Wednesday, June 20, 2001 12:44 AM
The Big Trip 2001 :
Eastern PA Tour
Hershey / Knoebels / Dorney
June 11-13, 2001
Day 2 :
June 12, 2001
After staying up to around 12:30 the night before watching Junkyard Wars at the Cocoa Nights Motel, we were all a little beat when we woke up around 9:00 Tuesday morning. Nevertheless, we checked out of the hotel and took a final glimpse at Hersheypark before heading out on the road to Knoebel's.
This was the park we were all excited about. None of us had ever been there before, and all the hype surrounding the place just put us all in a good mood, even after Monday's disappointing day at Hershey.
I slept most of (approx.) 2-hour drive from Hershey to Knoebel's and woke up as we were pulling into a gas station. The place was called the Turkey Hill Minit Market. (I later found out on the trip to Allentown that there's a lot more than just one in the area.) I headed inside to pick up a drink while Joe filled the tank.
What I saw inside literally blew me away. Rollison pointed out a sign that was advertising a special: 32 oz. frozen drinks for $.69! This is an unbelievable deal! Sheetz, a convenience store headquartered in the Pittsburgh area, I believe, has their 32 oz. frozen cokes for about $1.09! That was an absolute steal that I could not pass up, so I filled my cup and checked out.
After checking out, I turned to my right to see a stand full of single-packaged Reese's cups. The sign above the cups informed me that there was a deal on these as well: $.25 a piece... or 6 for $.99! I knew that was cheap, so I went to see how much a king size package, which holds four cups, costs. $1.09! That's unreal! What kind of idiot would buy a king size pack of Reese's cups for $1.09 when you can buy 6 for $.99?
So, as you can tell, I had some fun at the Turkey Hill Minit Market.
We were at Knoebel's in no time, and it didn't take long to realize the... uniqueness of this place. The free parking was a nice, as well as just, well, walking right into the park. There literally is no front gate to this place; you just walk down the road and into the park.
After checking out the map and buying our pay-one-price (until 9:00) hand stamps for $26, we decided to hit Galleon. Now, I've been on my fair share of swinging ships, but this one was the craziest. The supports the ship hangs from go out to near or past parallel with the ground! Plus, it's a *long* ride. (This would be my first experience in Knoebel's length of their rides.)
From there, we headed over to the Merry-Go-Round. I had almost forgotten about trying to catch the brass ring, actually, but once I remembered, I couldn't wait to try.
I have a question for anyone who's reading this: Why don't more parks do this on their carousel! I never thought I could have that much fun on a merry-go-round! I don't know what's so great about it, but it just put a huge smile on my face. We'd ride the thing about 5 or 6 more times that day, 'cause I just couldn't get enough of it.
Moving from classic ride to classic ride, we decided to check out the infamous Skooters. There was a three-circuit wait, but I realized early on that it was due to the long rides the park gives.
We all figured that the elderly ride operator is a staple of sorts at Knoebel's. Not only did the "You must be this tall" sign have his caricature on it, but the "No head ons!" sign on the back wall also featured his face. Interesting. (I'm sure some [all?] of you people out there know who this guy is, so feel free to post some anecdotes.)
I, of course, had heard about how hard these things hit, but it's really only appreciated in-person, or for that matter, in-car. I wondered how interesting it could be since you can only travel one way, but I found out on one of my many Skooter rides that it makes everything *more* interesting than a normal set of go-any-way-you-please bumper cars. As I mentioned, the ride lasts a long time, a trend I love about Knoebel's. We bumped and chased about 5 times during the course of the day, and I'd love to do it again.
We didn't have a map on us, so we weren't quite sure where to go after the Skooters. So, we just wandered around to see what we could see, which I think is a great way to walk around this park since it's not too terribly big, nor is it a long, straight, Hershey-esque layout.
Then, we came upon the classic Knoebel's Flyers. I'd heard so many people, from R.R-C to CoasterBuzz to chitchat at the X-Flight commercial shoot talk about these things, and I couldn't want to get on 'em.
I wasn't quite sure what "snapping" was exactly, but it didn't take long to find out. While standing in the queue, I saw a few kids really get those things out of control. Took a few mental notes on how it works and boarded my tub.
It looked a little easier than it was. I didn't snap mine until about two minutes before the end of the ride, but those final two minutes were probably the scariest two minutes I've ever had on a ride. I swung the rudder out to the left to get high into the air and quickly cut it back right to shoot back towards the center of the ride. I don't know if it was technique, if I did something wrong, the planets aligned, the winds shifted, or the ride broke, but let me tell you...
That tub was out of CONTROL. Wobbling back and forth like nobody's business, in and out, all the while flying within what seemed like inches from the trees. I'm sure I littered the air a few choice words on that ride.
We took another lap on the Flyers and then decided to check out Sports World, mainly because it's air conditioned, while sipping on a few Cokes. At this point, we realized how much closer we were to Philly than Pittsburgh. This store had about three P'burgh items, only one of which being Penguins memorabilia. There were no Pirates items to be found. ;)
From there, we skipped over Whirlwind and headed for Phoenix so it could be Joey's 50th coaster. I don't know if they ever run two trains, but I know only one was running all day. The good thing, though, is that the wait was never more than three trains.
From poll to poll, this thing consistently ranks among the best coasters, wooden or steel, in the world. I was really excited about this ride, but didn't let all the hype set me up for a letdown.
...All the hype in the world couldn't make this ride a letdown.
I'm sure most of you know the layout and everything, so I won't get into that. I will say, though, that I was *completely* amazed that a coaster this size could deliver such INSANE airtime! After riding Shivering Timbers last year, I thought it'd be hard for a woodie to top that, and, *at first*, it didn't. We'll continue that story later.
I almost forgot. Rollison sat out Phoenix and would sit out Twister as well. He bought $9 worth of ride tickets, which he used on rides he knew he'd fit on, such as the Merry-Go-Round, Skooters, and Flyers.
After our lap on Phoenix, all four of us checked out what Whirlwind had to offer. There was absolutely no line for this little portable Vekoma machine, which was operated by a freaky looking, quiet kid about 18 years old. Gaddis and I had a good time watching a really small girl's reaction to the coaster from the station as she rode. She seemed a little scared while on the ride, but once onto the brake run, she was nothing but smiles.
An older ride op was walking up the exit ramp as she walked down it. He looked at her with wide eyes, then screamed to the freaky kid. "S***! You let a small on!" he screamed, which was met by a smug "Nuh uh" from the kid. Interesting...
But, on to the ride we went. It's a strange little ride with a swooping right-hand drop off the lift hill that glides into a corkscrew. After another turn, it's through another Corkscrew before hitting the brake run. Nothing very interesting, but it does add one to the count.
After Whirlwind, we headed over to Twister. I was really excited about this ride for a few main reasons. One being the lift hill that's "doubled back on itself" and the other being the curved station. Maybe it was obvious to you folks, but I never quite knew what "doubled back on itself" meant, but I'd sure find out in a minute.
We met with about a two-train wait. (This ride operated at one-train operation all day as well.) Out of the station we went and on to this lift hill. When I figured out what the aforementioned phrase meant, I started laughing. I thought that kind of stuff only happened in RCT! ;)
The ride's definitely a great one with some awesome headchoppers, and the tunnel is a great effect. I loved the ride, but not so much as I loved Phoenix. I took such a great on-ride photo that I decided to buy it. Some day I'll upload it. ;)
All day, I couldn't get over how unique this park is. To get to Twister, you have to walk over a bridge which crosses a creek and goes past... a house! Rollison cracked up when he saw a dog coming out from its doghouse. Also, I think I forgot to mention my laughing at the house across from Phoenix by the car ride. It's literally right in the middle of the park!
At this point in the day, I started to realize why people like Knoebel's so much. It's great!
We decided to take a lap on the 1-1/2 mile train ride that so many people had told me about. It's probably the most interesting train ride I've been on at a park. It's not themed, it doesn't transport you anywhere, and it isn't all that big, but it's just cool. It takes you directly through the Twister structure and far out away from the park. Since we sat towards the back of the train, we all noted all the people in front of us who tried to reach out and touch the trees. The best thing is that the conductor didn't seem to care.
I can honestly say that I would have never guessed one is supposed to pronounce "Nacht" as "Nights." This flying carpet ride is probably the least intense and least comfortable rides of the type that I've ridden. The lap bars come down automatically, and they keep on coming down until your kids feel it.
After 1001 Nacht, we strolled past The Loaf (haha!) over to the High Speed Thrill Coaster. Gaddis was surprised to see that was the ride's real name; he thought I just called it that to be funny. Even *I* couldn't be *that* clever. ;)
Since there were some kids on with us, I failed to ask for an "adult ride," but I think the guy might have given it to us anyway. He had this interesting looking smile on his face when we got on, and it didn't really disappear until we got off.
For those who don't know, his thing has a gas-powered motor for the chain lift so the speed can be controlled. After ascending the lift, the train makes a left-hand turn and goes over two bunny hops. That second hop, let me tell you, provides some INSANE air. I was literally standing on my feet going over that thing, and I wasn't trying to, either! Crazy, but GREAT little ride.
The only ride left that we knew we had to try was the Haunted Mansion. It's $1 extra, but I think it's worth it. This little thing really did scare me, especially that truck! I won't say more than that for those of you who haven't been on the ride yet, but for those who have, I think you know what I'm talking about.
A light rain had started to fall from the skies, and it persisted for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, since we were in the area, we decided to try Phoenix again.
Two more absolutely stunning rides on this thing put it past Lightning Racer as my favorite ride as-of-yet on the trip. Then, though, we went around for our third ride.
There was next to nobody in the station when we returned for the third ride of the session, fifth of the day. The station, train, tunnel, and lift were all the same, but something happened as soon as we crested that first hill.
...All hell broke loose! We floated down the first drop and glided right up to the first turnaround. This baby was flying. Just as we headed down from the first turnaround, the lights on the coaster came on. It might have been an act of God, and the way that coaster performed when those lights came on, I'm inclined to think it was. The airtime over those hills was nothing short of a religious experience. Extreme ejector air, throwing you right out of your seat and into the lap bar. We all squealed with delight all the way to the brake run, including the last little bunny hop right before it. That thing had the whole train STANDING.
I mentioned that the first two rides of that session cemented its place as my favorite coaster on the trip... Well... that third ride cemented its position as my favorite wooden coaster, period. Shivering Timbers is a great ride, but I this one knocks ST down to #2 in my books. Think of the best adjective you can to describe Phoenix and email it to me, because I can't think of any that do it justice.
Someone, I'm not quite sure who said it, mentioned in a post that, while visiting Knoebel's, "most importantly, eat." So, I did. I had my first ever Cheese-On-A-Stick there. I literally had no idea what in the world Cheese-On-A-Stick was, since I had never seen it before. I was pleasantly surprised. All the joys of a corndog with all the goodness of cheese. Good stuff!
After another Twister ride, more circuits on the Skooters, more revolutions on the Merry-Go-Round, a ride on Downdraft (intense!), some trips through the shops, and even a few games of Fascination (which I had never played before -- it *is* addictive), it was time to travel to Allentown and check into the hotel. We gave a sad goodbye to Knoebel's with the notion that we would surely be back... surely! As soon as possible!
I slept a decent portion of the ride from Elysburg to Allentown, as I was pretty tired after the fully day at Knoebel's. We checked in to the McIntosh Inn of Allentown around 10:30 that night and settled in to watch one and a half movies of a Stanley Kubrick marathon Cinemax was showing. We caught the back half of "Eyes Wide Shut" and the entire film, "A Clockwork Orange." Interesting, *interesting* movies to say the least. We all got a big kick out of them.
So, after the guy in A Clockwork Orange was cured, we turned off the TV and headed to sleep. Dorney was just down the road...
Coming up next :
Co-Webmaster, Kennywood Boulevard http://kennywood.coasterbuzz.com