Black Widow pendulum swing debuting at Kennywood in 2012

Los Angeles Times staff writer

The new Black Widow pendulum swing coming to Kennywood in 2012 will fling riders through the air like pint-size passengers on an enormous spinning Frisbee.

> Photos: Black Widow thrill ride at Kennywood

The 90-foot-tall thrill ride is set to debut May 17 with opening of the West Mifflin, Pa., theme park for the summer season.

Riders will sit in 40 outward facing coaster-style seats as a counterclockwise-spinning circular gondola swings back and forth in a pendulum motion. At the ride’s peak, the pendulum arm will reach 146 feet in the air at a 120-degree angle.

With their feet dangling, riders secured by over-the-shoulder restraints will experience upside-down inversions and moments of weightlessness as the rotating gondola whips toward the ground at nearly 70 mph.


Black Widow replaces Pitt Fall in the Lost Kennywood section of the park. Crews began dismantling the 1997 drop tower in early December.

I visited the Pennsylvania park during my road trip across America’s Coaster Belt this summer and fell in love with Lost Kennywood, which features modern versions of classic amusement rides such as shoot-the-chutes and the wave swing as well as the park’s 1918 Whip.

The 251-foot-tall Pitt Fall never really fit with the throwback Lost Kennywood theme. Unfortunately, neither will Black Widow. The new ride probably belongs in the area next door, which feels like an old carnival midway with bumper cars, a swinging pirate ship and an undulating Musik Express caterpillar ride.

> Photos: Top 10 oldest rides at Kennywood

Known as a Zamperla Giant Discovery, Kennywood’s new ride is similar to pendulum swings built by other amusement industry manufacturers — including the Huss Giant Frisbee, Intamin GyroSwing and Mondial Revolution.

Variants of the spinning pendulum thrill rides can be found at Ohio’s Cedar Point (MaXair), Pennsylvania’s Knoebels (Fandango) and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Northern California (Tazmanian Devil).

Located just outside Pittsburgh, Kennywood is a living, breathing, trapped-in-amber ode to the “Golden Age of Amusement Parks” with three of the oldest roller coasters in the world: Jack Rabbit (1921), Thunderbolt (1924) and Racer (1927).