I’m a big fan of launched coasters, they’re still new enough that almost all of them offer unique elements, and certainly all of this new generation of launched coasters have something to offer enthusiasts. If there is a gripe to be had with launched coasters, it’s that too often they under perform when compared to their like brethren, the traditional chain or cable lift rides. True, the idea of a launched hyper coaster makes little sense, but a compact, inversion filled little ride like Sky Rocket is perfect for any park, and especially perfect for one like Kennywood where space is at a premium.
Lukas and I waited just under an hour for Sky Rocket while the wife and daughter recovered from Noah’s Ark in the kids section of the park. The queueing area is comfortable, with misters that spray just a little bit too much water as you wait for your turn to ride. I was able to endure some more of that wonderful Pennsylvania rudeness I first encountered at Hershey Park, once again my appearance was an issue with the locals. I’m not sure why I can walk through any other park, or really anywhere else and encounter mostly polite people, but the second I hit the Pennsylvania border the civility just falls out of folks.
Sky Rocket has very comfortable seats on its two car trains, identical to those on the updated Flight of Fear vehicles, which means lap and ankle bumpers only. Good restraints aside, I do question the thought process in only running two trains at a time, it seems another would have made loading run even faster. However, the line moved slowly and evenly, a unique feature for a new launch coaster.
The launch was awesome. Only fifty miles an hour, but it’s a fun fifty and there was a wonderful pop of airtime atop the top hat element that begins the ride. The train screams down the back of the hat after a slow crest, whips around an almost inverted turn and flips riders through a zero g roll. I loved the first inversion on Sky Rocket, it was a forceful element that wanted to launch me from the car. After that first inversion, I realized just how smooth this coaster was. Several readers of this site took umbrage with my Maverick review, stating that the ride was too rough. To those riders I offer Sky Rocket, this is easily the smoothest running coaster with inversions I’ve ever ridden, to say this was a surprise would be a huge understatement. I’ve enjoyed the other Premier rides that I’ve ridden, but this was far and away the most enjoyable, and definitely the smoothest.
After the first inversion the ride turns again, coasts through the mid course break blocks and down another vertical drop. After the drop the trains careen through another turn, enjoy another awesome zero g roll and high banked turn. Following the turn the coaster has a few banked twists and finishes with two nice little pops of air on a pair of well placed bunny hills.
Sky Rocket is no horizon interrupter, if anything it is a modest coaster, offering a ride length of just shy of one minute and initial drop of less than a hundred feet. That is not to say the ride lacks, it is a very fun, very smooth riding coaster. If there is a gripe to be had it is that there are better launched coasters out there, and in a couple of cases they’re not too far away.
As I mentioned earlier, Sky Rocket is superior to Flight of Fear, but it cannot hold a candle to either Maverick or Stormrunner, two Intamin rides of similar stature. Based on the reviews of those other coasters on this site, I award Sky Rocket a review of 8.0, with a thrill rating of three out of five on the scale established by the Coaster Critic.
There is nothing wrong with Sky Rocket, I wish if anything that I’d had more time to ride it. That said, it would be impossible for me to recommend a trip to Kennywood based solely on this ride unless you have already experienced the Intamin rides operating at Hershey Park and Cedar Point.
Sky Rocket is well built, good looking, fun to ride and glass smooth. It is a coaster that I think any enthusiast or casual coaster fan would enjoy, and it fits very well into the lush skyline of Kennywood. Final Rating – 8.0 (Great)
Sky Rocket is rated TH for Thrilling. It’s a 3 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale because of its launch and loops. See the full scale here.
What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden Sky Rocket? What’d you think? Leave comment below. Thanks to Judy from Pgh for the images.