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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Knoebels Opening Day 2015 and new Impulse Coaster Report

We had another great opening day visit to Knoebels. Our visit on opening day last year was so much fun, and this year was even more amazing with the addition of the world class Impulse roller coaster. Entering the park is even more amazing now. All you see as you drive into the park is this towering blue coaster that looks bigger in person than in pictures. Entering the park is also even more exciting, with the views of the other coasters all hidden from sight. Now Impulse beckons you into the park as you enter. As we entered into the park around 10:30, the coaster was testing.
The opening ceremonies started with Reverend Cliff Herring, the roller coaster reverend himself, leader within the American Coaster Enthusiasts organization, and Thunderhawk ride operator, giving a blessing over the coaster and the park on this opening day. 
Next up was the park's visionary leader emeritus, Dick Knoebel. 
The last speaker was the designer of the ride, Martin from Zierer Rides.
We headed to our first ride of the day as they were holding a charity auction for the first ride on the coaster. Naturally we went right to Flying Turns since it is best to get into the line for that ride early. The natural beauty of this park is stunning, and views like this add so much character to this park. Knoebels has so much character and it really is a magical place. 
Flying Turns time! Testing, testing, 1 2 3! The coaster only ran two trains and shifted down to one, since the cooler weather makes it difficult to run the ride. In the station they actually had big heaters going to heat up the wheels and chassis to ensure the ride could operate. The considerations they put into this ride are truly incredible. 
Instead of the chain being covered in grease to keep it lubricated, it is actually sprayed with water. Grease would not work with this ride due to the damage it would cause to the trough in making it too slick for the train to traverse. 
The first riders of the 2015 season for Flying Turns.
It was a nice, but cloudy day to start. We were not sure how the weather would turn out, considering that it was actually snowing in the morning when we left from Pittsburgh! Flying Turns did not disappoint as always. A very fun ride, and Brit was a great date to take onto the ride!
Now over to Impulse after making a quick pit stop for some pyrohi!
We were not sure what to expect out of this coaster. The people were very excited though, so we knew it had to be pretty awesome. The entire ride is actually viewable from within the queue, making for an entertaining wait. Additionally, the ride is has a surprisingly high capacity. The line really flew, with the multiple car operation and the excellent ride operators at Knoebels. The operators were all thorough and very quick with their work. Other parks should come and study the ride operations at the three elite parks in this department, Knoebels, Holiday World, and Cedar Point.
Here is a video showing how zippy and intense this ride is:
A different vantage point in looking at the Ferris Wheel. Impulse really helps out this midway. 
This element is my favorite by far on Impulse. It also is my favorite overall inversion. This barrel roll provides both excellent airtime and hang time, and the transitions into it are smooth, but wild. This is an intense ride. Right at the moment you crest the lift, you are immediately flung into some incredible ejector airtime into a huge 90 degree drop. This is one of the greatest pops of ejector air out there. Then it is followed up by a giant cobra roll that feels really high up, and offers a giant drop that leads into a vertical loop. Then there is a turnaround that leads into this barrel roll element, possibly my favorite inversion out there. My previous favorite inversion was the BM zero-g roll. If you love the closing inversions on Banshee, you will love this barrel roll element. 

Additionally, the helix elements really hearken back to another manufacturer that was once based out of Germany, Schwarzkopf. Those tight helixes are wicked.
There is some serious airtime. Additionally, the restraints that Zierer utilizes are extremely comfortable. They also offer something pretty great for those bringing little kids to ride. They actually have a booster seat that lowers the height limit to 48 inches from 52 inches, a standard height for a ride this extreme.
Impulse is an all around excellent ride, and it really stands out at that end of the midway. Impulse should continue to be very popular with the park and help bring in even more guests with its world class thrills.
I would hate to eat this cake on an Impulse. It is a work of art! The festivities and grand opening of the ride were quite pleasant. You really feel a sense of team effort when it comes to any Knoebels project. I am proud to have experienced the culmination of these efforts, year in and year out. 
Next up was Twister. As usual, this ride did not disappoint. 
The refurbishment work from last year, coupled with the continued work during this offseason have this twisted giant running really fast.
The big drop, that was rebuilt last year is still running phenomenally. GCI really did some excellent work on this.
This photo perfectly illustrates why the ride operations at Knoebels are better than nearly every park out there. With two train ops, the train at the top of this photo is out in the helix elements, while train two is about to head up into the lift. For both Twister and Phoenix, the lines were consistently far out, but the lines never stopped moving and the waits never exceeded ten minutes. There were longer waits for the flat rides than there were for Phoenix and Twister, thanks to the design of these wood coasters and the efficiency of the ride operators. Two train ops with any PTC coaster should always be this efficient. 
Now onto the king, Phoenix! I cannot even remember how many times we rode this and Impulse. From this point on in the afternoon I did not take many photos, since it seemed like all we were doing was riding and playing games.
The lift hill was completely redone this past offseason.
Brit sat out a cycle, but because of that she was able to take pictures of me riding. Love this ride!



Same view as earlier when it was just testing, now with riders!
Carousel time! Always a blast. One of the most stunning carousels in existence. After a lifetime of going to the park, I have still never caught the brass ring! Oh well. I have never caught a flyball or homer at a ballgame either.
Let's go for a spin!





There's our friend Ken Galante spending a relaxing weekend at the park with his family. 
Oh look, there's Bill Supko of Supko Photography!
Haunted Mansion time! Still the best classic dark ride out there! Likely lends itself to the fact that it has drawn pieces and and inspiration from the dark rides of old, even including some props and equipment from parks that have long been defunct.
Beautiful midway on a beautiful day.
While I have never caught the brass ring, or caught a flyball at a baseball game, I was able to cross one thing off of my bucket list. I won the coverall game in Fascination! I guess when it comes to Brit and I, we have a Fascination obsession ;-)
Brit wins the jackpot round! Great day with Fascination for us! Can't wait to get some more Fascination time at Geneva-On-The-Lake in Ohio, at Darien Lake Park, or somewhere else. These games are so much fun that we drive all the way up to Geneva-On-The-Lake to have some good food, have a great time, and play Fascination. Once popular all over, they have slowly faded away to the point that I believe there are less than a dozen Fascination Parlors left.
Light breeze on opening day. Some slight snapping on the Flyers ride, but still lots of fun. Always a favorite.
What other amusement park can you go and do trout fishing in the middle of the park? The creek is an excellent trout fishery and April is trout season in Pennsylvania. I have not gotten a fishing license in a while, but I would really like to. Fishing is one of my favorite things. 
We marathon rode Phoenix during the last half hour or so of the operational day, getting off of the ride, and going right back into the line. We rode almost every row of the train, with rerides in the rows as well. Our last ride was in front seat! Bar none, the place to sit on the Phoenix train is the front car, with the best ride given in the third seat, also known as the Schmeck seat because Herbert Schmeck designed coasters are said to give the most extreme ride in that row.
For me, Phoenix is tied for second favorite wooden roller coaster with Twister, Holiday World's Legend, and Waldameer's Ravine Flyer. The ejector airtime is phenomenal on the double down drop mid ride, and the return run, especially the final airtime hill.
Since this was an ACE event, there was extra ride time on the bumper cars and Impulse. We rode three or four extra long cycles on the bumper cars. This was wild, considering that every person there was an adult thrill seeker, not shy about bumping whatsoever. Couple that with old style Lusse Auto Skooter bumper cars that have not been tamed one bit, it was a time to remember.
Gotta love the beauty of these art deco styled bumper cars. They don't make them like this anymore. 
Art Deco chrome beauty.
Things were getting a little wild!
Now back to Impulse for some dusk action. I don't even know how many times we rode this. It had to be at least twelve or more times. We prefer the backseat because it is a bit more forceful, and with the elevated seating, none of the views are sacrificed. I am still surprised at just how forceful this was. We knew it would be fun, but this ride delivers some serious airtime, lateral forces, speed, height, and  smooth transitions. We even took a ride with Rick Knoebel on one of our rides, and he stressed how he wanted the transitions to be smooth. He knew that he wanted a steel looper, and he travelled all over to find out what manufacturer he wanted to build the coaster. He also spoke with a number of manufacturers at the IAAPA convention in Orlando to figure out who he wanted to work with for this project. 
He chose Zierer, and we are glad that he did. 
Can't get enough of that Barrel Roll!
The night lighting is beautiful. Here is a video of it.
Just an overall great day at the park. I highly recommended this park before Impulse was built. Now this is the steel complement to the excellent wooden roller coasters that the park has. This is a great addition to the park. Be sure to check it out!