austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Roller-coaster heroes; Big Dipper riding

Li'l Phantom, if I haven't counted wrong, was my 197th distinct roller coaster. Given the ones I'm confident I rode. (For example, I likely rode both sides of Rolling Thunder at Great Adventure, but I could not with honesty attest to it.) I don't know whether that could have been any better were this my milestone coaster. It would be greedy to want it to be.

We piled in to the scenic railroad, the one that putters along the cliff-edge of the park. And that took us past Kennywood's Laughin' Sal. This is a full-size marionette human that shakes about while a laugh record carries on, forever. It's historic, of course, and has been there more or less since the park had a Laff-In-The-Dark walkthrough ride; Laughin' Sals often were. Cedar Point got one for Halloweekend last year, origin unknown to me, although since nobody else in our group had seen it the comparison wasn't helpful. The ride took us along some of the great views of the river and the US Steel plant across from that. Also many signboards of pictures from the park's history. And some odd-angle shots of the Log Jammer. Also the tiny Monkey House that was, during the Depression and the years after, the summer home for up to two dozen monkeys in a huge cage. So it's a companion to when they had circus wagon-style cages for rabbits and squirrels and such.

This was the early evening and we had one absolute must-do remaining. bunny_hugger and I needed to go to the Noah's Ark, a ride concept odd enough that explaining it doesn't help much. It's basically a walk-through funhouse, full of animal figures that pop up to do jokes and unsteady floors and transparent-glass mazes and stuff. But it's built inside a rocking ship house with animal heads poking out and a Noah up top, just like it says on the label. And you enter it, now (and back in the old days) by walking into the mouth of a blue whale. It's really easier if you just go along with it. MWS was worried it would make him motion sick, but he was good for trying anyway.

And now the sun was setting, giving us the glories of Kennywood by night, but also warning us we had only an hour or so before the park's rides and attractions would be put to bed for the night. The thing we had to try was a fresh ride on the Exterminator which, happily, didn't have too riotously long a line. We were disappointed to learn that hitting the big red panic button didn't always make the siren go off, which spoiled our attempt to show off the discovery to JTK and CVK who'd missed it, but what else was there to do?

Exterminator is in Lost Kennywood, the area meant to evoke a turn-of-the-20th-century park, and as such it illuminates spectacularly. We spent time just sitting by the giant pool and the fountains around it and looking at the play of color and whiteness and shadow and its beauty.

And then we had to pick our last things for the night. A night ride on the Turtle, of course. We had to show off the neon-animated ride sign for one. And to tumble around wildly on a ride that's underneath and between two roller coasters. This is when JTK revealed he had already gotten snobbish about what was and wasn't a full ride on the turtle, satisfied when the operator did come on the address to say ``turtle turtle''.

We picked Thunderbolt for our last ride of the night. It was nearby, and the queue was still open --- Kennywood starts closing rides early, in the hopes of getting the last rides out when the park closes. And my goodness but we got on the last train of the night, racing out the weird, 20s-and-60s roller coaster into the dark. Just magnificent.

In the closed park we did lead everyone to the bridge over the central lake, there to show the site of the Jack Rabbit-by-night picture that we take every visit, and point to the tree that wasn't big enough to obscure Jack Rabbit's sign the first time bunny_hugger was there. As is my custom, I leap up to touch the ``Goodbye'' valentine heart hanging above the tunnel out of the park, and this closed our day at Kennywood.

We tried to eat at some restaurant that was near Kennywood yet still astoundingly hard to navigate to. But they told us it would be a 45-minute wait for a table and the staff didn't seem to want us there. So we left and found an International House of Pancakes that was marginally easier to get to and kind of back on the way to our respective hotels, there to dissect the experience and see MWS, JTK, and CVK get accounts and start logging their rides. (This was when we realized we had only ridden half of the Racer.)

And talked about how fantastic the day was, and who we would try to bring to the Michigan Pinball After-Pinburgh Kennywood Trip next year. Exciting prospect. Could be dangerous.

Trivia: On 6 December 1942 Fred Allen broadcast the first ``Allen's Alley'', which would become his signature piece. Source: Fred Allen's Radio Comedy, Alan Havig.

Currently Reading: The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock, Lucy Worsley.

PS: How did Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum look last February, our first visit there after Marvin's sad death?


Marvin's understated little entrance. As fits the style of this kind of place, you get to it by turning into a long alley between two ... well, strip malls, but it really should be somewhere off every reasonable path. I do not know whether they actually have a Notary Public on duty.


The ceiling of Marvin's vestibule is decorated with the playfields of pinball games gone to their reward. Here, one of the centerpieces, is the early solid state Ali.


What you first see entering the place. I know it's a lot to take in, so just let your eye float around and yes, some of those airplanes hanging from the ceiling do move.

PPS: How November 2017 Treated My Mathematics Blog, the regular old monthly recap.

Tags: marvin's marvelous mechanical museum, pinburgh 2017

Posts from This Journal “pinburgh 2017” Tag

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