Sunday, October 27, 2013

From The Vault: Kennywood's Roller Coasters

I'm not exactly sure when I received this booklet from Kennywood, but I'd wager a guess that it was in the mid-1990s.  Kennywood had this created to celebrate the long history the park has of building exciting roller coasters, documenting not only the ones still operating, but also lost rides.

As made clear on the cover of the booklet, the tradition of the roller coaster at Kennywood has a long history.  The first ride, dating back to 1902, is shown along with the then latest coaster to be built at the park - Steel Phantom.

It has been quite a while since I've seen the park market itself as the "Coaster Capital of the World," but that was a tagline used for many years.  Nowadays many parks have significantly more coasters than Kennywood does, but an argument could still be made for the quality of rides the park offers, versus the quantity - no doubts there!

The park's first ride was the Figure Eight, a side friction coaster that was marketed as a big thrill, but by today's standards would have been a kiddie ride at best.  The Scenic Railway came next, a popular style of coaster that was found at many trolley parks.

As roller coasters got bigger and better the ones at Kennywood kept up with the trend.  The original Racer and Speed-O-Plane were two more side friction rides, meaning not too thrilling, but in 1921 that was changed.  The Jack Rabbit was opened and featured upstops that allowed a significantly wilder ride.  The ride's famous double-down drop proves that perfectly.

The Pippin came along in 1924 and was another thrilling coaster - also featuring a double down drop into a ravine.

The new Racer went up in 1927 and thankfully is still riding today.  A favorite of many, it features two trains that race each other throughout the course.  The Thunderbolt was a massive redesign of the Pippin, making it more thrilling... considerably so as anyone who's been on the ride knows well.  Only some parts of the Pippin were kept, and a new lift and drop section was added mid-ride.

When this was published, these were the park's most recent additions.  The Laser Loop, a Schwarzkopf shuttle ride was at the park for a decade, lasting until 1990 when it was sold and moved to Mexico.

The Steel Phantom, a record breaking ride at the time, opened in 1991.  As we know it was eventually transformed into an excellent coaster called the Phantom's Revenge.

Since that the park has added Exterminator (1999) and Sky Rocket (2010) to its collection of coasters.