Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kennywood's Open!

This past Sunday, I actually did something fun. Dinosaur Adam took me to Kennywood Park, a local amusement park that I used to frequent often as a child. I haven't visited it in a decade or so, and it has changed ownership. There have been wild rumours circulating about how much has changed. Thankfully, however, so much of my childhood still lives and breathes in that place.

Kennywood has earned the title of being the rollar coaster capital of, I don't know, the universe or something. It's certainly a deserved distinction; Kennywood was probably where I rode my first coaster, and Sunday I remembered falling in love with them at the age of four.

First on the list was the new Sky Rocket, which propelled the rider to speeds unknown immediately from the station. There was a loop, and that was it, really. It was a nice warm-up. I was giggling the entire time. Actually, there's very few instances in which I'll giggle. Well, three:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Gogol Bordello shows
  3. Roller coasters
I had forgotten all about the third one.

Next, we rode the Pirate Ship. I remember how this thing used to inspire sheer terror in me at the age of three; four years later, I thought it was the best thing in existence. As an adult (or, at least, one who plays one on TV), it's simply a nostalgia trip. I did somehow manage to take some great pictures from it as it was moving, though.

The same pirates hanging out on the side were still there, though; weathered with age and bird shit. Just as I remember them, only older.

Nearby was the Music Express. I didn't ride it, but I was reminded of the time in during the sixth grade class trip that I was riding it and they suddenly started playing The Cure. I got all kinds of excited. Actually, I think that's the only thing I remember, other than my friend Garth showed up to the park wearing the same Dinosaur Jr. shirt as I was, after I had spent a good hour in the record store back home the day before trying to find a t-shirt I was sure nobody else would have.

Back in the day, there used to be the Steel Phantom, and for some reason they got rid of it and built the Phantom's Revenge instead. I miss the original incarnation: Despite the rough patch at the end, the Steel Phantom was the perfect coaster. The Phantom's Revenge doesn't even have loops. But whatever, it's still awesome. I was in the middle of conversation with Dinosaur Adam about something, so when we got to the top of the hill and lurched forward, I apparently emitted some high-pitched yelp of surprise. I'm not sure if I believe that since I don't really do anything "high-pitched". Anyway, the best part was whenever the track was weaving in and around the Thunderbolt. I think I started yelling "Mother of Christ!"

Here's some iconic shots for those of you who spent your childhoods in Western PA: Coming out of the darkness in Noah's Ark. I had heard that this attraction had gone away, but that was a lie! We were probably the only adults unaccompanied by children in that thing, but whatever. It was still cheesy as hell, but awesome. I don't know who decided it would be a good idea to turn the idea of Noah's Ark into a sort of haunted house (even if you don't walk into the belly of a whale anymore -- but even that didn't make much sense), but the story of Noah's Ark doesn't make much sense, either.

Even though I'm not a fan of wooden coasters, I still had to ride the Thunderbolt, which is one of the most famous wooden coasters in existence. It wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered it -- actually, it was pretty enjoyable.

My sister got sick and puked all over the place on the Parachutes once. True story.

There were gum depositories all over the place.

I love Kennywood. Really, I do. I love how it is a living piece of history. I love how it stirred so many of my synapses when my memory has been failing lately.

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