Thursday, July 19, 2001 2:50 PM
Knoebels Resort part 2 of 3
Leaving Hersheypark me and Matt started the drive up I-81 towards Knoebels. We have directions printed out from their website, but the exit sign numbers don’t match up. We’re looking for exit 35, but the numbers are in the 80’s. It turns out that they’ve renumbered all the exit signs. Thankfully they still have the old exit numbers printed (in small type of course) at the bottom of each sign. Getting off I-81 we travel through a lot of steep, windy two-lane country roads. My little 4-cylinder car is begging for mercy. Passing Knoebels entrance, we don’t see a single hotel or motel, but plenty of campgrounds. We wind up staying the night in Danville off I-80, which isn’t too far from Knoebels. We arrive around 12pm and pay nothing to park. Yes! There’s no main entrance or fancy ticket booths either. You just walk right on in. We go and buy ride-all-passes for $26.95, which includes the two wood coasters. Similar to Kennywood, they give you a wristband and a hand stamp. The ink in the hand stamp is a little strong, so the building was covered in ink from people rubbing the back of their hands on the building. Is this a Knoebels tradition I wonder? We take our first ride on Whirlwind, a Vekoma double-corkscrew coaster. The ride is short, but it’s not bad. We then head off to the much-touted Phoenix. Sure, I have the same America’s Greatest Coasters video everyone else does, but I was not prepared for what followed. First you go through an pitch black tunnel which is somewhat disorientating before the lift hill. After going down the first drop, the ride starts out like most wood coasters, but just you wait. From here on, the airtime is massive. Every hill seems to have me way out of my seat. Double ups, double downs. It’s absolutely insane and I love it. Matt proclaims it his new #1 wood coaster. I’m sitting on Matt’s disposable camera on one ride, then on the next ride I’m sitting on mine. Secure anything in your pockets, because it will go flying. Believe the hype. Unfortunately, they were only running one train. We then head to Twister, their recent addition. This is a much more modern looking wood coaster, and it’s much bigger than The Phoenix. We wait for the front row, a one-train wait, and we see something that scares Matt and I both. The train goes flying through the station because a distracted ride-op doesn’t apply the sled brakes. Can you say re-ride? No one on board seems upset though! Then one of the ride attendants is actually walking on the sled brakes while the ride is in motion. Not smart at all. Again, I was blown away by this coaster. The ride starts out with one lift hill and a small winding drop, and then it goes up another lift hill. The speed is constant with some great drops, and the double helix around the station rules. There’s also a nice dark tunnel to the end the ride. Sadly, like on Phoenix they’re only running one train. Next we hit the also much-touted haunted house. For some reason this an extra dollar, but don’t you dare leave without riding this at least once. Sitting two to a seat, you sit in a small car that runs on a single rail. The car is very exposed with only a handlebar. Me and matt white knuckle it the whole time. There are multiple rooms you travel through, and each room is separated by a split door that you literally smash through which increases the heart-rate factor. Each room is brilliantly done, and it’s pretty scary. There’s one prop in this ride, that if doesn’t make you yell or scream, you’re simply not breathing! I tell Matt I remember riding one of these attractions at Dorney when I was kid. How sad that someone would remove one. We ride the excellent logflume next and get fairly wet. Then we visited the coal museum next to the logflume. At the back of the museum is a whole timeline of the park’s history, including pictures. Don’t miss it. Well, it’s off to the flat rides, and we ride the Zamperla Power Surge first. The seats are the same as on Aero 360 at Kennywood and are very comfortable. I love the ride and it’s got a lot of changes in direction. Next, we ride the 2001 attraction, the Darton made Downdraft. Power Surge might make people sick, but Downdraft is the real chunkblower. Sitting three to a bench the ride spins at a rapid speed. Then the arms we’re attached to fly up in the air and back down over and over again. We go and ride the very old kiddie coaster called High Speed Thrill Ride next. It’s actually pretty fun. We then go and ride the carosuel. I get a whopping two rings, but Matt gets one every time. Back at Twister, we run into Ray, an ACE member from California. We decide to hang out together and we head for America’s best bumper cars (as proclaimed by Tim O’Brien) next. I can’t figure out how to put the straps on. Matt says to wrap it around your waist. I ask an attendant if I have it right, and he says, “Ah, whatever” and walks away. Unlike most bumper cars, you go around in an oval shaped track. Then we hit Cosmotron, an indoor disco-themed Himalaya. By this time it’s starts to rain, but we all ride the excellent uncovered train anyway. The rest of the night involves re-rides on Power Surge, Phoenix, and the Haunted House. In one of the gift shops they also have old copies of Amusement Today for half off. I pick up a 1999 issue with an article about S:ROS from SFDL and an ad from Premier for Joker’s Jinx. Very cool. What an excellent park. If you think that a park has to have a B&M, themeing, a hypercoaster, etc. to be a great park, you are sadly mistaken. My only disappointment was that I couldn’t trailer mount Power Surge to my car to take back to SFA. Get here anyway you can!
Thursday, July 19, 2001 4:17 PM
I'm glad to hear you had such a good time. The phoenix is such an awesome coaster in so many respects, but one of the coolest things about it is that everytime I ride it, it seems to get smoother. The air still baffles me on that ride.
That frigin haunted house still scares me. Every year they change something.
Last time I was there we rode a bunch of flat rides and then we rode downdraft. That was the only flat ride I was ever on that almost made me throw up.
Good luck in philly j.r.