Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dave's Knoebels Opening Day Trip Report April 26, 2014

It was a beautiful opening day at Knoebels this Saturday. The crowds were moderate, the rides ran fantastic, and the temperature was just right. The park worked round the clock to get the park set. They said they had a difficult time this offseason in getting the park up for the season. This was the worst winter in memory with nothing but snow and cold. Somehow they managed to retrack hundreds of feet of track on the Twister and the Phoenix. Both rides ran as well as they ever have. The Adams, the family that also runs and maintains the rides at Conneaut Lake, did the spectacular work on the Phoenix and GCI did the work on the Twister. The Twister went from being a fun ride to a top flight ride in my opinion, easily breaking into my top favorite rides and maybe even surpassing the Phoenix! I will tell you more later. Now you will see a view that tells me that fun is on the way, the first look at the Ferris Wheel after stepping out of the car!
Dining with a PTC train? I assume these are Phoenix trains. Does anyone know when they were switched out?
 The one thing that was noticeable is the absence of the park's fun Zamperla Power Surge ride. I enjoy this ride quite a bit and have no worries, the ride will be back for the summer season. It is now undergoing renovation. Those blue and orange colored cars in the center of the picture are the Power Surge cars.
 The park's beautiful Ferris Wheel. It is the tallest in Pennsylvania.
The park was not quite open yet. Don't worry, these Kettles were popping in a few hours.
 The Stony Gables peanuts are one of my favorite snacks in general. The only downside to having ERT at night was not being able to stop off and pick up some warm peanuts for the ride home!
 Now for the Schmeck star of the park: PHOENIX! Take a look at that beautiful retracking work. All of turn 2 was retraced, all the way from the start of the uphill into it to the bottom of the drop out of it. The company of the Adams, STI, worked with the Knoebels maintenance staff on this job. They really did wonders for the coaster ran as well as I can remember it ever running.

 Waiting in line for our first ride on the Phoenix and checking out the scenery. I forgot to take shots of the midway's carousel organ and the "Gasoline Alley" cars that were transplanted from Moosic's Rocky Glen Park. We wanted to ride the Flying Turns first but the queue was already filled and the line extended all the way to the main road near the StratosFear drop tower. We opted to get a quick ride in on the Phoenix first. The line died down a little bit once we rode the Phoenix so we headed there next.
 Testing, testing 1, 2, 3
 FIRST RIDE! Lucky folks! Judging by the screams throughout the ride, the old girl still rocks!
 Closer view to the rejuvenated turn two. The folks on the train in the brake run on this shot were screaming in excitement and joy.
 Fresh wood! There is nothing like the smell of fresh wood on an opening day at a park that cares for their wood coasters.
 I love the views from the queue you get of this ride. All fresh wood!

 I love the ornate lift hill topper on this classic.
 And the cool side supports for the lift hill.
 Here is a shot of where they blended the new track into the older track at the bottom of turn two.
 Hands up vote for who loves the Phoenix!
 The line was down a little bit for the new kid on the block, Flying Turns. Boy did this ride deliver! 
 They tried a new, water lubricated, type lift hill chain for this coaster. They really MacGyvered this coaster to get it just right. This style of chain was used on the park's Hopkins built, Skloosh, water ride because the water would wash off the grease. In the initial planning phase of the coaster, they determined the need to have as little grease on the track at any given time. The solution was to utilize a water lubricated chain. The sealed chain link grease points are greased over a certain period of time.
 This thrill machine is really something else. The yellow apparatus is the wheel assembly and the apparatus that enables the train to be controlled and caught on the lift. The springs on the sides of the apparatus and how much went into these is really impressive. These trains were produced by Larson International in Texas under the direction of Mike Boodley, a founder of GCI (Great Coasters International)

 The anticipation is building! I am still completely excited from how great our visit was yesterday.
 A look over at the Herschell Looper. This is the only one remaining of its type and it delivers a very intense ride. One of my favorite aspects about this ride is how they preserved the Art Deco decorations commonly found on Herschell rides from that period. This section of the midway provides awesome views of the Flying Turns, Flyers, and the Looper, making a wait for the Flying Turns to be exciting watching folks have fun on these classics. 
 Cloud cover for a little bit. It did not last long. Maybe a minute or two of sprinkles throughout the day, but it was mostly sunny.
Some views are better off being kept as memories :-)
 While in the center of the structure, the ride feels like it just towers over you in an unending set of tubes.
 The Flying Turns meet the Flyers. They must have been loading at this point since they do not appear to be moving yet. 
 The great steps the park takes to keep their trees always amazes me. They kept this old birch tree and this other pine tree. Tree preservation is a common theme throughout the park.
 Due to the windy conditions, the park's flagship Bisch-Rocco Flyers gave a spectacular ride!
 They were truly a white knuckle ride yesterday, my goodness! I never felt them go so high. Below you can see the three favorites in this section of the park bringing joy to park patrons.
 They had maintenance there all day keeping an eye on the ride. They have to constantly keep track of the statistics on this ride and the track areas. They keep cameras on each section of the ride for constant views to ensure everything is up to spec. 

 Almost there!
The Flying Turns were really something else! They are a ride like no other. The closest thing I can describe them to is a really intense waterside where you feel like you are going to fly over the edge. the feeling was like no other. 
 Now onto wood coaster three: TWISTER!
 I am flat out shocked at how much improvement this ride had. The work that Clair Hain and GCI did with the park maintenance staff to revamp this ride ended up being spectacular. The main focuses were on the first drop and the pull out of the first large helix. They rebuilt the bottom half of the first drop from the ground up, creating a drop with minimal drag and a smooth and super fast ride with a GCI styled tear drop roll. The fix allows the ride fully utilize the layout. Instead of lumbering through the last half of the ride, the coaster flies through the entire layout, creating both an intense and immensely fun ride. I always enjoyed the Twister, but now the ride is top flight for me, possibly even better than Phoenix. Twister is definitely in my top favorites now and I am sure it is running as John Allen intended Mr. Twister to run in Colorado. This ride is likely now in the same form that made Mr. Twister one of the most well loved coasters. My mind is still blown at how great the ride is now. Look at that newly built drop.

 Boy do I love the Twister!

 Simply wow!
 I love the Twister Station. Was the lattice work recycled from somewhere?
 Double helix time! I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to ride some of the best wood coaster helix elements this year between this, the SFA Wild One, Kennywood Thunderbolt, and possibly the Kings Island Beast.
 The view of the Phoenix through the trees at the StratosFear drop tower ride. For some reason I did not take a picture of the ride. My father and I opted to ride ourselves since everyone else, Brit, my sister Taryn, and my Mom, are not into drop towers. All the better for us since it was easy to seat two. We did not end up having to wait at at all. These Larson/ARM Drop Towers are unreal amazing. These towers are much smaller than some of their counterparts, yet provide one of the most intense drop tower experiences. Everywhere I have seen them, here, DelGrosso's, Waldameer, Family Kingdom, and others, these rides are popular and create a great ride. I hope some parks pick up the company's great swing tower rides. They also provide a better ride than their much larger counterparts.

This park is relatively unique in that it has an intact state route that once rolled through it. Some remnants still remain like this, a keystone insignia on the old street bridge. 
 The relaxing setting of Knoebels is so great. The park makes for such a great retreat. Are any of the cottages on the site available? 
 The better than ever Twister!
 We had the club birthday dinner for Dick Knoebel to go to, so we sadly have to pass up these delicious specials. Knoebels has the best food of any park by far. Not only is the food amazing, it is also less expensive than if you ate it at a restaurant outside of the park.
 I absolutely loved the Black Diamond, especially the Centralia themed section. I should have expected that but I did not. 
 The Haunted Mansion is still the best dark ride out there!
 The park's attention to the small details, like these two food stand and picnic pavilion shelters being spun with water power, make this park so relaxing and beautiful.
 I concur!
 My Mom and my sister clearly enjoyed the ride!
 The Knoebels Carousel is purely spectacular. For some reason, Northeast and Central PA went for the Coney style carousels. I am not complaining. It is a nice change of pace from the Philadelphia style ones found elsewhere in the state. From top to bottom, from the beautifully painted murals, beautiful carvings, amazing lighting, elegant horses, and the rings, this carousel is a true masterpiece.

 Brit is getting ready to lock her form for getting the brass ring! Neither of us have ever gotten the ring. I have visited my whole life and never caught it! The same is true for a ball at a baseball game. Oh well, I have lived! I can't complain, life is good!
 Not quite ready for the rings!
 As you can see, the Power Surge is under full restoration!

 The "parkitecture" is really pretty nifty. Whoever built these buildings had a creative mind.
 The characters are stopping by!
 The Dick Knoebel birthday bash! If there is one guy that is like the Walt Disney of our time, it is him! He is really well loved. Delicious cakes were brought to celebrate this milestone and it was pretty cool getting to see him. Talking with him when writing the book was fascinating and a total blast.

They also talked a bit about the new coaster, Impulse, created by Zierer, which will include a vertical lift and drop, four inversions including a cobra roll, and it will have a "booster seat" for riders under the height limit. 
 The Twister and the creek.
 Catching a ride on the Black Diamond. This is a really fun ride. I love the coal mining theme. That is my heritage and I love how it is memorializing those lost in the coal mines and the region's heritage in the industry. The industry is long gone from that area, which is tough for employment but great for the safety of the workers. Lots of lost miners are memorialized in the park's great Anthracite Coal Heritage museum. Seeing the sacrifices my family's elders went through to bring us a better life is both moving and humbling.
 We finally checked out what the hype was all about with the Fasination game. It is only one of twelve remaining. This was easily one of the most fun games we have ever played. Brit was hooked! She almost won this coverall game.

 Flyers time! These were easily the best rides I have ever experienced on them.

 Below is my Dad! He is the one that got me hooked into the Flyer rides. He would always say "I recall riding those at Harvey's Lake." No ride is more fun and sometimes more terrifying than these. They are the best.
Gotta get back to the Twister before the park closes and ERT starts. The Twister is now one of the best wood coasters in the world. It is amazing how much of a difference there is. I never felt the entire layout be so powerful. Hats off to GCI and the Knoebels Maintenance Crew for a job well done!

 Much less pictures and lots more marathon riding on the Western New York and ACE ERT event on the Phoenix and Flying Turns!
 The evening trough lights made this ride even more spectacular.
 And the lighting looks phenomenal. 
 It was great meeting ACE guys like B. Derek Shaw and David Lipnicky. The camaraderie of many group members is wonderful. It was also great running into guys like Reverend Cliff.
 Ready to board!
 It was great wrapping up the night with a final ride on the Flying Turns! 3.5 hours later we were in Pittsburgh and it was totally worth it.
 The Flyers are looking lonely, anyone ready to go find John Candy to get the ride running?
 I never noticed the candles on top of the Birthday Cake building before. Such an imaginative little building.
 The pool reminds us that it is not quite summer yet. Some final touches going into it before the season starts. They were hard at work this weekend on getting it set in this nice weather.
 I have to reiterate that Twister is pure perfection right now, as in one of my favorite overall rides. Get up there right now to check it out!
 Say goodnight to both Flyers! I hope to get back soon! It was great meeting the family at the park as a sort of 2/3rds meeting point between Pittsburgh and Allentown.

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