PC Staff Writer
I didn’t wake up at 5 a.m. Friday morning for a morning jog or to watch the sunrise. Instead, I groggily—and willingly—left my apartment to ride the Steel Curtain, Kennywood’s newest rollercoaster.
And, after two minutes of loops, turns and dives, I can say with confidence that riding a rollercoaster first-thing in the morning wakes you up better than the strongest cup of coffee.
Media, VIP and contest-winning riders were present earlier this morning to ride Kennywood’s latest coaster, named after the 1970s Steelers defensive line of “Mean Joe” Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White. The ride opens to the public on Sat., July 13.
Built on the former location of the popular Log Jammer—which closed in 2017—the Steel Curtain features 4,000 feet of track that sends riders 76 miles per hour to a maximum height of 220 feet and through 9 inversions—including the world’s tallest at 197 feet above the ground.
Designed by S&S Sansei Technologies, the coaster sets three new records: a Pennsylvania state record for tallest roller coaster; a North American record for most inversions; and a world record for tallest inversion.
The Steel Curtain is the centerpiece of Steeler Country, a new area of Kennywood which opens later this summer. The three-acre includes the End Zone Cafe, serving new takes on tailgate-style food and the Steelers Experience, where park-goers can play football-themed games. The Steel Curtain drops riders off at the giftshop, where they can purchase Steelers and Steel Curtain coaster gear.
The ride is covered in football homages and Steelers history. The “19” and “33” on the front cars are a nod to the Steelers’ founding in 1933, the seats look like footballs and the coaster is decked out in a black-and-gold color scheme.
And, even waiting for the coaster is an experience. A sports broadcast-like message instructs riders to buckle up, and the four SuperBowls the Steelers won in the 1970s are listed in the waiting area. Flickering coal lamps line the main ascent, and you can see Pittsburgh far and wide if you’re brave enough to turn your head.
Jeff Niemiec, the vice president of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, is a Wilkes-Barre native but flew in from Los Angeles to ride the Steel Curtain. He says the coaster fulfills check of many boxes for ride enthusiasts.
“What we’re looking for is the smoothness—that’s there—for the inversions—that’s there—and the speed,” he said. “So for coaster enthusiasts, we’re on board.
It’s also excellent for casual riders. Although the coaster looks and seems daunting, I only thought I was going to die once. For those who like an adrenaline rush but don’t like the idea of a 90 degree drop from 400 feet, this coaster is for you.
Later in the day, members of the Pittsburgh Steelers dedicated and rode the coaster, which is the first partnership between a sports franchise and an amusement park.
In the dedication ceremony, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman—who lives across the street and watched the ride get built from the ground up—lauded the coaster’s feats.
“Talk about blowing away even the highest expectations,” he said.
After riding the coaster, Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said that the only thing harder than playing the Patriots on a Sunday night is riding the Steel Curtain.
“That is not football right there,” he said. “That is its own contraption.”