Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Kennywood 1991

As I sat here studying this Kennywood brochure tonight, I was reminded of the dangers of thinking too hard about ride names in general and coaster names in particular. I mean, "Steel Phantom"? Isn't that kind of an oxymoron? How can "an illusion without material substance" [per my longtime friend] be built out of steel? But fortunately for the "namers", approximately 85% of this coaster did, in fact, disappear into thin air sometime around 2000, thus securing their now apparent brilliance and forethought a rightful place in industry history.

I'm sure there is a small contingent of enthusiasts who preferred the original Steel Phantom to its sorta-replacement Phantom's Revenge, but overall I think we got the better end of the deal by the time it was all said and done. One thing is for certain: Nobody can argue that either incarnation of this ride was/is not unique. Nowhere but Kennywood will you find a hypercoaster so neatly tucked into its hilly terrain. And scaredy-cats beware, for the signature element of this coaster--its diving 225ft [now 228ft] drop into the structure of the neighboring Thunderbolt--is right in your face as you wait in the station, and I daresay it is one of the most intimidating sights you will ever see while waiting in line!

Steel Phantom's uniqueness did not end with its terrain layout. It was the first hypercoaster to feature inversions--Four, to be exact! While this certainly contributed to the ride's draw, most post-ride reactions indicated that this was four too many. A coaster this tall, with this small of a footprint, simply could not calm itself down enough to take those loops at a reasonable speed. As a result, many riders experienced angst in their heads and necks.

I can still remember reading an article in a Harrisburg, PA newspaper shortly after the ride opened which explained how Kennywood was being forced to slow down "the world's fastest roller coaster". Back then we didn't have the luxury of the internet, so that was the first I had heard about this gargantuan steel contraption. I immediately initiated the process of begging my parents to take me to the local travel agency so I could snag this lovely brochure and learn more!

What's wrong with this picture? More specifically, what's wrong with one of these pictures? Seriously, take a closer look. If you've ever ridden Steel Phantom--heck, if you've ever seen a photo of it--you will quickly realize that the coaster labeled "Steel Phantom" in this spread is a poser!!! (As far as I can tell, that's Viper at Six Flags Magic Mountain.) Too funny. Apparently the park felt that the artist's rendering on the brochure cover just didn't do the job!

But enough about the Phantom. Remember this is Kennywood, a park known far and wide for its impressive collection of classic woodies. I'm not sure the whole "Coaster Capital of the World" slogan held any water by 1991, but honestly, who cares? This beloved park has so much to offer that you can't find anywhere else. I especially love the photo of Jack Rabbit in all its double-dipping glory. No "posers" to be found there; that ride is one-of-a-kind!

Is this a scene from the movie Adventureland?? Oh, guess not...Sorry! This 1991 brochure just happens to have an '80s hangover. If you happened to spy the ginormous ark in one of these photos, you may be thinking it goes back even farther than that! But you would be wrong, because that's actually the Noah's Ark funhouse, one of only two such attractions left in the world. Noah's Ark definitely falls into the category of "can't miss", so be sure to get out to Kennywood to check it out if you haven't already.


Josh said...

Not nearly as bad as when Wild Adventures had a picture of Kraken on the front of its brochure. Now that was a laugh.