Emily and I had intended to do a PA trip years ago, but she jumped ship to a better job... back to a lesser job due to layoffs... back to her old job reeling her back in. All of that pretty much means we went through two summers of minimal vacation time for her, but now we're back on track.
Cutting out a ton of personal details, we made it to Pittsburgh on Saturday early afternoon in mid July and we couldn't believe how large and neat looking the city looked. We took what we thought would be a corny Segway tour and it ended up being a blast and really informative. We got a quick feel for the city in about two hours and six miles. I highly recommend Pittsburgh Segway if you're going to be in town for a day. We grabbed dinner at some insanely busy and delicious taco place in downtown. We went to bed early for us to hit my most anticipated park of the trip: Kennywood! It was the first stop on our Kennywood, Knoebels, and Hershey Park trip, spread across a week with four full days between the parks.
I think the only non-corporate park I've visited had been Holiday World, so I figured Kennywood would be a smooth transition to a quirky non-corporate atmosphere. With only one day at the park, I pre-ordered the tickets and VIP passes. We pulled into the parking lot and I couldn't figure out where the hell everyone was, but after a quick look on the park's website, we were there almost an hour before opening. Woops.
The parking lot initially looked like something out of a state fair. It looked pretty worn with tired chain link fences. I was confused as to where the free parking was, but we made our way up a large hill and parked near an escalator. Weird. We looked down on the park and saw Steel Phantom looming in the distance... and directly behind Steel Phantom we saw one of our nation's many depressed industrial areas, directly across the river. I was expecting it, and it made for a unique setting, but wtf. It was kind of cool, but the strong smell of the working factories giving a helping hand to global warming made it so that it took a while before we were mostly nose-blind to the smell.
We made our way toward the gate down the long rickety escalator. It looked very retro, with the wood paneling on the ceiling. However, everything was very clean and well kept. After the walk through the ragged-ass lower parking lot we were at the gates, which were comprised of a lot of red brick structures and looked simple and tasteful. It was neat to finally walk through the tunnel into the park after watching so many youtube walk-through's.
We snagged our VIP passes and walked around the park to find almost nothing open, at 1030 am (I think). The park had a few guests and employees wandering around, but it was mostly a ghost town with no rides even testing. Hmmmm... The VIP pass guy said everything should be open by noon, but damn. Eventually, we found a line of about 50 people waiting for Exterminator and we waited about ten minutes for the queue to open up. We weren't sure if this ride was included with the VIP passes, since there were no clear signs. Since nothing was open anyway, we just decided to go to the main queue to be on the safe side. It was neat looking at an old factory switch board in the queue.
When we boarded, we asked the ride operator if the ride was included with the VIP pass and he wasn't sure. He had to ask another employee who wasn't quite sure either, but she thought Exterminator was probably included... Hah. OK. It didn't matter anyway, because after taking our 'spin,' we didn't hate the ride, but it didn't do anything for us. I tried to make myself pretend that I was having a good time, due to all of the positive reviews of exterminator, but truth be told, it wasn't all that fun for me. It was definitely and experience being weird and quirky, but it stopped there.
Kennywood felt pretty compact and the layout was mostly straight forward. A lot of the park reminded me of some of the older areas of other parks with rides kind of formed into the landscape, which I liked. The only part of Kennywood that seemed to be really buzzing with people was the midway from Jack Rabbit to Racer. It looked really cool and had a classic vibe like I've never experienced. Everywhere else was pretty calm.
Phantom was our second ride of the day. VIP passes gave us access to the middle of the train, which was fine. This was my most anticipated coaster of the trip. I'm not sure if it was our assigned seat in the middle of the train, but again, another coaster that I hadn't quite warmed up to, yet. The air time reminded me of a more jerky/bucking RMC conversion, which isn't really my style, except it was a lot less smooth. I knew I would probably warm up to the ride later in the day, but it wasn't wow'd from the get-go from my first ride. Maybe I was having one of my off-days. Damnit. We walked through Noah's Ark and again I was expecting to have more fun with it, after watching the POV'S, but it was more forced fun.
Now, what I'm going to say is really important, because my TR probably makes me sound like a snobby bitch at this point. When visiting 'most' new parks that we visit our enthusiasm starts off slowly and builds throughout the day. By the time Beer:30 hits in the late afternoon, we're always having a full blown blast. I anticipated to appreciate these attractions later in the day, but on this day we were pretty slow starters and I was having a hell of a time shaking off the staleness, despite having a decent workout, a good breakfast, and a strong cup of coffee to start off my day. Maybe it was the fact that it was hot AF that day.
I suppose my boring mood did start to wear off a bit with... the Turtle ride... WTF? That thing is just endless, old, rickety, jerky, and you can't stay in one spot in your seat in canvass shorts. IT WAS A BLAST! This was probably my favorite ride of our day at Kennywood. You'll find out why, later.
We rode the shooter ride. Sorry, but the name escapes me. It was strange how it was tucked on a back pathway. Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Shit... The blasters were so good and so accurate that I didn't really get a chance to look at the scenery much at all. I thought I kicked ass until the kids behind us were talking about their scores, which were twice as much as mine. Pricks.
Speaking of shooting...
WTF is this old attraction, which seemed decades old. I hated it so much I spent about $5 here... The shooting gallery was a lot of fun, because when you hit a few targets they squirted water at other shooters. Also, I was pleased to see that I had a pretty rad cowlick in the back of my head... I told Emily about it and she casually said, “Yeah, you've had it all day...” She was given instructions to give me the courtesy to tell me about such things. No corrective action was needed, since she'll surely burn in hell for that.
Finally being nose-blind to the smell of cancer air, we explored some of the random shit like drinking out of a dirty mushroom near a wishing well which was mostly filled with about twenty-five cents, dirt, and trash. I tossed a quarter in to double the currency in the fountain and I wished for a fun day. More foreshadowing: Maybe I should have put more money in.
We also waited in sweltering heat for an attraction that made the ragged-ass wishing well seem spectacular. I've never tried LSD, or any drugs for that matter, but I would imagine if there were more characters and creepy noises, Garfield would come close to that kind of 'trip.' (Side note to the lack of drug experiences in my life: My prescribed Ambien that I take occasionally as needed does some pretty weird things to me. "Why is my car glowing when I look at it in the garage and why did I have to walk out there and touch it just to make sure it was real? Time to go to bad. Now.")
Thunder clouds moved in as we tried out Jack Rabbit, which was my first experience with buzz bars. The lack of roughness was great, but we hadn't had enough rides to get any real appreciation from it. I knew this would change throughout the day, since we were already building steam on the fun train. I looked forward to more rides.
Random picture of Emily's first time wearing a hat at a park, my shaggy (for me) hair, and my pathetic excuse for an example of a man who hasn't shaved in a few days. (Screw shaving on vacation.) Speaking of the hat, Kennywood offers a lot of cubbies and storage bins on all of their rides. This whole trip would make me appreciate guest accommodations vs. capacity.
Racer was a fun coaster. We lost, as usual. Seriously, we win about one out of five racers we ride. The historic station was beautiful. Racer was pretty decent and I knew it would get better at night.
After another round of making the shooting game spit water at little kids... welcome to the real world, punks... we scouted out the bar for later. It was located directly across the arrow ride, or whatever it's called. A sign told us, “Two beers only.” Oh well. It was our first park of the trip and we were starting to have some clean sober fun. So much so that we decided to ride a type of ride that we usually wouldn't consider.
The little girl strapped in next to Emily was pretty nervous. I didn't even have time to make sarcastic remarks, before the ride was announced closed for maintenance and we were stuck in our seats. Damnit... I have to piss. Being strapped in during a mechanical breakdown while having to urinate is a fear of mine and explains why I pee before damned near every other ride when visiting parks. The ride seemed close to being ready to go after a few minutes of maintenance looking around the station and then it went down for weather as mother nature was starting to get pissed.
Our day was fucked. Let's continue this random report with some cliff notes:
Waited for Kangaroo.
-Looked fun and classic
-Started to rain in line before we could ride it
-Ran to some restaurant and grabbed a coke
-Rain stopped as soon as we sat down.... fuck.
-Decided to grab a beer outside of the park
-Rickety ass escalator, we meet again.
-Leave the park
-Have a beer, which certainly wouldn't have been had in the parking lot during pouring down rain.
-Rain. Lightning. Wind. Beautiful weather came at last.
Back to the park.
Rickety AF escalator - thank you for your service
Wait.. everyone leaving.
Continued beautiful weather
“The man out front says park's closed.”
Fuck you, man out front, we're 300 dollars deep in this.
Potato Patch? Nope.
The Whip? Nope
Giant Fkkking spider? The weather made it so I might as well have had arachnophobia, so no.
Kennywood? Flipped off the sign on the way out.
Anger? A lot of it.
Back to some mediocre "Gourmet" Mexican restaurant where we were under dressed and smelling like sweat and sun screen? Over priced.
Realizing that mother nature screwed us on our start of our park Journey? Yeah
Future – Knoebels rocked and Phoenix is terrifying.
Anyway, Kennywood was a bust. Pittsburgh was cool. Turns out I like turtles. No french fries for me. God hates me. I hate baseball. Only you can prevent forest fires. The shooting game was awesome. Screw those kids who beat us in the dark ride with the pre-show we didn't care about. #yolo. Raging Bull is underrated. Why don't more people talk about The Melt? Random AF TR
The trip was a disaster. Call in the choppers.
BUT, HERE'S WHAT YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU DEMANDING FUCKS:
We left the park hungry for so much more...
Better luck next time, K-Dubs.
Up next: A couple varieties of pig on a stick, two rides that made us sick, FML I lost my hat, because I was too stupid to take it off, who needs booze?...and the best Haunted Mansion ever made me actually scream/yell three times.