by at 6:30 PM. Interesting side note for all of you Wizard of Oz land fans. The Fall Festival Parade is themed to the Wizard of Oz. The floats carry all the characters that are dressed in the same attire as the Garland movie. I didn't get an exact count, but there seemed to be about 10-12 floats. It's a very long parade. And, like always, the last float has Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus in a sleigh driven by Santa's reindeer.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Disneyhead

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area
Stopped at the park yesterday (Saturday) for a few hours. Steel Curtain was running well with two trains. Standby times steady at apx. 2 hours. Steeler Experience games and restaurant not finished yet, though. On a comfortable sunny day, with no significant promotions or company picnics, the park was jammed again. Parking lots 100% full, with dozens of cars cruising looking for a parking spot to open. Long lines on every attraction....Games Pavilion and Raft ride closed since they'll be converting them into mazes for the Halloween horror nights season.....Tried a 'strawberry' Dole Whip for a change of pace, and it was real tasty. Rides looked fully staffed, which is usually a rarity for August, since the college kids are already back in school.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: AlexanderMBush

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area
Just got back from the park. We were going to go at opening, but it was raining a bit, so we waited until noon when the rain stopped. Arrived and the parking lot was about half full, so we immediately rode Sky Rocket Coaster since that line is usually long. Then we walked down to Steel Curtain, but the line was already 90 minutes. BUT, to our surprise, they just grand opened the new End Zone Cafe in the Steeler Experience. That was a surprise since last week it looked far from opening. We were really impressed. Outside they had a huge mural backdrop of the area around Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, kind of like the SF one that was in Streets of America. In front of it was outside piazza seating for apx. 120 with tables shaded by massive colored umbrellas. The inside of the Cafe looked like the stadium areas. Air conditioned with seating for about 150 with tons of room between tables. They could easily fit 250 in if they added more tables. The area is flanked by 8 large TV's showing the last exhibition game, last year's games, games from their Championship years, and today's sporting events. Hell, you could spend hours here just watching those great games of past Championship years. The menu is impressive and quite large for a quick ser vice restaurant. There are 20 food choices on the menu, includes, specialty burgers, wings, perogies, Sloppy Joes, Nacho plates, hot dogs, salads, zucchini plates. We ordered the Firestriker chili/cheese hot dog and the Hickory Sloppy Joe. Both were very good. The service is similar to Leaky Cauldron, You order, are given a numbered stand, and an attendant delivers the food. The food is served on metal plates. Everything in the restaurant is themed to football and the Steelers. The food service workers are dressed in referee uniforms. Service was fast & friendly. They even had attendants to open the doors for you when you entered and exited the restaurant. This is a great addition to the park and looks as good as most of the quick service restaurants at Disney and Universal. When we left there were a lot of people arriving, the weather had turned sunny, and the parking lot was three quarters full at 5:00. Great day at the park. We rode a lot. And, thanks to the reactions from the Brits in the video from earlier this Summer saying how much fun they had riding the Whip, we rode it for the first time since our youth. Damn, they were right. That ride is so much pure fun. Now it's on our must do list for every trip. Just an old time ride, but it delivers fun, big time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Disneyhead

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area
I had to go and see what the Whip was. What an old fashioned attraction and yet I can see how the anticipation for the end curves would be fun.

Pure fun, especially if you raise your arms. And the turns play faster in real terms than the video looks. If you ever get to watch the above video that the Brits made, they said they had more fun on that then just about any ride anywhere. And, they were absolutely right....Thw Whip used to be in a huge building where they just moved the new coaster. But when they put the addition expansion Lost Kennywood in, they moved it there and had a makeshift roof built over it. But, a few years ago, tragedy came. In a thunderstorm, guests clamored under the roof to be protected from the rain. But a huge microburst hit, tore off the roof, did lots of damage to the neighborhood too, and killed and injured a number of people that were under the roof. They never replaced the roof out of respect for the victims.
 
Last edited:

bob albert

Veteran Member
Sep 18, 2015
1,636
I wish Disney would just build a cheap ass whip sometimes and slap a toy story sticker on it if they feel the need.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mad Dog

Stryker

Rookie
Feb 22, 2018
485
So Cal
I wish Disney would just build a cheap ass whip sometimes and slap a toy story sticker on it if they feel the need.
Although I've never been on this ride or even to this park, it sounds like it offers the same "whipping" action similar to Mater's Junkyard Jamboree at DCA, which from what I understand, is a clone of Alien Swirling Saucers at DHS.
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,081
Pittsburgh area
The whip is better.
Yeah. Seems faster and a more thrilling whip action. Plus it's two to three times longer....Can't believe i haven't rode this for more than 30 years up until yesterday. Sometimes the best stuff is right in front of you, but you don't know it. One cool thing about Kennywood is that it has many old time classic attractions that don't exist anywhere else ie. Racer autos on a boxed wooden track., Noah's Ark. , Turtle ?, Old Mill rethemed to Garfield, classic Merry Go Round one of a kind style, 2 wooden coasters dating back to 1927, one wooden coaster almost as old though realigned a bit and renamed.
 
Last edited:

Disneyhead

Legendary Member
Jul 24, 2008
10,300
Orlando, FL
Yeah. Seems faster and a more thrilling whip action. Plus it's two to three times longer....Can't believe i haven't rode this for more than 30 years up until yesterday. Sometimes the best stuff is right in front of you, but you don't know it. One cool thing about Kennywood is that it has many old time classic attractions that don't exist anywhere else ie. Racer autos on a boxed wooden track., Noah's Ark. , Turtle ?, Old Mill rethemed to Garfield, classic Merry Go Round one of a kind style, 2 wooden coasters dating back to 1927, one wooden coaster almost as old though realigned a bit and renamed.
The Old Mill needs a retheme. Either go back to "The Old Mill" or even Trip Around The World or Hard Headed Harold's Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mad Dog