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Kennywood runs a separate water park (Sandcastle) down along the river, but still has an outstanding collection of water rides in the main park. Many people change into swim trunks, surfing shirts and sandals for The Big Three (log flume, river rafting and boat plunge), since you’re guaranteed to get soaked. Rest rooms large enough for changing clothes are near all of the water rides, and there are official changing rooms across from Thunderbolt just inside the two rest room entrances. You need to plan ahead and bring a beach towel. If you don't want to change clothes, you might want to bring a lightweight plastic rain parka and sandals. Or you can usually buy one at a booth outside the rafting ride.
Log Flume. ("Log Jammer") #1. Best flume ride in the country. Its two drops are higher, steeper and faster. It is more scenic and offers a longer ride. It lacks Holiday World’s tunnel and PKI’s forest, but compensates with long stretches up in the treetops with great views of the Racer and Jackrabbit. Recently retracked. Almost all of the channel has been replaced within the last few years. Most rival log flumes are rough and jolting but this one is very smooth. The most comfortable four person in line “logs” anywhere, although the larger bench seat Dollywood models are better. On board photos. The signs about Splashology, the science of where to sit and how to lean to avoid getting wet, are great. Operating in this spot since 1975, this ride still has a huge following and lines grow very long on hot afternoons.
Rafting Ride. ("Raging Rapids") # 1. Best rafting ride in the country. Lacks Holiday World’s tunnel and geyser basin, and Carowinds’ more scenic waterfalls but compensates with a longer ride, steeper descents, and rougher water. Most efficient loading platform anywhere. Carowinds is a close second but needs to tear out its inefficient loading platform and emulate this one. The natural slope dropping off the park plateau down toward the ravine helped Kennywood maintain a steep descent without extensive digging. Narrower channels than many. The seats here are more comfortable. A heavy waterfall douses two unlucky riders at the halfway point as the raft spins like a roulette wheel. On the final bend a guy in a tower would shoot a water cannon at each raft to make sure nobody made it through dry. One of the funniest incidents in Kennywood history, now part of park lore, occurred when two kids smuggled their own water cannon aboard a raft and opened return fire on the tower. The sniper was so surprised he staggered backward and fell out of the tower onto the grass below. Now, the park has replaced the sniper with a clothed dummy and fixed water cannon.
Boat Plunge. ("Pittsburgh Plunge"). Disney’s and Dollywood’s are higher and steeper. Busch Gardens' is more extensively themed, with its block long tunnel. But this is definitely worth a ride. On a hot day, it sure cools you off. Smoother than the others. More comfortable seats. More efficient loading and unloading. And Kennywood outdoes everyone with the beauty of this ride at night. Rather than a narrow channel, it drops you into a huge lake reflecting every light imaginable through the fountain, the spray and the ripples. The swings rotating over there in the corner, the pin lights racing along the Whip to your right, the Phantom screaming down straight ahead, the Pitt Fall to your left, and the whole city in the distance all add to the lightshow which the water reflects. Many people don rain parkas or swimsuits and ride the log flume, rafting river and boat plunge before changing back into dry clothes. Gluttons for punishment can stand on the observation deck and get absolutely drenched every time the boat comes down. (See also photo top left.)
Peddleboats. For most of the century, the lake was filled with rowboats. In the 30 minutes allowed, rowers could make a complete circuit of the lake, under four bridges and around two islands. They rowed completely around the West Island and the old Rockets, past the Parkside Cafe and the entrance to Kiddieland. It was a beautiful lake and rowing around it for half an hour was a neat experience. Then, for no reason anyone can offer, they filled in the western half of the lake. Now, cut in half, the lake is not nearly as enchanting. Having traded in the rowboats for peddleboats, one circuit of the lake takes only 10 minutes. A lake like this is a precious asset for an amusement park. Of all Kennywood's rival parks, only Indiana Beach and Geauga Lake have lakes. Wasting such a resource is mindless. The western half of the lake should be dug back out and restored and the West Island rebuilt. Then, Kennywood should consider buying bumper boats like Indiana Beach has. That would make this a premier attraction again. However, take your camera. From out on the water you get some unique vantage points for ride photos.
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