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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Knoebels Trip Report: September 2021: Phoenix in Top Form!

We have been fortunate to get to Knoebels as often as we have. We often end up being able to hit it en route on a road trip, but this time we spent the entire Labor Day weekend at the park. As always, it was lovely, but I have to say that Phoenix was running significantly better on this specific visit than it has in years. The airtime was back on every hill in the third row, with some airtime reappearing in double-up and double-down, something that has been conspicuously absent since re tracking work was done a few years ago. I used to switch back and forth between which coaster I loved more, between Phoenix and Twister, but over the last few years, Twister has been my clear favorite. On this visit, I loved Phoenix as much as I loved Twister. Both were running in top form. Twister has blown me away on every single ride for a very long time, but Phoenix was back to giving those mind-blowing rides, with the final airtime hills having ridiculously strong airtime. I am not sure what the difference was on this visit, because I rode this at the start of the season and it was not running anything like this. On a tamer day, Phoenix is still a fun family ride, but on days like this, it is a legendary thrill machine. 

Naturally, our first ride with CeCe was on the Pioneer Train.
Gawking at Twister before riding is always a treat. 
Just getting back to the station and heading over to Twister!
This machine ALWAYS delivers, and usually in a different way on each visit. It is a backseat ride all the way, with terrifically whippy lateral forces and transitions. The biggest drop has an awesome pop of ejector air in the backseat. It seems to always be running fantastically
Not to mention that it is CeCe's favorite coaster to watch. I would imagine that she wants to be like that dog from the 80s that rode American Eagle and other wooden roller coasters.
This was the first time that I rode Impulse in years because it was running two cars and moving lots of people through the queues. I really love it. The inversions are silky smooth and full of hangtime, the first drop has terrific ejector air, and the helix elements are reminiscent of the intensity of Schwarzkopf coasters. The seats are ridiculously comfortable too. This Zierer coaster is great and I prefer it to the Gerstlauer Eurofighters. 
I just love how much there is to do at Knoebels. As with any park with Fascination parlors, such as Indiana Beach, we were in and out playing on our two days at the park. 

CeCe was a little bit confused with the clown. 
We just love the park's Stein and Goldstein Carousel. We had not ridden it with CeCe before, since I forgot that it had chariots. This is such a fine little machine.

Phoenix standing in all its glory. Both of the park's traditional wooden roller coasters tie for number one for me with Voyage, Legend, Great White at Morey's Piers, and Ravine Flyer II. 
Something really special happens at the park once the sun sets and the lights come on. The park comes alive and so much of that old charm of the park just shines so brightly.
Phoenix, in its current top form, is especially incredible in darkness.

The park's carousel is such a beautiful machine.

I ended up taking a picture of every win for both of us, but I just included the best. I managed to win cover all!

Then we ran for another lap on Phoenix
Then Brit managed to win the next cover all game
Impulse looks so cool at night, especially with the LED lighting package on the sides of the cars. 

We got so many rides in on the Grand Carousel. 
And for the first time in my life, I caught the brass ring! Bucket list item completed.

All in all, it was a fantastic time at Knoebels!

Our 2022 Roller Coaster Calendar is available now! For more info, check out this link. To purchase, use the dropdown menu at the top of the page. 
The calendar features views from: Knoebels, Holiday World, Cedar Point, Morey's Piers, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Kennywood, Hersheypark, Six Flags Great Adventure, Casino Pier, Carowinds, and Waldameer. For more info, check out this link. The calendar and our book on Pennsylvania Amusement Parks are available through the dropdown menus at the top of the page, and the bottom of this article. 

2022 Coaster Calendar PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Indiana Beach: Park Visit and Dreier Looping Construction Report

Indiana Beach! Where to start with this park? This is a place that I have wanted to get to for a long time, and on a little midwest trip, we finally ended up getting to it. I heard all kinds of awesome things about this park from people, and everything great that I heard was true. This is a place that I desperately wanted to get to for years, since it has three CCI creations, and lots of charm. The "back from the dead" comeback story of this park, with purchase by a Chicago based businessman, Gene Staples, after other bidders failed to emerge upon news of the park being sold, was even greater incentive behind us getting to this park. Nothing could have prepared us for how truly awesome and unique this park is. It is always great going to a laid back park like this the day after going to a large corporate park. Laid back parks like this always refresh and relax me.

From your first steps into the park across an old suspension bridge, to the coasters lining the entire shoreline of the park's peninsula within view of the entrance, you immediately know you are someplace that is really special.

The structure of the unique and beautiful Hoosier Hurricane. A huge portion of the structure for this ride is located over water. This ride is the closest thing I can think of to a modern version of a scenic railway. This is only the third coaster installation that was opened by CCI, back in 1994, and it is a fun ride. It is mostly devoid of airtime, though we had a great ride in the second row at the end of the night where we felt a solid pop of airtime in the second to last airtime hill. There are some solid moments of lateral forces, especially in the turnaround, throughout the ride, and the turns at the top of the lift hill are an absolute blast. This ride is so much fun and the greatest thing about this ride to me, other than the sense of speed and lateral forces, is the sheer beauty of this ride within its surroundings. My first thoughts about this ride were that it is like the wooden coaster version of Steel Force or Millennium Force, with a neat and graceful layout that provides awesome views of the scenery, without having too much airtime and having some good lateral force moments. Visiting this on a Thursday, the park did not have a ton of people in it and I rode in pretty much every row on the train, many times just going back and forth between rows in the station to a row without anyone waiting for it. First car is where it is at with this coaster. 

Another awesome thing with this (and neighboring Cornball Express) is that its PTC train has buzz bars. These two coasters have to be the newest coasters to have been built with buzzbars, which are single position PTC lapbar restraints that have a cool buzz associated with them when the lapbars are engaged by the operator. They are the only two row cars that I am aware of having buzzbars.

As soon as you cross through the impressive Hoosier Hurricane, you see the amusement park really unfold. You immediately see the other side of the shore on the peninsula of the park in Lake Shafer, with a series of rides like a Chance Yo-Yo Swing Ride, a Paratrooper, a sky coaster, a waterpark, and more built on platforms right over the lake. 

They even have a carp feeding station on the edge of the lake.

The star of the park's wooden coasters for me is Cornball Express. Built in 2001, this is one of the last coasters that CCI ever built. It is pretty heavily intertwined with the structure of Hoosier Hurricane, and the fact that CCI was able to jam three coasters into such a small plot of land is just incredible. Cornball Express is an out of your seat airtime machine. The back seat specifically has really strong airtime on every hill, and the front car has several moments of really strong airtime. The extreme airtime is accentuated by the buzzbars on the PTC trains. I also rode in every row and most seats on this ride as well, thanks to the light weekday crowds. 
Our first ride on Cornball Express was in the backseat, and you feel like you are going to get launched to the moon, then the following airtime hills are just as wicked. 
Cornball is an airtime machine. 

Steel Hawg was our first S&S El Loco, and my goodness was it fantastic. It feels like a Wild Mouse that has been transformed into the most intense and wicked contraption possible. Smooth as glass and the beyond vertical drop, which was the world's steepest at 111 degrees, is so neat. The layout manages to surprise every time. We rode it two times in a row when no one was in the station around opening at the park and we absolutely loved it. I wonder why they do not use that track style anymore? It is smoother than what they currently use. 

This section of the park crosses over a wetland and little inlet on the peninsula. The platform for their Arrow Antique Cars is really cool. In the background you can see the strange Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain.

The first coaster entrance you pass by is the Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain, a bizarre dark ride and wooden roller coaster combo with three cars that look like bird cages. While the ride is fun, my back would prefer that they let Gravity Group come in to make some sort of custom creation with Timberliner trains, for backwards airtime without back supports is not a fantastic experience, though it is fun at the same time. I know that with different ride vehicles, this ride would be absolutely perfect. 

They have both a Sky Ride and full circuit train ride that serve as transportation from end to end in the park. I have the most familiarity with with Von Roll Skyrides, but I knew that this model was different. My guesses were that it was either a Herschell, judging by the iron baskets of the seats, or Eli Bridge, with that same iron basket aspect to the seats, and the iron lattice work of the supports. coasterpedia.net and liftblog.com (which apparently is the RCDB of chair lifts) has it listed as a Hopkins. The differences in this one threw me off and it looks so cool.

Here you can see how the lift hills of Cornball Express and Hoosier Hurricane intertwine, and with Lost Coaster out there on the left, you see just how impressive of a feat it was for CCI to fit three coasters in such a small plot of land. Make that four coasters with Schwarzkopf's Tig'rr sitting in the middle. The footprint of land under those coasters is even smaller, with much of the footprint being occupied by water. It is great that they were able to save this quirky gem of a park.

 The park's collection of flats is fantastic.
Out off the edge of the park, over near Steel Hawg, the park's project of trying to rebuild Dreier Looping seems to be at a standstill. This thing is going to take a ton of work to get into operating shape. With how massive this ride is, and how much work is going to need to go into it to rehabilitate, this is an enormous undertaking. Some parts of track will likely need to be refabricated somehow. I think the closest thing to this style of track would be made by S&S, unless Gerstlauer may be able to do it, since they are the company most closely related to Schwarzkopf. Whatever happens with this project, happens. The park is great as it is and it may be prudent to try to install the Schwarzkopf shuttle loop that they bought instead and fit that into the compact park somewhere. 

I inexplicably missed out on taking a full photo of Tig'rr. This Schwarzkopf Jet Star is a fantastic ride. We are huge fans of Schwarzkopf rides, especially their loopers and Wildcats. On this midwest trip, we got to ride two more Schwarzkopf production models, between this and Whizzer at Great America. As always with Anton's rides, this is a wicked little ride with wild laterals. It has the similar bobsled style cars to Whizzer, and Bayern Curve rides and it is pretty cool. It was added to the park in 1984, and was originally built in 1976 and operated at the former Holiday Park in Georgia. 
We spent a large portion of the day in the park's awesome Fascination parlor. This parlor is one of only eight remaining locations, of which we have done five. We have played the Fascination parlors at Knoebels, Geneva-On-The-Lake in Ohio, Darien Lake, the boardwalk in Wildwood, and this one in Indiana Beach. There are three other remaining locations that we have not done yet, including Sylvan Beach in New York, Looff's Lite-A-Line in Long Beach, CA, and in Seaside Oregon. This is an awesome place, along with the rest of the arcades and games at the park. We spent a good portion of the day in the arcades. I love days where you are able to ride all of the rides and take in many of the experiences that the park has to offer. This is such a well rounded park.

A view from the Ferris wheel. It is so easy to see how magical this park is from this angle. 
Here you can see the neat turnaround on Hoosier Hurricane, with the park's train running underneath the course of the coaster's track, along with Lake Shafer and the suspension bridge.

There is also something really magical about the park when the sun goes down and all of the night lightning and neon make the park glisten.

Indiana Beach is a park that is well worth going out of your way to check out. As a whole, this well-rounded park is easily one of my overall favorites. This was easily one of the best overall days we have ever had at a park. It is a special and magical place that you need to go check out. 

Our 2022 Roller Coaster Calendar is available now! For more info, check out this link. To purchase, use the dropdown menu at the top of the page. 
The calendar features views from: Knoebels, Holiday World, Cedar Point, Morey's Piers, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Kennywood, Hersheypark, Six Flags Great Adventure, Casino Pier, Carowinds, and Waldameer. For more info, check out this link. The calendar and our book on Pennsylvania Amusement Parks are available through the dropdown menus at the top of the page, and the bottom of this article. 

2022 Coaster Calendar PA Amusement Parks Book Purchase Options