Thunderbolt (Kennywood)

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Thunderbolt
Kennywood Thunderbolt DSCN2737.JPG
Kennywood's Thunderbolt
Kennywood
Coordinates 40°23′20″N 79°51′54″W / 40.38889°N 79.86500°W / 40.38889; -79.86500Coordinates: 40°23′20″N 79°51′54″W / 40.38889°N 79.86500°W / 40.38889; -79.86500
Status Operating
Opening date

1924 (as the Pippin)

1968 (as the Thunderbolt)
General statistics
Type Wood
Designer Andy Vettel & John A. Miller
Track layout Terrain
Height 70 ft (21 m)
Drop 95 ft (29 m)
Length 2,887 ft (880 m)
Speed 55 mph (89 km/h)
Inversions 0
Duration 1:41
Height restriction 52 in (132 cm)
Trains 3 trains with 4 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 3 rows for a total of 24 riders per train.
Thunderbolt at RCDB
Pictures of Thunderbolt at RCDB

The Thunderbolt is a wooden roller coaster located at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. It was built by John A. Miller in 1924. The ride's name was the Pippin until 1967, when it was changed to Thunderbolt beginning with the 1968 season, coinciding with an expansion of the track headed up by Andy Vettel. The all-wood coaster follows the surrounding terrain with a track length of 2,887 feet (880 m). Its maximum height is 70 feet (21 m), but because of the track layout and the natural ravines on which the ride is set, the maximum drop is 95 feet (29 m). Reaching a maximum speed of 55 mph (88.5 km/h), the ride takes 108 seconds to complete its circuit.

An interesting 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.

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. The Thunderbolt was rated the #1 roller coaster by the New York Times in 1974, and it still is the most popular ride at Kennywood. The Thunderbolt still uses the 1958 Pippin trains manufactured by the National Amusement Device Company, known as "Century Flyers."

Timeline[edit]

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.

In 1968, the Pippin roller coaster was rebuilt and the Thunderbolt was born

In 1969, a small "speed bump" hill was removed from the inner helix of the front of the coaster near the loading station.

In 1991, the tunnel located at the end of the first dip was removed, allowing the Steel Phantom to go through Thunderbolt.

In 1998, for Kennywood's 100th anniversary, the headlights on the front of the trains were restored when the trains themselves were refurbished.

In 1999, there was an accident on the Thunderbolt when the operators failed to brake the train coming into the station and it collided 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.

In 2001, installation of Phantom's Revenge resulted in the ride being closed for a few weeks 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.

In 2008, Thunderbolt celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Awards and rankings[edit]

lift hill

Thunderbolt is an ACE Coaster Classic.[2]

Thunderbolt is an ACE Coaster Landmark.[3]

Golden Ticket Awards: Top wood Roller Coasters
Year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ranking 9[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]
Mitch Hawker's Best Roller Coaster Poll: Best Wooden-Tracked Roller Coaster
Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Ranking
34
40
50
42
48
44
48
49
45
48
48
50
45
55
56
NAPHA Survey: Favorite Wood Roller Coaster[23]
Year 2005 2006 2007
Ranking
4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.rideaccidents.com/1999.html#jul8
  2. ^ ACE Coaster Classic Awards
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Top 25 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 6B. August 1998. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Top 25 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 6B. August 1999. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Top 25 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. August 2000. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Top 25 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 6B. August 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Top 25 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 6B. September 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 10–11B. September 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 14–15B. September 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 3, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 22–23B. September 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today: 30–31B. September 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 11 (6.2): 42–43. September 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 12 (6.2): 42–43. September 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 13 (6.2): 38–39. September 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 14 (6.2): 38–39. September 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 15 (6.2): 46–47. September 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Top 50 wood roller coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 16 (6.2): 46–47. September 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  19. ^ "2013 Top 50 wood Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 17 (6.2): 40–41. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  20. ^ "2014 Top 50 wood Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 18 (6.2): 38–39. September 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  21. ^ "2015 Top 50 wood Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 19 (6.2): 45–46. September 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  22. ^ "2016 Top 50 wood Roller Coasters" (PDF). Amusement Today. 20 (6.2): 46–46. September 2016. Retrieved September 13, 2016. 
  23. ^ Surveys - National Amusement Park Historical Association

External links[edit]