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Kennywood, from the top to the bottom

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If you grew up in Western Pennsylvania, it’s more than likely that you spent some time at Kennywood for school picnics or just a day at the amusement park. With more than 30 rides to choose from, we thought it might be useful for newbies if we rank the rides so that you can make the best use of your time.

After a totally informal polling of Trib Total Media staffers, here are the best (to worst) rides at Kennywood:

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Thunderbolt

Josh Yohe: The quintessential wooden American roller coaster.

Rob Biertempfel: The granddaddy of ‘em all.

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Jack Rabbit

Sue Jones: A classic that never fails to entertain.

RB: The double-dip always gets me.

JY: The double-dip has stood the test of time.

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Phantom’s Revenge

MP: The buildup to the top seems to take forever before the first big drop, and the second drop is even more of a doozy.

JY: An adrenaline rush few rides can match.

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 LogJammer

Log Jammer

Keith Hodan: On school picnics, that had to be a favorite (especially at night) of 15 and 16-year-old boys who were lucky enough to visit with their girlfriend or crush BECAUSE … the ride requires the girl to lay back against the guy between his legs, so the boy would wrap his arms around the girl. Floating along in the dark, it was the location of many first kisses (and second, third and more)!

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 CosmicChaos

Cosmic Chaos

MP: When you’re spinning at the top of the ride, it feels like you’re going to go flying off into the trees.

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Swing Shot

MP: The weightless feeling at the top, and the belief that you might go over the top, make this a winner.

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Racer

JY: It isn’t very fast, and the seats are too small. A unique concept, but better in theory than in execution.

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Aero 360

KH: Means you are able to vomit north, south, east, west, up and down without ever leaving your seat. And for extra points, I think it’s the only ride where you can vomit on the way up and have it land back in your own mouth on the way down!

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Sky Rocket

JY: It defies physics. In a good way.

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Black Widow

SJ: Rode it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and that was the end of my day.

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Raging Rapids

SJ: Great fun on a hot day.

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Wave Swinger

RB: Simple. Fun.

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Pittsburg Plunge

Kitoko Chargois: After getting sunburn from waiting in long lines at Kennywood all day, the Pittsburg Plunge starts to feel like the best ride the park has to offer.

Melanie Wass: My kids have stood in the splash zone for as long as an hour to cool off on a hot day when the lines for actual water rides were waaaaay too long.

KH: A perfect ride for a hot day. You will get soaked, plus it’s fun to watch unsuspecting visitors standing on the bridge get soaked as well.

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Bayern Kurve

SJ: Oh no, not for me, particularly if you’re the person on the outside or back getting squished.

RB: Always makes me wanna hurl.

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Turtle

RB: A classic since 1927.

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Pirate

MP: A good icebreaker for getting the day started at Kennywood.

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Kangaroo

SJ: You have to work really hard not to smile on this ride.

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Exterminator

Adam Brandolph: The Exterminator is my favorite. Not only does it whip you around like a rag doll, it’s in pitch black darkness so you can’t brace yourself. So much fun!

KC: If you’re of height, I don’t think you can have the full Kennywood experience without riding this one.

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Whip

Whip

MP: A classic — literally — dating back to 1918.

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Volcano

John Lehner: Ah, the Volcano! What used to be the Enterprise, the ride is probably known as being one of the most vomit-inducing rides in the park. In my youth, I used to love this dizzying thriller, but there seems to be an indirect correlation going on; the more gray hairs that sprout on my head, the less my stomach can stomach this ride.

 SJ: Did it once and thought I was going to fall out.

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Merry-Go-Round

MP: A ride that’s stood the test of time — make sure you get a horse and not the chair.

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Ghostwood Estate

Kelsey Shea: I think in the age of Wii and smart phones, Ghostwood Estate’s draw is a little lame. Shooting ghosts? There’s probably an app for that. Relatedly, you can’t shoot ghosts! They’re ghosts. Maybe if you sucked them into your backpack, Ghostbusters style, I could get on board.

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Gran Prix

JY: Too many cars creates little speed. Blah.

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Paratrooper

MP: The line doesn’t look that big, but it always takes too long  for a short payoff.

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Noah’s Ark

Jim Wilhelm: Nostalgia. Generations have visited that ride at the park, going through the vibrating/shaking floor and the rocking boat that weaves inside and outside.

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Garfield’s Nightmare

JY: My kids don’t have nice things to say about it.

SJ: The line takes forever, and the ride is lame.

RB: Honorable mention for Hardheaded Harold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway (now called Garfield’s Nightmare) — back in the day, when I was in high school, it was a five-minute romantic getaway.

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4HFair

Musik Express

MP: The lack of padding is no fun for the person on the outside, and the smoking area right next to the line only makes it worse.

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Auto Race

MP: Not sure how this doesn’t qualify as a kiddie ride.

Note: Not included are Kiddieland rides and attractions with extra charges (like the Skycoaster and Paddle Boats).

Photos by Sidney Davis, Keith Hodan, Jasmine Goldband, Heidi Murrin, Steve Adams & Mike Palm.

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