Featured Photo #29 – Respect for Elderly Coasters

Featured Photos

Thunderbolt - Kennywood - Wooden Roller Coaster
I took this shot back in 1999 in the pre-digital camera era. Well, it was well before I had my own digital camera at least. It was on this trip to Kennywood early in my theme park travel adventures that I gained a newfound respect for woodies. Before Kennywood’s still electrifying Thunderbolt, I only had woodies from Kings Dominion and Adventure World (the precursor to Six Flags America) under my belt.

Thunderbolt’s totally unique layout with a drop right out of the station and it’s largest drop toward the end of the ride, blew me away. I need to take another spin on the coaster so that I can give it a proper review, but I remember being really impressed. It’s obvious the kinds of elements and experiences that steel coasters can provide, but less so the kinds of tricks and interesting twists that you can find on some of the exceptional woodies out there. Even geriatric woodies like Thunderbolt. Kennywood is a great example of older interesting woodies with Jack Rabbit and it’s terrain hugging double dip and Racer a single track racing coaster (thanks to its rare mobius loop).

Read more about Thunderbolt, its previous life as Pippin, and its rendezvous with Phantom’s Revenge here.

What’s Your Take?
What are some of your favorite older wooden roller coasters? Leave a comment below.

Photos, content, and the most insightful, entertaining, or amusing reader comments from my Photo of the Week posts will be included my new book. Read more about my book project. All images are the property of TheCoasterCritic.com


  1. I feel like I saw that photo somewhere else.

    • You probably have. It's likely a popular place to take photos of Thunderbolt as it's near the path and a seating area with tables. Or at least it was back in 1999. 🙂

      • Yea a lot of people take pictures from that area so it looks pretty similar to a lot of other thunderbolt pics. great pic btw

  2. I love the train in this picture. It fits this coaster well.

  3. My favorite older woodies are blue streak at cedar point and phoenix at knoebels. Both of them I like for the same reason: a simple out and back(or double) layout with plenty of airtime and few turns(preventing roughness). Phoenix is probrably my favorite out of the 2 for airtime, and blue streak is my favorite for terrain and views(lake erie). Comet at hershey park is good also.

  4. I love the people in the 5th row, is the person on the right male or female? Mobius loop coasters sound cool. Did GCI name its Millenium flyers of of NAD's Century Flyers?

    • Not sure about the GCI train name, but your comment made me actually look at the riders. There's a guy 'protecting' someone who I assume is his daughter from the drop by wrapping his arms around her. It looks like it's about 6 rows from the back of the train. Pretty funny!

  5. I have to say although I didn't think it was near the best wooden coaster I'd ever been on I had one of the best moments of the summer on this coaster. All I can say is that I thought I was going to be thrown out of this coaster at one point because the airtime was so extreme and unexpected and it made for an out of this world exhilarating high that I won't soon forget. I have to say althought I knew a little about Kennywood coasters I didn't know enough and a few of them really provided me with a surprise or two. It definitely was a great feeling so I've become so used to certain coasters and tend to have many similiar experiences on them. Really Really magical moment on that coaster. I couldn't stop smiling and telling my wife "I can't believe it, I hit my legs on the restraints!"

    • Yeah. It's definitely fun to be surprised every once in a while. Especially when you research and read so much about these rides. I had one of those moments on Six Flags Over Georgia's Georgia Cyclone. I was expecting a ho-hum woodie ride and ended up feeling like I was holding on for my life.

  6. this is probably my second favorite woodie, i rode it at the beginning of august, it was running very well. another one that is practically unheard of is the Cannonball at lake winnie in rossville georgia. hey coaster critic have you ridden cannonball?

    • I haven't but I considered heading out to Lake Winnie as part of trip down to SFOGA for Dare Devil Dive. The only thing is that park is pretty far out of the way and it only has a few coasters. Is it worth the trip? I've definitely heard of the Cannonball. What makes it so great? Anything special about the rest of the park to make it worth my while?

  7. Just to make you all jealous, Yesterday I was at my home park Valleyfair! and (after we broke the record of most adults reading to children at one time in one place) I went straight to Renegade. I was the first guest of the day, and I had the whole train to myself! That's what you get for Vigilance!

  8. I was totally surprised by this ride, way better than I expected and easily one of my favorite "classic" woodies, one of the best finales out there. I would also say at the top of my list would be the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz and the John Miller designed Coaster at the Puyallup Fair that only runs a couple weeks a year near Seattle. It's smaller but runs like a dream with some decent air in it's old school trains.

  9. I remeber getting ert on this coaster in late july. Got 11 rides in in 30 minutes. I love this coaster. I have been on it more than 30 times this year.

  10. All of the woodies at Kennywood are significant in history. Thunderbolt was once the crowned jewel of all roller coasters. The Racer is the last Mobulus loop coaster still operating in America. And the Jack Rabbit was one of the first, if not the first to use unstop wheels, giving it the ability to have steep drops and its legendary double-dip.

  11. I go to Kennywood twice a year. The second time is for the winter light thing. (I forget what it’s called and it started 2 years ago)

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