The Pittsburgh Steelers, Kennywood Park and a record-setting roller coaster?
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the announcement a year ago announcing the historic Pittsburgh area amusement park's new ride.
I didn't get to the park in 2018, so after reading the news, I just knew I had to make sure our family made the less-than-two-hour trek down Interstate 79 this summer and tackle that new ride.
That trip finally happened earlier this month and it was worth the wait.
When we were just a few minutes away from the park, you could see the yellow superstructure towering over the park. And once inside, the ride dominates the section of the park like the Steelers of the Steel Curtain fame once did.
We arrived early, unloaded our picnic food at a shelter and went straight for the Curtain. We weren't going to have a delay of game penalty keep us from our destination.
On this warm, sunny day, the wait was only 90 minutes.
But it was so worth it.
The theming is football-perfect, from football-shaped seats to the cars looking like Steelers uniforms to the numbers on the two cars: 19 and 33, for the year (1933) the Steelers were founded.
During our wait in line, my daughter had second thoughts of going onto the ride.
"If you can ride Millennium Force at Cedar Point, you'll have no problem on this," I told her.
She wasn't convinced. The multiple inversions — there are nine of them — intimidated her.
After more reassuring, we made it to the platform and fastened our safety belts and pulled down the lap bars.
When the black-and-gold train leaves the platform, you hear the recorded voices of Steelers radio announcers Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin to add to the football theme. And when the train goes up the lift hill, the music of “Renegade” from Styx is played.
If anyone is familiar to games at Heinz Field, that track is played on the giant video scoreboard with highlights of defensive plays to pump up the fans. (As a side note, you can hear the music blasting from the entrance of the park, so you know when the train is about to make its climb and descent.)
During the two-minute adrenaline rush, riders speed through 4,000 feet of track at 76 mph while navigating those inversions — including the world’s tallest at 197 feet above the ground!
It was quite the rush.
The ride was smooth, fast and thrilling — unlike the second half of Kennywood's other giant coaster, Phantom's Revenge.
For me, the nine inversions was the right amount. Maybe in my younger days I would have wanted more, but it was perfect.
My daughter? She loved it — I could tell from the screams (of joy, not terror). And the ride didn't take her away from a day of fun, including five trips on the Thunderbolt.
If you're counting, the Steel Curtain set three records: a Pennsylvania record (tallest roller coaster), a North American record (most inversions) and a world record (tallest inversion).
Not to be outdone, Kennywood also has Steeler Country that's nearing completion.
It's described as a one-of-a-kind themed land that "celebrates the hard-hitting heroics of the players, but with a unique twist."
Steeler Country includes merchandise, skill games and food locations. I can't wait to try the tailgating experience on my next trip.
And while Kennywood has a record-holder in its roller-coaster lineup, it still maintains its charm I remember from when a trip there was an annual summer thing.
The mix of old and new works, just like the unique partnership with Kennywood and the Steelers.
And just like the Steelers, this ride is a winner.
Rick Green can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RGreenMeadville.