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Sunday, May 23, 2021

Waldameer Trip Report May 2021

Today we take a look at a visit I made to Waldameer last weekend. As always, Waldameer and Ravine Flyer II delivered. I had the day to myself and started off with fishing (a hobby I had not done for ten years prior to this year) and then planned to spend the rest of the day at Waldameer. By the time I wrapped up fishing, it was starting to lightly sprinkle rain. 

This did not seem to hold back the crowds though. The park was hopping more than I had ever seen it on a May weekend. It was really great to see. Because of the sprinkling and rain, I opted to leave my camera equipment behind and just used my phone. We did not end up getting to the park last year, though we have visited every year since Ravine Flyer II opened. 


I know that I always say this, but Ravine Flyer II was running as awesome as ever. Better than ever. The entire first drop has been re tracked and the train flew through the entire intense and airtime filled course. The layout is just so brilliant with airtime on every hill and really wicked laterals. Thanks to the upkeep on this ride, it remains an airtime filled and disorienting romp in its thirteenth year. 

I also got a new "credit" on this trip, as much as I hate using that term, with their new SBF Visa spinner. It feels like this one spun more than the other ones I have ridden, though that may have been because I was alone in my car and it was not balanced. It was really pretty awesome. I saw the rumor that Casino Pier will be adding and SBF Visa spinner with a hamster wheel cars. It would be cool to see these get added to the ride as well. 

To me, one of the greatest things of the summer season is getting at least a few visits in at Waldameer. Ravine Flyer II seems to get better with age and riding it is always such a great thrill. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Knoebels Trip Report May 2021 and Construction Updates

So the 2021 season is underway! Knoebels has done a solid job getting the park ready, but a few of the rides were not open yet or still in the midst of offseason rehabilitation, including Flying Turns and the Flyers, and the pad site for the park's newest upcoming ride is still being worked on. We only spent a few hours in the afternoon at the park to drop in and have a great time. There was a solid crowd at the park and most people were masked, which was good to see. Security at the gates was making sure guests were wearing their masks upon entrance, and I saw multiple times in queue lines and at business counters where individuals were told to mask up or not get served. With how tough the past year has been, this was encouraging to see. Knoebels takes safety seriously in all aspects and you can expect nothing less than greatness from this park. 

I do not know how we have pulled it off, but two seasons in a row we have gone on one of the first weekends of operation with weather solidly in the 80s. I would love to see the park add misting units or small water play areas/play fountains within the park area. We dipped down to the creek by the covered bridge for a second when we were walking by. 
Flying Turns looks close to being wrapped up after last year's major construction work, creating a lift hill into the final brakes. 
Lots of new wood in the chutes!
The park has hinted that the new ride coming for this year is a Wisdom Tornado. These are great family ride installations and it will fit in so well in this section of the park. They are lots of fun and prove popular everywhere they are installed.

First ride of the day was Phoenix, which is always a blast. I feel like the last few years have seen the ride become consistently less aggressive. It is still one of the best coasters out there and it is smooth as can be, but that intensity is just not there like it was before. The re profile work has smoothed out the transition moments where the strongest ejector was, making light to medium floater airtime the primary force. The ride is still a ton of fun though. 
Time for some games!
We both managed to win a game of Fascination. Definitely a lighter haul for us than usual, but it was still a ton of fun!
This is the third time we have brought CeCe along to Knoebels, and it occurred to me just how cool it was to be able to take our dog along on the carousel. It is so neat to be able to ride the two train rides, the carousel, and the antique cars with our doggo. 
Time for the Pioneer Train!

The park was pretty crowded and they even activated the second train on Twister. I miss the days when two train ops were the norm at Knoebels. It has been a while since then, but I really miss those days. Both Twister and Phoenix had full queues and Phoenix was still running one train operations. They put on the second train on Twister later in the day. It would be great to see the park recreate another classic wooden roller coaster, such as the classic Riverview Bobs. The tight turns on that could be navigated by both GCI's new Infinity Flyer trains and Gravity Group's Timberliner trains. I would also love to see them dig through Schmeck's designs and bring back another one of his greats. The park could use another capacity thrill machine like Twister and Phoenix. 

All in all though, it was a great time as always at Knoebels. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

2020 Kennywood Trip Report during ACE's KennyKon

Today we take a look at our visit to Kennywood this past weekend during ACE's annual KennyKon event. I am glad to say that it was a great time! As we all know, the logistics of holding an event like this. I am glad to say that it was flawless! The park does a great job at enforcing safe masking policies, ride sanitation, social distancing, and more. For the most part, the patrons of the park, and all of the ACE members, were following all of the safety protocols. In difficult times like these, the familiar things, like visiting an amusement park, are even more meaningful as a means of escape. I am glad to say that the park has stepped up to the challenge. This year is a milestone year for the park. The legendary Jack Rabbit wooden roller coaster is entering its hundredth year of continual operation. A century of thrills and memories have been born on this terrific roller coaster.  
The day for ACE started with ERT (Extra Ride Time) on Jack Rabbit and Thunderbolt, an hour before the gates opened to the public. I managed to snag five rides on Jack Rabbit, with a ride in each of the distanced rows on the train. 
The park's amazing carousel is within its 93rd season. I love how this grand machine serves as the heart of the park.
Thunderbolt's midway is so beautiful. Between seeing and hearing joyful riders as the trains traverse the wickedly twisted track of Thunderbolt as it elegantly swirls through the midway, along with seeing Phantom's train drop down its massive 228 foot drop down a cliff and subsequent rush back up, and seeing and hearing the classic Turtle ride, this spot is just so mesmerizing.
For me, just taking in everything in this spot is one of my favorite things in life.
Note how the riders all safely rode with their masks on, throughout one of the most intense sections of any coaster ever built.

The took out the fisheye lens for this shot. I rarely use it, but this is one of those rare situations that is perfect for it. Steel Curtain has not opened for the season, though the core of the park, its three wooden roller coasters, countless classic rides, and the epic Phantom's Revenge, more than made up for the loss. 
On this visit, I believe that Racer offered the best ride of the three wooden roller coasters at the park. My opinion on favorite wooden roller coaster at the park varies with each visit.
Phantom remains as my overall favorite coaster in the park. 
After ERT ended, I did not end up taking too many shots. I was too busy riding and catching up with old friends from ACE. I was just not able to focus both physically, and with my camera. I had not gone to an ACE event in a while, and I am glad that I did. I realized my favorite parts again of being involved with that group all while having a great and safe time at the park. 

It is that time of year and we have now released our annual Roller Coaster Calendar!

Our 2021 Roller Coaster Wall Calendar features roller coasters from many amusement parks, including Knoebels in Pennsylvania, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California, Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia, Holiday World in Indiana, Belmont Park in California, Waldameer Park in Pennsylvania, Kentucky Kingdom, Carowinds, Cedar Point in Ohio, Family Kingdom in South Carolina, Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania, Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania, and Kings Island. These calendars are custom made with photos taken exclusively by us. The calendars open up to be 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide (8.5 by 11 per page)

To purchase, use the PayPal drop down menu at the bottom of this article, or through the top of the page. For more information, check out this link.

2021 Coaster Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

2021 Roller Coaster Calendar

It is that time of year and we have now released our annual Roller Coaster Calendar!

Our 2021 Roller Coaster Wall Calendar features roller coasters from many amusement parks, including Knoebels in Pennsylvania, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California, Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia, Holiday World in Indiana, Belmont Park in California, Waldameer Park in Pennsylvania, Kentucky Kingdom, Carowinds, Cedar Point in Ohio, Family Kingdom in South Carolina, Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania, Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania, and Kings Island. These calendars are custom made with photos taken by the authors. The calendars open up to be 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide (8.5 by 11 per page)

These calendars make great gifts for other people, or for yourself.

Also available is our book on Pennsylvania's historic amusement parks, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip. It features Knoebels, Kennywood Park, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Waldameer, DelGrosso's, Lakemont, Dutch Wonderland, Idlewild, and Conneaut Lake Park.

Purchases of both items can be made through the PayPal menu at the bottom of this page, and at the top of this page. 

Thanks for your ongoing support!
2021 Coaster Calendar and PA Amusement Parks Book Options

Thursday, July 9, 2020

2020 Knoebels Trip Report: A Safe and Fun Time

Knoebels is our happy place. It has has been and always will be. When we saw that the park would be opening in July during this year of uncertainty, we just had to go. We ended up spending the July 4th weekend at the park, camping in the campground, and strolling over to the park. If this is something you have not experienced, we highly recommend it, especially in these tough times. In the midst of this stressful summer, visiting Knoebels was a lovely respite in the midst of devastation. 

As far as safety and sanitization protocols in the midst of this pandemic, they did a wonderful job. They ensured that everyone properly wore a mask and they set out guidelines for guests to socially distance. For the most part, people cooperated well, knowing that if they did not, the park may not be able to operate. Rides were shut down every half hour or so for a deep cleaning involving spray disinfectants and wiping down. Every other row on the coasters was alternated each ride cycle. Markings were placed on the ground to ensure proper social distancing. Some carousel horses were kept empty to ensure proper distancing was achieved and the trains had alternating rows as well. Knoebels acted like the wonderful community citizen that it always has been, by acting responsibly and faithful to the needs of the community. This time is not optimal for anyone, but in the midst of a deadly pandemic, Knoebels has risen to the challenge to ensure that guests have a great time and that a safe environment is achieved. It is clear that Knoebels cares about its patrons and the overall safety of the community, which should not be news to anyone who has ever visited the park.
I love that the Lawrence Knoebel Covered Bridge welcomes you into the park from the camping area. 
Breakfast! Breakfast is served every day starting at 8:00AM in the International Pavilion, near the log flume.
Since we brought our dog CeCe along with us, our first ride was on the antique cars. The track that the ride travels on, weaving in and out of the structure on Phoenix, is easily the nicest that I have ever experienced. 
Heading over for a ride on Phoenix!
It was a terrific ride as always!
Next up was a ride on the Pioneer Train. I absolutely love the views you get of Twister's immense structure.
The carousel always looks so stately. 
Flying Turns is in the process of a big rebuilding project on the last half of the ride. The back half almost looks like a brand new ride!
Day 2! Here you can see Twister and Phoenix getting in their morning test runs while we go pick up some breakfast.
First ride of the day was the carousel.

CeCe did not know what to make of it at first, and then thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Both of the park's carousels are absolutely lovely.
Ole Smokey is the park's second, and shorter train, but it still has a really long course, and even crosses a classic iron bridge across the creek. 
Back to Twister!
The cutaway here frames the twisted nature of the coaster so nicely.
Now for a little afternoon swim with CeCe in front of the park's historic Lawrence Knoebel Covered Bridge.
Looking up at the helix after the end of the second lift hill is really impressive. Twister's structure is so enormous.
Derby Race time!
Closing out the evening with a ride on Phoenix!

And back for another morning ride on Twister.

CeCe loves taking in the coasters as much as I do!
Overall, I have to say I was very impressed with how Knoebels has struck a safe balance between doing too much and doing too little. In a time where parks could easily throw in the towel for the season, Knoebels has opted to open up, but with logical and safe precautions to protect us in this pandemic. The mask policies, the spacing methods in the queue lines and on the rides, the sanitizer stations across the park for guests and employees, and the frequent deep cleaning stops on the rides help ensure that this virus does not spread. Most of the visitors were following the protocols pretty well. The park struck a balance between doing too much and too little, and is taking the threat of this pandemic very seriously. 

As always, we are grateful and appreciative of what Knoebels is able to accomplish. When tough times have struck this 94 year old park, whether it be during the Great Depression, wartime, and the complete collapse of local industry, the park has not only survived, but thrived. Knoebels needs our support in these times, for it has always been there for us, including now with keeping our safety as their first motivation. The decent crowds over the weekend were very encouraging, but we need to keep it up.