Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Knoebels Trip Report, May 14th, 2016

We happened to be driving along Route 80 last weekend and naturally we needed to make a stop at Knoebels. The weather was looking nasty as we were going, and we contemplating not stopping, but we figured we would take a chance. We got to within a half mile of the park, and the nasty weather stopped. It's been said that there seems to be a weather forcefield around the park, and that certainly seemed to be the case. We ended up spending about two hours at the park, so much for a short rest stop, but it was well worth it. The park was in top form and buzzing as it begins its 90th season as a central Pennsylvania staple. 
The Phoenix standing in all its glory. 
The park's latest coaster addition, Impulse, thrilling riders with its awesome ejector airtime and inversions.
Brit playing our favorite game, Fascination!
And it took her one game to win!
The Lawrence L. Knoebel Covered Bridge, dating back to 1875, in the fine tradition of Knoebels, the bridge was purchased and reconstructed here in the 1930s. 

Flying Turns! This re-creation of a long lost style of roller coaster is still very popular as it enters its third full season.
Now off for a little adrenaline rush before we hit the road on Twister! It received lots of track work for the 2016 season.
The structure on this giant always looks so majestic. As it enters its seventeenth season, it is still the longest coaster in Central Pennsylvania.

There was a pretty nice crowd at the park for a Saturday in May. There is something really special about this park when there is a crowd. The place really seems to come alive.
Twister's station is the most majestic in the business. Between the beautiful wood work, the curved station track, the giant swooping drops of the ride's spaghetti bowl encircling the station, and more, this is easily the most beautiful station that I've ever seen.
Twister was as boss as it always is.
After some more Fascination action, it was time to head back onto the road for the rest of our ride to Pittsburgh. 
It is all of the little touches that make Knoebels so special. The fact that they built a covered bridge within the park, to add beauty to infrastructure like this, is something that sets this park apart from the rest. After a lifetime of coming to this place, I always see something new that I take a moment to appreciate. This place is so special, between all of these special details, in addition to people being able to walk with their dogs in the park, Knoebels is a place like no other.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Kennywood Opening Day Report 2016

The 2016 season has begun at Kennywood Park! We have eagerly awaited this day for a long time now. As has been the case since Black Widow was added in 2012, the park has focused upon maintenance and improvement projects. Last year saw the addition of a seasonally convertible 4D movie theater in a previously underutilized building. This year the park underwent lots of painting, tweaking of attractions, and more. The end result is an improved experience from years past.
Thunderbolt riders enjoying the experience as much as many generations of visitors before.
It is pretty difficult to get lost on your way to Kennywood. 
A school band greeted us at the entrance as a part of the opening day festivities. 
We decided to start our season with a ride on Jack Rabbit. It was a terrific ride as always and we can't wait to feel this break in for the season.
The front row awaits! Jack Rabbit is certainly a backseat ride, but we decided to go for the first row for our first ride of the season.
There is nothing like the pop of ejector airtime heading down that terrific double down drop. On the right you can see the brand new Jack Rabbit sign. There were a number of small changes and improvements throughout the park, including this sign, LED lighting on the Wave Swinger, fresh paint throughout the park, the conversion of Johnny Rocket's into a counter service restaurant, and more.
Next up was Racer! 
Rode terrific as always, nothing to report but the views!
I am sure that my report is starting to get predictable! It is always fun to do the coasters in order, starting at Jack Rabbit. The best kinds of days at parks are the ones where you only have time to snap a few shots and just ride coasters all day. 
Now for the primary addition for the 2016 season, a restoration of the old whale entrance into the park's Noah's Ark funhouse attraction. As opposed to being more of a fear inducing walk through attraction, the focus is back upon the tale of Noah's Ark for this venerable ride's 80th anniversary. Gone is the old elevator display and more, and added is the whale entrance. I won't give away the secrets of the Noah's Ark interior, but I will say that the attraction is almost completely redone, between the work from last season and this season. I believe that the changes make this a more family friendly attraction.

It was great to see Phantom in perfect form. The crews were easily the best that they've been within recent memory. I cannot remember the last time I saw the ride operators at the Phantom move as quickly as they did, in addition to seeing the park using two train operations immediately. Everything was flawless at the Phantom. At the start of the day, the crowds were light at Phantom, but as things picked up, the ride speedy ride operations allowed for a much more enjoyable experience. 
We rode this at least ten times throughout the day and it was great.
Brit sat out a few of the laps and took some photos.
There I am! I was mesmerized with the way the lift hill towers look giant and endless from above.
Oh, hi!
Gotta love dropping down 228 feet at speeds exceeding 85 MPH.
Of all of the steelies I've ever ridden, Phantom ties for my favorite overall. Thoroughly breathtaking ride.
The weather was perfect up through late afternoon.
All of these laps are making me hungry!

So that means it is time for some of the legendary Potato Patch fries and ice cream!
There is nothing quite like eating Potato Patch fries and taking in the sights and sounds of this wild midway. Thunderbolt is one of the most photogenic coasters of all time,
It looks like they are having fun! There really is nothing quite like watching people having a blast on this ride. 

Next up was a ride on the park's 90 year old Grand Carousel. It was produced by Dentzel in 1926 for the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial. Due to a delay in production, the carousel was never used for that celebration and it was installed at Kennywood in 1927. I can't wait to see what they may have in store for the carousel's 90th anniversary next year.

Now on to the Kangaroo. Such a quirky and fun ride and the last remaining ride of its kind.
We couldn't resist getting another ride in on Jack Rabbit.

And a ride on Sky Rocket!
We naturally had to go to Brit's favorite place, the arcade!

We had a pretty awesome day at the park as we always do. You can't go wrong with Kennywood and it is awesome to see the park work on some aesthetic and restoration projects.