Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

How Scary is the New Steel Curtain Coaster at Kennywood?

The ride claims records for the world’s tallest looping coaster and tallest inversion; it also has more inversions than any coaster in North America. We rode it this morning. Here's what we have to say.


There are plenty of roller coasters named for movies. There are rides themed after TV shows, comic-book characters and rock bands. But at Kennywood — a longtime roller-coaster innovator — there is the world’s first coaster dedicated to a football team.

The Steel Curtain, Kennywood’s newest and tallest coaster, welcomed its first riders at 6:30 a.m. today. The inaugural thrillseekers were winners of the park’s 2018 “Project 412” contest, which gave fans the chance to guess the theme and features of the new ride.

The ride’s Pittsburgh Steelers theme goes far beyond the title and the black-and-gold paint on the ride. Announcements at the beginning and end of each ride are made by Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin of the Steelers broadcast team. “There’s the whistle, Billy!,” Ilkin exclaims as the ride starts to roll. “The kick is up, and this one is underway,” Hillgrove replies.

The seats of the coaster look like footballs; the front of each car is styled like a Steelers jersey. A sign bearing the roman numerals of each of the team’s Super Bowl wins awaits riders at the end of the journey — and, of course, a sprawling new Steelers gift shop sits just beyond the exit.

The trappings should draw black-and-gold faithful (and plans are in place to keep the ride open on game days well into the fall), but the impressive size, scale and speed of the ride should attract thrillseekers from far beyond Steelers Country. The ride claims records for the world’s tallest looping coaster and features the world’s tallest inversion; it also has more inversions than any coaster in North America.

Those inversions are thrilling. Rather than the teardrop-shaped loop of coasters past, the ride corkscrews smoothly at multiple points throughout the ride, leaving riders unexpectedly upside-down — often at times when no twist was expected. The ride’s design makes these turns especially thrilling; with no shoulder harness (riders are restrained twice at the lap and once at the shin), the open air surrounding you is delightfully terrifying.

The 220-foot height of the ride eclipses anything in Kennywood — and renders the rest of the park miniscule by comparison. As you ascend the first hill (which feels as though it’s a straight vertical rise), look to your left for a bird’s-eye view of the Jack Rabbit. In comparison, it’ll look like Kiddieland.

VIP rides will continue at Kennywood through today, including appearances by former and current Steelers. The Steel Curtain opens to the public tomorrow.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Back to School: 20 Famous Pittsburghers' Yearbook Photos

Can you put names to the faces of these notable Pittsburgh graduates?

Pirates’ Epitaph: July 2019 – The Bucs Stopped Here

Clint Hurdle’s team was respectable, and in a contending position at the All-Star break. Then the bottom fell out, and the Pirates have looked like Little Leaguers ever since. All that remains now is to see how far they can actually sink.

The 400-Word Review: American Factory

This impressive documentary, produced in part by Barack and Michelle Obama, is loaded with insight and perspective.

The 400-Word Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

"The Peanut Butter Falcon," an indie comedy with great performances, thinks a bit more of itself than it earns.

The 400-Word Review: Ready or Not

Don't mistake this for another half-hearted teen scream. "Ready or Not" is an enjoyable horror satire.

Don't Let Headlines Keep You Away from the South Side

The weekend volcano went off on East Carson on Saturday night. That doesn't mean the neighborhood has a fundamental problem.

Steelers Challenge: Making the Most of Big Ben’s Final Years

The Steelers couldn’t find a franchise quarterback between Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger. Now, with Roethlisberger as the sole remaining link to the team’s Super Bowl success, the time for another championship run is now — or it might not be for a while.

Restaurant Review: Alta Via

With its first new restaurant in 15 years, the big Burrito Restaurant Group proves it still has it.

The Amazing and Important Things Being Taught Off Campus

For Pittsburgh’s universities, some of the most dynamic research and learning take place beyond campus borders.

A Helping Hand: School Supplies as Easy as ABC

The Education Partnership helps teachers get what they need without breaking the bank.

Coworking Gets Down to Business in Pittsburgh

Sharing a workspace becomes more than just a place to plug in a laptop for entrepreneurs seeking an environment where they interact and help others.

Find Out How to Play Hockey at the Bottom of a Pool

Penguins skate on the ice; stingrays swim below it. See what happens when they toss the puck in the pool.

A Unique Honor for the King of Dukes

Duquesne basketball legend Chuck Cooper broke the NBA’s color line in 1950; next year, he’s getting a posthumous, one-of-a-kind honor at his former campus.

Our 50 Years: Myron Cope on Sports

In the earliest years of Pittsburgh Magazine, we didn’t quite know how to cover sports — so we just let Myron Cope say whatever he wanted.

Pigeon Bagels Opens In Squirrel Hill

Gab Taube opened a standalone location for her popular bagel business in July and we're very happy about it.