Knoebels, Elysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Knoebels Phoenix Phall Phunfest was the last of the ‘big’ events (save for Coastermania, I guess) that I’ve yet to attend, and having cancelled out so many times before, I had to make it this year. I’ve heard so much about the park, and how great Phoenix and Twister can be, and I really wanted to give it a try. Plus, there were some other folks going that I’d yet to meet in person.
I was flying out of Greensboro early Saturday morning, heading into Philly, then driving to Knobels. I forgot to fill the Xterra up on Friday evening, so I had to stop and get gas, which took a little longer than I’d have liked on Saturday morning. I hadn’t actually driven to GSO from my house before, as I usually head over to the area after work, which is about 20 minutes from the airport. The drive was longer than I had expected. I’d wanted to get there at 6:30, especially since I had left my boarding pass at work after I checked in and printed it out on Friday, so I needed to get another one.
Once I parked (thankfully on the top level of the parking garage outside the main terminal’s front gate) I ran into the terminal to print my pass…only to find out that the automatic machines have a cutoff of 30 minutes prior to departure. It was about 27 minutes prior to departure, and so it said to see someone at the desk.
Let me describe what it’s like flying from GSO for those of you that don’t know: Its such a small airport that it doesn’t take long to go to security, and especially this early in the morning, there are very few people there, in fact, when I got there, there were 3 people at the US counter, no one at the other counters (passengers, not workers) and no one waiting to go thru, nor anyone going thru security. It’s a nice, small airport, but that early in the morning, its dead.
And all I needed was a boarding pass. When the woman at the county finally called me over, I told her my dilemma and she informed me that she can’t print me a boarding pass, and that I’ll have to get on the next flight, which was much later in the day, with a stop in Charlotte (and hour layover). I couldn’t believe it! I said "Ma’am, all I need is a boarding pass, I forgot mine, and if I had it right now, I could make it to the plane, there is plenty of time". She refused. All she would have had to do is print the darn thing out, but she started looking at other flights. I was complaining because it was now only 5 minutes after cutoff, I didn’t need to check any bags (like the other couple in the same dilemma as myself), and I could make it thru the completely empty security queue.
She got on her radio, and I thought she was going to get security or a manager because of me. I heard her say "Gate 45", which was my gate. Finally, she slid me a boarding pass, told me not to say anything, to run, and that if the door at the gate was closed, I’d have to catch another flight.
I said ‘Thanks’, ran to security, rushed thru (no problem I didn’t have much), grabbed my stuff, including my shoes, which weren’t on my feet, and started running to the gate down the terminal. It’s not very far, and I was yelling at gate 45 that I was coming. Once I arrived, there were still 3 people to be checked in, and the people at the gate didn’t even understand why I was rushing, because there was still a good 10-15 minutes before they were going to close the door (Seriously, the place is so small, I could have walked if the woman had just given me a boarding pass). Anyways, after everything was ready, we were in the air, and since I was in the 2nd row, with an empty first row, I changed seats and tried to nap.
Arrival at PHL was smooth and in no time I was headed off the plane and out to find the Enterprise shuttle service. Enterprise is good enough to deal with, but I misunderstood the guy and ended up paying $45 extra for insurance I didn’t need. Oh well. I ended up with a black Ford Focus with SYNC technology (it was neat!). I had prepaid for the fuel so that I didn’t need to get gas on the way back, which was a good thing, because I only ended up using almost a tank driving to and from Knoebels, so when I got back I didn’t have to worry.
The drive to Knoebels was much longer than I had expected. I went up 476, across 80, and then followed signs from the billboard to Knoebels. I should have went to 54, then down, because I could have easily got to the campground and parked instead of having to wait an extra long time to get in the park after parking. By this point, since everything else hadn’t gone my way, I was not in the best of moods at all.
Once I got up to the park ‘entrance’ (Does Knoebels really have an entrance?), everyone was crowded around for the arts and crafts and food due to the Covered Bridge festival. I went to the first restroom I could find, and then headed in. Didn’t know where anything was (still don’t), but I went to try and purchase a POP combo pass for the day and for PPP. Unfortunately, it’s still 1976 at Knoebels, and they don’t take debit or credit cards at the ticket counter. Oh, and the only close ATM was hard enough to find, but then ended up having a line.
Matt called and I tried to explain where I was. Eventually Matt, Josh, Joe, and Steph showed up and told me there was another much more convenient ATM near a much more convenient ticket counter (that may have taken cards, I dunno), so we walked back there. It took a while, but the mood started to break.
Once I was paid for we headed to the Grand Carousel to try and catch some rings. I ended up getting 5, but I’d never done that before, so it was quite odd. Speaking of odd, the whole park was odd. It’s just like a big campground with buildings selling food, and rides plopped down. Still not sure how I feel about that, but the Carousel was great. Once we finished we headed over to the bumper cars. The session lasted a really long time, and as we were in line Carrie texted me, so I told her where we were. These bumper cars are SICK! Matt and Josh both rammed me in each side, and I actually got a decent bit of airtime! Sweet.
When we got off we waited for Joe and Steph to ride and Carrie was waiting for us. She was supposed to meet Moosh at 2pm at the Fascination parlor, and it was sometime after or around 1pm at this point. Once we were done we headed over to the giant slide, which was also really killer. I still love slides, and anytime I can ride one as an adult, that’s great.
We walked around to try and find some food, and ran into Moosh at the Fascination parlor a little early. He was hungry too, so we found a food stand and all got our eat on. I had a roastbeef sandwich with cheese that had slaw and fries on the side, and a side order of pierogies. I also had my first of about 7 cups of Birch Beer. I love that stuff. As we ate, some random square dancing broke out in front of us. I thought we were being flash mobbed, but sadly, it wasn’t that awesome.
We then headed over to Twister, having lost Joe and Steph. Moosh decided not to ride at Twister, so Carrie, Matt, Josh and I got in line. We were near the front and ran in to another Joe (RatherGoodBear). Josh and I rode in the 2nd seat for my first Twister ride.
Twister-Okay, love the split lift hill. Laterals are the name of the game here. Twister had a good first drop and a couple moments of awesome airtime. The helix was really tight and strong. Twister was a great ride, with bunny hops all over the place, but the thing really has laterals. Josh made sure to squash me as much as possible. Twister was great, and everyone said that Phoenix was even better, so this was a good start to coaster riding at Knoebels.
Moosh had run into some others while waiting for us, so off he went. We went over to the famous Flyers. The line was kind of long, and eventually we got on, me in a tub with Matt so that he could see if he could snap us (since I’m not really a big flyer fan and can’t seem to snap). The flyers really just make me kind of sick, and we got no snapping going on. We considered the Looper, but I didn’t know if I was up for it, so we went to the Cosmotron instead. The line was rather long because someone ended up barfing before we got on. This is a nice concept; I always like rides that are indoors with lights and music. But the music selection wasn’t that great.
When we finally got off of Kosmotron we ran into the Uhing family and then Matt Shoebridge came over as well. Matt Scott and I decided to do the Looper. It was actually a LOT of fun! The looping didn’t make me sick, and once we stopped looping, Matt minimized the teetering motion, and I didn’t end up getting sick. Matt did a little, though.
At this point everyone thought it was time to take me to Phoenix. When I went to Holiwood Nights for the first time, everyone said Raven was better than Legend, but I thought the opposite. I wondered if it’d be the same with Twister and Phoenix. We got over there and ran into a ton more people at Phoenix. Once in the station, Matt and I were in the front row, and because of the great ride ops at this park, we were off in no time.
Phoenix-Oh. My. Goodness. Seriously. Wow. Buzzbars are always great, but the airtime on this thing felt like it should be illegal! The first pop of air after the great first drop was amazing and scary. By the way, the tunnel to the lift was nice as well. After the next hill, you hit all kinds of airtime, the double-up/double-down had serious air, and then the ending was all about throwing you up as far as the train could. I loved it! Phoenix has serious airtime on every hill. It is now definitely in the top of my rankings!
Joe went to get another ride and Matt and Matt both wanted more Phoenix, but Carrie and I headed over to Fandango. This was a great spinning Frisbee type ride. The restraints didn’t hurt, even if they were tight, and we got some good swings, with a very long cycle. I was afraid I’d get sick, but again, I didn’t, thankfully.
At this point the park was closing to regular guests. Some people left to get groceries, but I stayed to eat and ride once the rides started to reopen. We ate pizza and I got to hang with a bunch of people that I’d not seen in a while, and others that I’ve seen a few times this year. I ran into some of the former Ohio kids, who are mostly all Tennessee kids now. Then we got inline for the Haunted House. The Haunted House was a lot of fun. There isn’t a ‘dead’ spot (no pun intended) in the house anywhere. The scenes are well done and there are a couple of good gags in there as well. Next up it was back to the Flyers, where I tried and almost succeeded at snapping, but still didn’t get it. But at least I didn’t get sick.
After that we headed over to the haunted train ride next, which had a bit of a line, but whatever. There were a lot of us together, so we waited and made our own fun. Joe (RGB) and I sat in the back 2 seats, but I swear there was no airtime on the whole ride. The scenes were fun, though! Once we were back on solid ground we headed over to 1001 Nachts. This thing is bright and loud, but not nearly as violent as a well run rainbow or magic carpet ride. It was fun, even if we ended up getting our private ride crashed by a bunch of others.
Next we headed to Downdraft, which did make me slightly ill, but was crazy fun none the less. We had a quick RideMan sighting as we were in line too. The airtime on Downdraft was just amazing! After that we did the Sky Lift. Kind of like Lake Compounce and Camden’s lifts in that they GNDN (Go Nowhere, Do Nothing, and if you get that reference, 100 geek points to you). I needed the Kosmo’s Kurves credit, so Carrie and Joe watched as Matt and I got on. Its fun, but I wish I’d have gotten a ride on High Speed Thrill coaster at least once.
I rode the Satellite (my first time on a Roll O Plane) which was a mistake, though I’m glad Matt held my phone or it would have gotten broke (Yeah, Apple, nice job on making an all glass phone…) while Carrie got a private swings ride. After all of that we headed back over to Twister for a night ride. Twister was great, but this time we rode in the back. Unfortunately the queue was full in the station when we came back around, so we didn’t do a re-ride.
At this point I’d hit up most of the major stuff that I wanted to do, and Matt, Joe, and others wanted to spend some time on the flyers, so we headed over there next. Jordan Uhing was going to snap me, but because of the Satellite making me sick, I opted out. Carrie and I headed over to Phoenix instead, and WOW was it running too good. We got our rides on in the 2nd row, in the dark. The tunnel had effects this time, and the whole ride was just out of control insane. Ran into Lisa Broadrick and her friend Rian in the station and got back in line with them.
Once we got off of Phoenix for the last time it was getting close to 10pm and I wanted to do the Haunted Cars, so Matt, Mike (boblogone), Carrie and I headed to the line. It was a long line, but worth it. The car ride was a lot of fun. I drove with Mike in the front, Carrie and Matt in the back. They had some fun scares, and this is a great way to spruce up a ride like this, even if just for a short time. By the time we got out PPP had come to an end (they really should extend this to at least 11pm!). I said my goodbyes to some people as they headed out, and others headed off to the cottage. I had to get my car, and we walked Carrie out to hers after we listened to Dick Knoebel talk for a bit (he did mention the turns. They have some modifications to do to the trains, but apparently they have had some luck.
Matt, Carrie and I walked to the parking lot as most were gathered listening to Dick talk. I was parked so far back that I couldn’t even see my car. We hugged Carrie goodbye once we made it to her car and finished driving out to the Focus.
Once we got to the cabin we parked and hit up the ‘after party’. There were quite a few after parties going on, and we had plans to attend some more, but ended up just staying here. We were having too much fun with the bird mask and making fun of the terrible little cottage. I guess the price you pay for convenience is that you get a 1950s style ranch that hasn’t been updated since it was built, and is half used for park storage. Never again!
I left on Sunday morning around 9:30am. I expected about a 2.5 hour drive that ended up taking all of 3 hours and maybe a little over. Returning the car to Enterprise was a cinch, and before long I was on my way to the main terminal in the shuttle they provide. Once there I printed my boarding passes and headed to security. Thankfully it wasn’t that busy and in about 10 minutes I was thru to find my terminal. Sadly, to get to Terminal F at PHL, you either have to take a shuttle, or walk a long way, in which case you have to be re-screened thru security. I was afraid security would be busy, so I waited in the long shuttle line, and trust me it was long.
But eventually I made it to the gate in plenty of time. I even had time to get some Chinese food and water since I’d yet to eat breakfast. But around 3:35, which was 5 minutes before we were supposed to board, I realized the plane wasn’t at the gate yet. I thought that was odd, and a few minutes later, the lady came over the speaker and said that the plane was not going to arrive now till 2:16 (which was 6 minutes after we were supposed to take off), and that our arrival at Reagan National was 3:43. My connecting flight was to leave at 3:55, so that was less than 10 minutes in between. Great.
I semi-panicked and went to the desk. Another gentleman and his son were also going to Greensboro, and one guy was going to RDU, and we were trying to figure out what to do. If the gate we landed at was close, we could possibly make it, but if not, there was no real chance. The only other flight out of PHL to GSO was at almost 11:00pm, and that would get me back so late after driving home that I would end up being late for work. The only other ‘option’ was for her to put the 3 of us on standby for a 7:50 flight to GSO out of Reagan National if we missed our flight, and that was the only one out of Reagan till the next morning.
Once the plane got there it took forever for them to do their turn around. Apparently there was an issue with the defroster for the wind shield, and that caused the delay, and they had to have maintenance come out and fix that at PHL, which took a bit. The flight crew was in a panic too because they all had planes to catch as well. The flight attendant told me that the flight was 23 minutes and that we should just make it (her next flight to Charlotte was 3 minutes after we were scheduled to land, and she had to go to another gate to catch it), and that the gate that I’d be landing at was an area on the tarmac, and that the plane I was connecting to was loading on the tarmac, so I would need to take the shuttle into the terminal, scan my ticket, and get on the next shuttle out. She said that it would be close, but that it was totally doable so I hoped for the best.
Once we touched down at Reagan we all prepared to depart, which took a moment because of a nearby plane that had it’s engine’s on, and we couldn’t go out and get on the shuttle till that was either blocked or moved. As I stood (I had the very front seat and was first in line to get off the plane), a lady from US Airways came up the steps and said that there were 3 people on the plane going to GSO, and that she needed them now. I told her I was one, and the other 2 were in the back of the plane, so she took us of so we could get our luggage, put us on our own shuttle that drove all of about 50 feet, and dropped us off at our other plane, which had an issue with the lavatory and hadn’t boarded yet, thought the shuttle full of passengers was there. Whew! We just made it!
The flight home was short and sweet, and once I touched down I got my bag and drove home. Way too much airline drama this weekend for me!
As far as Knoebels and PPP goes, here are my final thoughts: Knoebels, as I told Matt, is more like a campground with rides, but its kind of like a museum of old rides more than it is an amusement park. It’s odd. I didn’t dislike it, but it has an odd layout, and isn’t like any other park I’ve ever been to. The ride ops are great, though, and operations in general were stellar. And then there’s the food. Great pricing, great food. I ate a lot. And drank (Yum Birch Beer!). And of course, then there are Phoenix and Twister. Both of them are amazing, and I will definitely head back to the park just for those. No, it isn’t taking the top spot as my favorite park, but I didn’t in anyway dislike it. I’m glad I finally went.
As for the Cottages, they could use some real work. Or at least ours could have. Instead of using the garage, a bedroom, the (possible) dining area, and the washroom for storage, they could either provide a car garage or turn it into a rec room. If they renovated it, they could have had a dining room, a nice looking little house, 3 bedrooms, and another large pantry. Sadly, I wouldn’t risk staying in one ever again. Plus there was mold, and it bothered me (it still is as I’m writing this).
And when it comes to the event, it’s one of the oddest events I’ve ever been to. Not sure I ‘got’ the event. There was a lot of people there (1400 registered), the lines for the rides were just like they were for the rest of the day. Sure, we got food and games, and I’m not complaining, but it was so different than any enthusiast event I’ve been to. Definitely more of a social event than a riding event (and I still didn’t get to hang with a lot of people I’d wanted to). I’ll definitely go back to Knoebels, if just for the rides, food, and coasters. But hopefully my next trip will be during regular hours.
Oh, and run the event till midnite, dang it!
Yeah. For the first time this year, I actually "got" Phoenix. I don't know why I've never had rides like that, but this year I definitely liked it more than Twister.
It's still no El Toro, though - but that's another topic altogether. :)
I also "got" Phoenix this year. It jumped from somewhere in the 80s on my CBuzz ranking to 25. That's mainly because, here three years after my first experience on it, I'm more aware of what I like in a coaster and have more woodies to compare it to. Also back then the whole "popcorn of death" style woodie was new to me. Riding row 3 and the middle of last car reminded me of all the reasons I hated Phoenix the first time, but I couldn't help but enjoy rows 1 and 2. That's more my game. Still not a phan of Twister though.
Tek - I used a credit card to pay for my hand stamp, and I think we went to the building next to the miniature golf course.
I also love the birch beer! Another good one to try is the frozen sweet tea.
I also got my amazing rides in 1 & 2. That is, without a doubt, where it's at on that ride.
I only rode in 1 & 2. I can't believe I survived Phoenix. It just felt so wrong, and so right, all at the same time.
Row 4 is also a great row for repeat riding and usually never has a line.
First row in the last car (row 10 I believe) is also a great ride without being too harsh.
My preferred row is 2, 3 if the wait is a lot shorter than 2, 11 when I feel like a back of the train ride, then 1 on the occasion there isn't too long a wait. I guess I'm one of those who always "got" Phoenix. One thing they did change that some people didn't like was to eliminate handslapping between people on the platform and the train heading up the lift. I asked one of the managers about it, and she told me the problem was that kids were imitating the adults, but they had to climb the rails to do it. They didn't want to risk anyone falling, so they told people not to do it.
The Flyers were snap-tastic during Phunfest, and pretty good during the day. They were limiting the snapping during the afternoon while the park was open for its "advertised" hours. The one op was even turning the lights off for part of the cycle to give dark rides.
It was nice to finally meet you, Tek, and Josh, as well as a few other people from the board I had never met.
Definitely nice meeting you, too. Scary Flyer rides, and odd experiences on Cosmotron and everything. :)
Wait, did I miss an odd experience on the Cosmotron? I mean, aside from the stupid song?
I thought the odd experience was outside the Cosmotron? Tek, you and AV Matt were in a different car, so you had your own experiences. I couldn't see much, I had Carrie's hair in my face most of the time.
Maybe one of these visits i might actually have to ride the Cosmotron. I had a great weekend, even though i was put on the "no fly list" early Sunday. The Phoenix was humming! I always ride the front seat.
The odd experience was the ride itself. I mean, I rode it once before, but it was about a million years ago. The distorted songs that kept switching and then started to skip/repeat were just a bonus. I think the quote from RGB was "I think whoever threw up, must have done it on the CD player."
When I rode Cosmotron, the song of choice was We Like to Party, which I thought was funny since we'd just been to Six Flags the night before. I actually had trouble falling asleep Sunday night because the damn song was still running through my head.
That was one of the best PPP's ever! I know, I say that every year. ;)
It was great to see everyone again and finally meet Carrie! :) The only complaint I have is the weekend went by way too fast!
The Phoenix was running top notch. I had some of the most insane rides EVER on Saturday night! :)
Clint, I have been having breathing problems since I was at that cottage, and I was only there a short time! Usually things like this never bothers me but Sunday morning I was really stuffed up and sneezing. I blame the mold, but I wouldn't change anything for the world! It was well worth it! :)
Another good one to try is the frozen sweet tea.
I only had one of those this year - got brain-freeze really bad. Thankfully, I think they're fixing to start giving me commissions on those things...LOL!
Seriously though, an awesome time. I know I say it alot, but I love you guys! Couldn't imagine being ANYWHERE else on Earth on that special weekend every year. Anyone who doesn't "get" Knoebels....just leaves more for me. ;)
Here here, Gator! By far my favorite event, every year!
Thank you thank you THANK YOU to Knoebels for giving us carte blanche snapping Saturday night on the Phlyers (they actually made an announcement at the ride, giving us their blessing). It was like the good old days when every single tub was snapping like mad! I was really bummed I couldn't give Clint a good ride. The combination of our massive combined weight and not getting good wind from the tub ahead just made it impossible. But otherwise, the cables were snapping non-stop. GREAT times!
alfundo, how about some details on the "no fly list." What did you do now? :)
I skipped the sweet tea this year and went for the frozen hot chocolate, available at the stand around the corner from the sweet tea across from "Casa de Refrescos" (I just wanted to work that into a post somehow).
I go to Knoebels many times a year, but PPP is definitely the best time to go just because of the atmosphere and the camaraderie involved.
My fingers would hurt if I typed as much as Tek, so here's my a-bridge-d version of the Phestivities: 61,000 words in easy-to-read picture form. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rollergator/sets/72157625026573401/
Didn't know there was already a PPP trip report. Apologies. When I wrote mine I was half asleep and didn't bother to glance at the reports religiously. But thanks for the replies to it =) They should tear down SOB and put a clone of phoenix in it's place. I just thought of that idea.
alfundo, how about some details on the "no fly list." What did you do now? :)
3 weeks before PPP we were at the park with Janes son. Jane and I had just ended our ride on the Flyer in which we were scolded by the ride op Ken N (the suspender wearing op on Saturday). Janes son got on the next cycle and wasnt quite as rough as we were. Instead of the common practice of slowing the ride down, Ken N stopped the ride and made her son get off, something i have never seen at Knoebels. We had a discussion with guest relations and that was that.
During PPP it was "no holds barred" but we were expecting guests at our campsite after PPP so we stopped riding around 8 so we could get some pizza and start our campfire and coffee. Then on hangover day we were walking Murphy around when Jane said she'd take him if I wanted to ride, so I got in line mistakenly thinking that they would still be a bit more tolerable to our style of Flying. Ken N was the op and when he noticed me, he singled me out and refused to let me on. So with the help of everyones new favorite Flyer op, Jack G, I tracked down guest relations again and had another discussion. Ken N was rotated from the Flyers and didn't run it again on Sunday.
I'm thinking of dressing as a terrorist for next years PPP with the whole "no fly list" thing :)
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