Knoebels...6/15/08

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Monday, June 16, 2008 3:39 AM
Knoebels sure is an interesting place. I knew that Knoebels is a place for tons of families to camp, I knew that it was an amusement park without an admission price or tons of "thrill rides" per se, and I knew that the Golden Ticket people awarded Knoebels the best food for some insane amount of times in a row. Oh yeah, and I knew that there were two roller coasters there, one being legendary (at least locally) for its insane airtime and short wait times. Still, I didn't know what to expect exactly, and I definitely didn't expect THIS.

When I was a kid, I used to go camping with my parents and grandmother at a place outside of State College. The roads were all gravel, there was nothing around for miles except the campground, a lake, and a swimming pool. Knoebels reminded me of this camp site. Sure there are rides EVERYWHERE (I've never seen so many flat rides in one place), but they're nicely spread out all over the park, and since there is no formal entrance, I could just imagine going camping here and then wandering onto Phoenix for a few turns and then going back to my tent or camper. The scenery is beautiful and empty, and all the louder attractions seem somehow sound-dampened.

As per usual though, I digress. My adult group members decided to purchase the ticket books since we did not know how often we were honestly going to be riding the rides. I debated a ride bracelet since I thought I would be going on multiple repeats of the Phoenix and Twister, but I decided not to because I didn't have a lot of money. Let me tell you, when you're with two children under the age of 10, 20 bucks will get you on a LOOOOOT of rides. Unfortunately for me, they were mostly all rides that three year olds can ride with the company of an adult. I WOULD like to highlight a few things though:

1. The bumper cars. I HATE bumper cars. I have a penchant for injuring myself on rides, and I don't know HOW, but I sprained (strained?) my knee on bumper cars in high school. Don't ask how one sprains a knee on a sit down ride because I really couldn't tell you. Anyway, I had to get on this ride (I'm embarrassed to say that I ride the BC and Ferris Wheels typically in sheer abject terror) because my pseudoquasi niece wasn't big enough to get on by herself. I was REALLY surprised by this ride. I got some hard impacts, but nothing that shook me up to the point where I was praying to get off the ride. In fact, I wanted to go on again. The signs said that Knoebels have the #1 rated bumper cars in the country or in the world or something like that. I didn't know that there were so many differentiations of this ride requiring a "world's best", but I could see where this one took the honor.

2. The train ride that travels under Twister's structure. It's expensive for a plain old train ride, but it's at least a five minute ride, you really get a bird's eye view of the roller coaster, and you end up in the middle of the woods with no one else around. Bonus points if you tease your friend (who hates horror movies) about how much the woods look like the exact same woods that Blair Witch Project occurred in, then proceed to gasp over fallen trees that look like the stick figures from the movie. Then...oh, is the train slowing down? We're gonna get stuck and some dude with a chainsaw and a burlap sack over his head's gonna hack us up into pieces...really, it's fun. Then, you REALIZE how pretty the scenery is, and it shuts you up. The air is cooler with a refreshing bit of humidity that feels much better and more subtle than a splashy water ride. As much fun as I have at parks, I kinda wanted to hop off the train and stay in that part of the trees for a while.

3. Twister itself. I don't know if I had more fun on this because it was one of only two coasters in the park or if I just liked it because it was different from anything I've ridden before. It really surprised me due to the tricky layout and unusual places to speed up. The two biggest hills felt pretty steep, and the whole ride, while decidedly still wooden, didn't feel like I had suffered contracoup from my brains slapping back and forth in my head. Always a plus. I also liked the fact that it was a decent length ride. That is one of the many good things about wooden coasters, that you get such a nice long ride with a few of them. Can't say that for steel unless you count the lift hill.

4. Tea Cups. So it's corny. I love the tea cups. Where can you ever find tea cups anymore? I haven't seen them since DisneyWorld. Plus, these were actually fast (unlike Disney's version). Wish I could have re-rode.

5. Skloosh. Love the name. Love the fact that this is a pretty small little water ride but has the hugest splashdown I have ever seen. You can see that splashdown from halfway across the park. How can you not love Skloosh?

5. Last, but not least, and of course not unexpected....Phoenix. So this coaster is not the most exciting thing I've ever been on. It's definitely not the best woodie I've been on, and it did anything but scare me. However, it has a charm all its own. It's not brutally rough, but it's got a little edge. It's surrounded by itself in a wraparound design, there's what seemed like a ridiculously long and VERY dark tunnel, and the airtime is sick. I was out of my seat at least 10 times. I lost count after that. I will definitely ride this again and again, although I honestly couldn't tell anyone what made this ride so loved and enjoyed by me. Wish I could have re-rode, but the line was ridiculous when I turned around to get back on it. Out the station and past all the benches into the main walkway. And it stayed like that. Blech.

All in all, this is not a thrillseeker's ideal park. Still, I've never seen so many kid-friendly rides, which is great for families, and if you just feel like going to a park but don't want to get gouged (Six Flags--ahem) by prices, this is also the park for you. It's charming, old school, and unexpected.

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Monday, June 16, 2008 1:49 PM
Sounds like you were there earlier in the day. I was there later in the afternoon/evening. I was a bit surprised at the one-train operation on both coasters. But I never had to wait more than a few trains for either one.

BTW, you can only ride with tickets on Saturdays and Sundays. Except for a few weekends at the beginning and end of the season, handstamps/ wristbands are only available during the week.

If you're ever going with a group, you might want to look into the volume discount. You can only buy tickets "in bulk" at the ride office (which is across from the Flyers looking away from the Turns) and you have to buy a minimum of $150 to get a discount. For a group of 6-8 people, that could work.

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Monday, June 16, 2008 3:10 PM

bunky666 said:
I will definitely ride this again and again, although I honestly couldn't tell anyone what made this ride so loved and enjoyed by me.

I think you did just that when you explained the ride to us! Its has its own charm, its not scary but has an edge and it throws you out of your seat 10+ times... Thats EXACTLY why this is my favorite wood coaster.

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Monday, June 16, 2008 6:31 PM

bunky666 said:
All in all, this is not a thrillseeker's ideal park.

The flyers can be more thrilling than any other ride at any other park. ;)

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Monday, June 16, 2008 10:36 PM
What, no Haunted House? One of the best traditional dark rides ever.
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Monday, June 16, 2008 11:52 PM
Bunky - - -> You seem to have placed quite a few trip reports in the last few weeks. Keep it up!

What makes Knoebels special to me is that it's one of the few parks where I really (though not intentially) feel like I don't have to RUN from ride to ride. I can take it all in and go slowly. The "toys" may be old, but they tend to take very good care of them.

I don't think are too many thrills for me on roller coasters anymore. I love them if they are quality rides, but they provide fun for me and not-so-much a thrill.

Knoebels is a big drive for me, so an overnight stay is very important (usually at a Hampton Inn), and I also go with my family, which cuts into my riding time.

The thing is...even though I've only been there twice, I still haven't been on many of the key atractions (Bumper Cars, Boat tag, Bumper CArs, Train ride).

Instead of rushing and trying to get it all in, I know I will return at some point and continue to explore. (Heck, two years ago I spent about two hours in the pool with my kid...and that was alright too).

RatherGoodBear, (a frequent Knoebels customer whom I've never met face-to-face) once wrote after one of my long stupid trip reports; that he could see that I "Got it." I guess he meant that a park didn't have to have to be a big chain park with "the bigest" and "the fastest" to be good.

He is right. *** Edited 6/17/2008 3:52:50 AM UTC by Richie Reflux***

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Monday, June 16, 2008 11:54 PM
No one could go with me in the haunted house, and I felt like I was really rushed to get on the rides I wanted to get on. This day was all about the kiddies. Not that I mind, but I would like to go to the park again without children and see what I see. I heard that Haunted House was one of the best in the country.

I keep hearing people talking about the Knoebels flyers. What ARE they? I don't know that I even saw these.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 12:03 AM
Richie Reflux, yeah, this is my summer of coaster love. I hurt my back earlier in the year, and I got to thinking that as I get older, I may not be able to do so many rides. I want to have ridden at least 50 coasters by the time I am 30.

Yeah, I noticed that a lot of the Knoebels rides were oldies, but I tell you what, they DID look to be in excellent condition. The paint was all decent, the Phoenix wasn't all saggy and ragged like Thunderhawk and Comet, and none of the cars that I noticed had rips or tears in the seats. I was very pleased with nearly everything at Knoebels, and I felt so at peace (a strange and unique feeling at an amusement park). I'm going to Great Adventure again on Friday, but I'm really gonna want, in some aspects, to be back at Knoebels. :)

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 12:23 AM
Glad to see you had fun, you are racking up a good amount of parks as of late.

The phoenix is a solid coaster, and like you said same with twister.

Funny that you mentioned that it looks like a campground because i said the same thing about waldameer last week, only with paved midways or whatever one might call knoebels alleyways or such.

As for the flyers they are right next to the flying turns, they look like tubs with sails. They are a dying breed these days, i know there quite a few parks that at least have them, but not as much as they once were. They also offer you the opportunity to really control the ride, and really catching the wind. As many people on this site are good at cracking those things, maybe one day i might learn the secrets of the masters. They are fun though. If you plan a virginia trip kings dominion still has theres or if knoebels is still in your plans this year for a return, give them a spin.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 2:25 AM
Ah, Magnum, I AM attempting to plan a trip to Kings Dominion. I've ALWAYS wanted to go there. I don't know why out of all the parks that one has been a desire, but it's always been a desire. It's a bit far for me, but my dad lives in OC, MD, so I'm sure I could arrange a little side trip and hit a few parks.

I DID see the Flyers then. They looked like a lot of fun in a simple way. I'll have to get on some. I too long for the secrets of the masters. Ehehehe...I want to go to Waldameer! :P This is another park that I've heard a lot about.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:29 PM
Phoenix is definitely my favorite woodie. Ride it at night in 1-3 and it may change your opinion. Especially if it's the last ride of the night and the lights are out.

As for the flyers, they are deceptive. If you get a good rhythm going and can get them snapping, (where the cables go slack and then whip tight again) it is more fun and more thrilling than just about any coaster I've ever been on.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:49 PM
Watch this video to see why the flyers can be more thrilling than any coaster. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OObZ7oHGWtc

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 1:06 PM
Acoustic Viscosity, that's crazy!! Do they actually allow that, or were you (or someone else) breakin' the law? LOL That thing looked like it was nearly upside down at times!
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 1:23 PM
Most of the ops will allow that. There's one who gets pretty pissed.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 2:10 PM
Yeah most ops at Knoebels allow it. Other parks depends on the park procedures. I know Hershey forbids it, but i've never come close to snapping at Hershey.

Here's video of the so called "Snap Nazi"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HprTk1W0opY

I try to not ride when he's there cause either me or someone on the ride will invariably get it slowed and have him say something.

I hope the link works *** Edited 6/18/2008 6:11:46 PM UTC by dragonoffrost***

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 2:45 PM
What's weird to me about the "snap nazi" is that quite obviously, Dick K. is OK with us enjoying the ride in this manner, which VERY few parks allow. I appreciate the extra work required to maintain the ride when people like Matt go insane (I can only hope, dream, and practice) - but it's one of those touches that makes Knoebels what it is.

I have yet to run out of things to do there, and just last PPP finally got a ride on the Crazy Dazy. Hard for me to believe I hadn't ridden it before.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 4:06 PM
Since the subject was brought up...

At the park Sunday evening, I had 4 rides on the Flyers with 3 different operators-- only 1 I remember seeing before. One took the ride (temporarily) down to half speed both times I rode with him at the controls. On the first ride he said something to the young guy on the tub ahead of me. I really had no idea why he got scolded because he wasn't whipping the sail, and he wasn't really doing any extreme snapping.

The second ride, different operator, but somebody got called out, again, I don't know what for. Third ride, had operator #1 again. There was a group of late teen/early 20 age guys and girls who were all snapping. Again the ride was slowed down for a few rotations then brought back up to speed. None were bad rides, but not the most snaptastic either. You're also wondering if you're going to get taken to task for something you're doing.

Last ride I took, the operator just "let 'em play" as they say in hockey. That had to be the best ride I had on the Flyers in a long time, if ever. I managed to hit the sweet spot to induce some crazy snapping. I even had to scoot my butt over to the inside of the tub because I was getting nervous about being so close to the opening.

I'm not sure if the ops from Sunday will be the "regular" ops all summer long. I overheard someone saying that the park isn't up to full staffing yet, so maybe that will change.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 4:46 PM
Bunky - if you're able I would highly recommend attending Phoenix Phall Phunfest -- aka PPP -- on Saturday, October 4. For many enthusiasts PPP (and the next day, commonly called the Hangover Day) has become the traditional way to end the season.

The park is open both days to the general public. There is no preregistration for Saturday's event, just wander on by the registration table during the day and sign up (it's usually between $15-20). ERT begins at 6pm and ends at 10pm. The schedule of rides offered during ERT varies from year to year but Phoenix and Twister are always included. The Haunted House, flyers, High Speed Thrill Coaster, and lots of other spinning rides are also open although some are not available for the entire four hours of ERT.

Two other rides of special notice: the car ride is transformed into a drive-thru Haunt attraction with set pieces and scareactors. It's a must-do and always has a long line. And that train ride you spoke of that goes thru the Blair Witch forest? Imagine that AT NIGHT in the dark!

After ERT ends there is a bonfire, but first everyone gathers for a short speech by Dick Knoebels (sometimes he announces the next year's new attraction!) and awards are handed out for costume contest. Oh, didn't I mention? Attendees are encouraged to wear a Halloween costume. Yes, you're allowed to ride the rides in costume. There is a costume parade for those individuals and groups who wish to have their costumed judged. Some enthusiasts even wear coaster or park-themed costumes. But even if you don't wear a costume you'll have a great time.

The park is open again Sunday and many enjoy a nice lazy day riding, playing mini-golf and Fascination, and walking (or is that eating?) their way thru the Covered Bridge Arts festival. As the day winds down everyone seems to gravitate to Phoenix for a few last rides of the season.

Soon it's closing time and as everyone gathers in the courtyard in front of Phoenix to say goodbye the park slowly becomes quiet. It's almost a bit melancholy as Phoenix's lift motor and the nearby caliope are turned off and suddenly it's silent except for the crisp fall air rustling thru the autumn leaves.

You can find photos from PPP weekend (1999-2004) here.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 5:33 PM
^Wow....thanks Moosh. You definitely captured the feeling that keeps me coming back every year. It's really nice to see the leaves changing color...and have a chance to say goodbye to my "coasting family" for another year... :)
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Thursday, June 19, 2008 1:45 AM
Oh, I MUST do that. I MUST. I love love love Halloween, as does my husband, and that sounds like something a little more intimate than going to a Halloweekends type thing. Plus, you can actually wear costumes. I must do it.
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