Kennywood looks good at night. It also looks good during the day, and during twilight. But of all the charming times of day to visit the park, night's the one I hadn't seen before.
Part of it is how every park looks great at night. But Kennywood has a lot of grand old neon, as well as lavish other lighting --- Lost Kennywood is a particular delight, with a well-lit pool and fountain as its centerpiece --- and chaser lights and all sorts of decoration that makes the park outstanding. One light that wasn't working, to bunny_hugger's dismay, was that the animated sign outside the Turtle ride --- the tumble bug, one of the two that still exist for adults --- wasn't working. She described the features it had --- the turtles swimming, across the sign, water waves, bubbles, all in sparkling neon.
We did get in line for Thunderbolt, the strange roller coaster that dates to either 1968 or 1924 depending on how you view problems of roller coaster identity. It was a longer line than we'd been on almost anything all summer, but it was the roller coaster we'd been turned away from on our abbreviated July day, and the line ... actually, suddenly dispersed. The ride shut down for an indefinite time and word got to everybody but us instantaneously, and we followed along. It looked uncannily like on Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, when you close a ride and the whole queue just spontaneously walks away, and once again, the video game turns out to be shockingly true.
Never mind. We were wandering about enjoying the view and the history, for example, seeing the Kenny Kangaroo statue that shows him in some kind of sailor's garb, that's around the Kiddieland. Kiddieland is of course also historic, with three (if I have this right) rides that go back to when Kennywood opened its first Kiddieland in the 1920s, and one that goes as far back but was relocated from a Boston amusement park. The Lil' Phantom kiddie roller coaster --- itself bringing up a vanishing tradition of having a kiddie coaster with a diminutive name of one of the park's big coasters (Cedar Fair, for example, has decided its kiddie coasters should all be named Woodstock Express) --- we discovered is barely lit, much like the Phantom's Revenge it looks up to, but the spirit of a coaster in the dark is wonderful and we're delighted the Kiddieland area preserves that.
One of the photographs in our house is from years ago, when bunny_hugger took a picture from a bridge over the lake, looking out at the Jack Rabbit roller coaster and some of the redemption games going over towards Racer. We'd thought about re-creating the photo, wondering if it was possible now that trees have grown in and obscure the neon of the rabbit leaping from the crescent moon to the star. It's not quite possible, but we can get close.
And despite the crowding of the day and early evening, the park started to thin out and we were able to start getting on roller coasters, starting with Jack Rabbit. And here I have to admit I've forgotten something important: we were able to get a couple of back-seat rides on Jack Rabbit. This is special because the way the platform is configured there's no waiting for choice seats. You just have to hope, if you want the back seat (or the front seat), that nobody's taken it before you get there. We managed three times (I believe it was) to ride the back seat this trip, and I'm not positive whether one of them was on Saturday night. Two of those times we got the back seat because we were the first people on the ride at all; one time (and this one I'm sure was Sunday) we were in the middle but somehow everybody had gone to other seats first.
We next went to Racer, the Möbius-strip racing coaster, which again had a hefty line. But this also gave us a weird view for the park's nightly laser show. The show's directed from over the lake, and the screen for the lasers are adjacent to the Racer, so, while we could easily see the smoke from fires set off on the parks, or the lasers being projected roughly at us being dispersed by the clouds or the trees. We couldn't see precisely what was going on, but we got this wonderful and weird view as we drew closer to the launch platform.
On the Racer we tried again at importing the Cedar Point racing-coaster tradition of hand-slapping the opposite train. There's several points on the ride where it's supremely practical --- they get very close together --- and how people haven't got the habit we don't know. We joked that maybe the ride operators were thinking they finally got the hand-slapping habit wiped out and now some jokers are starting it up again.
And now, already, the park was getting ready to close. We missed the Voice of Kennywood announcing that the rides were getting ready to be tucked in for the night because we were actually on the Racer when it happened, but we knew it was coming. So we got over to the carousel and got on the last ride of the night, which is a grand way to see the park out.
Kennywood wasn't quite as vicious as it might be in turning off the lights after the designated closing hour --- there was even the chance for people to get some stuff from the gift shops --- and I picked up a couple of night shots of rides we hadn't gotten to, or attractions like the windmill, and we went past the large ``Goodnight'' heart, through the tunnel, and patted the Kennywood arrow on the far side. That doesn't seem to be catching on as a custom.
Every person in the world was waiting for the shuttle bus up to the uppermost tier of parking, and we figured to just sit as comfortably as possible and wait it out. We could look back at the park some more. It was only two or three shuttle cycles until we got up in comfort, and to the uppermost parking lot which by then looked stunningly empty.
Trivia: The American Standards Association's MH-5 committee, debating (in 1965-66) whether to add 24-foot and 35-foot containers as ``standard'' sizes for containerized cargo, ultimately came to a vote of 5 votes yes, 15 votes no, and 54 voting abstaining or absent. Source: The Box: How The Shipping Container Made The World Smaller And The World Economy Bigger, Marc Levinson.
Currently Reading: Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, Asif A Siddiqi.
PS: Split Lines, bringing up a tiny point that isn't actually mocking a student.