I came pretty close to eschewing our traditional end of summer trip to Kennywood this year because we have two amusement parks we’re doing during Labor Day weekend, but the coaster enthusiast in me was all “hold up, wait a minute—you’re seriously going to wait until next year to ride the brand new Steel Curtain?”
It was less of a desire to ride it but more of not wanting to have FOMO by not riding it in its debut season.
My issue with this new ride is that it just didn’t look that great in any of the POVs I watched but mostly – it’s themed to the STEELERS. YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I HATE NOT ONLY FOOTBALL BUT THE STEELERS SPECIFICALLY.
It is literally one of the worst things about living in Pittsburgh, having to rub elbows with those insufferable Yinzer Steelers fans, do not even get me started.
Anyway, I took the day off on Tuesday, the last operating weekday of the season, but Henry was like “LOL nah I’m good.” So it was just Chooch and me, the Diabolical Duo, the Pathetic Pair, the Terrible Twosome, the…you get the idea.
The downside to this is that we didn’t have anyone to make fun of/boss around all day/take our pictures on rides/get our food/drive us there & back/hold our bags.
Henry, you useful motherfucker, you.
So, not only is the new coaster themed after the Steelers, but there is an entire new section of the park dedicated to those meatheads, called Steelers Country. I hate this so much.
Also, the new ride is called Steel Curtain and that’s dumb. I don’t even know what that means aside from something footbally.
But I digress.
Chooch and I got to the park right before the gates opened and then had the same idea as most everyone else and ran toward the entrance of the Steel Curtain. My first thoughts:
HOLY SHIT, WHAT AN EYESORE.
I mean, I already knew that it was because I had seen pictures, but being inside the park and seeing it for myself was really jarring. Kennywood’s landscape as we know it is totally changed, you guys. It looks like something I would have tried to design in Roller Coaster Tycoon, but then it would end up being unrideable because I never had any idea what I was doing.
OK, let’s move on from the aesthetics, because we all know what the most important thing: is this ride good or naw? Well, it took us about 90 minutes to get on the thing, because the ride wasn’t running yet for the first 30 minutes we were waiting, and then we wanted front row, so that took a bit longer, and while we were standing in the queue for the front row was when I realized that the damn thing plays Renegade every time a train goes up the lift hill.
That has to get super old for the ride operators.
Anyway, Henry told me later that this is because that’s the song that’s played at Steelers games and OMG IS HENRY WATCHING FOOTBALL BEHIND MY BACK!?
Even though they were running two trains, the operations were sooooo bad. The dispatching was dreadful and the next train doesn’t start up the lift hill until the previous train comes back so two train ops doesn’t make to much of a difference.
Now, I’m only partially a coaster nerd so I’m not sure if there is a legit mechanical reason why the dispatch is so abysmal, but it seems weird because this is 2019 and you would think the ride would have been designed to run more efficiently.
OK, minor gripes aside: THIS RIDE SLAPS (I watch a lot of Coaster Idiots on YouTube). My expectations were pretty low, I’m not going to lie, but mostly because I’m so jaded when it comes to the Steelers, but this ride blew me away, almost literally. I didn’t think it looked very tall until we were inching up the lift hill (and I do mean inching — that lift hill was slow AF) nearly on our backs, staring straight up into the sky. And if you’re in the right seat, you got a killer view of the river which is creepy to me but if you’re into those filthy industrial vibes of the Mon, then sit on the right side and lap it up, baby.
Nothing could have prepared me for this ride. I had watched a bunch of videos and review online but being on it, holy shit—it is way faster than it appears, the inversions (a North American record of 9!) are relentless, and there is even a pretty decent airtime hill that really surprised me and actually might be my favorite part?!
I was fucking SHOOK by the time the train entered the brake run. Chooch and I just looked at each other and yelled, “OH MY GOD” in tandem. I guess I was expecting the second half of the track to be a bit boring, kind of like one of their other coasters, Sky Rocket, which runs through all of its tricks and elements right out of the gate and then just kind of goes through the motions for the last half, like it’s taking you on a Sunday joyride.
But Steel Curtain…it’s in it to win it.
My only legit gripe, aside from the theming, is that the lift hill IS SO GODDAMN LOUD.
And the queue line is DIRECTLY BENEATH IT.
I actually had a headache by the time we made it through the line the second time (we rode in the last seat, and the rest of the train was completely filled with blue-shirted Pitt band members so we totally ruined their picture; sorry Pitt band!).
I don’t know if the general public at Kennywood know how much of a big deal this ride is worldwide, but all the coaster vlogs I watch have been FREAKING OUT about it. One of them is from the UK and actually planned a US road trip last June with the intention of coming to Kennywood and riding it, but it wasn’t open yet when he was here. Still, he LOVED Kennywood and it made me feel so proud to watch his review of it! Kennywood is such a great mid-sized park.
I think Henry was expecting a sour review from me but I was blowing up his phone with accolades and super bold statements. I mean, I was even able to overlook the FOOTBALL-SHAPED seats and safety instructions as told by Steelers announcers (I didn’t know that until I watched a YouTube review the next day and they were like, OMG SO-AND-SO ARE THE VOICES ON THE SAFETY RECORDING.
We also got in one last ride – AT NIGHT.
IN THE BACK.
It was…a beautiful experience. We were screaming our faces off.
When we were in line for it the last time, someone behind me, “It’s about time they got a Steelers ride here.”
AND HE WASN’T BEING FACETIOUS.
The historic Log Jammer had to be removed to accommodate for this right and I am still salty over that, but I can’t deny that Kennywood…scored a touchdown (UGH) with this black & gold bastard.
(The Phantom is still my favorite coaster in the park, especially for night rides.)