August 25th, 2013

krazy koati

Let's take your car and mess around at the park all day

One of the first things we did after lunch was go to the Noah's Ark, a ride conveniently nearby. This is, apparently, the final example of a once-common ride; its twin in Blackpool was taken out a couple years ago in favor of metal detectors. The name suggests a ride of animatronic animals doing things; actually, it's much more of a walk-through haunted house ride, with rooms out of joint and sliding floors and props jumping out making surprises and the like. It also starts with a mock elevator ride into a cave or somesuch, which means I finally have context for that baffling ride at Sentosa Island years ago, where spaceroo and I went into a ``Volcano'' in search of a lost expedition and reached a movie of some kind of spirit of magma or the like.

The Noah's Ark doesn't try for any big multimedia shows like that, and is happy to instead have tight corridors and shipboard scenes suggesting terrors, mazes and and all that. The classic Noah's Ark would also move, so the floor and walls would twist around you, but this wasn't operating when we visited. The Kennywood Ark was, we'd learn, originally built in 1936 (it opened late due to flooding), and torn apart down to the foundation to be completely repaired and restored in 1996 (when it opened late due to flooding). It's disappointing there's not more of these kinds of rides: it seems like a small enough variation on funhouses, and with a gentle rocking should be even better.

Another antique and nearly-extinct ride is the Turtle, also known as the Tumble Bug. This is another flat ride, on a circular track featuring two hills. The riders sit in one of a train of five or six cars, themselves circular and here modelled to look like turtles. After some rocking back and forth, the train of cars runs over and over the hills, giving the riders --- not restrained, except by grabbing a center wheel --- the chance to slide back and forth. Kennywood's is nestled between two roller coasters, the Thunderbolt and the Phantom's Revenge, and has a grand view into the ravine of the Monongahela River. Most of Kennywood is built on pretty severe slopes, which has important effects on its roller coasters, to be discussed separately. Kennywood's Tumble Bug was great, but I must tell you honestly, we would get a more thrilling ride on the other existing Tumble Bug by surprise several days later.

We went to one of Kennywood's new rides, the Ghostwood Estate. It's a fine enough ride, taking cars on a tour of a haunted mansion where, under the CGI video direction of the ghost of Lord Kenneth, the riders are to point their ``ghost blaster'' laser guns at targets and ``eliminate'' the ghosts haunting the rightful ghost's home. This is reasonably fun enough, but it's not much of a haunted-house ride since nothing that happens in it comes by surprise. Things pop up because you the riders make them happen.

There were several more roller coasters --- I'll get to them in a dedicated post --- but after Thunderbolt, and getting lost trying to find the entrance to Phantom's Revenge (it turned out to be within the Pittsburg's [sic] Lost Kennywood section, a region of the park themed to look like the old, long-closed Luna Park from the early 20th century, and think of an amusement park that contains within it a miniature replica of a long-vanquished rival amusement park), and then the wild mouse ride The Exterminator, we realized the day was a lot brighter and sunnier than we were promised. bunny_hugger didn't have her sunglasses with her, and this was getting to hurt her eyes, and I hadn't bothered putting sunblock on because I'm dumb that way.

So, figuring this was our best chance, we visited a gift shop and picked up a few things --- I got a mug for the Noah's Ark ride because who has a coffee mug for the hot new walk-through ride of 1936? --- and we got our hands stamped for a quick trip outside the park. bunny_hugger got her sunglasses, and we put on sun screen, and felt ready for the rest of the day and, we could hope, night. Kennywood has no hard closing hours, one of its many quirks; at about 7 pm they announce to the park just when they'll close, based on the crowd and the weather and how late everyone in park management feels like staying open. It was a pleasant, sunny day, with a bustling but not heavy crowd. We should have until maybe 9 pm, or 10 pm if we were lucky; we had every reason to be confidently optimistic for the rest of the day.

Re-entering, of course, they screened us again, sort of. They wanted to see inside bunny_hugger's camera bag, though not mine; they also didn't wait for me to fully empty my pockets (of loose change) or take my (metal banded) wristwatch off before waving me through. This inspires all sorts of questions, which we asked as we rode the sixth and final (adult) roller coaster, Sky Rocket. We could look forward to re-rides on the roller coasters, and to take in other rides or attractions as we liked, such as sitting near the Paratroopers ride while bunny_hugger drank her Dippin Dots iced coffee and I had a regular old non-dipping soda and we wrapped ourselves up in the joy of being at a great amusement park in the early afternoon and the sun and beauty of being somewhere happy.

Trivia: A&P opened nearly nine thousand stores between 1922 and 1926. It opened fewer than a thousand over the following four years. Source: The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America, Marc Levinson.

Currently Reading: Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise And Fall Of States And Nations, Norman Davies.

PS: Just How Far Is The End Of The World?, the start of a series of mathematics posts based on something beautiful I saw.