Olsor Invades PA 6/2-6/5 (Knoebels, Hershey, Dutch Wonderland) [with pics]

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Sunday, June 8, 2008 11:02 PM
My wife and I just got back from a terrific week-long trip to Pennsylvania. In between historical stops at Gettysburg and downtown Philadelphia, we visited Knoebels, Hersheypark, and Dutch Wonderland.

Day 1: Knoebels (click for pics)

After flying in to Philly on Sunday, we spent our first night in Allentown. Had Dorney Park been open later than 7:30, I would've been really tempted to visit. Alas, I'd already been in 2005, and we had plenty of new parks ahead of us to visit.

Monday morning, we headed out to Knoebels, in what was one of the more convoluted drives I've ever taken. The park is in a beautiful setting, and the atmosphere is definitely charming (Charmland?). In addition to the old-timey feel of the park, it was really enjoyable to ride so many of the flat rides at the park. I'd never been on a Whip, and I'm pretty sure The Whipper realigned my spine in a good way. I'd also never been on a Flyer, and I was not disappointed. I even managed to snap it unintentionally, which I think scared a little pee out of my wife. There were a few field trips at the park, but it was incredibly dead. Even one-train operation on the coasters was more than adequate.

The Coasters

Phoenix (6 rides) - having finally ridden the Phoenix, I now understand why it's an enthusiast favorite. Lots of random ejector air and single-position lap bars. Not exactly my bag... I guess I prefer more sustained airtime. But it's still a great ride, and it cracks my top ten. It reminded me a lot of the Thunderbolt at SFNE. It was a little on the rough side if you were in a wheel seat, though.

Twister (2 rides) - solid ride with amazing laterals. It's a great complement to the Phoenix.

High Speed Thrill Coaster (1 ride) - ever wonder what it would feel like to be the marble on a Spacewarp or Knex set? This ride answers that question.

Flying Turns - still not open.

Day 2: Hersheypark (click for pics)

Hersheypark absolutely blew me away, and I'm kind of kicking myself for not getting out to this park sooner. It's a clean and beautiful park, the rides are staffed well. Again, we encountered a bunch of field trips at the park, but most rides had station waits all day. I had originally planned to hit Storm Runner first and save Fahrenheit for when the crowds dwindle around lunchtime. But by the time we got to that part of the park, I figured I might as well knock it out while it still had a short line. And that turned out to be a mistake.

Fahrenheit broke down after only a few trains. We were two trains away from riding, so we stuck it out for 45 minutes before finally bailing out. The body language on the ride staff and mechanics indicated it would be a long delay. But after taking a detour to ride the nearby woodies, Fahrenheit was up and running, and I managed to get on one of the first trains out.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at the park. No lines, plenty to do, and abundant chocolate on hand.

The Coasters

Fahrenheit (2 rides) - the lift, drop, and Norwegian loop are excellent. Then things get a little neck-punchy. It's a little better in the front of the train than in the back, but those Intamin OTSRs kind of ruin what should be a great small-footprint looper. Should I be worried about Maverick?

Storm Runner (5 rides) - my new favorite ride. I'm an unabashed fan of hypers, but Storm Runner just vaulted past all of them to take my top spot. Everything on that ride is incredible... the launch, the top hat, the drop, the inversions. Honestly, Cedar Point and SFGAdv should be kicking themselves for not building something akin to Storm Runner instead of giant phallic symbols.

Great Bear (1 rides) - I'm not a big fan of inverts, but this ride is entirely underrated. Very intense, very smooth, and I loved all the direction changes, especially the one right before the corkscrew.

Sooperdooperlooper (2 rides) - can't go wrong with a Schwarzkopf. My wife described it perfectly: it's Whizzer with a loop. It also makes me weep for how good SFMM's Revolution could be without those horrible restraints.

Wildcat (1 ride) - could be a great ride if it didn't hurt so much. I can't imagine how it felt before they got the Millennium Flyer trains. Then again, the little airtime I got was ruined by the restraints, which went into my abdomen instead of my lap (and I'm around 150 lbs. soaking wet).

Lightning Racer (1 ride each side) - very fun ride, but I'm still not a GCI convert. There was more air in the front of the train, but the train seemed to lag more sitting in the front.

Comet (3 rides) - great ride! Very smooth, and what it lacks in intensity, it makes up for by providing an overall fun and peppy ride.

Trailblazer (2 rides) - a smooth Arrow mine train? Juh?!? Short but fun ride.

Day 4: Dutch Wonderland (click for pics)

After spending a day at Gettysburg, we headed over to Lancaster for a variety of sightseeing activities. Dutch Wonderland was admittedly a credit whoring move on my part, but it was also right down the road from our hotel. It's a cute little park, and it's excellent for kids. Like Knoebels, it was fun to ride more than just the coasters at this park. I especially wanted to ride the Astroliner. I remember riding one of these at a carnival back around 1981. Holy crap, those things are cheesy, but in a great way.

The Coaster

Kingdom Coaster (1 ride) - a nice mid-sized woodie for the kids. Credit whoring complete.

***
In two months, I'm headed back to take care of the western portion of Pennsylvania. What a great state for coasters. Thanks for reading!

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Monday, June 9, 2008 7:35 AM
Comet smoother than Wildcat?! What are you smoking and where can I get some? :) You make up for it with your obvious favoritism on Storm Runner. What is it about that coaster?! I just love it. Everything to me is an example of what an Intamin coaster CAN be and simply isn't most of the time. It doesn't look like much, and the ride is a bit short to wait more than a half an hour or so, but Storm Runner at this time is my absolute favorite ride. Going to SFGrAdv today though, so that may change.

I've always wanted to go to Dutch Wonderland. I have no idea why, but I just DO. Perhaps I'll head out that way this weekend. There or Knoebel's...not sure. Probably Knoebel's though. We shall see. I've heard really nice things about both parks, and I think it would be a pleasant change from all the megaparks.

Good TR!

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Monday, June 9, 2008 12:36 PM
Nice TR and very nice pictures. Some angles and views I've never seen.

But tell me, on that picture of GreatBear in the "trough" between loop and Immelman, is the guy on the right talking on a cell phone? Or just holding his hand in a weird position?

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Monday, June 9, 2008 1:34 PM

Olsor said:
My wife and I just got back from a terrific week-long trip to Pennsylvania. In between historical stops at Gettysburg and downtown Philadelphia, we visited Knoebels, Hersheypark, and Dutch Wonderland.

Hmmm. Is this confirmation of my theory that parks near touristy areas get more visitors because of their location near those touristy spots? Hell, even enthusiasts do it. :)

Excellent TR. I agree with much of what you had to say.

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Monday, June 9, 2008 2:13 PM
^ Or does the tourist area become more touristy because of the attractions built to attract people already going to the parks?

Granted, in the case of Philly and Gettysburg, Hersheypark draws from them, rather than the other way around. But at the same time, the park is an anchor for many other tourist businesses and attractions that have sprung up in and around the town of Hershey.

It's a savvy stroke of marketing to market the entire region as a tourist site for multi-day visits, including Lancaster County/Amish, Hershey, Harrisburg and Gettysburg. Many places are too provincial to think that way. A lot of places are marketed as "stop here on your way to somewhere else," or "come here for the day then go home."

Maybe it's a chicken/egg thing. But I think we can agree that the egg in this case is a golden one.

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Monday, June 9, 2008 2:18 PM
I think it's totally a chicken/egg thing.

In fact, I almost joked that in my case it's the exact opposite - we visit touristy things when they're near parks. :)

I do believe Hershey and BGE are two of the parks that benefit most from the 'regional attraction' situation.

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Monday, June 9, 2008 3:37 PM
^In our case, we have a long-standing agreement: any vacation we take must involve at least one historical location (for her) and at least one amusement park (for me). Places like Virginia and southeast PA are great for achieving both those goals.

I think Hersheypark and BGE are perfect examples of parks that have figured out their regional appeal. I couldn't believe the amount of advertising for Fahrenheit around the Harrisburg/Lancaster area.

RGB - I thought the exact same thing about the guy in that Great Bear picture. I *think* he's just touching his face. Then again, I did see more than a few kids on cell phones while on a ride last week.

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