Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain Rises

Pittsburgh Steelers to launch a new, record-setting roller coaster.

WORDS Fred Gonzalez
August 2019
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NFL teams take their fans on emotional roller-coaster rides each season. Now, Pittsburgh Steelers followers can ride an actual roller coaster based on the team. Kennywood Park, in its 121st year of operation, is the first amusement park to partner with a professional sports franchise, resulting in a massive three-acre section, Steelers Country, with a retail gift shop, End Zone Cafe, interactive practice drill courses and plenty of television screens to keep up with the team. But the main attraction is The Steel Curtain, the eighth coaster on the park’s premises.

The massive new ride looks to bring some roller-coaster glory back to the park—it’s been nearly 30 years since Kennywood has held a coaster record, when in 1991 the Steel Phantom had the world’s longest drop and fastest speed. The Steel Curtain, dressed in the team’s black and yellow color scheme, holds world and North American records for number of inversions and highest inversion, and
is the tallest coaster in Pennsylvania.

“There’s certainly an arms race with roller coasters and new records,” says Kennywood exec Nick Paradise. Here, a look at The Steel Curtain’s bona fides. 

Inversion Records
The Steel Curtain sets the North American record for most inversions (traveling upside down) with nine.
The most notable has a zero-g stall in which riders experience weightlessness as their car rotates upside down, pauses in that position, then twists back upright, all while zipping over a plaza with
people underneath.

New Heights
The Steel Curtain will dominate the Kennywood skyline. At 220 feet, it’s the tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania. The first inversion, at 197 feet, is the world’s tallest. The two-minute ride covers 4,000 feet of track, has a maximum drop of 205 feet and reaches a top speed of 75 miles per hour.

Riding in Style
The coaster’s cars were inspired by the Steelers’ helmets, down to the yellow stripe and numbers on either side. Inside, seats look like footballs, with laces on the headrests. The two trains are numbered 19 and 33, a nod to the year the Steelers were founded. Nineteen also happens to be the jersey number of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, a Steelers’ fan favorite. “He’s been out to Kennywood a few times, without a security detail,” Paradise says. “He comes with a few friends just to enjoy the park.”

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