Knoebels 8/10/04 1:00-3:30 85º and humid
Wow. I don't even know where to start with Knoebels. From the expressway to the park signs it was a high speed white knuckled adventure through the mountains. I can officially rank this park as the hardest to find with Yahoo directions. We trailblazed for a good 30 minutes before finally finding America's finest parking yard.
Okay so Knoebels isn't your next corporate amusement park branded Six Flags or Cedar Fair, but wow does it have some character to it. Stepping out of the car into the parking lot set us back about 50 years. "Where do you go in at?" -- "There is no 'go in at'." This is the first park I've ever been to that you don't have to pay admission. Because of this, the whole 'pay per ride' or POP was foreign to me (other than fairs). We went straight to the bathroom by the picnic pavillions and it was so windy and exposed in the bathroom that it made staying on target very difficult at the old urinals. I hadn't even seen a ride run yet and I already had a bad impression because the bathrooms were severely outdated. The water at the park was disgusting too. To me though - it's not about that kind of stuff. I looked past it and went to Whirlwind after finally finding a park map and buying a book of tickets.
Whirlwind - Umm . . . yes truly a Vekoma masterpiece. After all the complaining and rust I was actually impressed. Whirlwind was worth my $1.20 . Maybe I'm a little partial because I got the front seat. This is the only coaster I've been on that tress grow through the supports and into the trackk. Very interesting upkeep. I have never been on a Vekoma corkscrew but I can see where some of the transitions might be a little bit rough. After buying 4 books of tickets for our 6 person group, we moved on to Twister. One lap was enough for me.
Twister - I've not been on very good wood, and didn't want to try this coaster after Phoenix - but I can say after this ride I struggled to wipe the smile off my face. I rode in 2:2 and was thoroughly imprssed. I've not heard much about this coaster. The lift on this ride is unique and the first drop doesn't mess around. The ride is more intense than airtime filled, offering some great turns, helices, and lateral G's. The transition into the turn over the statio ngave a nice pop of air. This track and train is maintained magnificently, much like Phoenix. I can't comment enough on how much fun it is without seatbelts. Twister was great - but now it was time for Phoenix. Because we weren't at the park long, I only got on lap on this coaster.
Phoenix - OH MY GOSH! Stand-up woody in places! So smooth! Airtime machine! I was so so happy that this ride had lived up to everything I've heard about it. This is now my favorite wooden coaster, hands down. 1:3 was relentless both times I rode. The double up and down are so awesome. There are no dead spots. The tunnel at the beginning sets the tone for an awesome ride. It's a shame we had to make it to Hershey because I would have loved a night ride on this coaster. Awesome ride. Very reridable. I wish I could have stayed longer.
The rest of our stay was pretty good too. The Haunted Mansion was really fun and actually scared me in a few places. High Speed Thrill Coaster was a family coaster on steroids. I liked this ride a lot and actually enjoyed this kiddie coaster credit. Also I searched the park up and down for a Twister postcard but sadly could not find one. I wish I could have stayed longer because I fell in love with Knoebels the little taste I got in those couple of hours. I've heard so much about other flats in the park and it killed me to not get to ride them. I hope this park never changes. I love how it's so laid back and the workers seem to wear whatever they want, the lines weren't long, there was plenty of shade, nothing was too expensive, the workers were friendly and the people in the park were also a very pleasant crowd. I would return in a heartbeat and wish I could stop on the way home. Knoebels rocked!!!
Okay the trip started off really well. With our family whenever we go to a new park, that night we ALWAYS experience inclemet weather. There is no exception. Last year we traveled to a couple Six Flags parks and the year before we were rained out of Great America. I won't go through the list, but it always happens. Well, our first night at Hershey was approaching and we were all expecting to abuse the preview option for our tickets and get a bunch of rides in. We were off to Hershey.
Hersheypark 8/10/04 7:30-Close (10:00) 85º but cloudy
What better than entering a park and smelling chocolate. The workers in the park were so friendly and eager to help us at the gate with our preview tickets. I ended up having no problem with getting in with pre-purchased tickets. I believe the Warped Tour was going on that night somewhere on the Hershey property (Good God do they own a lot of land). We saw punk kids everywhere in the park and lots of 'band' shirts. It was a good group of people - lots of interesting hairstyles.
Because we saw Storm Runner working we headed that way - we come from Ohio where a Top Thrill Dragster test launch can be a miracle. The queue was entirely full and they had a temporary line up in the mulch to the left. We waited about 50 minutes to get into the queue house. Just a few rides away from going and they say they saw lightning. I didn't see lightning, nor did any of the guests, but we took their word for it. Ironic that Storm Runner won't run in rain or a storm. It was about 8:30 now and we thought we'd wait it out. We waited . . . and waited. . . and waited some more. The line really emptied out and the whole park was down now - no rides were up any longer. It was about 9:30 and a lady and her son were pointing at my shirt reading it. She was from New Jersey and really into coasters because her younger son got her into them. She said she reads on here and I'm disappointed I didn't her her name. I was wearing a home made coaster T-shirt with different logos on the back and it did exactly what I wanted it to do - struck up conversation with another enthusiast. This really helped time pass well and I learned a lot about Hershey and Dorney. There were no more than 25 people remaining in the station and a supervisor came up and gave us all exit passes to use the next day at Hershey. I was very thankful but was really wishing to get at least one ride out of my preview plan. It had stopped lightning at 9:30 but they wouldn't test it or run it. They said it had to come out of Phase 3. I understand. At 10:00 they kicked us out and we went to the front of the park. The people running SR told us to talk to guest services because they will do a lot for you. We went there and told them of our night at Hershey and they gave us 50% off coupons for tickets for us to return any time in the next 2 years. Wow - what customer service. I didn't know the layout of the park yet, or even ride a coaster, but I was really happy with how they ran Hershey. We left for the night but would return the next morning to actually ride some rides.
Before entering the park we went to the Chocolate World for the little ride/tour of the factory. This was a great ride for being free and you actually get some free chocolate afterwards. The loading and unloading is similar to a flume and that really bothers me. I very rarely get sick on any rides. I can ride a topsin, coaster, scrambler, whatever for hours. The 2 things I can't handle are enclosed lifts (Disaster Transport) and spinning loading turntables. I was sick the entire ride and almost puked. Anyone else ever have this problem or am I just some nut? After the tour we got in line at a quarter til to get into the park.
Hersheypark 8/11/04 10:00-Close (10:00) 80º sunny
I was in Hershey for almost 3 hours the night before and I didn't get one ride, yet in the morning in the first hour I had almost tackled the entire park.
Comet- We headed to Comet because the lady from SR told us that all the coasters don't open usually. I rode 1:2 on Comet and was really disappointed. We walked right on just a couple minutes after opening. This ride looks like it has a lot of potential. The layout is really awesome and it looks like it should be good. It lacks something. One lap was enough. I'm glad all the wood at Hershey isn't like this.
Sooperdooperlooper - Exiting Comet and heading through this really confusing midway we found Sooperdooperlooper. I rode in the first seat because as we were getting there the line opened and no one was waiting. No one really says anything about this ride, but it was a great first Schwarzkopf looper for me. The loop is so much more intense than it looks and the ride is awesome with just a lapbar. This ride's location is really sweet and I liked the final helix. This was a good ride and I would come back later in the night to ride in the back seat.
Great Bear - The line wasn't very long for this coaster so I went straight to the front and only waited about 5 minutes. This ride is so unique compared to other inverted coasters I've been on. First of all, it covers a lot of land. Secondly, that helix before the drop is awesome. It is intense and something you don't get to experience on many other coasters. The drop was pretty decent even though there was a helix. I loved the location of this ride over the water and along the river. Is it just me or does the zero-g roll go the opposite way than most other coasters? I've been on Raptor and the Batmans, but this coaster seemed to be different than those. The ride was pretty intense and a lot more than I expected from it. We rode in the back a few times later in the day, but I seemed to like the front more.
Trailblazer- We wanted to get close to Storm Runner so we continued along the loop in the back of the park and rode Trailblazer. This ride plain old hurt. We rode it twice because my sister liked the indians and the teepees. Other than that it sucked and I really didn't care for it. Storm Runner wasn't open yet and a line was forming so we decided to go that way.
I hadn't quite figured Hershey out yet. That park is really confusing and there aren't many paths or midways that span very far and take you easily through the park. I wish there were some more straight shots to get places because a lot of the rides are hard to get to and find. Maybe it's just because I was in the park for one day and was a newbie, but I found it hard to navigate. We moved on to the best midway in the park, Midway America.
Wild Mouse - These rides don't have very good capacity and it was only 10:30 so we decided to try it before the lines got long. I haven't been on just a regular Wild Mouse so this was a fun little ride. It was pretty much just like the spinning mice except there were more drops. I like all those sharp turns. It's a great family ride and a nice break from your regular coaster. It didn't seem too rough or painful like Ragin' Cajun, but rather fun and enjoyable.
Wildcat - My first GCI was a lot of fun! I rode in 1:2 and waited 1 train to ride. This ride was a little bit rougher than I expected but very intense! The drop is very unique how it curls to the right. I like all the sharp turns and the pops of air you'll get before it banks into a turn. I really can't describe it, but I like getting tossed around like that. I rode it later in the evening and this coaster is beautiful at night. All in all I got 3 rides. I didn't venture to the back of the ride because I feared it might be rough and the line was about a half hour later in the day. Wildcat offers some awesome night rides and this is one of the better coasters in the park. I really like GCI's!
Lightning Racer- Intensity, dueling, racing, FUN! From the first drop to the finish line this coaster has you on the edge of your seat. I rode Lightning a few more times than Thunder although I've heard that some people like Thunder more - I can't seem to find any difference. It took me 8 rides to finally win on this ride!! When I finally won I really let people know. I got a nice *Lightning* *Lightning* *Lightning* chant going with a clap. The riders really get into this coaster and it makes it that much more enjoyable. I really like the trains on this coaster. I've not been on a Millennium Flyer train but they are very interesting. They are very comfortable and seem to ride really well. Some of those turns and drops this coaster can take really shocked me. I liked the tunnel and all the flashes from the camera. Overall I think this was my favorite ride in the park and I had to get a grey Lightning Racer t-shirt although I was very tempted to get a "I won on Lightning" tshirt just because it took so long. The ops told us that it is which train has more weight in it. Maybe because I'm extremely underweight I'm always putting my train at a disadvantage. I seemed to like the ride more in the back. I rode all over and can't even remember how many different seats I rode in. I never waited for the front and this is really something I regret. By about 9:30 this coaster was a walkon and also very beautiful at night. Definitely reridable! I heart Lightning Racer.
Roller Soaker - I got a tip that you stay dryer if you ride backwards so that's where I rode. It took about 20 minutes to get on the ride. Terrible capacity. I had my parents ride forwards and they hated me when they were still wet driving back to the hotel that night. It's amazing that you can still be wet 10 hours after riding that coaster! It was a fun ride but I was disappointed that my lever didn't release any water (and no I didn't pull it when we were loading in the station). This is the only coaster I've ridden without shoes and socks. So many people were even riding without shirts. I see why! Very fun ride.
Sidewinder- It's a boomerang. I waited 20 minutes for a coaster I can get on whenever I want at Geauga Lake. Enough said. I had to get the credit.
Storm Runner- After all that waiting the night before we ended up getting on this coaster in 35 minutes. I've heard a lot of good about this ride and they really hype it up. I like Dragster more (just to get that out of the way). The launch isn't that intense. It lets off so early compared to Dragster and the tophat is incredibly short. You should never get that much airtime with an OTSR. It was just painful for me. The immelman was really fun and not painful but the zero-g roll and the snake dive really hurt me on the neckk. If that wasn't bad enough, the coaster rocks back and forth before finally stopping on the downhill brakes. Storm Runner was fun and unique, however I can see how someone is going to get their throat slit sometime soon on this coaster. I had marks from where my head was 'neckbanging'. Put some lapbars on this coaster and you could have an excellent ride. Storm Runner didn't live up to its expectations.
It was now a little after noon and time for lunch. We don't buy park food so we went out to the parking lot and took a tram that took us nowhere near our van. We had to walk a good 10 minutes back the other way just to get to it. We were parked in the front row because we got to the park so early. I guess Hershey guests just don't arrive early. We turned on the AC and had a usual family meal - sandwiches, fruit, chips, and lemonade. It saves so much money not buying park food. This is the only reason that we can afford to go on family vacations - seeing as there are 6 of us and one meal would cost about $60 in the park. On our way out we stopped at the rides office and they gave us our Storm Runner passes we got from the night before. We were to ride at 2:30. We took our time eating and getting back into the park. We got there and used our passes at 2:30. My parents and sisters boarded promply, however my brother and I waited for the front. I liked it in 1:2 but just had to see how great it was in the front. It started to sprinkle and they delayed launching for a few minutes and told us we would have to wait one more train and then we could ride. We got on and I felt terrible taking 2 young girl's front seat ride. I looked past that and we pulled out to launch position. It's amazing how into this coaster some of the people can get. They are really shocked to see a coaster launch at 72 mph. I would like to cut and paste TTD so they could really see something amazing. "Now get ready, here we go!" and we were off. There are some great visuals in the front seat. It was nice seeing everything before it came at us. I liked it better in the front but it was still hard on my neck. We returned later and got a night ride which I really appreciated. It's so much better at night. I love the lights on this coaster. All in all I like Storm Runner, it's just not what I expected.
Our day at Hersheypark was awesome and I felt like I had a really full day. Other than coasters we got a ride on the Claw also. This was a fun ride and we got a good seat. It seems like some seats don't get to go as high as others. Good ride. After I learned the layout of the park it wasn't that bad. They have some awesome customer service. For not being a huge chain of amuzment parks they operate this park very well. I saw the lady again from the night before and she rode a train before us on Storm Runner and waited to see how we liked it. Thanks for making us feel welcome at Hershey and helping us on our trip if you are reading this! It was sad leaving the park, but I feel like I got the most out of my stay. I managed to get my 20 park maps. ;) It's some sort of an addiction. I don't buy many souvenirs, but I do make up with how many maps I take and give to friends and other enthusiasts when I return. I have a nice collection from all the parks I visited. On to Dorney Park.
Dorney Park 8/12/04 3:00-Close (10:00) 80º, Cloudy, and extremely Humid
We stopped at our hotel across the street from Dorney and it was a pleasant surprise to see how empty this park was. I was expecting Cedar Point crowds, Cedar Point capacity, and Cedar Point operations. Well, I didn't see a whole lot of that. I saw some Cedar Fair policies, ie: no rerides, but I didn't see anything else relatively similar at all. The park was extremely empty and ran one train on many of the rides. Prior to this park I had been on 96 coasters and hoped to break the 100 barrier at the park. That I did. ;)
Thunderhawk- This is my second Thunderhawk I've been on and I don't know which one I like more. This coaster was a 20 minute wait as they transferred just as I got there. I rode in 3:1 and got no air. It was actually a little bit rough. The trains were decent and the layout was too. It was just a little overtrimmed. Sucky ride - one lap was enough.
Laser- This coaster has always been really awesome looking and I've wanted to ride it for quite a while. After Sooperdooperlooper I was really excited. We waited 20 minutes in the blistering sun and finally got a ride. It was running one train. I rode in 1:2. The first loop was really intense. I couldn't tell you about the second one or the turn after it because I was greyed out. This ride is really intense and I should have listened to what people told me. It was fun, just extremely intense. It rained later and this coaster went down because of the brakes so I'm lucky I got a ride when I did. Being the credit whore I am I went and checked on the Dragon coaster but it was down being fixed. Little Laser would have killed me and I was much too tall to ride. I've heard some stories of people being humilated when they asked to ride, so I moved on and accepted that I wasn't allowed on it.
Steel Force- I have heard many names for this coaster, the most famous being 'Steel Forceless' and I'm disappointed this coaster has been put down like that. The only other Morgan(-ish) coaster I've been on is Phantom's Revenge. However, after everything I heard about this ride I expected total crap. Coaster 99 wasn't that bad and I really enjoyed it. I rode in the back many times, a few times up front, and once of twice in the middle. The drop was best in the back and I actually got some floater airtime. Will someone agree with me and say that you are off your seat on the second drop and then on the returning hills? I liked the helix and found it to be a lot of fun. The ops said it was running really fast because it was raining so much. You know those hurricanes that have been beating up Florida? Well the first one had made it's way up the East coast and was pouring on Dorney Park that night. It started raining at 6:00 and rained on and off all night. This made for some rather interesting rides on Steel Force. Maybe I'm too easy. With 11 laps on this coaster I can say that I like it. It's best in the back seat.
Talon- My 100th coaster! Yay! What a good coaster to be able to claim that on. I rode front seat, back seat, middle seats, everything. The line was no more than 5 minutes long. The crew was pretty good. I'm a little confused with the index finger clear as opposed to the 'okay' sign they give at Hershey and Knoebels, or even the thumbs up at almost every other park in America. Anyhow, this coaster was awesome. I love inverts. It was so intense and it never let up. Times that some coasters will mill around, this coaster was in helices or giving nice footchoppers, or even diving down to the ground to take an amazing turn to the left giving you the sense of flying just feet off the ground. I manage 13 laps and could have easily rode this ride all night. It's a shame they weren't giving rerides earlier in the night . . . I mean . . . when we were the only 4 people running all the way around and they were running 2 trains, the crew eased up a bit and let us stay on the last 10 minutes and even a ride or two after close and gave us some awesome rerides. It was raining sideways and we were totally soaked, but it was worth it. We weren't far from our hotel so we went there to dry off for the night. This ride is awesome at night! I love the zero-g roll even though some people say it takes it too slow. I like the left seat and feeling like you are getting ripped out of the roll. Good ride. Great crew. Talon was the highlight of Dorney.
Wild Mouse- Even though I was on one of these the day before we had to ride it again. We waited about 20 minutes and were linejumped quite a few times. We yelled at the people, but when they don't understand English there is no reasoning with them. This coaster was your standard Wild Mouse. It's a little rough. What really made me mad though was when we were next in line, it starte sprinkling and they shut the ride down. They wouldn't let us wait and we had to get out of line. A half hour later the coaster finally reopened and we had to wait another half hour. We ended up spending over an hour for this credit. Ridiculous. We should have never had to forfeit our spot in line because of a little bit of rain.
Woodstock's Express- Yes we are credit whores. I don't know why kids ever ride big coasters after these things. This coaster was really rough and jerky. I really hurt my knee. I'm glad I didn't grow up on rides like this or I may have never enjoyed coasters. I would have been terrified of Woodstock as a kid!
Dragon Coaster- Yes, I did try the powered kiddie coaster too. You guys understand, the families and little kids I waited with didn't. Oh well. It was rather forceful and that's a fun little helix/drop it goes into. Lots of laterals on this ride. Once again, I would be terrified if I grew up with a coaster like this.
I stopped in a gift shop and they seemed to have every shirt and item that Geauga Lake and Cedar Point has. They are just titled a little differently or there is another coaster on that tye-dyed shirt. I got a map just because it has Hercules on it still. I thought that was kind of neat. I got some good pictures of Hydra construction. I'll have those pictures up once I get my film developed. I have a digital camera but the quality isn't very good and it's bulky so I only take pictures from outside the park with it. Overall I wasn't impressed with Dorney. It is exactly what I've heard. A bunch of boring coasters and then Talon (and I liked Steel Force too). I got a ride on Dominator just because it was a walk on. I have been on 2 Dominators now, the one at Geauga Lake being a lot better! Dorney is a bunch of concrete with one massive hill that the parents hated walking up and down. I wasn't too impressed with operations other than Talon. I can see myself returning to ride Hydra but that is it.
SFNE 8/13/04 3:00-Close (10:00) 75º and rainy/humid
Last year when we arrived at SFNE we parked right by the entrance booth in what seemed to be a close spot. This year we pulled all the way to the front row and there were no more than 30 cars. Once again that rain that was once a part of the first hurricane beat up on this park all morning long. There was hardly anyone at the park. Just when we got there it stopped raining. They told us it had rained all day. This is one of my favorite Six Flags parks. Granted operations could be a little better, this park is beautiful and they have S:RoS.
Thunderbolt- Last year I rode this coaster after waiting for an hour and wasn't too happy with it. I rode in the back and didn't get any air. This year I got on it in the front seat and was shocked with some of the pops of air I got. This is a great coaster and I wish we would have ridden it more. But . . . there is only so much time at Six Flags Ride of Steel, I mean . . . New England.
Superman Ride of Steel- It seems like a lot has changed here since last year. There is a new spiel, a new test seat, the queue house is now a locker room, and they only let so many people into the station at once. I had already tried the new addditions to the T-bar at SFDL so it was no shock to see the difference at SFNE. Enough of that junk . . . the park was operating one train. But, when there are only 20 people in the station that is no big deal. We rode a train, ran around, and rode another train for about 2 hours and we got about 15 rides. That's a lot for this coaster, IMO. With how long it takes them to load and how busy this park can be. I'll tell you more later.
Nightwing- I liked it last year but this ride can burn now. I hated it and it hurt so much. It's a Huss Flyaway (I believe that's the model name) and it really crushed me good. Never before have I felt so restricted and crushed on my upper chest/lungs. One ride was enough.
Batman the Dark Knight- Another walkon. This ride is possibly getting a little rougher from the last time I was on it. I rode in row 7 and it seemed to be rattling a little bit. It's got a nice little intense layout, but the problem is that it's so little. I can't enjoy this coaster because it's over so fast. This is definitely my least favorite floorless.
SCREAM! - No, not the floorless, the tower ride at SFNE. We walked on this ride also. I have never been on a tower that shoots you up, then you get a drop too. I'm used to Dominator, Power Tower, etc. where you have to choose one or the other. It was great getting to do both!
Tomahawk - This was the only ride other than S:RoS that we rode during our 7 hour stay at the park. Your standard frisbee. We were on it with 5 other people. We walked on. Good ride - I would have ridden it more if I was at another park. But S:RoS was calling our name.
We went back to S:RoS and it was starting to get dark. It was dark at 8:00 which shocked me. I'm used to it getting darker a little later than that. I guess I'm just not used to heading east and still being in the same timezone, I'm on the other end. We went back to the same routine of riding and running around. The ops soon knew us and one started talking to us. His name is Marty and he's really awesome. They were a really fast crew for what they had to work with. There was 1 height checker/holder outside of the station, 1 running the coaster, and 2 checking bars/seatbelts. They were very efficient and we soon knew them all. Here and there we would see a reride and so we asked. At first they didn't let us but eventually they did when the supervisors left. Marty asked for a password every time we entered the station. He was a funny guy and I would like to see more ride operators like him. He really cared about his job. He talked about how some people come into work and hate their job and how some people come in to enjoy their job. This is just a side job for him because he's some sort of consultant . . . but enough about that. When he was done working he hopped on and rode with us! We managed 3 rerides and eventually they let us run through the Q-bot line. There were only 18 people on each train and they said they had to have that many to dispatch, so they would wait for us to come around and we'd get back on. About the ride itself - the new restraints don't seem to take anything away from the ride at all. I really love this ride, especially in the back. The first drop is great. I love the tunnel. I love the turn around. My favorite hill is the one after the picture. You really get going up and the train struggles to pull everyone back down. That has to be the most negative G's I've ever experienced on a coaster. At the end of the night I was almost sick from all the airtime. I forgot how intense the first dive down to the ground/helix is. This ride is so reridable. Still my favorite coaster in the world! It was so reridable . . . that we got 31 rides in one day! That's a record for me. An awesome way to end my trip. I'm back now after a 10 hour drive home from Agawam this morning. I was really impressed with the parks we went to this year for our trip and wish I could do a repeat trip ASAP. Thank you for reading.
If you didn't you missed half of the Knoebels experiance! Actually probably 3/4 of it because theri food rocks as well!
Knoebels water (out of the fountains) is pretty bad along with the restrooms but they sure make up for that in the quality of rides!
I'm glad you enjoyed my homepark.
I'm glad you found our tips helpful. One note about Dorney. If you go again (which you'll hopefully do when Hydra opens next year), be sure to report any line cutting to a ride op. Dorney tends to be fairly strict about this. When we were there last week (right before we went to Hershey) we saw people booted out of two lines for line jumping.
I also liked your notes about SFNE. We are still hoping to get there this summer or a weekend in October. We've never been there yet, and Michael (and I, of course) really want to ride S:RoS.
Hope to see you at another park again sometime!
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