Knoebel's (1st time!)- June 9, 2002

Associated parks:
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Monday, June 10, 2002 12:00 PM

Yesterday, I had the good pleasure of driving out into the midst of nowhere to visit Knoebel’s in Elysburg, Pa. As a suburban sprawl native, I was getting a tad worried we’d never, ever find our way back to I-80 in the dark. Knoebel’s seems to be in a valley between two mountains, and bookended by two very small towns. I hadn’t realized how close Elysburg is to Centralia, Pa., and now I’ll have to budget some extra time to visit that American anomaly, too.

THE PARK – This is the first really traditional park I’ve ever seen, beyond Long Island’s own Adventureland, and I’m not quite sure if that counts, even. So, parking on grass and wandering about a park that has a road, and house (!) scattered throughout was quite unusual. All in all, I liked the atmosphere a lot. The employees were friendly, the park had plenty of shade, and I was amazed to see that, as the day went on, everything was open and operating. Everything. I’d been trying to decide which of Knoebel’s coaster-creations I’d like to be my 100th different coaster. First, we rode Twister, #99.

TWISTER – Twister became #99 because we were standing next to it when the park officially opened at 11 a.m. We picked up $10 worth of tickets, initially, and hopped in line. We were one the second train out the station, last seat. Overall, the ride was good – but not great. I liked that it tracked well and was smooth, generally, but it lacked any really strong points. The split lift is unique, the laterals strong, but not amazing, and the airtime was there – sometimes. The helix, I think, was the best part of the ride for me, but I wasn’t thrilled. 6 of 10, for being unique and fun, but forceless.

Now, to be honest, I don’t remember the exact order we rode anything else. I couldn’t get my bearings in the park for some reason, and we wandered around a lot. So, I’ll just go through the different attractions I was able to experience.

POWER SURGE – Well – it looks more exciting that Zamperla’s Mixer does, but I’ve never been on a Mixer. It was a unique experience, but pretty forceless. A fun ride, but it’s no Top Scan. 4 of 10, because it afforded a few bits of negative-g’s, but nothing like that glorious piece of machinery from Mondial. I’ve got to go back to Adventureland now and ride the Top Scan.

DOWNDRAFT – I’ve never seen one of these before, so I hopped in. Lots of centripetal force, less airtime than I was expecting. I was kind of hoping for a smaller variant of the Huss Jump, I guess, but didn’t get it. 3 of 10, because it made me nauseous.

1001 NACHT – Lackluster. 1 of 10.

THE HAUNTED MANSION – A great, great dark ride. My dark ride experience is limited to high-budget Disney affairs, and Adventureland’s 1313 Cemetary Way, however. But, I can see why this garners recognition. It was fun, varied, and not terribly cliché. I really liked it, and I wish I’d gotten to ride once or twice more. 8 of 10. I still like THE Haunted Mansion better.

LOG FLUME – I hardly got wet. I love it. 5 of 10, if only because it was too short.

TEA CUPS – Wow, did these look home-made. A very, very interesting sort of ride, and something I’ve never seen before. 5 of 10 for uniqueness.

WHIRLWIND – A unique Vekoma coaster (to me, anyway) in that it’s portable, and a variant on the more traditional corkscrew layout. It was, however, being run with Arrow-Huss trains. I don’t know if that’s the norm for older Vekoma coasters, but I’d not be surprised if it was. The Arrow-Huss builder’s plate, though, is what I thought was unique. I never realized Arrow and Huss had any partnerships. The ride tracked reasonably well, seeing as it’s portable, and a Vekoma. There was a bit of hang-time in the second corkscrew, but I really wound up riding this one for the credit. 4 of 10, because I emerged without a headache.

SKOOTERS – After having worked as a bumper car ride operator, among other things, at a Family Entertainment Center, it took some work-up to get me near bumper cars. I’d lost my interest in them, as I’d been riding them on a daily basis for years at one point in my life. The Skooters, however, are not bumper cars. They’re go karts that you’re allowed to slam into other drivers. They’re fantastic. The cars slide and spin and everything. It was a great, great ride with a nice long cycle time, and at a reasonable price, no less. I was very pleased with these. 8 of 10, because it’s better than road rage.

CAROUSEL – Get the rings! I’ll have to admit to being utterly terrified of Carousels. I’m afraid of heights, you see, and I don’t like being on the horses unrestrained – which reminds me, Knoebel’s seemed very, very lax about restrains. On coasters and flats alike. Where ever you set your restraints, they left ‘em there. - Anyway, grabbing for the rings was fun, but a bit nerveracking. Still, the ride holds a place in history. 4 of 10, because I’m from the MTV generation.

PIONEER TRAIN – I saw a deer and it goes right beneath Twister! If I knew had to use my digital camera, this would’ve offered some awesome photo opportunities. 4 of 10 because you can’t expect much, but it was still fun.

PHOENIX – There’s a reason I left this for last. I didn’t forget about it. I couldn’t forget about it. Phoenix is, without question, the single best ride I think I’ve ever seen – barring my penchant for Disney. I had heard good things, read good things, seen good things. I was expecting airtime, sure; but I was expecting airtime like I’d had in the past. There’s Nitro airtime. There’s Apollo’s Chariot airtime. There’s Superman: Ride of Steel (SFNE, mostly) airtime. None of those even approaches the experience offered by Phoenix. I can’t say enough good things. It was an amazing ride, an airtime smorgasbord; a religious experience. I first rode in the last seat, and I was pleased with the ride. It offered nice air, but nothing sustained like I’d experience the week before on Nitro. The front seat is where it’s at, folks. The airtime is monstrous. It was like the most blissful combination of ejector-floater air imaginable. My feet, behind, legs – all of it flying through the air without touching any of the train. It brought a tear of joy to my eye. I was instantly in love. My wood coaster experience is limited, but this ride instantly eclipsed Wildcat, Lightning Racer, Roar, Riverside’s Cyclone, and the Georgia Cyclone in a heartbeat. The speed is there, the airtime is everywhere the laterals are there, causing my friend to land on the seat divider, even, and the whole package just is amazing. If you’ve not ridden Phoenix, you must go now. It will change your life. I promise J The simple fact that there have been other wooden coasters ranked better than this blows my mind – and motivates me to go out and experience them as soon as possible. My interest in rides had been growing stale, both due to lack of variety in the rides themselves, and in what I could experience. Now, though, I want to ride Legend, Raven, and Ghostrider lots more. 9.8 of 10. There was .1 deducted because the ride ends. An additional .1 deducted because the ride is not in my backyard, and requires that I drive 3.5 each way for the experience. Here’s one ride I wouldn’t mind seeing cloned all over the place.

Regrettably, I didn’t get to experience three other classic attractions – the Flyers, the Satellite, and the High Speed Thrill Coaster. I had the interests of others to keep in mind, also. Those interests, it seemed, turned out to be food, mostly. The food there was good, but unusual for me. I’d never, ever heard of Chicken & Waffles until yesterday, and it’s certainly a unique combination. I guess you learn something new everyday.

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~~~ M ~~~
In life you start the same as when you're done. If you lose, you're just where you've begun. If you win, remember what I said, don't quit while you're ahead. Who cares?

*** This post was edited by Chernabog on 6/10/2002. ***

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Monday, June 10, 2002 1:46 PM
LOL! I love your rating system for Phoenix! The ride has to end some time! I am glad to see that it has hypnotized another enthusiast. Amazing how this incredible ride found a home in the middle of nowhere. Since you missed the world famous Flyers, I hope you'll return for those alone! PPP offers you another chance while getting to meet all kinds of people who live and breathe Knoebels (not to mention the great costumes).
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Brad Sherman
Soon park benches will have seatbelts!
Model coasters and rides
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Monday, June 10, 2002 4:02 PM
Twister forceless? You should have tried to cover the train better, and maybe ride at or near the front. The airtime is there. The entrance to the helix feels like the train is trying to throw you out!

Good report, and I WISH I was only 3.5 hours away from this park!

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Nothing... NOTHING... can prepare you for... the Fourth Dimension!

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Monday, June 10, 2002 4:53 PM

Soggy said:
Twister forceless? You should have tried to cover the train better, and maybe ride at or near the front. The airtime is there. The entrance to the helix feels like the train is trying to throw you out!

Good report, and I WISH I was only 3.5 hours away from this park!

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Nothing... NOTHING... can prepare you for... the Fourth Dimension!


I rode Twister 3 times, that I recall. Possibly 4. One of those was second seat, in fact. It just didn't do it for me. In fact, I thought there was less airtime toward the front than there was in the back. Now that you mention it, though, I recall the entrance to the helix, and I think that's what made me say it's my favorite part of the ride. The rest of the course, though, seemed tame to me.

Maybe it wasn't having a good day? I rode Superman: Ride of Steel at SFA last year, and there was no airtime whatsoever, so I know it can happen. Of course, it was also about 34 degrees. In any case, I'd like to get back there, and I'll definitely give it another shot.

My 3.5 hour drive, however, requires fighting through New York City. I was lucky, I suspect, that I went on a Sunday. A weekday might not be as friendly.

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~~~ M ~~~
In life you start the same as when you're done. If you lose, you're just where you've begun. If you win, remember what I said, don't quit while you're ahead. Who cares?

*** This post was edited by Chernabog on 6/10/2002. ***

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Monday, June 10, 2002 6:23 PM

I have to drive about 7 hours to get there. The GOCC Spring Fling on opening day was awesome. I can't wait to get back. Even though I love both the Raven and Legend, my heart belongs to Phoenix. Can't wait to get back.

I wonder if 26 rides in a row in the same seat without moving had anything to do with my opinion? Phoenix is my #1 woodie and to believe my first impression was "I drove all of the way out here for this". That of course was before my first ride.

The Fliers are insane at Knoebels. Got to love them.

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Monday, June 10, 2002 6:48 PM
Great trip report. I can't wait to experience Phoenix for my first time in mid-July. Funny that you mention other wooden coasters high in the ratings. After riding Ghostrider, I thought that nothing could compare. That was until I rode Boulder Dash. Now I'm looking forward to Raven and Legend in August and of course, Phoenix next month.

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Jim Hansen
Number of coasters ridden: 171

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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 10:50 AM

scooter said:

I have to drive about 7 hours to get there. The GOCC Spring Fling on opening day was awesome. I can't wait to get back. Even though I love both the Raven and Legend, my heart belongs to Phoenix. Can't wait to get back.

I wonder if 26 rides in a row in the same seat without moving had anything to do with my opinion? Phoenix is my #1 woodie and to believe my first impression was "I drove all of the way out here for this". That of course was before my first ride.

The Fliers are insane at Knoebels. Got to love them.



sorry to hear you live so far away... I have a whopping 30 minute drive!

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Planned parks: Astroland, Knoebel's, Hersheypark, SFNE, SFGadv,SFGam,CP,PKI,PKD,PCW,HW,Indiana Beach,SFWOA,SFKK,SFDL,SFSTL,Lakemont,DelGrosso's... Need I say more?

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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:25 PM
Well, I guess I just liked Twister better than you, no big deal!

Speaking of near vs. far, my aunt & uncle live even closer than MarimbaGuy 87, only 12 miles! I live in California!

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Nothing... NOTHING... can prepare you for... the Fourth Dimension!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 7:02 PM
Great report. Glad you liked Phoenix. Sometime you need to plan a weeklong expedition and hit Racers, Jackrabbit and Thunderbolt (KW), Blue Streak, Mean Streak and Gemini (CP), Beast (PKI), Thunder Run and Twisted Sisters (KK), and of course Raven and Legend (HW). Thunder Run is notable mainly because it's the only woodie I know with the entire ride behind the lift hill. First time you see it you'll step back and study it for a while it's so bizarre.
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Tuesday, June 11, 2002 7:09 PM

Yeah, you should really try out the Legend and Raven... you will love those! Cant say for Ghostrider though. I havent had the chance to ride it yet... like to though.

PS. Trekker Park, where do you live?

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Be sure to visit Holiday World. Best park in the world!

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Wednesday, June 12, 2002 8:40 AM
RCFan13 : I was born and raised just outside of Pittsburgh and learned to love Kennywood, Idlewild, Waldameer, Conneaut and Hershey pretty early. Now I spend the school year in Lexington, Ky., where I teach at the University of Kentucky. From down here I've come to appreciate King's Island, Cedar Point, Kentucky Kingdom, Holiday World and Carowinds. But I still spend much of the summer in Pennsylvania so I still get back to the old Home Parks annually.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2002 10:58 AM
Ok, just curious... I was just wondering if you lived near me.

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Be sure to visit Holiday World. Best park in the world!

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