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.
Excellent review.........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.ThillGeek will be running my review soon but I'm posting it here for now, I'll link to it when it's up.
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.I'd guess it wasn't Premier but Kennywood that had the issue.
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.
Theme Park World Wide went to Kennywood in June. That Brett dude looks like me back when I was in college...
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.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.
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.I wish Disney would just build a cheap ass whip sometimes and slap a toy story sticker on it if they feel the need.
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 whip is better.
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.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.