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Photo TR: Coastin' Coast to Coast

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Another fan of Sky Rocket. I love to see more of those around the US. Small, compact but full of fun. Just looking at those Kennywood photos reminds me of my last visit. The park is like Sky Rocket being a small and ompact but full of fun.

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Part Eleven: Knoebels and Dorney Park

Like night and day, they are. One a family-run independent nestled deep in the woods, the other the essence of cookie-cutter corporate entertainment in the concrete Allentown metropolis. We visited Knoebels and Dorney Park on two consecutive days, and the contrast was striking.


Knoebels is like a permanent country fair - it's completely different to any other park I've visited. Because it's kind of out-of-the-way this park almost didn't make the trip itinerary, but we quickly discovered how much of a mistake that would have been! The term "charming" has been overused when it comes to Knoebels but it absolutely fits, with every inch of the park oozing an old-fashioned friendliness and familiarity.


The park's collection of rides is pretty impressive too. Phoenix completely deserves it's revered status, and Twister isn't bad either. We rode Kozmo's Kurves for the credit, but it had some crazy airtime for a kiddie coaster! I had no idea what to expect from Black Diamond and discovered a really fun dark ride with some great effects. The park totally shines in the flat ride department though - flying scooters, looper, power surge, cosmotron - it's like a "greatest hits" of flat rides!


And that's not even to mention the Fascination parlor, amazing food, and beautiful location. Easily one of the best parks in the US!


Dorney Park, on the other hand, is very clinical. It's like someone has ticked off a checklist of all the things someone expects from a theme park. Their slogan should be "all the rides you love, all in one place, just not quite as good". I didn't think it was a bad park, and certainly wasn't disappointed. Apart from Steel Force there isn't much that's notable about Dorney Park, the rest of the rides are good but nothing special. It's just that while we had a decent three hours, but really that's about as long as we needed to spend.



We're at Knoebels! I love the way Twister seems to disappear into the trees.


Slightly blurry shot of Phoenix and the new drop tower. Taking photos from the chairlift is harder than it sounds... ;)


The aforementioned chairlift. It goes up, and then down.


Aerial view of Kozmo's Kurves. Not only does this think kick ass for a kiddie coaster, they also let you go around three times!


I hadn't seen a Power Surge in a park before - only as "carnie" rides. They are awesome, though I wouldn't ride twice in a row.


Is that a tractor engine? I think it might be...


Best flying scooters anywhere, this one goes quite fast and are super easy to "snap". I don't know if it's because it was a tickets-only day or not, but the cycle time was pretty long!


The Hamster Wheel of Death, aka Looper. I have not been so happy to see the end of a ride in my life. If this kind of thing floats your boat, well done. I'll be content to watch.


Flying Turns was testing the day we were there. It would open a few months later.


Under this wrap is a super-secret Flying Turns car.


Remember the joke about how this would never open? Me neither.


While it would've been cool if this was open when I was there, it's great to have an excuse to head back soon!


StratosFear - the park's new hotness for 2013. Awesome location for a drop tower.


I played a few rounds of fascination but was either terrible at it, or hustled. There's clearly a skill to this game that I was unable to master immediately.


Another log ride I rode by myself. It wasn't even that wet, except when my idiot brother decided to set of all the water cannons just as I went past!


Phoenix is awesome. That's all you need to know.


Something else you'll find at Knoebels and not at any other park. This place is very endearing.


The baked potatoes WERE good!


Pretzels prefer... Pepsi? Huh.


Our morning at Dorney Park begins!


I spy coaster #100!


For the duck/fish enthusiasts out there.


Hydra was a serviceable B&M floorless. Not a bad ride by any means but nothing I'd clamour to ride again.


The jojo roll is kind of cool though.


Is this the cobra roll that most resembles an actual cobra?


I was interested to ride Demon Drop, a ride that manages to be incredibly complex and completely lame at the same time.


We are getting closer to Steel Force...


But first - this. V2 is better, that's all I have to say.


Invertigo says hi, CGA.


Just so I don't go a full update without a fountain. Here is a picture of a fountain, and Steel Force.




For some reason Steel Force feels much older than it actually is. Not that it's rough or anything, just that it seems very old-school and not something that's only a little over 15 years old. The huge helix at the turnaround is fun, but otherwise it just made me want to ride Magnum.


Goodbye, Dorney Park! I'm sure you'll get some better rides one day!


That's all for this update. Next - Hersheypark! Chocolate!

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Love to read your reports. Only noticed this thread today, so for the last 20 minutes or so, I've been reading your reports and watching the pictures. What struck me most, are the pictures of DCA. I've been there in 2009 and so much has changed in that park since then. I hardly recognized anything on the pictures. Time to revisit soon I think

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Dorney Park, on the other hand, is very clinical. It's like someone has ticked off a checklist of all the things someone expects from a theme park. Their slogan should be "all the rides you love, all in one place, just not quite as good".


I like this assessment. Besides Talon, Steel Force and the log flume nothing quite stands out.

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What struck me most, are the pictures of DCA. I've been there in 2009 and so much has changed in that park since then. I hardly recognized anything on the pictures. Time to revisit soon I think


It changed quite a lot even in the 18 months between my previous visit (November 2011) and this trip. Two years ago there was no Cars Land, Buena Vista Street was a construction site, and the entrance took you around the back of Soarin'. It was almost like visiting a completely new park this time around!


Didn't see anything about Talon, did you not ride it?

Rode it, just no photos. It was very quiet, but not really memorable otherwise. Talon and Great Bear were probably the least exciting B&M inverts we rode - both made me long for Raptor.

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I went to Dorney Park over the summer. I didn't get a chance to go on Talon, but I should have. Hydra was a pretty OK ride, the JoJo roll coming right out of the station was probably the best part. Steel Force was kind of good, but nothing to really talk about. The park wanted a hyper coaster for the sake of a hyper coaster, and that's the extent of what they got. Possessed was a good ride.

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Great update! Your description of Knoebels was spot-on, and you captured some of the more unique and thoughtful details there, including some I'd never noticed before.


It's a shame that Dorney has become completely corporatized, even if that's what allowed for the large additions. Seems it's the only Pennsylvania park to have completely lost its charm: Hershey still has plenty, and while Kennywood has grown (and gone downhill) some, it still has that old-school vibe. I do like the landscaping at Dorney, though.

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Part Twelve: Hersheypark

I'm going to cut to the chase here: Skyrush is amazing! I had a blast on this coaster - it looks great, is an incredible ride and has huge airtime on some of the hills. The "outside" seats near the back were definitely the best place to ride. And the restraints were fine - no idea what people are complaining about there!


Hersheypark is a serious "family" park - there is so much to do even if you're not into rides, like Chocolate World, the zoo, or the waterpark. I could have happily spent a couple of days here just re-riding the coasters, let alone everything else! Apart from Skyrush, Fahrenheit and Lightning Racer were the standouts. Fahrenheit just has that out-of-control, disorienting sensation that a lot of new coasters seem to lack these days. A lot of racing coasters tend towards the tame side, but not Lightning Racer - it was the first woodie of the trip that made both of us say "damn, we have to ride that again right now!".


We also checked out Chocolate World - initially the plan was to just take the tour dark ride, but we quickly got sidetracked by all the other activities. The idea of making your own chocolate bar seemed kind of cheesy (pun intended) but it was actually really fun!


After Hersheypark, the coaster count for the trip was sitting at 97, with 22 wood and 75 steel. The log flume count was at 11, with the "double-drop" on Hersheypark's Coal Cracker making it an instant favourite!


The day begins at Chocolate World!


There is a stunning amount of candy in the gift shop. This is only a third of the Reese's Pieces display!


The Chocolate Tour dark ride was really well done!


It's a hard heart that doesn't love an attraction with singing cows.


Time to "make" some chocolate of our own! First up you spend some time designing your bar, including the flavours, filling and packaging. It's sort of like Test Track, except on Test Track you don't get a car at the end!


I settled on chocolate chips and berry bits.


High-tech dot-matrix displays announce the artist's name at each station.


This reminds me of the opening credits of the Willy Wonka movie! The Gene Wilder version, not the weird one with Johnny Depp.


"The Sprinkler", a.k.a. what we used to call my high school math teacher (he had a tendency to spit...)


It does exactly what you think. Adds sprinkles.


Chocolate bar is almost ready.


About to be packaged!


And we're done!


There was a great sense of achievement, despite the fact that all I'd done was push some buttons on a screen.


Next stop - Chocolate University. Unlike pizza's three steps, there are four stages to tasting chocolate. One must not only look, smell and taste, but also listen for the sound it makes when broken. Or you could just shovel down candy by the handful like a normal person.


The taste test. The caramel chocolate kiss was pretty good.


Eventually it was time for some rides!


Customary fountain photo.


Hersheypark is a really beautiful theme park, it looked great the day we went!


"There's money in the banana stand!"


For the duck enthusiasts. Great Bear was fairly disappointing - it had the longest wait of any ride (mostly due to fat people not knowing about the bigger seats) and was overall a bit "meh".


But Skyrush was amazinggggg!


Zoom zoom!


There is so much experience built into the design of this coaster - it's definitely one of Intamin's best.




Lens flare, half a fountain and a coaster train. If it was 2003 this would be the best coaster photo all time.


There is some epic airtime on the hills. I can sort of get why some people think the restraints are uncomfortable, but honestly thought the trains were pretty good!


Sitting on the outer seats is definitely the best spot to ride. We were lucky and had a couple of rides with people who were too scared and just wanted to sit in the middle. Sweet!


One more glamour shot of Skyrush's first drop. The whole day was worth it just for this ride.


Storm Runner was an interesting one. Huge launch with a high inversion, but apart from the first drop it never seems to do much with the height or speed.


The rolls are very fun though.


And like most Intamins it looks very cool!


If you line up the shot just right, you can make it look like the coaster goes into the elk's butt. Not that this was intentional...


Next up we checked out the zoo. It was small but had some interesting animals. I think this is some sort of road runner?


A sleeping bobcat.


Bear. Also sleeping.


The prairie dogs were pretty active though.


And a resting elk.


It was very exciting to see a bald eagle up close. The zoo is big on conservation, and I think this guy had been rescued after an accident in the wild.


The real chocolate factory. Where the oompa loompas work, I presume.


Rare mine train/monorail double!


Whoever planted that tree has a wicked sense of humour.


Wildcat was running pretty rough. Millennium Flyers are good, but they don't really help if the track is wearing out.


Fahrenheit! I love vertical lifts - they add so much to the anticipation.


Norwegian loop is brilliant!


And a barrel roll to round out the TR. That's all from Hersheypark, next up we take on the suits in Washington!

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THRILLED To have discovered this thread,in particular the last few pages -- as I am just starting to plan our 10th anniversary trip.


and we wanna to go to Pennsylvania to hit a bunch of parks with classic rides, that we've never been to!


yep, Kennywood, Knobel's, Hershey, and at least 1 other (likely Dorney).


so I think this thread will be. . how you say? Invaluable!


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What do you guys and gals recommend? One or better two days at Hersheypark? Planning to go May/June...


If you want to do everything in the park, zoo, and chocolate world including creating your own chocolate bar, I would recommend two days.


Great pics and TR, Aaron!

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azza, just an FYI, the silos you took photos of were of the original chocolate factory which closed down in 2010, as they outgrew the facility and it was also the factory that the company started in, and they're gradually doing demolition (hopefully they'll keep the smokestacks for aesthetic purposes, though.) The new facility is a mile or two away.

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Part Thirteen: Washington D.C.

After a week straight of theme parks, it was time to experience some culture, and a visit to the national capital was in store. We had a fairly standard tourist itinerary, visiting the major sites in DC, a baseball game, and of course Six Flags America.


A highlight of this visit was seeing the Udvar-Hazy Center at the National Air & Space Museum. We only went because our planning Kings Dominion day had been washed out and this was plan B. It was very, very cool to see a Concorde and a Space Shuttle in person. Both represent a pinnacle of human ingenuity and achievement, and are impressive feats of engineering.


The baseball game (Nationals v Mets) was a lot of fun. The Nationals got creamed but still a great atmosphere, and a new stadium credit (it was awesome that you can see the Capitol from the stadium!). Like Canberra, Washington's meticulously planned design gives it a an attractive yet slightly sterile aesthetic. DC's subway system has some stunning stations - the one at L'Enfant Plaza looks like something out of a James Bond film.


Six Flags America. It wasn't terrible (I'd heard bad things about their regular crowd) but did seem like the bare minimum of what you need to have a theme park. It started pouring just after we'd done our credit run so I didn't get many photos, but to be honest there wasn't much to get excited about. Coaster clones and other parks' sloppy seconds, with Superman being the only ride that I'd go back for. Apocalypse was OK for a standup coaster, and at least the park had gone to some effort of theming it. Mind Eraser was the roughest SLC of the trip, and reminded me of the bad old days of Lethal Weapon at Movie World. Batwing was closed during our visit, and Joker's Jinx was not as exciting as it's enclosed cousins. Wild One was decent enough but Roar gave some very, very rough rides.



Washington! Unfortunately the monument was still under repair after the 2011 earthquake. I wouldn't mind checking it out once it reopens. There seemed to be a lot of construction works happening when we visited, I assume this is because a lot of work had been put off until after the inauguration in February.


First stop - the Air & Space Museum. This might look like a prop from a middle-school musical, but it's actually a lunar module!


Lots of planes. Lower right is the outside of a 747 cockpit you can go inside.


The Wright Flyer. Not quite an Airbus A380, but you've got to start somewhere.


Why did we not build these?!


Rockets! The one on the left is reminiscent of the rocket featured in the Destination Moon Tintin comic.


One of the cooler sights was the Sculpture Garden. An eclectic mix of things to look at, like this. It's a pyramid made of cubes... I don't know what that means.


Flat house.


I'd love to have one of these in my yard.


National Museum of American History. Lots of patriotism on display here.


They had some really awesome exhibits, like Kermit!


Some less awesome, like this display of electricity meters.


I guess there are coffee cup lid enthusiasts somewhere...


This train looks a lot like the one from Back to the Future III. Bravo.


Nobody has ever taken this photo before. Quote from my brother: "it looks much bigger in Independence Day!"


The scene at the White House viewing fence.


The Lincoln Memorial. As made famous by the film "National Treasure 2".


The man himself. I don't have a particularly comprehensive knowledge of American history but had watched Lincoln on the flight over. Ending slavery and a civil war: not a bad set of achievements!


Another angle that I'm sure nobody has found before...


That evening we headed to Nationals Park for our first MLB baseball game! There's a semi-professional league in Australia but baseball sits somewhere between ice hockey and women's cricket here.


Managed to get OK seats without spending too much. We were pretty lucky with warm weather making for a pleasant night, but the final score was about 10-1 in favour of the Mets. I was impressed by how many people had made it out to the game on a Wednesday night!


The next day started with a visit to the Capitol building.


We took the tour, which was pretty impressive. It's definitely a grander building than Australia's Parliament House, and every detail has some meaning behind it.


Six Flags America might not be the flagship of the chain, but it probably has the best entrance.


Mandatory fountain photo. Unfortunately once you get past the entry plaza the park isn't much to look at.


Apocalypse! I am told the wrecked car is definitely theming and wasn't just left there by the previous owners. The fire effects were fun.


There's a coaster train in this photo somewhere. I though Apocalyse was a serviceable B&M standup, better than Vortex and Mantis but not quite as good as Riddler's Revenge.


More like "Gotham long walkway to because the park layout is terrible".


The Wild One. Just about as rickety as they come, this might have been one of the few rides that made me nervous.


Slow slow slow slow slow loading. The whole 'spaghetti bowl' design works really well in the Flight of Fear coasters, but out in the daylight it's kind of boring.


This is what the world looks like after you ride Mind Eraser twice in a row. Note the trendy Gatekeeper t-shirt.


Rain day meant we were not at Kings Dominion as planned, but instead at the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center. Despite being in the middle of nowhere they still charge for parking, just like Kings Dominion!


This place is huge. They fit an entire Concorde and a Boeing 707, just in one wing of the museum.


The Airbus A380 might be huge, but I don't think any plane has matched the elegance of the Concorde.


The Clipper Flying Cloud - from another era of aviation entirely.


Stealth plane.


Space Shuttle Discovery. It was thrilling to see one of these in person.


This thing made 39 trips into space in its lifetime. In some ways, the Space Shuttle program and the Concorde represent an era when ambition didn't play second fiddle to economics, and imagination became reality.


This was also on display. No doubt there will be people who think Transformers is real because a piece of the all-spark was on show at the Smithsonian. The line between pop culture and reality continues to blur...


That's all from Washington DC. Next up - Busch Gardens! (and more coaster pictures this time, I promise!)

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