Knoebel's 7/26

Associated parks:
None

Friday, August 23, 2002 6:13 PM
From 7/21/02 to 7/29/02, I decided to do a coaster invasion of some northeastern states. My stops were:

7/21 Fly in
7/22 Morey’s Piers
7/23 Six Flags Great Adventure
7/24 Six Flags America
7/25 Hersheypark
7/26 Knoebel’s
7/27 Dorney Park and Bara party at a friend's houser
7/28 Dorney Park
7/29 Fly out

July 26 was a visit to Knoebel’s. I had heard a lot of good things about the park. The best things that I’ve heard was that it was affordable and had free parking. I really keyed into the free parking. I was getting tired of paying $9-$10 at the Six Flags parks.

I drove from Harrisburg to Elysburg. The drive was about 2 ½ hours. I drove through miles of trees and farmlands. They weren’t kidding – Knoebel’s is really in the middle of nowhere! I arrived at 9:30 am. The park opened at 11 am, so I got a chance to walk around while very few people were around.

Knoebel’s has a campground feel since trees are everywhere. It’s like someone stuck an amusement park in a campground. Most things felt like I was at Camp Winnepaka again. The signage seemed had a campground feel. The bathrooms even felt like they were like communal campground (with water fountains outside the bathrooms!). It was a very different feel to the other parks that I visited earlier in the week.

I had a $3 off coupon for an armband (graciously sent by a friend) and I opted for the basic plus wood coaster option (of course!). With my $3 off coupon, the cost of an armband was $24.75.

It rained a little bit before 11 am, but no more drops fell from the sky for the rest of the day. I’m glad nature got the rain out of her!

I headed to the Twister first and worked my way out from there. I headed to the Whirlwind, the Phoenix, and did some flat rides on the way to the High Speed Thrill Coaster. Then I did more rides on the coasters and some other flat rides and shows. I stayed at the park until around 8 pm.

So here are my impressions of the rides…

TWISTER

A lot of people name this twister wooden coaster as a top 10 ride. I’m not sure why. My dislike of twister wooden coasters grew with this ride. It was pretty rough. The ride beat me up really good! The good thing about this coaster and the other wooden coaster, the Phoenix, is that the restraints are lapbars only. There are no seatbelts. If you click the lapbar just enough, you can get some good airtime. Still, I rode it five times. They were running pretty much one train all day. My wait was no more than 15 minutes for each ride.

WHIRLWHIND

This was a looping steel coaster. I didn’t think it was a bad ride. It had a few inversions and loops, but it was too short. By the time I got into the ride, the coaster hit the end brakes and was done! I rode it four times nonetheless. My first three rides were pretty smooth. On my last ride, my head kept on banging against the restraints! I waited a few minutes for each of my rides. The coaster was on a one-train rotation.

THE PHOENIX

The Phoenix was an out and back wooden coaster. My love for out and backs grew with this coaster. It is pretty smooth and had some great airtime. I think I had to wait at least 15 minutes for each of my six rides. They were running only one train. I’m not sure why they couldn’t run more. Sure, the wait wasn’t too long, but throughput could have been improved greatly with another train.

HIGH SPEED THRILL COASTER

I’m ashamed to admit it – I rode this one for the credit. This steel coaster had a small drop and a few small hills. It was neither high speed nor thrilling. I bet that when it was installed 40 or so years ago, it must have been the Millennium Force of its day. Now it’s a nice kiddie ride. I waited about 10 minutes for my one and only ride.

Now onto some of the flat rides…

THE FLYERS

I rode this one because of a Knoebel’s scene from Robb Alvey’s Coaster Season 2001. It went like this:

Elissa: “Derek, why are you so sad?”

Derek: “Because the Flyers sucked!”

Indeed, the Flyers did. You could move your rudder back and forth to pilot your route, but the flyer didn’t move very far. Also, when the ride stopped, the flyer kept on moving, so I had a hard time getting my feet on the ground. The Flyers must be an old ride. I could hear the generator running and rust was on some of the supports. I only waited a few minutes for this one.

HAUNTED HOUSE

The Haunted House cost me an extra $1 because it was not included in the armband. I had heard a lot of good things about this house. I thought it was pretty scary. I became a chicken and closed my eyes during some parts. It got a bit intense for me. Then again, I’m not a big fan of haunted houses. I rode Millennium Force and Wicked Twister many times at Cedar Point, but haunted houses? No, thank you! I had to ride it, though, with all the good things I’ve heard about it. It isn’t as nice-looking as Disney’s Haunted Mansion, but it is much scarier. The odd thing about Knoebel’s Haunted House was that there was a forest scene with stereotypical natives. I know that I stepped into a Victorian-looking house. How did I get to Africa all of a sudden?

THE GRAND CAROUSEL

I rode the Carousel because of its history. I was also trying to catch the brass ring, which I couldn’t. After the slide incident at Morey’s Piers, I wasn’t about to lean out too far for a free ride. I got unlimited rides with my armband anyway! I waited a few minutes for this fun ride.

BUMPER CARS

Tim O’Brien, author of “The Amusement Park Guide,” called Knoebel’s Bumper Cars the best in America. I rode them once and they are very fun. You drove them one way in a circular path. The bumper cars were pretty fast and I could bump into people really well. Some people did collisions that were worth of “World’s Scariest Police Chases!” I had a lot of fun pushing the sides of other people’s cars and trapping them against the wall. I was an excellent driver in the bumper cars since I avoided collisions most of the time. I waited about 5 minutes for a ride.

WHIPPER

I had to ride another Whip ride. This one seemed older than the one at Hersheypark, but was just as fun. The ride op ran a bell to start the ride and ran it again to signal that it was safe to leave the ride. I hoped that no one would jump up and start boxing when he rang the bell! I waited 5 minutes for a ride.

I also saw a magic show. I forgot the name of the magician, but he did an excellent end trick called Metamorphosis. It left me wondering, “How’d he do that?” I also watched a brass band play some oldies. Two performers even waved to my video camera!

Food was pretty reasonably priced. I ate at the International Food Court. I had a hamburger combo. It included a hamburger with lettuce and tomato, fries, cole slaw, and a drink for around $7.50. After being soaked for food at Six Flags, it was refreshing to pay under $10 for a meal. One place was advertising a Friday night all you can eat fish fry for $6.95, but I passed on it. Fried foods tend to make me sick.

Knoebel’s is an affordable park to visit. Out of curiosity, I found out the cost of each ride that I went on and added it up. If I just used tickets, the cost of what I rode would have been near $30. Even without the coupon, I would have come out ahead. I even considered what I rode a full day! Imagine if I had rode a lot more. I would have come out even further ahead.

One odd thing I noticed was the signal the ride ops used to say the coaster was ready to run. They did the “a-ok” symbol with their fingers. That was surprising, since some cultures would consider that akin to us sticking out the middle finger! I suppose Knoebel’s doesn’t attract world travelers like Disney does. In fact, I think I was the only one from Florida in the whole park! I think most people came from Pennsylvania or the surrounding states. Who else but coaster riders would travel so far for coasters?

Quite a few of the Knoebel’s employees looked very young. I saw a lot of 13 and 14 year old girls. I think this was the youngest faces that I’ve ever seen at a park. I don’t know what other job a 13 year old can get in Elysburg. I think they’re too young for mining!

I really enjoyed Knoebel’s and I would definitely visit it again.

I checked into a hotel in Danville, which was about 30 minutes away. I checked into a Red Roof Inn, which seemed to be the cheapest at $43 a night. The front desk clerk was able to find my reservation without problems.

I seemed to stay at a lot of Red Roof Inns. Out of my hotel searches, they were the cheapest. I had no complaints about the room. The Danville Red Roof Inn had a bunch of guys and girls upstairs having a party. I guess they were shooting “Girls Gone Wild at the Red Roof Inn” in their room. Yet, even with the party, I never heard any loud noises and slept very soundly. The only bad part about the Red Roof Inns was that one room had a toilet that made weird hissing sounds every 20 minutes. I did not see a snake in the bowl, though.

Tomorrow: Dorney Park and a party at a friend's house

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