The setup: there are some differences between this event and PPP. First of all, you use the campground road to enter and park in the lowest level of campsites. There were a decent number of cars there when I entered. A couple hundred people may have been there.
Phoenix Junction was also open selling basic refreshments (dogs, burgers, chicken fingers, soda, coffee, and pumpkin pie). At the food pick-up area, they were also selling tickets for the rides. This was one thing that threw most people off who weren't familiar with this event (including me). The trolley car ticket booth was in darkness, and I saw many people walking out of the Phoenix queue to the Junction.
They were selling color coded tickets for $2.50 each. As an added surprise, the haunted mansion was open as well. You could buy a combo (one ticket of each) for $6.00. I bought a combo plus two extra tickets for Phoenix figuring that might be enough for 90 minutes of riding.
First ride of course was Phoenix in the dark. There was about a 4-5 train wait for the second seat. As great as the rides were for PPP, these were the autumn rides we're all hoping for. Cool (around 50 degrees), crisp autumn air-- the only light coming from the nearly full moon occasionally screened by a passing cloud. The only downer on this ride was a group of screamers. They screamed in the tunnel, up the lift hill, up and down every hill and through the turnarounds. I was tempted to ask whether they were going to scream while heading down the exit ramp. Oh well. Onto the Haunted Mansion.
A pathway was set up from Phoenix over to the mansion past the shooting gallery and Turns, the Paratrooper, and the round pavilions. A few overhead lights were lit for security. What may have been every bench in the park were decorated with corn shocks and pumpkins and placed edge to edge to define the path and to keep people from wandering. I thought of some of the discussions in here about security at other park's Halloween events. There were a few security people along the way, but for the most part, they were trusting people not to go where they weren't permitted.
The ride was an absolute walk on. It seemed like just about every car was lined up in front waiting for riders. I suppose a lot of people didn't want to walk "all the way back" there.
This was the first time in years I'd ridden the Mansion without a small child, so I got to notice a few more effects I hadn't remembered seeing before. I did notice the timing of the "skull room" was more in sync now. Fun ride.
Since I still had 2 Phoenix tickets left, I thought I'd ride again before trying the cars. I didn't want to get stuck with too many tickets in case lines were too long or the rides closed. I soon found out my concerns were unfounded. After a great ride in Seat 11 (4-2 for the purists), it was over to the Cars.
Unlike PPP, the line extended only one queue length. It was a short wait, even though they were making sure to provide lots of space between cars. I was bouncing off the guide like crazy because I was busy checking out the scenes. Quite a few "characters" jumped out along the way-- I counted 6. Did they have this many during PPP too?
After that, it was all about Phoenix. I spent my third ticket, but soon ran over to buy two more, and two more after that. Somewhere in between, I bought a cup of coffee. When I added the creamer, it partially curdled. The woman at the counter noticed and immediately poured a new cup for no charge. Just another example of the stellar customer service. A further example is that just before 10, a ride supervisor came to the Phoenix platform and asked whether anyone still had tickets for the Haunted Mansion before they closed it. (She repeated that a few minutes later for the car ride.)
If you're doing the math, you figured out that they were still selling tickets for Phoenix and the cars past the supposed closing time of 10:00. It turned out that the last ride for Phoenix happened closer to 10:30. There were about 10-12 riders on the first 4 and last 3 seats. It also turned out that the train "stopped" too far in the station, so we had to go around again. Imagine that! Great ending to a great season at Knoebels. Opening day is only 6 months away.
Yeah, there were quite a few happy haunts on the 'Tiques at PPP...it was well worth the wait.
"...just before 10, a ride supervisor came to the Phoenix platform and asked whether anyone still had tickets for the Haunted Mansion before they closed it. (She repeated that a few minutes later for the car ride.)"
That park really sucks...LOL!
Words cannot describe the bliss of the Phoenix in the dark. I wish they did this at closing every night. WOW
The cars were better than last year. They still had scenes all along both sides of the course, but in addition to the old scenes they had a haunted amusement park featuring a mini wave swinger and a wooden kiddie coaster! I should've taken pictures. I shot a video, but the camera doesn't let you crank up the gain like it does for still pictures (which is rather stupid -- they could've had an extra feature for no cost) so it's pretty dim.
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