Julie Walsh can tell her grandchildren she rode Kennywood’s new Steel Curtain roller coaster with her husband Saturday morning in the front seat on the first trip open to the public.
Her hands were still shaking 10 minutes later.
“I held his hand going up that hill,” she said of the 220-foot climb to the top of the coaster. “It’s like you’re lying flat. All you can see is sky.”
The Steel Curtain opened for the first time to the public Saturday, and Walsh, 51, and her husband, John, 53, of Beaver Falls were among hundreds of people lining up to try it.
Riders gave it rave reviews.
They described it as amazingly smooth with breathtaking views of the Monongahela Valley and worth a wait of two to three hours.
“Absolutely, I would say it’s the best coaster ride I’ve ever been on,” John Walsh said.
Others stepping off the Steel Curtain echoed his words.
Kennywood spokesman Nick Paradise said the coaster’s opening was delayed for a short period as staff worked out last-minute glitches. The park was running only one coaster car Saturday morning, but Paradise said a second would be added and that would shorten the wait for riders.
“Whenever you open a prototype ride like this, you’re always feeling it out and working it into steady continuous operations,” he said.
Ethan Baker, 7, of Smock, Fayette County, described the ride as “good” — but he wouldn’t do it again.
His dad, Matt Nicholson, said he experienced an adrenaline rush as the car rode up to the top of the first hill before plunging through a series of nine inversions at 75 mph. Kennywood says the Steel Curtain is the tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania and that its nine inversions set a North American record.
“It starts out so slow and when you’re on top of that hill and you see the view of Kennywood and everything, it’s amazing,” Nicholson said. “It’s the smoothest upside-down roller coaster I’ve ever rode.”
Timothy O’Shea, 12, of West Mifflin said it was the best amusement park ride he’s ever been on.
“Dude, that was awesome,” he said. “We were upside down 197 feet in the air. That was crazy.”
Mya Thompson, 12, of Coraopolis and Reiley Urbatis, 12, of Pittsburgh’s Sheraden neighborhood said they waited more than three hours for a ride — and it was worth it.
“I was really scared at first,” Reiley said, “and once we went upside-down for the first time, I wasn’t scared anymore.”