Sunday, August 16, 2009

Getting to Know Kennywood's 2010 Coaster

It's a bittersweet day in Kennywood history. The current incarnation of the park's classic Turnpike will give its final rides today, but we all know that something bigger is on the horizon.

It was only a few short days ago that Kennywood announced the addition of a Premier-built LSM launch coaster for 2010. Ever since, the speculation has run rampant. How will the coaster be positioned within the allotted space? What will it be called? When and where will the Turnpike reemerge?

Even the folks at Kennywood can't answer all of those questions at this point, but Jeff Filicko of the Public Relations Department shared what they do know with me and Mike during our visit to the park this past Friday. And, in turn, we would like to share that information with you!

Image courtesy of Kennywood

Kennywood's latest project has been under consideration for quite some time, but it was only recently that they were able to nail down exactly what they wanted. "We've been working on it probably for about the last six months very seriously," Jeff told us. "Before that, we were toying with notions for a couple different coasters and figuring out how we wanted to go."

In the beginning, they ruled out nothing in terms of design or manufacturer. But eventually, after receiving ideas and bids from numerous parties, they decided that the Premier design was the best fit for Kennywood. While the new coaster will be based on a standard Premier model, Jeff explained that certain customizations were required to work the coaster into its designated space. The result? A bona fide Kennywood original!

Image courtesy of Kennywood

So how, exactly, will this latest addition to Kennywood's stellar coaster line-up alter the landscape of the park? If we're talking actual landscaping, the answer is not much! In the interest of maintaining the park's classic, traditional atmosphere, Kennywood is going the extra mile to ensure that the many trees which currently share space with the Turnpike will be preserved. "We're making every effort to keep every tree we possibly can," Jeff told us. So come 2010, the view you see from Kennywood Boulevard will look very much like the one pictured in the concept art above--vegetation and all!

As you might imagine, the addition of the new coaster will also make for a pretty impressive visual as you enter the park. While the tunnel entrance itself will not be affected, its peaceful upstairs neighbor is about to be replaced by a launch pad! As Jeff explained, the coaster's station will be located next to the Gran Prix building, with its launch section passing right overtop the tunnel. The trains will then proceed to negotiate the remainder of their twisted course within the space where the bulk of the Turnpike is currently located. Below is a rough illustration that I threw together using the current park map.

While the Kennywood team is still working on narrowing down their long list of potential coaster names, they are feeling pretty confident about the color scheme. According to Jeff, one of their goals was to select colors that are different from any other Kennywood coaster. As a result, they've decided that the track will be cobalt blue, the supports will be silver, and the trains will "probably" be red.

And what about those trains, anyway? Well, let's just say that Jeff's description was music to our ears! Based on some artist renderings, Jeff described the cars as "very minimalistic and open", comparable to those seen on the likes of Millennium Force. And the best news of all? (Drumroll, please...) No over-the-shoulder restraints!! According to Jeff, Kennywood's new coaster will only have lapbars. Inversions be darned!

So how soon will construction begin? Sooner than you may think--Try TOMORROW. That's right, folks: The early closure of the Turnpike will not be for naught. Crews will begin disassembling the ride bright and early on Monday in preparation for the arrival of its successor.

But the glass is still half full, for as we all know, tomorrow does not spell doom for this classic and beloved ride. While the folks at Kennywood won't be making a final decision on the Turnpike's future home until after the new coaster has opened, Jeff told us the preliminary thought is that it could potentially be placed beneath the coaster, woven through its supports.

Even if that plan doesn't come to fruition, there are many other options. Jeff pointed out that the current incarnation of this ride is longer than your average turnpike ride--approximately four minutes, to be exact--and that gives Kennywood some latitude in their ability to recreate a great ride experience. "You could easily shorten it and still have a great ride," he noted.

Image courtesy of Kennywood

The off-season is certainly shaping up to be a busy one for our friends at Kennywood! But come May 2010, the fruits of their labor will be manifested in the form of a shiny new coaster that the whole family can enjoy. Jeff told us that the coaster is supposed to be ready for testing by May 1, 2010, so it should be available for our riding pleasure shortly thereafter.

Personally, I think this design will be a perfect fit for Kennywood. And based on the feedback Jeff has received, the majority of Kennywood's fans agree. "It will be a very different experience, but one you can ride over and over again," he said. I certainly hope so, because I plan to do just that the next time I visit Kennywood!

NPN would like to sincerely thank Jeff Filicko for sharing these exciting details with us. To find out what other non-coaster-related tidbits we learned, watch for our full Kennywood trip report in the coming weeks!


Nicholas Tucker said...

Thanks for the information! This answered a lot of questions.

Sabrina said...

Our pleasure! :-)