Kennywood’s Steel Curtain coaster packs thrills, frights, fun into ride

I don’t know if I’ve laughed as much and at the same time been as apprehensive as I was today taking my first ride on Kennywood Park’s record-breaking coaster, The Steel Curtain.

Kennywood offered a first look to media and some very important guests before the ride officially opens Saturday to the public.

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Special thanks to my friend Kristina Serafini for capturing this shot of me buckling in for the ride.

In a name that pays homage to the Pittsburgh Steelers and its thrilling run of the 1970s, The Steel Curtain is packed with inversions, corkscrews, speed and thrills that are only for the best football fans in the nation. (There was a woman in a Detroit Lions shirt and some guy in a Cleveland Browns shirt today and I have many questions.)

Check out the stats for this beast:

  • Nine inversions (the most of any roller coaster in North America)
  • World’s tallest inversion at 197 feet high
  • Pennsylvania’s tallest roller coaster at 220 feet
  • Lift Angle: 50 degrees
  • Length: 4,000 feet
  • Duration: 2 minutes
  • Passengers: 24
  • Speed: 76 mph

Several current and former Steelers players had a chance to ride today, including Matt Feiler, whose first attempt didn’t go so smoothly. The 6-feet, 6-inch and 330-pound guy had to have ride staffers configure the seat for him, but it kept him from riding with fellow Steelers players.

In between his first attempt and his actual ride, I talked with him a bit. He told me he enjoys coasters, but it’s difficult to find ones he’s able to get on.

At the end of his ride, he told me The Steel Curtain was “awesome.”

Craig Wolfley, Cam Heyward and John Banaszak were among members of the Steelers family who took first rides.

No Steelers event is complete without “Renegade” blasting and a Terrible Towel wave. The song plays in short snippets as the train heads up the lift hill. And, of course, it was the lead song for today’s press conference and ribbon cutting ceremony for Steelers Country, which is a new themed area that ties two of Pittsburgh’s greatest institutions: the Steelers and Kennywood.

And Bill Hillgrove got the crowed amped with a Terrible Towel wave right before Kennywood Park officially opened Steelers Country’s big attraction, The Steel Curtain. (The park is finalizing other great experiences to be part of Steelers Country, and plan to use the area for a variety of events … some Super Bowl parties would be fun, *hint* *hint* get to the Super Bowl, Stillers *nudge* *nudge*.)

Oh, and, of course there were fireworks! What Pittsburgh celebration would be complete without fireworks? Even if it was like 10 in the morning.

OK, so what about the actual ride, you ask?

I tried to explain the experience in today’s edition of Inside Pittsburgh (which yinz should subscribe to!). But it’s hard to really put into words how incredible this coaster is.

The lift hill slowly pulls you up for as few moments before jutting you to the top. And from there, you’re just taken through the twists and turns of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the Steelers D line. (But for those wondering, it is a totally smooth ride!)

From my piece in today’s Inside Pittsburgh newsletter:

The Steelers-themed train offers no enclosure, so riders are left feeling vulnerable — which is part of the thrill. Only a seat belt and lap bar hold passengers in. When I looked to my left, I saw what had to have been the steepest set of stairs I’ve ever seen. The faint sounds of that Steelers amp-up song “Renegade” by the Styx only added to the excitement up the lifthill.

After that, the entire ride was as heart-pumping as the final seconds of a Steelers-Ravens clash, with twists, turns and inversions only fit for the toughest football fans in the nation. The zero-G inversion was thrilling, but there wasn’t much time to enjoy it as we roared into a set of corkscrews. Near the end of the ride is a bump akin to the bunny hops near the end of Phantom’s Revenge.

If you’re heading to the park this weekend or any time soon, hit me up: I’ve got a season pass and will be your ride partner on The Steel Curtain.

 

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