Knoebels, Elysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
I'm still not sure whether this event is officially called Hallo-fun, or -phun, or something else, so I'll just say I was at Knoebels Friday night.
It was cloudy all day, with rain expected late. I wasn't sure how cold it would be, but since I'd be riding coasters and flyers, I decided to wear several layers and took along a pair of gloves and 180s (the ear muff that go around the back of the head). I figure the temps stayed in the low 50s all evening, so it wasn't too cold. Certainly no reason to believe that the park would stop running either coaster.
I arrived at the park around 6:15, just as it was getting dark, and was directed to a front row parking space by the lone parking attendant. This year the park is using its regular lot instead of campground for event parking, because the campgrounds were open for the weekend. The park was shuttling people via tram from the parking lot to the campground turnaround. The tram was decorated with orange lights and corn stalks.
All of the attractions open are on the far side of the creek from the parking lot. I chose to walk in from the lot, and noticed many of the rides along the main midway are already put away or in the process of being put away for the winter. This includes the Ferris Wheel, Downdraft, Balloon Race, and Merry Mixer.
The park has benches lined up along the midway to keep people from straying into closed areas of the park, such as where the original Knoebels sign is. As I walked past the train, and then the flyers, I noticed they were all lit up and ready to go, except there were no ops to be seen. I noticed a crowd of people gathered near the handstamp booth. It turned out they were employees being given last minute instructions. I also heard something about "a quarter to seven," so I figured we were a few minutes from anything starting.
The park didn't seem to be very populated yet, but I soon saw that 90% of the people there went straight to Phoenix Junction for food. Last year, that's where they also sold tickets, but it didn't look like anything was set up there this year. I asked the young lady at the Kettle Korn booth where tickets would be sold. She directed me to the Dippin Dots stand by Fandango, and told me that the trolley car stand in front of Phoenix and the handstamp booth would also be selling tickets.
They were selling the $5 books of tickets only (the ones without the 50 cent tickets). Most rides were only slightly higher than the regular season prices. The coasters for example were both $2.50. The largest differences I noticed were for the "Haunted Train" ($2.00), and Haunted Cars ($2.50 a person, drivers AND passengers alike).
Phoenix Junction was the only stand selling refreshments. The game across from there were open as was the hillbilly themed shooting gallery, though I didn't notice too many people playing anytime I passed by. The Chalet and Christmas Shop were also open.
I noticed they had set up a few kiddie rides and attractions in the open space in front of Phoenix, notably the Helicopter and Fire Engine rides. They also set up a ball crawl with hay bales for outside walls, and a hay bale maze. The maze was only about waist high, so parents and kids could pretty much see each other at all times.
I could also "hear" Phoenix being tested (single train) and saw people starting to gather in front of the still closed gate. Within minutes, the gate was opened, and up the ramp we all went. At both coasters, tickets were being collected at the platform, rather than the beginning of the queue. Since the first two rows were already occupied, I grabbed the Schmeck seat, and our not quite full train was on its way. Not quite as fantastic a ride as at PPP, but fun and air-filled nonetheless. We returned to a totally empty station, so what else could the op do but ask if we wanted another lap? Nobody objected (duh!), so off we went again. Awesome.
I got right back in line, and went for 4-2 (row 11) since hardly anybody was going toward the back of the train. I love the different feel going through the double up/down toward the back of the train and being pulled into the drops. Still not as much as I like the second seat though.
Next I headed toward the Flyers and ran through the queue to catch the ride that was about to start. I made sure to pull my 180s over my ears (they came in handy tonight) and the ride started. Cool operator, gave long cycles tonight. I don't know if it was wind direction or what, but it seemed difficult to snap tonight. I got a few, but it wasn't a snap-fest like PPP was. But the tubs were swinging wildly. I know on several occasions, I went over the "infield," even as the ride was stopping.
After that ride, everyone else walked away, and there was nobody in line, so I gave the op my tickets and asked for another ride. Is this like the Holy Grail for flyers fans-- having a solo ride, especially a 5-6 minute ride?
In between all this, I was exchanging text messages w/ Phoenixphan, who told me he'd be at the park tonight with his partner. We finally spoke directly, and agreed to meet at the Train. For this event, the train doesn't load in the station. Instead you must follow the walkway past Twister toward the campground. The train loads just before the tunnel under the campground roads.
Although, more family friendly and not very "haunted," the train was still an entertaining ride. They had a few tableaus set up in the woods, including most of the "amusement park" that was previously in the Haunted Car ride. One new feature that I thought was creative was a set up of the kiddie hand cars that had a reclining skeleton operating the car with his feet. Of course, the train goes right through the decorated station and returns to its unloading point. I tried to get pictures of the various scenes, but didn't have too much luck between the train moving, and the shutter speed slowed down because of the darkness. I think the train could have run a bit slower to allow riders to take in more of the scenes.
After that, we rode Twister. 2 train wait, only because they wanted first row. I had row 2. I was surprised that the ride wasn't overly rough because of the cool temps. I wouldn't say it was smooth; it was rough, but in a good wooden coaster way. The other guys rode Looper while I waited out. I had enough on my one lap at PPP-- I think we went over 60 times.
I finally rode the Haunted Cars, which I passed on at PPP because of the long line. This was our longest wait of the night, but still not unreasonable. The line didn't extend beyond the queue at all. We did notice there were a few long delays between cars. I joked that maybe the people were all dead, but the truth was that some drivers just decided to go extra slow to take everything in. That's all well and good, but the problem was that bunched up traffic and probably ruined some of the effects for the cars who were riding 5 feet behind the one in front of them. Somewhat surprisingly was the number of really little kids that parents took on the ride.
I will say this ride is done extremely well. Seems like more live actors mixed in with the scenery than in past years, and they're really located well. They come out at you when your eye is directed toward something else. There are a lot of scenes and all are done really well, especially with sound and motion this year.
After that, we grabbed a quick bite @ Phoenix Junction. I went for chicken fingers, 3 pc, and hot apple cider for $5.75. Can't argue with those prices. While Phan and his partner went to Fandango, I went back to Phoenix and got my ride on 1-2. They wanted to end with Phoenix, and I didn't need my arm twisted to ride again. For my 5th and final ride, it was back to the gator, er, Schmeck seat.
With exactly $1.50 left in tickets, which was coincidentally the price of a Flyers ride, I don't need to tell you how I ended my season at Knoebels.
As a postscript, it seemed like about cars were about 3-4 double rows deep in the parking lot. Not as many people as were at PPP, but I'd say maybe half that, which isn't too bad for a limited event. I also drove past the Elysburg fire co. haunted house on my way home, and their parking lot looked full at 10:30.
Great TR! And saves me from having to type all that up, thanks. The park was great last night, aside from the lack of a non-screaming child zone. I forgot that candy + kids = me having a migrane and wishing for duct tape for their mouths.
I will add, that even with the crowds that were there, most were going for the Haunted Train and Antique Cars. Never did make it over close enough to the Haunted Mansion to see the queue, but I am assuming that was probly a bit busy as well. I know that I will be making this an annual outing in addition to PPP, since the only thing lacking was Cesari's Pizza, but the hot apple cider, chicken noddle and ham and beer soup were good replacements LOL
After I become a rich and famous health economist, I'm building a bar/pool hall/B&B about a quarter-mile from the park. And that will be my summer home. Whoever runs the frozen sweet tea stand will live there rent-free. ;)
P.S. Isn't/wasn't there a rib-b-q place inside the park? I was kinda wanting one of those, but was completely unwilling to go back into the insanity of the craft fair.
Yes, its just off to the right of the Haunted Mansion, its the Potato barn/Rib-B-Q stand. Never had one though myself, its hard to pass up Cesari's Pizza, Funnel Cake, and Old Mill ice cream
Isn't it more to the side of the rotating roof pavilion? All the stands in that area were closed PPP weekend anyway.
If you head south down 487, there already is a B&B, gator. You could see if they're selling, THEN you have to find someone willing to sell you a liquor license. Welcome to doing business in the state of Pennsylvania.
Bill, I'll help your run it. ;)
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