Dodged a weather bullet at Knoebel's Grove - 7/2/19

ApolloAndy's avatar

We were in upstate New York to visit family and decided to make an emergency trip to State College because a relative was having health concerns. It had been 13 years since our last visit, so we decided to break up the drive by visiting Knoebel's on the way, but unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating. The plan was to arrive at 4:30 and eat so we could buy our sundown discount wristbands exactly at 5:00, ride until we were done (park closed at 10:00) and then finish the drive. While we were driving through nowhere rural PA, the sky opened up and torrential rain, followed by tiny hail poured from the darkened sky. We pulled into the Knoebel's parking lot, tucked the car under some trees and parked. My wife was trying to convince me that we should just get going and find a local pizza place to eat, but I was adamant that we should wait (I did not have a good justification for this, seeing as the forecast called for more thunderstorms as the evening went on).

During a short break in the rain, we decided to run into the park and eat and wait it out to see what happened. By the time we made it into the park at 5:15 (the entrance has always confused me, even without 13 years of unfamiliar changes), the skies were clear so we decided to chance it and purchase wrist bands and get done as much as we could before the weather returned. Thankfully, the next storm missed us and we had a delightful time for the next few hours with no ride closures (save the chairlift and Flying Turns). All in all, we had a fantastic time and my elder son (9) gave the day 4 and 7/8 stars and my middle son (7) said it was as fun as Disney World (which made me cringe a little bit, given the cost difference). My daughter (6) was not quite as impressed because we dragged her on a few rides that were a touch too big for her.

The Awards:

Still the best wooden coaster award - Phoenix
My goodness this ride is still amazing in all respects. Comfortable, not too fast, and SO MUCH AIR. My son declared that it was tied for his favorite coaster anywhere (with Grizzly, CGA...I don't get it). My daughter did not like it "because it went up and down too much."

Least disappointing ride closure award - Flying Turns
For all the hype and build up, I really didn't care at all that I didn't get to ride Flying Turns. Maybe when I eventually do ride it, it will totally blow my mind, but we were way too busy having fun to care that it wasn't open.

You're out of the Family! award - My middle son and wife
They preferred Twister to Phoenix. It was running really well and they got some great night rides on it, but I rode it once and was happy to return to Phoenix.

I Need More Practice award - the flyers
I got a couple of snaps, but nothing earth shaking and then the op told us not to snap on the second ride so I feel a little cheated.

Our Next Ride is the Ambulance award - the bumper cars
I love these bumper cars. Sadly my middle son hit his nose on the wheel and my daughter did not like all the violence. This did not stop me from slamming into them more.

Skyrush Amputation award - Impulse
The ride was okay, but the restraints clamped down pretty hard on my thighs in the pullout of the first drop. It wasn't Skyrush painful, but it definitely detracted from an otherwise decent ride. I think that's preferable to OTSR's, but I'm not 100% sure.

Don't You Already Have a Haunted House? award - Black Diamond
I don't get this ride. It's sort of like a haunted house with mild and uninteresting coaster elements.

Bad Dad award - me
Rides I dragged my daughter on that she did not like: Phoenix, Bumper Cars, Log Flume (in my defense, she loves Splash Mountain).

Good Dad award - me
Rides I dragged my daughter on that she loved: Flyers

Insectophile aware - the little train
It was our last ride of the night and there were fireflies everywhere. It was a really magical way to end a great day.

Best in Class Award - Train, Flyers, Carousel, Bumper Cars, Phoenix
I consider all of those rides (and the kiddie section as a whole) to be at or near the best of their respective division. How Knoebel's is able to keep so many good rides when it seems like an average Six Flags park can barely keep one is a mystery to me. I had always had very fond memories of Knoebel's and this trip just cemented it as a top notch park, despite the weird surroundings and the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere. I can totally understand why some people wouldn't like Knoebel's: in some ways it's totally opposite Cedar Point, but for our family it was a major hit. We left the park at 9:45 with 1 cotton candy and 4 ice creams and made it to State College by 11:45.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I’ve never been to Knoebel’s. Every time I read a trip review like this, it makes me think more and more I need to get there. Hopefully it happens this October...

But then again, what do I know?

Aw, no love for the actual dark ride? It’s my favorite.

As for Black Diamond, I kind of get it and I kind of don’t. To call it a coaster is a bit of a stretch, but I have to commend the park for rescuing and restoring a unique, weird attraction from the Jersey Shore. I treat is more as a fun dark ride, mich like Fire in the Hole/Blazing Fury. And Knoebels did a good job with the interior alterations, managing a tie-in with the mining history of the area.

The Bumper Cars have to be one of the best ones on the planet. And vintage rides like Merry Mixer, Roto Jets, Flyers, Whipper, and Looper are everything to me.

So is Phoenix. It’s exactly what a good, old fashioned wooden coaster should be. Proving a good ride doesn’t have to be the tallest, fastest, loopiest, or longest to be the best. And, more importantly, probably the nation’s greatest example of rescue and rehab of a vintage coaster. They sure knew what they were doing with that one. I’m so glad we still have it for future generations to enjoy.

I’m also glad you put on your dad pants and insisted everybody get out there and enjoy themselves. And I hope that whatever emergency led you in that direction has resolved favorably.

No haunted mansion? Both Phoenix and twister are awesome coasters but flying turns is my favorite woodie in the park. I was there on june 3rd and will be there again on july 19th on my way to kenny kon for steel curtain. :)

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ApolloAndy's avatar

I don’t particularly care for haunted houses in general and with kids in tow and the additional fee, it was not worth the cost in time or $. I don’t really get Blazing Fury or Fire in the Hole but I agree with the Black Diamon comparison.

Health emergency is in a stable and slowly improving place. Thanks for asking.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Bobbie1951's avatar

I went to Knoebels on July 4 and was once again impressed by how much fun can be had for little money. Free admission parks are wonderful. I bought $30 worth of ride tickets and still have some left over, as I had to leave before it got dark because my night vision is very poor. As to Phoenix, I'd forgotten about the tunnel, which is really cool, but not about the airtime. The last time I was there I sat in the next to last row and after the ride the couple behind me said that they were tempted to grab me because it looked as if I was about to be ejected, so this time I sat in the middle of the train. I must say, however, that like Andy's middle son and wife I prefer Twister. Both Phoenix and Twister had a one train operation but even so there wasn't much of a wait. The longest wait was Flying Turns at 20 minutes. (There's a sign outside FT which I should have photographed, saying something to the effect that it was the only ride of its type in the world. That can't be accurate, as Avalanche at Kings Dominion for one shares some of its attributes.) Impulse was down when I got there but they got it up and running. I was thinking that maybe something had been done to alter the restraints, as I found the restraint uncomfortable - like being caught in a garlic press - the year it opened, but this time it was absolutely fine. Rode Black Diamond for the first time and was seriously underwhelmed. The only disappointment was that the food concession which serves deep fried veggies shut off the grill at about 7pm so that was a no go.

About driving through "nowhere rural PA," is that ever a fact. This place is really in the middle of nowhere. Although I was able to make most of the 3-hour drive from Philly on highways and relied on directions I printed out from Google Maps, when I got off the highway there were too many turns on back roads for me to remember so I had Waze guide me there. The Waze voice does not know how to pronounce Knoebels but that's OK; Waze got me there.


The sign should say “The only coaster that took 7 years to build”.

To be fair, they were referring to the only bobsled coaster in the world that has a wooden track. And that would be accurate.

kpjb's avatar

ApolloAndy said:

My daughter did not like it "because it went up and down too much."

Love this.


I went to Knoebels for the first time two weeks ago and also preferred Twister to Phoenix, for whatever it is worth. (But, I also had more fun on the gliders at Seabreeze than on the gliders at Knoebels.)

tall and fast but not much upside down

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