austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Here we go round again

bunny_hugger told me Sunday that she figured to wear her Lakemont Park T-shirt featuring Leap-the-Dips. I told her I was wearing mine. She thought I was kidding. I'm too dumb to make a joke like that. She was worried we looked like the Bobsey twins. I pointed out the shirts are completely slightly different shades of blue. We went in to Kennywood with very similar shirts anyway. This would affect the day.

We got into the park, giving up at last our rain checks, in that half-hour between when they let folks in and when they actually start the rides. The day was overcast and it looked ready to try raining, which we hoped would be good for us to get on rides: a light rain could keep crowds down. A heavy rain could close the park. But we had time to wander about and scope out things like the historic Race ride, which has been closed for months and which we'd learn would be closed the rest of the year. This is a miniature car ride, one of those things that goes about a track, and it dates to the 1920s (although with cars from the 1930s and streamlined so), and we just hope they can find whatever parts they need to put it back in order since it looks great. Beside the ride they have also, and marked with a historic plaque, a Laffin' Sal. This is a somewhat hideous mannequin with a laugh mechanism that stood outside the Laff in the Dark from 1931 through 1965, and then came back to be put on display as part of the history that soaks through Kennywood.

The park opened with the loudspeakers playing ``Entry of the Gladiators'', also known as ``That Song That Plays When The Circus Is Starting Or Maybe The Clowns Are Coming On-Screen'', and we opened the day with a carousel ride (they were split between Halloween-themed songs and the regular rotation of band organs) and then a walk over to Lost Kennywood so we could get on the Phantom's Revenge coaster. This lead us to walk back out of Lost Kennywood because the entry queue for Phantom's Revenge starts about half the park over and wends it way through a complex maze of steps and overpasses, like what happens in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 when you plant a roller coaster and discover there's no space for the queue. On the platform, a couple folks asked if we'd tell their mother, waiting in a wheelchair by the exit gate, that they would be along after the next train and we were glad to serve.

Of course, we couldn't find her. The exit line for Phantom's Revenge is nowhere near the entrance, and I wondered if maybe the woman we were looking for was at or near the entrance instead, and whether it made sense to try going to the entrance queue for her. Mercifully the next train got done, and the folks who'd asked us to help met up with us again and we told them of our inability to find her. Ah well. We went next to a ride inexplicably inside Lost Kennywood, the Black Widow, a giant pendulum ride where the seats, on the end of the pendulum, are on a disc that itself swings. It's in Cedar Point as maXair, and bunny_hugger was interested how this would be given that it was on the edge of the ravine. It offered gorgeous views down, at the river, and at Lost Kennywood, and at the Thunderbolt roller coaster and at the Phantom's Revenge coaster.

We needed lunch. We found a surprising one: in a giant building that once housed their pre-1927 carousel, and is now the Carousel Food Court --- a place where we'd gotten ice cream the night before just as they were closing --- was a burger window that offered vegetarian burger patties. Delightful. I'm glad that I am eating more nearly vegetarian now, but it's particularly grand that it's becoming so easy to do. Also, now we know a good place to go when we visit Kennywood, likely next year, and want to eat something more substantial.

We returned to Lost Kennywood, for a ride on the Whip --- I like Whips, and this is a better than average one, even though the ride lost its protective roof in a storm a decade ago --- and then to the Exterminator roller coaster. The Exterminator, a spinning wild mouse ride, always has an enormous line because wild mouse rides usually do, and this is well-decorated with a lot of stage props and … actually, there wasn't much of a line this time. We had to wait to get in, but nothing like the hourlong queue that made Kennywood set up lockers where you can leave your belongings for 90 minutes free of charge (they don't want loose articles on the ride). The complex set of props for the Exterminator have, apparently, never all been working simultaneously, but more of them were functioning on this visit than last time, so not only did we get to have a speedier ride than usual, but we got a better one. Kennywood was clearly doing everything possible to make up for our truncated July day.

One of the food stands, back outside Lost Kennywood, between the Thunderbolt roller coaster and the Noah's Ark, is called the Lucky Stand. It sells corn dogs, funnel cakes, soda, that sort of thing. Why is it called Lucky? According to its marker, ``Nobody remembers why it was --- and is --- called The Lucky.'' But it notes the 1930 stand is the last of the structures with a pre-Great Depression style, and suggests ``perhaps someone guessed that it would be a survivor''. All the buildings and rides, except for the Turtle and debatably Thunderbolt (as the Pippin roller coaster, used as a starting point for Thunderbolt, was there), that were there when the stand was built in 1930 are now gone. There's always something fascinating about imagining how a particular spot has changed, and we could wonder: if we were to find ourselves in 1930 on our next footfall, we'd have two and a half landmarks to orient ourselves, this little octagonal structure with a wide roof and a roof with a series of receding pillars, like the classic wedding-cake setback skyscrapers of 1920s Manhattan, one of them.

Trivia: Edison's (practical) carbon filament light bulb (the first successful examples of which were proven out in October 1879) was first announced in the New York Herald of 21 December 1879. Source: A History Of Mechanical Inventions, Abbott Payson Usher.

Currently Reading: Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, Asif A Siddiqi.

Tags: amusement parks, kennywood, rain check trip

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