3 PM, I met my girlfriend at her job and we headed to Knoebels. Since it was mid-afternoon, there were more people heading out of the craft show than into it so the traffic between Elysburg and the park, where it usually comes to a standstill, was moving at normal speed. We ended up not parking all the way at the back of the parking lot, which was surprising. It was a little after 4 when we got to the handstamp office, where there was no line either.
After we got our handstamps, we headed to Cesaris to get our free pizza. Along the way, we spotted a lot of people with PPP shirts and lots of insignia from other parks. This was a big step up from last year when even though there was a record crowd it was hard to tell who were enthusiasts and who weren't. Even though there wasn't much of a line yet for pizza, service was still terribly slow. And despite the wait, our pizza wasn't terribly hot. But at least it didn't burn our mouths, and at least it was well-cooked unlike some years when the PPP rush hits.
After the za, we went to the bumper cars to use up some leftover tickets before PPP started. There was a short line, and we got an average ride. Then we headed over to the Phlyers. There was about a 2-cycle wait. On the first cycle, somebody we couldn't see from the back of the queue got a really loud snap, and the op immediately turned the speed way down. The next ride he started out at full speed, but as soon as somebody got what I consider an average snap, he turned it down again. I've snapped with this guy running before, but obviously that wasn't going to happen today. And with the crosswind, you can't help snapping. So even though we were at the front of the line by then, we bailed out and headed back to the bumper cars. We got there just in time for the last ride before they shut down for the 5:00 break, and I got a car that had severe drive train issues if you turned it hard to the left. Of course, you've got to turn it hard to the left...
So with everything shut down for supper break, and our pizza already out of the way, we went to the swap meet to check out the peep contest. There were only 3 entries, and it was really no contest. We both voted for the same one. We spent a little time looking at the park memorabilia, but it's pretty much the same year after year, so we sat down to wait for Phoenix to open. 6:00, Phoenix opened, we got one ride and then went to Twister to let the Phoenix line settle down. There wasn't much of a crowd at Twister, so we took two rides in a row. There had obviously been some wood replaced recently on the helix, and it was running really smoothly. The same couldn't be said for their Halloween efforts. There were hardly any decorations and only one stunt, which was alternately failing to activate and staying stuck on as people walked by.
Next we went back to the Phlyers. This time they had changed ops, and everybody was phlying as good as I've ever seen them. We had such a good ride that we got right back in line for another one. After that it was back to the bumper cars for another ride. It was almost all adults this time and there were lots of hard hits. Then we went over to the High Speed Thrill Coaster for our yearly ride. It was almost all adults too, and it was running as good as ever. We rode in the back and got slammed around as good as on the rides we had just left. Nobody was keeping their hands up!
Finally we went back to Phoenix to finish out the night. The tunnel was well-decorated although some of their lighting effects only triggered once the whole time we were there. (Maybe too much smoke?) For those of you who have been to PPP, you know what goes on in the front-seat queue. Last year it wasn't happening as much, but this year it was back with a vengeance. Maybe it got a little too rowdy, because sometime after 9 the last op, who we had never seen before, told people to stop it. It stopped for about one train, and he never said anything again.
Towards the end, Backseat Bill Galvin finally showed up after hanging around the sale tables all day. He had changed into a Thor costume, complete with red hair and lightning bolts, but carrying a rocket instead of a hammer, and was carrying on with an anti-Astroland routine. "LESS COASTERS! MORE CONDOS!". I guess you had to be there. I should've shot a video.
10:00 comes and they're still letting people in. About 10:10 they finally close the line. After a couple of trains only seats 1-3 and 10-12 have people waiting, and the ops tell everyone to fill up the train. Cool, I thought, I finally catch the last train on Phoenix at PPP! But the ride itself was a let-down, partly because I had a faster ride earlier during a rain shower, partly because I wasn't in my preferred seat, but mostly because despite everyone cheering for a re-ride, there wasn't one.
So after unceremoniously getting off of Phoenix, we went to Phoenix Junction to see the winners of the costume parade (which we had skipped to take advantage of the shorter Phoenix lines) and see what Dick had to say about the state of the park, especially of course the Howard Hughes Memorial Sculpture Garden (which had been nicely lit for the evening, but wasn't displaying any movement). Surprisingly, he said that they had made some major progress in the last week since the park had closed and he was reasonably confident that the Flying Turns would be open next spring. Further unexpected news was that the haunted ride nights, the next three Saturdays from 6-10PM, were being expanded to include not just Phoenix, the Haunted House, and the Haunted Antique Cars, but the Haunted Pioneer Train, Twister, and Fandango. Why Fandango? I have no idea. We also had no idea that the train was haunted this year because it wasn't in the PPP brochure, although we wondered why it wasn't running before dark when we went for our Twister rides shortly after 6. It's also ironic that they open Twister this year with hardly any decorations vs. the years prior to last year when the station was heavily decorated.
The costume contest anouncements were anti-climactic. Half of the winners didn't show up for their prizes. Also there seemed to be very little intersection between the set of people who took part in the parade and the set of people we saw riding in costume. The biggest surprise of the night was that there were two attendees from Sweden, although there was no prize for that.
Total registrants were 1377, down from a record 1600-something last year.
Yes! Haunted Pioneer Train! If you've never been on the train at night it screams 'Halloween event'. Live actors roaming through a lighted mist here and there would be outstanding. I don't think they'll go to the extent I wish they would but it's good to hear.Last edited by MrZero, Sunday, October 5, 2008 11:07 PM
I'm glad to hear about the additional attractions being open. I saw also that theFire Trucks and Moon Bounce will be open for kids too. How much longer will it be until Knoebels stays open through Octoberwith a full-fledged Halloween event?
We only found out about the haunted train ride because we rode during the afternoon and saw a bunch of tarps and miles of extensioncords running through the woods. It piqued our interest enough to checkit out at night. No spoilers here, but it was pretty good-- there were a few scenes set upalong the tracks and some piped in noise and creepy music. No liveactors-- at least at PPP. Maybe they'll be able to get some more folksfrom the other rides and attractions that are now closed.
The haunted antique cars were great-- it keeps getting better everyyear. It seemed like there were some new scenes, but I can't remember the details from year to year-- and quite a few "screamers" along the course. The only problem was that cars were getting bunched up because alot of people were driving slowly to check out all thescenes.
I missed seeing "chainsaw guy" in the Twister queue this year. But ifthe coaster runs as smoothly as it did last night, I won't care if theydon't decorate it at all.Last edited by RatherGoodBear, Sunday, October 5, 2008 10:57 PM
I was actually quite disappointed by the PPP's setup. I thought they'd have a few more food stands open and have more Halloween effects. Plus, there was no information anywhere about where to get handstamps for the actual 'fest. I was concerned because I SWORE it was the 4th of October, but since I couldn't find any information, I thought maybe I missed it or something. Luckily, I had called Knoebels to get the scoop before driving the two-plus hours.
My husband actually came along for this event, and we had a very nice time. He didn't like Phoenix at all, stating that it was like riding a buckin' bronco. I explained that that's kind of the POINT, but he's not a wood coaster guy. I told him to try Toro and then get back to me on wooden coasters. He DID, however, enjoy Twister, as did I. We got a GREAT picture of the two of us, with my husband smiling like an evil skeleton. Got two rides in on Twister. Also got a discount on small drinks because it was the owner/manager's birthday at the Twister's food stand. He was a very nice man, as were all the employees at this event. Hubby also actually rode two spinny rides before quitting that: Fandango, which amazed me due to the force on this ride compared to some other similar Claw rides at other parks, and Wipeout, which I swore was at least a three minute ride. Even I, who can spin all day, was a little woozy after that. Chris thought the Haunted Mansion was really cheesy, but I kind of liked it. I squealed a few times. Still didn't get to do the Phlyers due to Chris's vertigo from the other spinny rides and the looong line. Saw some CRAZY snapping though. I'm proud of myself though because I went on the skyride. Put me on a roller coaster and I'm fine, but stick me on a ferris wheel or a skyride and you'll see a grown woman cry. While the skyride was in some ways 12+ minutes of torture, I definitely could appreciate the view from the top (totally lit up Knoebels nestled in a valley, surrounded by tree-blanketed mountains). It was beautiful. Glad I had the experience. Will never do it again. LOL The train at night was disappointing. That train ride is creepy during a summer day, but at night, if they wouldn't have done childish lights and displays, it would have been a million times creepier. Or if they would have had some live actors jumping around and screaming...I prefer it the normal way. Just an opinion.
All in all, this is an event that is filled with charm, rather than Halloween thrills and chills. We definitely have plans to come back next year with more of the family. And perhaps next year, I will remember to ask some people from this site if they'd be interested in meeting up! LOL I forgot this year and was wondering if anyone I talked to was a Buzzer.
Hope everyone who came to the Phunfest had PHUN. :)
"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band
The Pioneer Train has always seemed like an obvious venue for a haunted attraction and I'm glad the park finally realized that. Dick had asked a few of us what we thought of the train so I assume the theming of the train will continue in the future and maybe it will eventually rival the haunted antique car ride. That would be a good thing as it would probably cut back on the line for the cars, which gets long enough to kill almost half the 6-10 ride session.
Bunky, the real bucking bronco is the High Speed Thrill Coaster. It's a standard antique portable kiddie coaster, but the lift has been sped up so you go down the first drop faster than 1g, and things deteriorate from there :)
The lack of food options is normal. I'm surprised they get as many people to staff the park as they do, actually.
I never saw the line for the flyers get past about 3 cycles, but maybe it does while I'm on Phoenix at the end of the night. That ride, like the bumper cars, has fans all its own who will ride it over most everything including Phoenix.
Wipeout is definitely one of the most intense rides around, especially for whoever is stuck sitting on the outside!
Another great PPP. The only negative was I finally decided to wait for the Haunted Antique Cars this year after being disappointed in 2005 with nobody jumping on the cars, and it happened again. :(
Otherwise it was the best weekend of the year as always.
Long live the Big Bad Wolf
The lack of food options might be because the park ran out of certain things. I recall food options at previous Phunfests being a hodgepodge of what the park had left from the regular operating season.
A lot of the stands on the Carousel/Bumper Cars side of the stream were open from 12-5, no Alamo or Oasis. After that, I guess the only things open were Cesari's, Phoenix Junction, and the stand near Twister. (No ice cream-- Booo!) Maybe they feel that for 1300 people or so, that's enough. You could always contact the park and mention it. If enough people ask, they might open more stands in the future.
AV, we took on an extra passenger on our roof. So they were jumping on at least a few cars. BTW, did I see you on the Flyers on Sunday? Were you wearing a floppy hat and a blue windbreaker?
There were plenty of food options in the craft area, a lot of Knoebels food options too. No apple cider guy this year tho. :( I always miss the full slate of food options during PPP, especially the Wharf.
I finally took my first ride on the Antique Cars (haunted or otherwise) now I'm kicking myself in the butt for skipping them @ previous Phunfests. I think I got my best ride on the Phoenix EVER. It sure did seem to phly Saturday night. Some great snappage on the Phlyers too, it helps to know which ride ops to look for. ;)
Some cold and rainy weather to camp in but at least showers were minimal during park hours. Good to meet a few more of you!
I liked the Haunted Pioneer Train. I thought it was well done, except there was one effect that they had out there that had nothing to do with Halloween...I'm not quite sure I understood the significance but it made me laugh none the less.
As far as the food stands not being open, the PPP brochure stated that only Cesari's would be open and Phoenix Junction Steakhouse for munchies. To me, it was a bonus to see the Twister snack stand open. (I also had a lot of delicious munchies during the day with the awesome food stands that were open at the craft fair, a very impressive cheesesteak and chocolate covered strawberries...mmm.) We also got some chicken fries at the stand that's at the side of the Oasis, that was open along with the French fry stand in the front and the hot dog/hamburger place at the front of the Alamo. My friend got a fiesta dog there. Needless to say, we ate ourselves silly during the day.
We didn't have anyone jump on our antique car, but someone was sitting in our backseat for a few minutes before I even noticed he was there. He scared the crap out of me!
egads!!!! I missed the chocolate covered strawberries :( a major weakness of mine. I did have the caramel covered apples tho, mmmmm.
Having just drove back to South Jersey today. I will say that me and my parents had a blast again this year at PPP.
Phoenix was delivering the airfilled rides it always has given. Twister was actually smoother this year than I can remember for a few years. This was kind of a good thing because my mother decided to give it a try this year for the first time. She liked it and said she could see where I was scared it would be too rough for her. It wasn't though.
I think I finally learned to say "Enough" after a few great snap filled rides on the Flyers. Normally I ride them until I can feel it in my back the next day or two. This weekend I made sure to stop and was fine for the three hour drive home.
I was shocked that Stony Gables was open this year for PPP and made sure to let the workers know I was happy they opened. They said they had a great season and decided to extend it to PPP. I think they might be open again next year if the amount of people I saw go in there each bought something.
Glad to hear about the Turns as I left early Saturday night when the drizzle was happening since I was just sick for almost 2 weeks and started feeling better Thursday.
The prices for the next three Saturday nights have been announced: $2.50 per ride or 5 rides for $10.
I had a blast as always! I had a PA park newbie with me and enjoyed "breaking him in" at Knoebels and Kennywood the night before. The antique cars are always funny. Although we didn't have anyone jump on our car we were behind four screaming teenage girls who got at least 3 or 4. :)
We did a few of the flats but pretty much stayed on the flyers and Phoenix all night. The fog in and around the Phoenix really ads to the experience. It was running like a gem!
It was an awesome time with a bunch of great friends and great rides, including the party afterward. ;)
<---who enjoyed the cool fall weather.Last edited by coasterqueenTRN, Monday, October 6, 2008 6:43 PM
Hey Tina and everyone else I met throughout the day,
I had a blast!! Good seeing you as always... I know we may plan a Winter trip to Dollywood, so let me know if you're interested and we may be able to work something out with that!! Take care :o)
RGB, yeah that was me in the floppy hat. :)
Long live the Big Bad Wolf
I got to break in my own newbie Tina, so there! ;)It was GREAT to see everyone, esp. since I was enjoying Siebert's new attraction during the so-called "springtime family reunion". I wish people would make more of an effort to introduce each other/themselves...I didn't know that was "Backseat Bill" in the Thor costume (and I was with people who knew him) - and we even chatted briefly in line for Phoenix at one point. LOL, I will be able to pick him out next time. I think I even saw KGC around 5pm at Cesari's - but of course our group was moving fast toward the car for more clothes.To Matt, Tina, Patrick, Rob, and everyone who lives up there that I don't know (yet) - stay warm and we'll see yas in the Spring. :)
I had a great time and it was nice hanging out and also meeting some new people. I was very impressed with the antique cars and its awesome how much work goes into those. Seems skipped so much last year I was pretty much a PPP newbie this year. Some amazing twister rides as well. It's great to see them expand on the Phunfest idea and that there has been progress on the turns.
Being a Phunfest regular since '92, it's interesting to see how the event has grown throughout the years. Part of me misses the days when it was a few hundred enthusiasts spending time on a half dozen rides. Everyone was pretty much forced to stay in the same area and the whole thing felt like a group gathering of good friends. Things have changed, there are more rides open and many more people, and not all of them are enthusiasts. Still, it's a hell of a lot of fun.
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