My First Time at Kennywood Fright Night: The Good and The Bad

I’ll admit, I had no idea what Kennywood was until a couple of weeks ago. But I’m always down for being screamed at by people in costumes and hurtling through the air in an open metal container, so I jumped at the chance to go to their Halloween event. Here’s a breakdown of my first experience at Kennywood Fright Night, the good and the bad.



Getting There

The Bad: The bus ride

It’s great that Pittsburgh has public transportation, I’m thrilled that CMU students can ride it for free, and I think it’s awesome that there’s a single bus that goes all the way to Kennywood. All of that said, sometimes I just need to complain about riding the bus. The 61C can get pretty crowded, especially from 5:30-6:00, which is exactly when I needed to get on it. I physically couldn’t get on the first bus that came around because it was so crowded; I had to wait another 15 minutes for another 61C. The bus ride was about half an hour, which can seem like a full day when you’re standing in a crowded of annoyed, wet people. Next time, I’m just going to hitchhike. I might get kidnapped and murdered along the way, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.


The Good: The Kennywood Entrance Tunnel

After getting my tickets, I followed the stream of people into a tunnel. There was so much fog that I couldn’t see five feet in front of me. I had to walk blindly forward, glancing around for a scare that I knew was coming. In fog that thick, the shadowy outline of a person appears before anything else. The figures stood deathly still, and as I walked closer I could start to make out details, like the skeleton mask or the bloodstained cape. And just as I thought I would be able to pass by without being scared, they lunged. It was like a trial by fire, only you don’t risk getting third degree burns. Instead, you risk embarrassing yourself by screaming at a shadowy figure that turns out to be a judgmental teenager, which is definitely worse.



The Atmosphere

The Bad: Cold and Wet

The day I went was cold and rainy. Have you ever been propelled through the open air as tiny bits of water pound against your face? I have, and it wasn’t as fun as it sounds. I spent a lot of my time with my hood pulled over my head and my sleeves tucked over my hands, trying not to chatter my teeth. I suppose it did contribute to the gloomy mood, but mostly it just made me wish I had access to a human-sized dryer.


The Good: Everything Else

When I wasn’t cursing the weather for daring to inconvenience me, I was admiring the rest of the park’s atmosphere. Blood-covered figures in masks wandered around on the fog-filled streets. Old horror movies were projected on the walls of random buildings. And I have to give a special shout out to the carousel. It was empty and unmoving. The surrounding lights were tinted red, and a thick fog filtered through the area. The horses, usually so cheery and whimsical, suddenly looked menacing. I’m just saying, if I had to pick a place to be murdered by a mysterious figure in a mask, I would one hundred percent pick that carousel.



The Rides

The Bad: Phantom’s Revenge Now, before any Kennywood lovers get upset at me for saying this, I have a specific reason I didn’t like this ride—I couldn’t get on it. And I was very excited to ride it, too. I admired the drop from afar, I loved the sculpture of the hooded figure declaring its entrance, and I was thrilled that the line was so short. Well, it turns out there was a reason the line was short. Someone had thrown up on the ride. I wasn’t particularly interested in sitting in a puddle of puke, so I just turned around and left. The hooded figure watched at me as I walked away, silently mocking me and my dashed hopes and dreams.


The Good: Jack Rabbit & Exterminator

I enjoyed every ride I went on, but these two were my favorites. Jack Rabbit was the first ever Kennywood rollercoaster I went on, so it has a special place on my heart. It’s a wooden rollercoaster, but it doesn’t have the unbearable jerkiness some other wooden rollercoasters have. The drops were great, only surpassed by the hilarity of the picture it took. It’s certainly not the most intense ride of the park, but it’s extremely fun nonetheless. I also enjoyed the exterminator. There’s something endlessly entertaining about spinning at high speeds through absolute darkness. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, Aero 360 and the Black Widow were great too. You know what? I’m just gonna issue a blanket statement and say that every ride at Kennywood is good.


The Scares

The Bad: Friday the Thirteenth 4D Experience

I’ll admit, this one is pretty subjective. I’m sure that lots of people would enjoy this experience, and judging by the screams in the room, lots of people did. However, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. The Friday the Thirteenth: 4D Experience consists of 13 short clips showing 13 murders from the titular movies, each one about a minute long. There was no plot connecting these clips together, so all the gore tended to seem gratuitous, especially to someone who had never seen the movies before. The most frightening 4D effect was a small prod that poked you in the back, but that could easily be avoided by leaning forward. Although some of the clips did make me jump, I think the best thing about this experience was being able to sit in a warm room for a while.


The Good: Bio Fear Haunted House

While the 4D experience may have let me down, the Bio Fear Haunted House exceeded all of my expectations. Even though I was one of the last people in the group, I was somehow corralled into the front of the line. This means that I was leading the charge through winding, darkened hallways. And although the little video introduction at the beginning funnier than it was scary, the rest of the haunted house was incredibly well done. Most impressive was the range of ways they tried to surprise you. There was a mix of mannequins and real people, so you never knew who was going to lunge at you. The employees didn’t only lurk around corners, they followed behind you as well. At one point the floor exploded with light, showing mangled bodies beneath the floor. One guy even dropped from the ceiling, presumably risking a sprained ankle just for maximum effect. Before going into the house, I wondered if the screams I heard were real or just special effects; I can now say with certainty that they were real screams of terror.


Overall, my first experience with Kennywood Fright Nights was more good than bad. I had a lot of fun, and I would definitely go back again. But why take my word for it? Go check out Kennywood yourself! Their “Holiday Lights” special event opens November 24th, and although it’s more festive than frightening, I’m sure it will be just as enjoyable.