My First Impression of Kennywood

Even though I've flown in and out of the Pittsburgh airport dozens of times, I hadn't make the 40-minute detour until this year. It was well worth it!


This was the first trip of 2022 that I made with a companion: my mother. We visited Kennywood from 11AM-6PM, leaving three hours before closing because we had a long drive that evening. I rode Steel Curtain twice, Sky Rocket twice, Phantom's Revenge twice, Jack Rabbit once, Racer once, Exterminator once, and Lil' Phantom once. Thunderbolt was closed all day, and apparently Steel Curtain closed the next morning for at least several weeks. Operations were slow and Steel Curtain only ran one train. Most wait times were under 30 minutes. This park is generally well-maintained and has beautiful landscaping. It's probably most similar to a midsize Cedar Fair park. Kennywood has a small, rectangular-shaped layout. I was unsure how the mix of classic and new rides would work, but every attraction/area felt like it fit Kennywood perfectly. The free parking lot is a bit of a hike from the park entrance, but worth it to not spend $12 for a slightly closer spot. I hope to return to this park within a few years for Thunderbolt, and some of the flat rides/other attractions here.


My favorite coaster at Kennywood was the Steelers-themed Steel Curtain. I love this coaster's trains, track color, and surrounding area as the Pittsburgh Steelers are my favorite NFL team! Steel Curtain is a wonky-looking, awesome, modern looper. This crazy S&S coaster features comfy seats, a smooth ride, and a variety of elements that travel over water and walkways. Some of the inversions, like the stall and cutback, felt too quick to qualify as upside-down. Therefore the inversion record that this coaster holds doesn't mean too much to me. When I rode in the morning, the line was much shorter, but the ride ran slower. In the afternoon, the airtime was more powerful and the drop was more forceful too. I was assigned middle rows both times. The train glided through the layout in the AM, and tore through its course in the PM, so I'm very glad I waited an hour for a re-ride to experience the difference.

The airtime on Phantom's Revenge was so strong that I was really thankful for my seat belt. The flimsy "pool noodle" lap bars do not provide much restraint. I much preferred the speedy first half of this coaster to its airtime-filled second half. There are positive G's reminiscent of those on Mr. Freeze, and the Thunderbolt ravine drop is stunning. Between the head-chopper, length of the drop, terrain, and forces at the bottom, this drop is easily my favorite moment on Phantom's Revenge. POVs don't do it justice and riders feel every bit of the 85mph speed. However, I wish Morgan hadn't made the ensuing airtime so abrupt and so frequent. The airtime wasn't painful, but too jolty/ejector-ish for me to love. I much prefer the sustained floater airtime found on B&M hypers, so I prefer most of those to this unique hyper coaster. Phantom is very smooth, albeit short. It looks and feels like Magnum XL-200 and Steel Eel, but I like Phantom's Revenge much better than both of those coasters. I waited 15 minutes both times.

Premier's Sky Rocket was a nice surprise after I didn't enjoy Tigris all that much a few weeks prior to my Kennywood visit. There are no discomfort collars on this coaster, so I could actually enjoy the airtime. There are several strong moments: going in and out of the top hat, and dropping off the MCBR. The finale provides some very weak airtime on the bunny hops. I rode twice in the back. Like Ice Breaker and Tigris, the trains are hard to maneuver. Sky Rocket's launch was just OK - inferior to most Intamins but superior to Mack Rides coasters. I enjoyed the inversions, but none were particularly amazing. The ending is weak compared to the rest of the layout. In a lot of ways, Sky Rocket is like Velocicoaster rearranged and toned down. It's still a solid launch coaster, and I like that it's located near the public road. In my opinion, Sky Rocket I is worlds better than Sky Rocket II's.

Jack Rabbit is the oldest coaster I've ridden. This classic wooden coaster opened in 1920 and I like it better than the majority of coasters that have been built since then! Jack Rabbit is a nice intermediate coaster that is short and a little bumpy. For being over 100 years old, I was expecting it to be rough, but it wasn't bad at all. Its double dip airtime moment that everyone talks about is a bit over-hyped in my opinion. I don't think that moment is significantly crazier or different than airtime on Phantom's Revenge or any RMC coaster. While there was awesome airtime, the restraint was snug enough that I didn't feel like I was "flying out." It's still a neat moment on a vintage coaster that has a unique terrain layout. Jack Rabbit is my mom's favorite coaster at Kennywood. It has enough going for it to appease thrillseekers, while also attracting children and non-enthusiasts.

Technically, I only rode half of Racer and my train (blue) lost the race. Oh well. It took way longer than it should have to load the two trains. Since we had to exit once returning to the station, this is another classic woodie at Kennywood that felt really short. Overall, the racing aspect is what makes this coaster enjoyable to me. It feels slow on the turns, and has pretty mild airtime.

I don't have comments about Exterminator or Lil' Phantom.

Other Rides

At my mother's request, we rode the Thomas the Train ride and the Merry-Go-Round. While both provided a break from the coasters, I would've preferred getting more re-rides on Kennywood's top 3 coasters. This park has a ton of non-coaster rides, both new and old.

Food & Merchandise

My mom and I ate at End Zone Cafe and really enjoyed our meal. While the food was overpriced and only decent quality, the service was quick, the eating area was quiet, and the building was air-conditioned. I liked that my sandwich had a Steelers logo impression. Later in the day, we got chocolate frozen custard from Rita's, which hit the spot. Merchandise-wise, I had trouble finding a decent t-shirt at the smaller shops. Lost Kennywood Gift Shop located near Phantom's Revenge is the place to go! They have the largest selection of merchandise. I bought a shirt here for $23.


I purchased two admission tickets to Kennywood online about two months early for $108 total, or $54 per person. We opted to park in the free lot. Our lunch cost close to $40. The entire trip (my airfare, one night at a nearby hotel, our admission, food, and my shirt) cost $617. This amount isn't a great value for seven hours of fun at Kennywood, but I'm glad my mom and I could stop here on our trip.


These photos were taken by me or my mother. Please credit this website if used.