East Coast Trip Part One - Knoebel's, Dorney, HersheyPark!

Associated parks:
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Monday, August 29, 2005 10:44 PM
My girlfriend and I have been plotting a two week coaster trip for over a year, and now it's finally coming to fruition. 9 parks over the course of 10 days, plus two days at Daytona Beach to top it all off. Over 40 coasters to be ridden, over 5000 miles to be driven. Let's get it on!

I'm likely going to try and keep this short as to not get burnt out writing about all the crap we did.

After leaving the house at 5'30"AM, we arrived at Knoebel's around 1PM.

KNOEBEL'S GROVE - August 14, 2005

I've been looking forward to visiting this park for years, however it was never big enough to convince my parents that the drive was worth it. Now, being 21, I could just go by myself and not worry about it. I had heard lots and lots of things about how amazing the atmosphere was and just how great the whole experience would be. I may have heard a bit too much good things about it - because it never lived up to the hype.

It was a Sunday, so naturally, it was PACKED. After parking at the back of the parking field, we walked the long distance to get into the park, where we were met with no front gates, but rather just a bunch of stuff and a small ticket booth planted somewhere in the middle. We grabbed a bunch of tickets and maed our way through the park. It really is just a bunch of stuff put in a place for no reason in particular - a giant county fair that doesn't pack up and go back into storage every year. I wasn't impressed with the atmosphere yet, as there were far too many loud, obnoxious people, and drunks. But I figured I could warm up to it later. I had things to ride.

My girlfriend noticed the Flying Scooters as we were heading towards Twister, and we decided to give them a flight. We, well, we were really bored by this apparent enthusiast-approved attraction. The snapping and swinging got old after about 30 seconds, and the ride really doesn't do much else. After hearing constant praise of how great and fun these things are, we were let down real bad. We were hoping Twister could cheer us up a bit.

The line was long - almost too long. One train operation will do that to you. Yes, despite the nearly hour-long wait, they were only running one train. Anyway, after the far too long wait, we were off. While the ride wasn't horrible, it really wasn't that great, either. There wasn't much air, the lay-out was decent but.. weird [especially with the second lift hill], but it lacked intensity, and I honestly thought it would be a lot better. High expectations lead to a mediocre experience - and it wouldn't be the only time on the trip. Anyway, not a great way to start off, but again, it was decent.

Next, we hit up the Phoenix, and I prepared to be blown away. Third time's a charm, I guess, as this ride was absolutely awesome throughout. Every hill nearly launched me out of my seat [sitting in the front], every turn was taken with enough speed that it jerked me sideways without being too rough. It was just a great ride from beginning to end. It wasn't too intense, however it made up for it with sheer smile-inducing fun. I laughed the whole ride, and every subsequent ride after. A great coaster, and while it wasn't the number one I had [overly] imagined, it was definately very good and worthy of a top 10 position.

High Speed Thrill Coaster was the other credit we needed here, and let me tell you, it sucked. Really jerky turns, shaky trains, and hills that were actually painful to go up and over. Possibly the worst kids ride I've ever been on. It didn't help that there was a fat chick in the train before ours who's boobs fell out of her top and remained flapping in the wind for the whole ride. Not a pleasant sight.

While at Knoebel's, we also hit up Fandango, which is a smaller, less intense, less fun Huss Frisbee. It was amusing enough, but not overly fun or worthy of a re-ride. Power Surge was an interesting ride, although slightly painful. I did enjoy the ride enough that I'd go on another if I had the chance. The Galleon was supposed to be the best Pirate in the world, but uh, it wasn't really. The cycle was too long for my tastes, and it really didn't get the height or speed to suitably do what it's supposed to. After another couple of flights on the Phoenix, we went on the Log Flume, which was - well, honestly, I don't remember anything about it except the drop, which pretty much tells you how good it was.

Over-all, I was unimpressed with Knoebel's. The whole park had a giant trailer park atmosphere to it. I didn't feel like I was having fun or was surrounded by people who were. It was dirty, and everything was just sort of placed wherever in the park. I didn't get a chance to go on the bumper cars, the carousel, or the haunted house - and I doubt I'll ever make the return trip to experience them. All in all, Knoebel's was a big letdown.

We left, driving an hour and checking into the Pottsville Motor Inn. The hotel was actually quite nice, which was unexpected. It also had a mini-fridge, and cost about $50US a night. Also was built in a nice area, though it must be hell to get up the drive-way in the winter.

We awoke the next day and were off to our next park!

DORNEY PARK - August 15, 2005

My expectations for this park were limited. I hadn't really heard much about it, and what I had heard was very mixed. Some people said it was very good, others said it was lackluster. Maybe I should've tried this type of approach with all of the parks on our trip, it may have produced better results.

We walked in and went straight for Talon. After a 10 minute wait, we were off in the front. After an amusing lift hill, with the unique signs printed under your feet [which my girlfriend found greatly amusing], we made the drop. The ride is short, and not very big, but it was done at a very good speed, and everything was intense - if not overly amazing. The lay-out was short, but again, it made good use of limited land. I liked it a lot more than I expected I would, and my girlfriend liked it even more than that.

Next up, we walked over to the Wild Mouse to find that it wasn't operating. Boooo! So we passed it up, to instead go to Hydra: The Revenge. Again, I'd heard mixed reviews for it, with more leaning towards negative, so I really wasn't expecting much. And thankful I am for that, as this ride really didn't deliver anything. I did LOVE the jojo roll, I thought it was possibly the best new element in a long time. However, the ride really loses it after. I did like some of the lay-out, mostly the oddly shaped cobra roll and the camelback, but really, there was nothing to it. It wasn't intense, it wasn't overly fast, and it was quite short. It wasn't BAD, but not an actively outstanding ride. Worth a re-ride or two, but in any seat we tried, it failed to live up to being a great ride.

We walked over to Steel Force and hopped on next. Again, I'd heard mixed reviews of this, but didn't expect a lot. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't blown away, either. I thought the ride lacked speed heading over the first few hills, but I did enjoy the turn-around section. However, after that, the ride dies, as it's VERY heavily braked on the mid-course, and never regains enough steam to truly be an airtime machine like Magnum. So while it didnt suck, it could be much more with a bit less on the braking part.

After a less-than-stellar ride on the Revolution, we made our way to the Lazer. The ride has a slow-as-hell lift hill, and capacity issues out the wazoo [since it was running just one train], but it looked fun enough. The loops are taken with great intensity, and the whole ride is basically a jerky, speedy, fun ride. It's very intense for a little coaster, which I did not expect at all. There are a couple of moments where I felt truly out of control [including one where I smacked heads with my girlfriend]. An unexpectedly good ride, but it actually made me black out, which I don't enjoy coasters doing.

We took a spin on the Dragon Coaster for the credit, but uh, that's about it. We then moved on to Woodstock's Express, which was jerky, rough, and just not a lot of fun to a grown adult. I'm actually not sure on the sequence of events after, but I do know that sometime during the day we went on the Enterprise, the Whip, the log flume [which got us soaked, something I honestly did not expect], and the Dominator's drop side.

Eventually we ended up at Thunderhawk, which looked rough, but actually wasn't. It was shaping up to be a really fun ride, and my girlfriend and I both quite enjoyed it - and then we hit the absolutely unnecessary brakes on the final set of bunny hops, and that just KILLED the ride for us. A re-ride confirmed that it's a good woodie, not too rough, a couple of pops of air, before the brakes - and then they just kill what should be the most fun of the ride. Thanks a lot, mid-course brake runs!

Oh yeah, we went on the Zephyr around here sometime, too. I just gotta say, this has to be the worst train ride ever. The cars look neat, however they are SMALL, supercramped, hot as hell, and they don't provide very good views. They also smell terrible. While the zephyr is a "legendary" train ride, that fact makes it suck no less.

Our final coaster for the day was Wild Mouse, which had been down all day. After our final ride on Talon, I noticed it running, so we jogged over to get our ride. After a 30 minute[!] wait, we got on, and it sucked.

Unfortunately, my computer just erased the rest of the report I wrote, and I just don't feel like re-typing it all, so I'll abbreviate. Dorney Park was a lot nicer than I thought it would be, and it had quite a good variety of coasters. The problem it faces is that it has nothing that stands out that will attract a large crowd. It's a nice park, seemingly on the verge of becoming a major park from a medium-class park, but it needs something to "push" it over the top. Not sure what that would be - but Hydra is not it.

Anyway, after a VERY long day, we decided we hadn't had enough. We stopped at HersheyPark to pick up our two-day tickets and use our free preview. We went to Lightning Racer for a late-night ride, and we were both blown away. THIS is what a wooden coaster should be, and this IS the perfect racing coaster. It's twisted, it's FAST, it's smooth, it's fun, it has air - there's almost nothing it fails to do. It's a superb coaster on both sides, and it's just a barrel of laughs. My number two coaster right now.

We also went on Wildcat, which was twisted and fast - but uh, that's where the comparisons to Lightning Racer will end. It's more like Mean Streak - it's huge, looks very impressive, but fails to really be anything else. It's rough, jerky, and hurts. It's not at Mean Streak levels yet - but it should be in due time.

After that, we thought we'd go to our hotel and just fall asleep, but no. Our hotel was a dump, and so I had to scraggle the manager for our money back [we had reserved the room for two nights], and then find a new hotel that wasn't booked [which was easy, the Ramada across the street was fine!]. So, after what turned out to be the longest day of the trip, we went to sleep.

NEXT: Two days at Hershey, and a stop at William's Grove for the scariest coaster on earth! Will Mother Nature be kind, or will she be more of a mother fuc - well you know the rest.

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Monday, August 29, 2005 11:09 PM
I have never been to Knoebels on a really busy day so I can't comment there. But to me, the Knoebels experience is about the whole package, camping, waking up and having breakfast inside the park, getting a first and last ride on one of the coasters etc

As for Twister not having any airtime, its a twister layout. To me this is what makes the Twister/Phoenix combo so great. They are two completely seperate rides that deliver two different experiences.

The haunted house is a blast btw.

To each his own though, I didn't love Holiday World either, and everyone here raves about it.

Can't wait for PPP!


Dorney though is exactly as you explained it, all their coasters are just good enough, but not great. Even Talon is near the bottom of my inverted favorites.

Thanks for the TR, look forward to reading more. *** Edited 8/30/2005 3:16:23 AM UTC by eightdotthree***

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Monday, August 29, 2005 11:20 PM
Well, I can understand the deal with Twister. Maybe I'm just not a fan of twister lay-outs. I much prefer airtime - although I do enjoy a mixture of air and laterals, rather than 100% airtime.

And yeah, I wanted to go on the haunted house, however the line was running at about an hour clip, and neither of us wanted to wait that long for it, no matter how fun it looked/we were told it was.

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Monday, August 29, 2005 11:56 PM
I can compare similarities with you to a few. Wasnt overly impressed by Dorney. Steel Force was the winner there for me, cause it is a tamed down maggie. Everything else was ok, not great. Thunderhawk, egads batman, that was one of the worst woodies i have been on all year.

Lightning racer yessir, very awesome. Wildcat not so bad, it is a bit rough though, but mean streak no way. If you really want an experience find time to make Kennywood across the state. I think you should, there at leasy you get some solid wood and also my favorite steel. Phantom!

All i can say have some fun at least, you seem to be disappointed so far.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:05 AM
I don't "get" Knoebel's either. The haunted house is really cool though and worth TWO hours inline, imho. I LOVE Twister even more than Phoenix. It's just so intense.

I've never thought of Knoebel's as a country fair that never packs up, but that is exactily how I feel about the place.

I LOVE Hersheypark! Wildcat is my baby, I don't care how rough it is. It has been one of my favorites ever since it opened. It's not as perfect as LR.

SR has been one of my favorites since it opened last year also. It would be "perfect" if it was a tad bit longer.

Can't wait for part 2.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 9:50 AM
Twister: Not much air, but then again it is a TWISTER and they are about laterals. However, if you sit in the very front, there are some nice little pops of air at the top of some of the hills.


eightdotthree said: To each his own though, I didn't love Holiday World either, and everyone here raves about it.

I think I can go one better (or, depending on your point of view, I can go one worse than that)... Knoebels is one of my favorite parks... but during my recent vacation after I left Cedar Point I could hear myself saying "Meh.... Been there, done that... an average park at best..." and enjoyed Geauga Lake a lot more two days a later.

People either like Knoebels (which has a certain type of charm all its own) or they don't. As said... To each his own.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 1:33 PM

MagnunBarrel said:


All i can say have some fun at least, you seem to be disappointed so far.


Well, after Knoebel's, I was amused, but just disappointed that my hopes were built up so high for that. After Dorney, I was a lot more satisfied, since it was a lot more than I had hoped, and I had fun on the coasters. After Hershey, I was PUMPED for the next day. It's just being tired, and [at the time], driving for about 11 hours over two days, plus going to three parks in that span, was getting to me a bit. Once I adjusted to it, it got more enjoyable all around.

And yeah, on our way home, we were discussing going up I-79 and stopping at Kennywood, adding an extra day to our trip. But we didn't arrive at the change from 77 to 79 until about 11PM and neither of us felt like driving much more, so we just kept on trucking up 77 [even though I realize now that 79 would've been a lot quicker]. Anyway, Kennywood is on our schedule for next year, where we hope to hit a bunch of smaller parks in succession, as opposed to huge parks like BGT and IOA.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 6:02 PM
Different strokes for different folks I guess. But you seem to be going out of your way to be dissatisfied with Knoebels (what do you expect Flying Scooters to do anyway?), and although you just said you were satsified with Dorney, I didn't get that impression from your original post.

I'm surprised at the long wait you had for Twister. In the dozens of times I've been there, I've never seen the line even to the bottom of the ramp, let alone out into the open area. I'm also surprised about your "drunks" comment, since Knoebels doesn't allow alcohol, and I can't see park security tolerating drunks either. Yeah, loud and obnoxious I can see, but actually no worse than I've seen in other parks.

I was at Knoebels the same day you were, but later in the day-- around 6. I guess when you're local, you learn not to go until later in the day when it's really hot, and especially when it's hot AND a weekend. That might have made a world of difference in your perceptions. I really think your post would be at least somewhat different if you were there on a weekday instead of Sunday.

Of course, I got there just in time to get poured on by the first of 3 storms that passed through in about 2 1/2 hours. It sure thinned out the crowds, and as soon as the thunder subsided, the rides were going again. We got stuck under the roof of the Flume photo stand during the next deluge. It was a hoot seeing photos of people totally soaked heading down the drop to-- get wetter.

I'm glad at least you enjoyed the motel in my hometown. But couldn't you tell that driveway is cake compared to some of the other hills in the area? :) Anyway, still looking forward to reading the other TR's.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:14 PM

The whole park had a giant trailer park atmosphere to it.

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where NASCAR Dads are king...

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:42 PM
I noticed quite a few NASCAR discussions and a TON of shirts.. it's really out of the norm for me, being from a country where we actually watch real sports, like hockey. ;)

Oh, and just one more note: The trip doesn't get any less bitter from here on in. Well, it does, eventually, but it takes a turn for the worst first. *** Edited 8/30/2005 11:42:43 PM UTC by grind your soul***

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 10:02 PM

grind your soul said:
it's really out of the norm for me, being from a country where we actually watch real sports, like hockey. ;)

That is in years where they actually play it. Of course, up in Canada I'm sure you have 4-year old girl leagues you can follow. Of course, my sympathies, now that your Maple Leafs have Mr. Lindros-- no, not really. :) And as we all know, hockey fans are never loud or obnoxious.


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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 3:36 PM
Our Leafs suck a lot this year. It's hard to be an optimistic Toronto fan - although many will tell you that it's just hard to be a Toronto fan at all.

NHL isn't the only hockey there is, it's just the most readily accessible. We have junior hockey and AHL hockey and, oh yeah, tournaments that we can easily follow.

And yeah, hockey fans are all reserved, silent individuals. They can be quite loud if so desired, but never obnoxious. ;) Nor drunk! God forbid a drunken idiot ever attend a hockey game!

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