Thunderbolt (Kennywood)

Last updated
Thunderbolt
Previously known as Pippin (1924–1967)
Kennywood Thunderbolt DSCN2737.JPG
Kennywood's Thunderbolt
Kennywood
Coordinates 40°23′20″N79°51′54″W / 40.38889°N 79.86500°W / 40.38889; -79.86500 Coordinates: 40°23′20″N79°51′54″W / 40.38889°N 79.86500°W / 40.38889; -79.86500
StatusOperating
Opening date1968 (1968)
ReplacedPippin
General statistics
Type Wood
DesignerAndy Vettel (1968)
John A. Miller (1924)
Track layout Terrain
Lift/launch systemChain lift hill
Height70 ft (21 m)
Drop90 ft (27 m)
Length3,250 ft (990 m)
Speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Inversions 0
Duration1:41
Height restriction52 in (132 cm)
Trains3 trains with 4 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 3 rows for a total of 24 riders per train.
Website Official website
Thunderbolt at RCDB
Pictures of Thunderbolt at RCDB

Thunderbolt, previously known as Pippin, is a wooden roller coaster located at Kennywood amusement park near Pittsburgh in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. It was originally built and designed by John A. Miller and opened in 1924. It was later renovated for the 1968 season, which involved a major track expansion designed by Andy Vettel. It reopened to the public as Thunderbolt.

Wooden roller coaster type of roller coaster

A wooden roller coaster is most often classified as a roller coaster with running rails made of flattened steel strips mounted on laminated wooden track. Occasionally, the support structure may be made out of a steel lattice or truss, but the ride remains classified as a wooden roller coaster due to the track design. The type of wood typically used in the construction of wooden coasters is Southern Yellow Pine, usually grown in the USA and the rest of North America.

Kennywood Amusement park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania

Kennywood is an amusement park located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. The park first opened on May 30, 1899, as a trolley park attraction at the end of the Mellon family's Monongahela Street Railway. It was purchased in 1906 by F. W. Henninger and Andrew McSwigan, both of whom later formed the family-owned Kennywood Entertainment Company. The company later sold Kennywood, along with four other parks, in 2007 to Parques Reunidos, an international entertainment operator based in Spain. The amusement park features various structures and rides dating back to the early 1900s. Along with Rye Playland Park, it is one of only two amusement parks designated as a National Historic Landmark. Kennywood is also one of only thirteen trolley parks in the United States that remains in operation.

Pittsburgh City in western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and is the county seat of Allegheny County. A population of about 301,048 residents live within the city limits, making it the 66th-largest city in the U.S. The metropolitan population of 2,324,743 is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, and the 27th-largest in the U.S.

Contents

History

Pippin

In 1924, the Pippin roller coaster was built. In 1958, the Pippin's open-front trains were replaced with Century Flyer trains made by the National Amusement Device company. These are the trains used on the Thunderbolt today.

Thunderbolt

The Pippin roller coaster was rebuilt and the Thunderbolt was created in 1968. Most of the ride was left intact except for the double dip, station, and station turn-around to the first hill which were removed in 1968 for the addition of the new front helix hills necessary for the transformation of The Pippin into the new Thunderbolt roller coaster. The four drops down a ravine were incorporated in the Andy Vettel-designed Thunderbolt coaster.

In 1969, a small "speed bump" hill was removed from the inner helix of the front of the coaster near the loading station. The Thunderbolt was rated the #1 roller coaster by the New York Times in 1974.

In 1991, the tunnel located at the end of the first dip was removed, providing for a view of Steel Phantom. In 1998, for Kennywood's 100th anniversary, the headlights on the front of the trains were restored when the trains themselves were refurbished.

Phantoms Revenge amusement ride

Phantom's Revenge is a steel roller coaster at Kennywood. When it opened as Steel Phantom in 1991, it featured the fastest speed and longest drop of any roller coaster in the world. The ride was originally manufactured by Arrow Dynamics but was later modified and renovated by D.H. Morgan Manufacturing prior to the 2001 season, when it reopened as Phantom’s Revenge. The changes included an increased drop and track length, as well as the removal of its four inversions. It features a unique characteristic of having a second drop that is longer than its first.

In 1999, an accident happened on the Thunderbolt when the operators failed to brake the train coming into the station, colliding with the train being loaded. Thirty people were injured in the crash. [1] After the accident the headlights on the cars were removed partially because the electrical system did not hold up well to the vibration of the cars.

Installation of Phantom's Revenge resulted in the ride being closed for a few weeks in 2001 so that the new ride could be built through the structure near the Turtle Ride. Phantom's Revenge still however retains Steel Phantom's drop through the Thunderbolt. The ride was still being rebuilt even a few weeks after the new ride opened. In 2006, the trains could be seen sporting the famous T-bolt logo on the fronts of the cars where the center headlights had been.

Ride experience

Thunderbolt follows the surrounding terrain with a track length of 3,250 feet (990.6 m). Its maximum height is 70 feet (21.3 m), but because of the track layout and the natural ravines on which the ride is set, the maximum drop is 90 feet (27.4 m). Reaching a maximum speed of 55 mph (88.5 km/h), the ride takes 101 seconds to complete its circuit.

A feature of the Thunderbolt is that after departing from the station, the train does not immediately go up the lift hill as on most other coasters. Instead, it immediately goes into the first drop and the lift hill is in the middle of the ride after the second drop. After the lift hill, riders will go through a 90 ft (27.4m) long drop. After this drop is a tight bend which will result in the rider on the right squishing the rider on the left because there is no seat divider. Kennywood tells guests to have the smaller rider sit on the right to avoid larger riders squishing smaller riders. After this, riders experience several turns and hills before returning to the station.

Train (roller coaster) vehicle made up of two or more roller coaster cars

A roller coaster train is a vehicle made up of two or more cars connected by specialized joints which transports passengers around a roller coaster's circuit.

Lift hill upward-sloping section of a roller coaster on which trains are mechanically lifted before descending under gravity

A lift hill, or chain hill, is an upward-sloping section of track on a roller coaster on which the roller coaster train is mechanically lifted to an elevated point or peak in the track. Upon reaching the peak, the train is then propelled from the peak by gravity and is usually allowed to coast throughout the rest of the roller coaster ride's circuit on its own momentum, including most or all of the remaining uphill sections. The initial upward-sloping section of a roller coaster track is usually a lift hill, as the train typically begins a ride with little speed, though some coasters have raised stations that permit an initial drop without a lift hill. Although uncommon, some tracks also contain multiple lift hills.

Awards and rankings

lift hill Kennywood Thunderbolt DSCN2744.JPG
lift hill

Thunderbolt is an ACE Coaster Classic and Coaster Landmark. [2] [3]

American Coaster Enthusiasts organization

American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) is a non-profit organization focusing on the enjoyment, knowledge, and preservation of roller coasters as well as recognition of some as architectural and engineering landmarks. Dues paying members receive the quarterly magazine RollerCoaster! and bi-monthly newsletter ACE News. Amusement parks have also invited members to exclusive ride events at amusement parks as well as sneak peek events at new roller coasters under construction.

Golden Ticket Awards: Top wood Roller Coasters
Year1998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019
Ranking9 [4] 11 [5] 14 [6] 14 [7] 15 [8] 19 [9] 18 [10] 22 [11] 19 [12] 21 [13] 19 [14] 23 [15] 14 [16] 14 [17] 15 [18] 15 [19] 14 [20] 15 [21] 21 [22] 17 [23] 15 [24] 18 [25]
NAPHA Survey: Favorite Wood Roller Coaster [26]
Year200520062007
Ranking
4

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