WEST MIFFLIN (KDKA) — Final preparations are underway as the staff at Kennywood gets set to open for the summer season this weekend.
When the Phantom’s Revenge rolls out of its station and starts the long climb, your heart rate quickens in anticipation. But did you know your thrill made safely possible by an army of workers behind the scenes.
“Our livelihood depends on our rides and everything else in the park being safe,” said Nick Paradise, Kennywood’s spokesman, “and we make sure that they are.”
From the smallest of the kiddie rides to the most thrilling in the park, regardless of their age, have undergone extreme review.
Take the Thunderbolt for example. After it closed last season it underwent a thorough examination.
“The trains will be deconstructed, taken apart… down to the nuts and bolts. Everything goes through a thorough inspection, even doing x-rays to determine if there are cracks within metal that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye,” said Paradise.
It’s not just the trains; it’s also the track and the super-structure. That goes for every ride in the park.
“We have 18-20 on our maintenance team who are state-certified ride inspectors, so they are trained,” said Paradise.
They check for metal stresses, worn parts and the depths of the mechanisms and electronics, and they aren’t alone. There are also inspectors from the state, and third party experts that the park hires.
“Both the third party inspectors and the state inspectors will come in, sometimes announced, sometimes unannounced, to check and ride the rides and make sure everything is operating as it’s supposed to be.
On top of the human testing, technology plays a roll on the rides new and old.
“They have very advanced computer systems nowadays,” Paradise said.
The inspections don’t end when the season opens, every day each ride is inspected, and if any question arises, the ride won’t open until the issue is resolved.
As always, there’s plenty new at the park this year, too. In the heart of the park, Legoland has set up shop in 4D, where the seats will spray and prod you.
You might wonder where the next culinary surprise is going to pop up as you wander around. Park-goers will notice and smell The Swhinery, which has taken on the BBQ responsibilities in the park.
“Our smoker holds a half a ton, and I expect it to be busy 24 hours a day for the whole summer season,” says Greg Paul, of Swhinery BBQ.
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels has also moved in with all its traditional fare. Speaking of tradition, they’ve brought back the Potato Patch Burger and added Potato Patch Poutine.
Lost Kennywood’s Small Fry is now gluten free with fresh fries and gluten-free chicken tenders.
Also new to the cuisine this year, healthy food. To find it, head over to Kiddyland where Bean Sprouts has healthy and fun offerings for children and adults.
“Obviously, it’s not for everybody to want something like this, but to know that it is an option, we’re answering the call that’s been heard in Pittsburgh,” said Shannon Seip, the co-founder of Bean Sprouts.
On the opposite end of the scale, there are Oreo cookies sandwiching Rita’s custard, and a deep-fried banana split.
For much more information, visit Kennywood’s website here: https://www.kennywood.com/