Kennywood - Hershey - Knobles & Nuns With Cell Phones

Associated parks:
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:07 AM
As I start to type this, I am sure it's going to be a long one. I'll stick to the parks first and then give you the hotel, truckstop and travel stories after the fact.

August 23 - August 27

Kennywood - First Time ever

I had to go to Kennywood because of all of the positive reports Ive read here and becasue my 7 year old son loves bunnies and he was just tall enough to go on the JackRabbit coaster. If it involves a bunny, he's in...and off we went.

Got to the park a few hours before closing. The ticket agent asked me if I had any coupons. I didn't. She gave me her's from a local paper. Already this was going to be a good day.

The guard said, "Hurry up - the parade is about to start." I thanked him, but didn't want to tell him that I had no intention of being waved at by a costumed furry creature. I just drove from Long Island, and was only intent on going on rides.

We walked through a tunnel. I liked the music going into it, but boy this looked like a coney island scene (Without the drug addicts and homeless people). No people, somewhat quiet with a few puddles. When we walked out, it was pure magic.

Jackrabbit first. The line was reasonable (maybe 15 minutes) and my son boarded his first "adult" coaster. Kodak Moment. As soon as we left the station, (somewhere mid-train) he was laughing. Chock one up to the bunny. Anyway, as described in detail, the coasters and some of the water rides at Kennywood use the ravine - so the lift was in the middle of the ride. After the lift came the biggest boly of air time that I ever had in my life as we rolled through the double dip. The first one is a setup - the second one does the deed. My big behind came down with such a thud that it completly threw me. All 37 pounds of my son laughed out loud at his first airboure experience. Even though the rest of the ride was just slightly above average, the best part came after the we stopped in the station. Jacob said, "Again daddy!" Life is good.

Well we did go back on line, but all of a sudden...BOOM! The security guards preminition came true...from out of nowhere...an endless stream of high school bands came pouring across the mid way. Horns blaring - twirlers twirling - pom poms shaking in a color-coordinated blast of Americana. (We didn't have high school bands or cheerleaders where I grew up in New York - they specialized in gang fights.) The kids here were not ready for top 40 radio, but they weren't too bad either. The best part was the spirit. These kids looked like kids you wouldn't mind living nextdoor to. They also seemed to enjoy being part of the festivities. Here's a thought, how could these kids play and march so well so early in the semester. School just started, did they rehearse over the summer? This was not GReat Adventure. Between the lights, the sounds, the pagentry and the spirit, this was going to be a good park. Later on one guy was telling some of his friends that it's sad that this will be his last appearance because he was graduating.HE will be missed.

OK- The second lap on the rabbit, also mid train, we both prepared (if that's possible) for the double dip. It didn't matter. I'm sure my imprint is firmly etched into the seat. Big fun.

Kangaroo - Of course you don't see a ride like this too often, but it's such a fun and family crowd pleaser. The cycles for the flat rides at Kennywood are good - long enough to enjoy a nice ride and short enough so that you aren't too psd-off if you have to wait.

Phantom's Revenge - Again great use of terrain. Great speed - Nice forces - some air - good drops. I tried to compare it to Nitro. Less legroom and comfort, but more force. There's a sign hanging up over the booth about a competition between ride ops, but the guy on the platform was a little vague about it. Unusual que line - as you are waiting under the lift hill. S - L - O - W lift hill. Almost too slow. But you come down nice and fast!

Thunderbolt - (SUNG TO THE ENTERTAINER - BY BILLY JOEL)

I am a single rider...My friends are back at home...I'm messing up the system...because I came alone......My son is much too little...My wife don't like to ride.....So they're shaking their heads - to the words that I said - so I pray to the sky and they're rolling their eyes and they finally let me board.

OK - enough singing....Actually, I'm a pretty big guy, but the guy they matched me up with was already seated (somehow) and looked like he just swallowed a volkswagon. The seats were big, but I was smushed. It was like the air bag opened before the car started...never mind...When Rolling Thunder goes to bed each night, it dreams to be Thunderbolt. It's fun, it's fast, lots of air, smooth and makes great use of the land it was given. WOW!

Swings - Good cycle - barefoot of course.

Paratrooper - When I was a kid, I remember being petrified of this ride and it's next door neighbor (Roundup) at Palisaides. I did it, I liked it, I want to do it again, I want one.

Second Day

Log Jammer - Nice Layout - but not too wet.

Rapids - NIce Layout - but not too wet.

Plunge - Typical Layout - Got Very Wet! Actually the themeing of this ride was very nice, but it was a fake. I hate any water ride where the boat, log, car moves in the trough without any water. It's cheesey and took away something from the ride.

Whip - All whips are good, and all whips could always run faster. Nice cycle though.

Swing Away - This was FUN. THe only thing was that it was hard to find the Que.

Racer - Fun but not as intense as Lightening Racer, but then few racing coasters are. The switching track at the end is a cute effect, but it could have had a winning light for the victorius train. (We didn't win - no hand slapping eigther).

Kenya Group - These gymnists and dancers were very entertaining and personable.

Turtle - It's cute, it's old, you go around, it ends.

Exterminator - I usually don't like dark rides, but I tried it. Nice effects, unusual story. It's hard for me to feel sorry for the rat even though I was suppoed to be one. The turning effects of the car were good, but not too intensive. I was the only one in the car. Do more people and greater weight make it turn faster?

Garfield - Had to. Just for the history. Our boat kept getting stuck and the people in the front had to shimmy around a bit to get us moving again from time to time.

Pitt Fall - Smooth. Fast. and you don't end up on your back.

Carosel - BEAUTIFUL - but they were playing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in July.

I may be missing a few rides.

Food - Didn't eat really. I had a snack or two, but most of our meals were in or near the hotel. Bob Evans breakfast...Applebees for dinner.

Facilities - Clean park except for some of the bathrooms. Some of the stalls had evidence of being...well used.

Clientelle - Very nice people. The families were many and the teens were not obnoxious. A bit too much smoking for my taste.

Ride Ops - Quietly doing thier jobs. The park was busy and they were moving the happy crowds.

Surprising Dissappointment - When a 6 flags park closes up. It stops running the rides. As people leave the park, they pick up all kinds of snacks and goodies to remind them of the fantastic time they had in the park. Mr. 6 loves to take your money, even if it's after hours. When Kennywood shuts down...that's it. I was going to get a ton of stuff. I left with nothing. Once the rides stop, forget about T-shirts, magnets, arrows, etc. No stuff for you!

Final Thoughts - This park needs a Ferris Wheel. Even though the hotel was a short distance from the park, we kept getting lost. Each time we ended up going or returning a different way. These people know how to "Make it count." THey have some older rides, but they maintain them well. All rides were up and running. The "theme" is simply an amusement park. That's all the theme you need!

Day Three

Thanks to Julie for driving from Kennywood to Hershey. (My fourth or fifth time - but the last time was a couple of years ago)

Hershey was PACKED. It was hot and Jacob was less than enthused today. We couldn't stay too long. What also torqued me off a bit was that Great Bear, Kissing Tower and Storm Runner were down.

Comet - Getting old. Needs some TLC. To be fair, this ride gets a lot of output from its lift hill, but it's not nearly as comfortable as I remember. Jacob was upset about the ride too.

Rapids - This is one rapid ride where everyone gets soaked. Three overhead waterfalls make sure of it.

Western Shute Out - It's a waterpark attraction without having to go to a waterpark. We chose the curved track. Fun.

Tidal FOrce - This had to be the biggest "chutes" ride I ever saw. The crowd reaction to each wave was comparable to dragster launches.

Despite the water, my passengers were getting angry about the even larger crowds and the temperatures. We headed to chocolate world. The 3d show was ok, but not worth the 5 bucks apiece. The Food stands looked good, but we didn't really eat. The free tour ride was informative...I guess...just not very entertaining.

Day 4 & DAy 5

Knobles...(ALso first time)

I like Great ADventure. I consider it my home park (Even though Adventureland is only 45 minutes away) But What if a park looked at everything that Great ADventure does and decided to do the opposite? THat's what knobles was like to me.

YOu want to come and not ride?...no problem, we won't charge you.

YOu want to bring your own food?...no problem, but please allow us to share our picnic tables and awnings with you.

What? You drove all the way here from Long Island? PLease, enjoy our free parking.

I never went to Knobles because I thought there wasn't too much to do. I thought....Ok, so it's a small park, with good food. Big mistake. We had a blast. Once we found it.

Ferris Wheel - Beautiful lighting design. I could compare it, a bit, to Mariner's Landing in Wildwood.

Merry Mixer - If it looks like a scrambler, and moves like a scrambler...it's a scrambler. By the way, I like scramblers.

Flyers - Never did it before. Jacob was with me and he wouldn't let me move it hard. We both had a good time though. Nice long cycle.

Flume - NOt too wet, but went through some woods.

Theater - Kids act out a story. Nice touch to let the kids be costumed characters in a fairy tail.

Whip - God, fun. but not too fast.

High Speed Thrill Coaster - Should be called "Low speed - spine throbbing coaster." OUCH.

Phoenix - Fast, Nice, Some INtensity, Well-maintained, rustic looking. The park is deservedly proud of this one and it shows. They even show off the awards and appreciation it recieved for moving it from Texas. 2 Train operation.

Twister - Beautiful, well matched for it surroundings, not too intense, some air. 2 Train operation.

Boat TAg - It was a long wait, but a wrist band allowed you to drive a boat.

There were other rides, but some of the fun was walking between them to get to where I wanted to go. This place doesn't worry about an exposed telephone wires. That;s the charm.

Food - Honestly, The Pizza was awful. The potatoe wedges were fantastic. I was looking for the food court, but I should have said "international food court."

Shopping - RARE - I bought a CD that had music from the parks Wurlitzer Organ, a metal ride sign for less than 10 bucks.

Clientelle - Mostly Families trying to have a great time. They were suceeding.

Ride Ops - Usually you get some kid who doesn't know too much other than to check the seats and fire the ride. This park featured older ops who looked as though they could work in a hardware store. One guy running the whip was placed in the middle of the ride and he rang the bell to start it (nice touch) and then asked a little kid to please sit down. These people care for and like their park.

I asked a security guard for directions to our hotel. SHe said she wasn't sure, but she then looked on a list, dialed and then gave me the phone and let me talk to the hotel directly. Very impressive.

I did ask her about the park and I explained how happy I was with it. She took it personally, thanked me for coming and startted telling me stories about the owners and how they really care about people. It showed.

Final Thoughts - I could list many things I didn't get to do here, including the skooters, but I will be back - hopefuly next year. The theme here is "An old fashioned picnic area with a really good travleing park, that wanted to stay in business, but just stop traveling. The pool looked clean and inviting, the mini-golf course looked typical and fun. There must have been at least 30 picnics taking place and some of them were company picnis with hundreds of people. YEs, it got crowded on Saturday, but it paled to what Hershey had. All rides were open.

On a personal note, I would like to thank all of you who helped (either directly or indirectly) plan this trip. I got some great ideas from you (hotels, directions) and the support that I see on this board is a true testemant for our love of this hobby.

This last part is not about rides...

I have one comment that I'd like to make to all of you Pennsylvanians out there...you have a lot of things for tourists to do, but why the heck is everything so far away from each other? It was a shlep.

On one of the identical looking truckstops on I-76, I saw three old-order nuns. One had a cell phone. I wish I had a camera because it was lost photo opportunity.

We also stopped at a TA center in jersey on the way home. I saw one of these places on the travel channel, so I wanted to see one for myself. Aside from the fast food stores and the truck accessories was a huge wide-screen TV. There must have been at least ten truckers in there, waiting for their laundry and watching A View To A Kill on AMC. Priceless!

It felt funny driving down I-78 and passing Dorney without stopping. I've never been there. Maybe next year.

And so my season comes to a close. Happy Trails! *** Edited 8/31/2005 3:25:39 AM UTC by Richie Reflux***

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 9:58 AM

I have one comment that I'd like to make to all of you Pennsylvanians out there...you have a lot of things for tourists to do, but why the heck is everything so far away from each other? It was a shlep.


On the other hand... why does every place else have to put everything on top of each other.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 9:20 PM
You're right. I apologize.

I am a frequent visitor to PA and to its parks (and buffets!). I was just making a wise-*ss comment about driving too much. IT was 2 in the morning when I finished the report, so my sensoring skills were a bit lacking.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 9:32 PM
Great TR. No Storm Runner?

The only thing I hate about Pennsylvania is that there are no good ski resorts, and the restaurants don't use gloves when they make your food. Gross!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 10:36 PM

Richie Reflux said

Drop ZOne - Smooth. Fast. and you don't end up on your back.

Carosel - BEAUTIFUL - but they were playing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in July.


Do you mean Pitt Fall when you say Drop Zone?

The Carousel plays Christmas music towards the end of August for Fall Fantasy (as the reason for the parade too). It's just a long running tradition at the park.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005 11:23 PM
Carrouseler - Yes..sorry again...Pitt Fall, not Drop Zone...I'm sorry I posted super late at night / early morning when I wasn't at my best. I will edit.

Ride Of Steel - Storm Runner, Great Bear and Kissing Tower were closed, despite the huge crowds. If I were on my own, I would have hit Lightening Racer, Wildcat, Roller Soaker, and a few flats, but I was with my family. My very hot, tired, and impatient family.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 12:37 AM
Good stuff man, i liked that your son got to take on the jackrabbit, the double dip, just amazing. Hershey was packed when i went too, so dont feel bad. I got on all the coasters, but never made any flats. Stormrunner is a great ride, btw better in my opinion than dragster. Great Bear if you have been on more inverts and im sure you might have been on it before, i would say in my opinion i have rode better, but hey if you havent, sorry you missed out.

But its always great to see people enjoy the family thing, you even put behind things you wanted to do for them, man i would go nuts. Also i agree with pennsylvania being so far apart, between parks. Since i could only go one day, cause of work that made the drives even worse from Ohio.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 10:26 AM
Aww... I loved hershey park - My first roller coaster EVER was comet - soo much fun... although I kept a straight face the whole ride... I remember it being fun though.

(that was before any of the new rides were open... I remember great bear also - my dad went on it and he said it was fun. It's also really funny to watch the people's faces on the huge loop above the path, they look all scared and stuff :P)

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 11:52 AM
Great TR Richie, well done!

Kennywood...defines nostalgia for me....THREE old-tyme wooden coasters - that's an embarrassment of riches...

Glad to see that another person "gets" Knoebels...it one of those VERY few parks I can go to and feel like I can RELAX and enjoy the parks at a leisurely pace...

As for Hershey, LOVE the park, totally hate what has happened to Comet....tamest Schmeck standing.

I'm weird though, I *love* driving the PA mountains...when I have the time! ;)

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 1:16 PM
Sounds like a really fun trip. All the nuns I remember had rulers and those rubber-tipped pointer. Glad to see they're getting modern. Gotta love those old Ho-jos along the turnpike.

Great report.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 10:34 PM
MagnunBarrel - Going to parks with the family is very hard for me. On one hand, I want my son to like this stuff. All of it. All right, most of it. When I go by myself I can stay longer (first to enter - last to leave) and answer to noone. I only have one bladder to monitor, I don't have to worry about height requirements, and "I"M TIRED." My wife is basically a non-rider. She understands my hobby, but wants me to cater our trips to Jacob. She goes on Rapid Rides, Sky Rides, Trains (Level ground) and she braved the Log Jammer at Kennywood, and her knee prints in my back are testement to that.

I want them to go and enjoy it, but if they do, I don't nearly get as much out of it as I could or should. We've all been there. By the way, I am SO glad that we no longer have to go to Seseme Place.

Golf-Freak - I remember when I first went on Comet about 12 years ago. It was much better then. It just hasn't aged well.

RollerGator - Thanks for the kind words. Kennywood is a perfect example of a park that has rides that aren't the biggest or the fastest. They just have quality things that they take care of. Julie and Jacob thought Knobles was the best park of the three (four if you count Great Adventure). Some of that might have to do with the weather though, because it was comfortable. I just wish, like always, that we had more time. I might look into a cottage rental next year for a few days. Are they hotel - like or simply log cabins? I would sleep in my car if I was doing it alone.

RatherGoodBear - I never thought of the Pennsylvania truck stops like old HoJOs, but you're right, that's what they looked like. Come to think of it, I wish they were HoJos. The food wasn't so good. When I bit into one of my Nathan's hot dogs, I think I struck a vein.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 11:29 PM
Richie, I'm not sure what those rest stops were when they were originally built around 1940, but I do remember them as Howard Johnson's in the 1960's. Orange roofs and all. Plus Esso gas stations with free road maps. I think they were Hojos until the late 80's when they lost their contract with the Turnpike Commission.
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Friday, September 2, 2005 12:46 PM

Richie Reflux said:
Here's a thought, how could these kids play and march so well so early in the semester. School just started, did they rehearse over the summer?

High school marching do rehearse over the summer. In fact, that is when they have the majority of their rehearsals. We used to rehearse 6 hrs per day for all of August. We also rehearsed about 8 hrs per week during June and July. That is more than most, but almost every high school band has at least a 1 week camp before school starts where they rehearse 8+ hrs a day.

I was a kennywood last night and loved every second. The parade really adds a lot of character to the park. The sounds of the marching bands floating through the park is a perfect compliment. *** Edited 9/2/2005 6:12:04 PM UTC by jdancisin***

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Friday, September 2, 2005 3:10 PM

RatherGoodBear said:
I'm not sure what those rest stops were when they were originally built around 1940, but I do remember them as Howard Johnson's in the 1960's.

When the Turnpike first opened, I believe the reststops were Howard Johnson's restaurants. Like you said, they stayed around until the 1980's.

Now not only along the turnpike are they gone, but mostly everywhere else too. I did not know this before, but I heard a radio report saying that the HoJo's on or around Time Square in NYC was closing. Evidently it was sort of a mini icon there.

All the ones in the York / Lancaster PA area are gone... turned into diners / family restaurants. Most of the old HoJo hotels (with the wierd shaped lobby bluilding with its bright orange roof) are gone too. Not sure, but the one in Lancaster PA may still remain, but York and Gettysburg lost theirs years ago. Some newer ones have sprung up lately, but the old style are pretty much history.

What always made me wonder about HoJo's... they didn't serve Coke and they didn't serve Pepsi... they served their mysterious Cola. What exactly was this stuff? *** Edited 9/2/2005 7:11:11 PM UTC by SLFAKE***

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Friday, September 2, 2005 5:17 PM
I got to know those plazas well, SLFAKE, at least the ones between Carlisle and New Stanton. The firm I used to work for got a contract from the Turnpike Commission, in fact when they were changing those plazas from Hojos. They wanted to know what those buildings were worth and how much they had to be fixed up in order to create new leases.

We had to create as-built plans for every building. Measure every room, doorway, window, inventory all the electrical and mechanical equipment. One of my lasting memories was partially falling through the ceiling at Somerset North. Thanks to the fact they had so much crap stored in the attic I went to step past one pile and my foot went right through a dead spot. I kicked out a ceiling tile right above the cashier. I broke a finger which today I still can't bend properly. I should have sued the whole lot of them, but I was a naive young kid and I let everyone convince me (including my own employer) that it was my fault and I shouldn't stir anything up. At least I can still use both middle fingers!

Anyway, you know those two plazas directly across from each other near Bedford? Did you know that they're connected by underground tunnel? I can say that I was "under" the turnpike. My claim to fame!

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