Click here to go to Kennywood's web site!

Why tear down a record breaking coaster (that still holds its record!) that is less than 10 years old? Kennywood is a small, beautiful family park with limited space. The park wishes to use the ground covered by Steel Phantom to build a new coaster which will open in 2001! With no space left to expand into, and the parks other coasters all being old, loved, wooden landmarks, the park chose to utilize the land that Phantom currently occupies. Steel Phantom, while fast and furious, is admittedly one pretty rough ride, with lots of painful head-banging occurring on the overhead harness during the rides final series of four loops. I'm sure lots of park patrons have complained about this, and with attendance on the ride falling every year, Kennywood probably feels it would better serve the park's fans to provide something new in this area with more universal appeal.

From what I have heard, there is no specific plan for the replacement coaster, but Kennywood is working with several potential manufacturers of the new ride. It is said that the new coaster will not follow the same layout as Phantom, quashing hopes that a new, smoother version of the coaster will reopen in 2001.

I have to say that while Steel Phantom is one of my favorite coasters, and holds great personal nostalgic value to me as well as being a thrilling ride, that lately I've grown accustomed to the new breed of smoother steel coasters, even those with overhead restraints, that I can ride over and over with no fear of getting a concussion. Rides like Great Adventure's Medusa and King's Dominion's Volcano come to mind... very fast and very thrilling, but without the pain. Even more so, I'm growing extremely fond of the newest steel hypercoasters... with great airtime and lots of speed without the hindrance and slowing effect of loops... and without the loops you loose the need for overhead restraints. Tall, fast, unencumbered plummeting coasters like Apollo's Chariot, where the rider is only lightly restrained by a lap bar, comes closest to flying like a bird (or plummeting like a sheep) in my thrill-book. If Kennywood were to build a new record breaker in Steel Phantom's place, something that would take the same advantage of the park's natural terrain, optimized for speed, thrills and comfort, I could potentially be one happy camper. Given their chutzpah in tearing down a relatively new "landmark" coaster that currently sets the parks skyline, I can only hope that they are working with the foresight that whatever appears there next will be sure to make coaster fans swallow their nostalgic gumption for a chance to ride the new king.

Kudos, at least, to the park management, which has made this announcement publicly, rather than keeping their decision quiet and shocking fans as they witness the ride being suddenly torn down after Labor Day. At least we know their plans and their motives, and are given the opportunity to make the effort this year for one last ride on this unique piece of coaster royalty.

Photos from Kennywood's website at www.kennywood.com.

A Local Pittsburgh newspaper has an article about Kennywood's announcement here.


Click here to go to Kennywood's web site!

In Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, is this tiny park with several classic coasters. Don't be misled if you've ever heard of it! Kennywood is home to the Steel Phantom, the world's fastest rollercoaster, also holding the record for the longest drop of any coaster. Built by Arrow, this coaster follows the natural contour of the land, and unlike the majority of coasters, it is the second drop to watch out for: a 225 foot plummet into a ravine, right under and through the old wooden Thunderbolt. You reach 80 mph at the bottom, right into a tight turn followed by several loops, if you're conscious enough to notice them. This ride is mind-boggling, and if you have any love of coasters at all, you must try it!

Also at Kennywood you'll find 3 classic woodies: the Jack Rabbit (quite a lot of fun for such a small, old ride, with a distinctive "camel-back" double dip right before the final turn. Great air-time!), the Racer (a one of a kind racing coaster with only one track--you'll have to ride it a few times to find out what that means--with trains that run so close that riders can hold hands across trains as they pass each other!) and the Thunderbolt (a favorite woody with a fun first drop!)

In 1997 they've added the Pitfall, a tower that takes you 251 feet in the air (with your legs dangling!) and drops you straight down. From the top, there's a great view of the park, including the new nostalgia-themed Lost Kennywood section, a beautiful addition with several attractions, including historic rides and info on long-gone parks, and the wettest water-plunge ride I've seen (on or off the boat!).

As one of my all-time favorite parks, it's surprising that I have no photos to post of the incredible attractions there. I'd say that's because this is one park where I waste my time on nothing but riding!

You can visit Kennywood on the web at www.kennywood.com. Along with park info, this site holds a history of all the coasters that are or ever were at Kennywood.


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