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Photo TR: A Wet, Wild Weekend in Pennsylvania

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Unless you've been hiding in a cave, sorting your sock drawer to the exclusion of all other stimuli, or counting the holes in an acoustic-tile ceiling (which can be very engrossing if you connect the dots and find, say, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa or Last Supper), you're probably aware that TPR held two events on both coasts last weekend. Pick a coast and a TPR event--East or West, you can't go wrong.


So, I ambled up to Pennsylvania to hang out at Knoebels and to get East Coast Bashed at Hersheypark. Yes, there were two new credits awaiting me at both parks, but that's not the main point, which was to have a great time with a great group of people.


First stop, Knoebels, where I met up with not only the Road to Cedar Point crew, but also with Larry, Reed, and Stacey. Yes there was the usual ERT we've come to expect from TPR. But how can you top morning ERT on Twister and nighttime ERT on Phoenix (an old-school ride that has to be a part of anybody's top ten)? How about with guided tours of GCI and the park's new ride, Black Diamond? How about by making an insane old coaster even crazier with lights-out, glow-in-the-dark ERT?


And torrential rain? Knoebels says, "I got yer torrential rain right here!"--and keeps the park open.


Yes, the Phoenix ERT session will go down in TPR history as one of the best! The ride was, as usual, amazing--especially when you add in a bunch of crazy people with all manner of light-up toys and clothes!


Let's have a look at Knoebels.


Let's see . . . K N O E B . . . er . . . L L backwards C? That can't be right.


First up, ERT on the Re-creation of the Ride Formerly Known as Mr. Twister.


"Please, no pictures! Respect my privacy! If you must have a photo, call my people!"


Twister has been known to rupture the fabric of space-time. Fortunately, these people returned safely to our dimension. Others were not so lucky and must now wander aimlessly between both shadow and substance.


It's much easier to get a picture of Reed and Stacey on the Antique Car ride than it is to get a picture of Twister.


"Cmon back and bring yer woman! We'll show ya a good time! Haw, haw, haw!"


"In me jauntin' car, me jauntin' car! Jauntin' along in me jauntin' car!" Name the old movie.


Larry has found his lost tribe! He weeps for joy! Songs will be sung about this moment for centuries.


Here is the first of a number of spinny rides Reed and I watched like flat-ride voyeurs.


Stacey is texting, "I am on the Fryers . . . darn! . . . Flyres . . . stupid keypad!"


"Stacey, what are you doing on the 'Fryers' and why are you texting me about it?"


OK, the Cosmotron I can handle. It reminds me of that Rock 'n' Roll Rebel ride at Aussie World.


"Oh gawd, is Chuck rambling on about that stupid Australian ride again?"


Here's a ride that Stacey can't handle.


The Skooters are the greatest bumper cars anywhere.


They actually had to stop it and untangle the mess this bunch got themselves into--they were wedged together like you wouldn't believe.


Some would glance at this sign and think nothing of it. Others would find it mildly disturbing.


Yes, it did get a bit damp.


And now we've come to what you've all been waiting for . . .


. . . Joey eating!


Despite his facial expression here, Joey did not puke on Amy.


We had just been told that Black Diamond is themed to Pensylvania'a coal-mining heritage--not the old KISS song from the 1970s. Some appeared mildly disappointed by this revelation, but they got over it. More to come.

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And now, here is the old KISS song that has nothing to do with the new ride they're finishing up at Knoebels (which I think is going to be an excellent, unique addition to the park).



We now return to this TR, already in progress.


To experience Black Diamond, one must first cross a vast plain of mud--much as Pennsylvania coal miners once did.


The station is themed to a town owned by the "Black Diamond Company."


Yep--still needs a few finishing touches, such as a "floor" here.


This the place that you sell your soul to after you load those "15 Tons" (at least according to Tennessee Ernie Ford).


These were the same trains they used when this ride was the "Golden Nugget" at Morey's Piers in New Jersey, although they did have to be rebuilt. The track is also original, but the rest of the ride is new and now totally enclosed.


Let's have a look inside, shall we?


If you keep picking at that, it'll never heal! Hold still while I apply some Neosporin.


Er, is it supposed to look like that?


My camera was being pretty buggy during the tour, but it did make for some "moody" shots.


OK, keep your nether regions clear of this thing, OK?


Hmm--this reminds of me an old "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" episode in which a diving bell was swallowed by a whale.


"Ya know, one of ya coulda brought me some fried cheese or corn nuggets or something."


See those two rubber tires? They not only propel the cars along the course, but also generate electricity.


If you're looking for a cheap house, try Centralia, Pa. Of course, you'll have to put up with an underground fire along a vein of coal and the risk of your home falling into Satan's backyard.


Not even a donkey would be dumb enough to buy real estate in Centralia.


"Oh, I don't know. Some new curtains, a few throw pillows here and there. I could live here."


The community of Centralia rec center does have a nice hot tub, at least.


"Well, time to push this plunger and make some 'urban renewal.'"


Kids love living in Centralia! Uncontrolled coal fires rock!


Do you travel up or down this part? I'll never tell.


Purple mine boogers! Run for your lives!


That's it for Black Diamond--I'm really looking forward to this one. Are you looking forward to more pictures? I hope so.

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Here's a last look at a great day at Knoebels--East Coast Bash will be next (probably tomorrow).


Look! I met some members of the Campbell Clan at the Knoebels museum! Yes, you never know what you'll find there.


Like an old Ferris wheel, . . .


. . . a miner's head, . . .


. . . an aquarium full of shark's teeth, . . .


. . . or even Jeff Johnson!


Once again, Reed and I are reduced to flat-ride voyeurism. Get a room, you two!


Dear Kings Dominion:

See those pretty lights on Twister? Remember when Rebel Yell used to have pretty lights like that?




We caught the next train to Mordor.


It takes you through scenic Mirkwood, . . .


. . . and near the camp where Sauron is assembling his legions of evil.


The Eye! It is upon us!


Well, it's nighttime at Knoebels, and you know what that means!


It means that Chris Fourmont comes out to play!


That the tortured spirit of James K. Polk will walk the Earth!


That the Goat of Mendes--the Devil himself--will make whoopee with a dog!


That grouchy old men will be born from horse's butts, warning kids to stay off of their lawns!


That Stacey will be even more scared of the Haunted House!


And that it's time for glow-in-the-dark ERT on Phoenix--a great ride made even better!


Remember those poor souls who were wandering between shadow and substance?


Well, they're back, and they're armed with wackiness!


Much yelling and screaming and insane laughter reverberated through the mountains of Pennsylvania that night! What a great ERT session!


I leave you, for now, with the most amazing souvenir ever! My thanks to Robb, Elissa, and Knoebels for a great day! You can't go wrong with TPR and Knoebels!

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Thanks for the photo of me with my clan.


That photo was perfection!


I didn't want to get to close to the clan as I was afraid they might shoot me if they thought I was mocking them. I purposely saved the camo shirt for Knoebels to fit in better with the locals but my running shoes give me away.

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Awesome pictures as usual Chuck. I know you are a dark ride enthusiasts so does Black Diamond Mining Death Trap look more like a dark ride or a roller coaster? From the pictures it looks like it's mostly a dark ride. I'm pretty sure I will enjoy it either way whenever I make it out to the big "K".


Jimmy "I need to go to some East Coast parks" Bo

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Awesome pictures as usual Chuck. I know you are a dark ride enthusiasts so does Black Diamond Mining Death Trap look more like a dark ride or a roller coaster? From the pictures it looks like it's mostly a dark ride. I'm pretty sure I will enjoy it either way whenever I make it out to the big "K".


Jimmy "I need to go to some East Coast parks" Bo


It's the dark ride you can count as a credit.

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Awesome pictures as usual Chuck. I know you are a dark ride enthusiasts so does Black Diamond Mining Death Trap look more like a dark ride or a roller coaster? From the pictures it looks like it's mostly a dark ride. I'm pretty sure I will enjoy it either way whenever I make it out to the big "K".


Jimmy "I need to go to some East Coast parks" Bo


It's the dark ride you can count as a credit.


I am assuming that it is kind of like Blazing Fury/Fire in the Hole but with tamer drops at the end?

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Nice trip report! I remember riding twister during the phoenix phall phunfest last year and it was running really insane according to some other people. I thought it was as good as phoenix. Damn does that ride have intense lats! And you cant forget about the unusually steep first couple drops! Really underrated ride IMO. Anyone else agree?

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^^I think that's a good comparison.


^Thank you. I like Twister, too, but it was a bit rougher than I remember it being a few years ago (particularly in the backseat). Still a lot of fun.

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Thanks for the pictures, but ehhh.....


....... if you connect the dots and find, say, Rembrandt's Mona Lisa or DaVinci's Last Supper..........................


"Rembrandt's Mona Lisa"??........never saw that one, only the one painted by Da Vinci



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Massively cool report. Knoebels is already slathered in awesome, but when they get both Black Diamond and Flying Turns open, they will go supernova. Bless them for saving and plussing the Golden Nugget (had no idea it is now completely enclosed)!


And I also really, really like Twister, but Pheonix is out of control. Easily in my top ten wooden coasters.

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Thanks for all the comments, folks--on to East Coast Bash at Hershey Park!


This seems to be my year of getting bashed by TPR. I've been bashed in California, Texas, and Pennsylvania so far--and I'm going to get bashed again in Georgia and Florida. Fortunately, this sort of bashing isn't particularly painful, especially because I avoided Sidewinder.


About 160 TPR members got together for East Coast Bash, and what a bash it was--ERT on Fahrenheit (new credit for me), Storm Runner, and the Claw to start the day, food, beer, ice cream, backstage tours, and nighttime ERT on Wildcat, Wild Mouse, and Lightning Racer--and don't forget Chocolate World. Not even torrential rains the night before (and a bit later that day) and flooding stopped ECB! (Well, except for Roller Soaker--yes, rain shut down the water ride.)


Let's have a look.


To the left, then head due up, please.


Hmm--I guess I'm in the right place now.


Elissa gets the Road to Cedar Pointers squared away.


"OK, I have my coffee. You can all go home now. Thank you."


Uber secret entrance time.


First, they told us about the park's water-pumping plant. Then it was Rock, Paper, Scissors--To the Death!


"Rock crushes scissors! Now you die!"


In Europe, this ride would be called "Celsius."


But this ride would probably still be called "Storm Runner" (only in French, German, etc.).


"And on the eighth day, God said, 'Guess I'll have some Storm Runner ERT--then create a platypus or something.'"


This is where most people wonder, "What the hell was I thinking?"


But at this point, there's no time left for thought. I think Storm Runner and Xcelerator are the two best Intamin launched coasters.


This lift is 32.2 degrees Celsius.


Fahrenheit was fun--Intamin's version of a Eurofighter.


But that name just puzzles me.


I mean, how does this suggest a Dutch-German-Polish physicist named Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit?


I mean, was he a really twisted individual or something?


Did you know that Fahrenheit is the official temperature scale of only two countries: the U.S. and Belize? Yes, we're right up there with Belize! USA! USA! USA!


Toro! Toro!


Ole! Ole!


Our group followed the advice of Master Larry, and headed straight to Comet after ERT--it tends to have an insanely long line.


Master Larry says, "The wise man who values his spinal integrity rides not the over the wheel of Comet."


"Are we on the wheel seat? I forgot to check."


Remain centered--or your coaster fu will be weak!


I think this ride is a little underrated among the B&M inverts. I rather like its eccentric layout and funky-looking supports.


Besides, it's built over a chocolate river! More to come.

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Would this be a TPR Bash without a backstage tour of some kind? Nope!


"OK, we're going to take you into some offices and the park's rather extensive shop area. Please do not steal any office supplies, power tools, or Zambonis. Thank you."


This is the park's weather station. HP has a "five-phase" plan for dealing with inclement weather, and we got to experience a few of those phases that day.


Yeah, I got one of these in my garage. Well, I would if I had a garage, anyway.


I think an "EZ Arm" would be a handy thing to have--especially if it could bring you a beer while you sit on the couch.


I think every workplace in the country has a sign like this. It's a federal law.


"Yes, fondle the Intamin part. Caress it. You know you want to!"


Here is the hot, sexy part in question--a cable cover.


The park's shop area was huge.


Hmm--I'm not sure what this belongs to, but it looks like it could fit on the front of a 1958 Ford Ranchero.


There is great evil here . . . I can sense it . . . OH MY GOD! Old Sidewinder trains! Run for your lives!


"Just ignore the growling and the scratching. You ignore it, it'll ignore you. It can smell fear, though."


Hmm--parts to something in a rather interesting pastel color. What could these be for?


Is something "transforming" back there? Pretty sure it's not Optimus Prime. Maybe it's Truckzilla.


Piers took the tour earlier and left this behind.


I'll have to ride Coal Cracker one of these days--missed it this trip.


"Think" . . . er, can't make out the rest of it.


Understood--I'll quite trying to crack walnuts with the drill press.


Excuse me, but where can I find the sign shop?


Time for a nutritious lunch.


Zoo America brought an owl, a baby gator, and a skunk for us to check out. (At Kings Dominion, the skunks just run around the park.)


As you can see, Piers takes his nutritional supplements very seriously.


They are all getting proper nutrition the Piers way.


The men behind the "Ride Institute of Technology" talked to us about how the park's campaign for Skyrush (next year's new coaster) came about.


And these gentlemen told us something about the ride itself.


And now, exclusive backstage access of Piers's recording session. Is it Lady Gaga or an English hair stylist? Sometimes, it's hard to tell.


TPDave, Piers's manager, knows that he has found a gold mine. One last set of photos to come.

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Who wants to see Skyrush supports and some backstage pictures of Lightning Racer? Well, you'll have to listen to this first.



Thank you.


We had some time to kill before another backstage tour, so we went to blessed Chocolate World.


But we saw a bear and ran for our lives through a blinding thunderstorm for the other side of the park!


Yet another secret entrance--where we were promised we would see Skyrush supports.


But where can they be? I've looked everywhere!


Oh, there they are. Thank you!


We had to cross a raging river to get to them!


"Yes, I believe these are coaster supports. I know coaster supports when I see them, by golly."


Intamin-ness confirmed.




Some might even say, "Slightly irregular."


Oh, I see--they bought them at the Intamin Outlet Store! But don't worry--"slightly irregular" supports are just as good as "regular" ones, and a great value.


It was odd how they were just stacked up next to this neighborhood. I guess it's not like someone could put a support in his trunk and drive off with it.


I think that's enough about the new ride for now--how about checking out a working, older ride?


You can get great pictures of Lightning Racer from this side of the park's perimenter. (We were originally scheduled to get a tour of the ride itself, but rain had turned the area under the coaster into a swamp.)


Now this is a coaster that really "duels."


Engarde! Touche!


Intamin and geeks as far as the eye can see.


Wildcat says, "I want in on this action! Have at you!"


To which Lightning Racer replies, "Take that!"


Outback, how could you?


I had no idea that the snake squirted you on the train ride.


I rather liked the Halloween feel of the train ride, too.


Dear Kings Dominion,

Please see my letter from Knoebels regarding pretty lights on wooden coasters.

Thank you,



We hope you enjoyed your ERT on Angus McNasty: The Ride. If not . . .


. . . here's the complaint department.


Cheryl and Lauren agree that it's hard to top nighttime ERT on Lightning Racer.


And, in closing, remember, "IT'S THE MILK CHOCOLATE!" Thank you Robb, Elissa, and Hershey for a great East Coast Bash!

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Hmmm - so that was YOUR Saturn Ion that went in the bus parking lane, then?


Great photos, Chuck. I knew staying at the Boardwalk all afternoon was a good idea. Everyone else takes super-awesome photos of the behind-the-scenes stuff, I get to be lazy, and it's like I'm right there.

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