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Photo TR: Andy's 2014 New Hotness / East Coast TPR Tour


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I wasn't that into Skyrush, personally (although I rode it a lot as it was a quiet day and wanted to burn it into memory), but I loved the park — far more than I expected to. Just looking through these great photos reminds me of how fun and well-rounded that place is. Fahrenheit was my personal favorite there, and I loved Lightning Racer as well. I'm all for extreme forces, but I found Skyrush to be too much of an endurance test to be totally enjoyable.

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Blessed to have Hershey as my home park during the summer months. I sort of take it for granted when I am there but then seeing pictures and TPR reactions from people who rarely get to visit makes it that much more special to me each visit. The Intamin trio is sacred to my heart.

 

Beautiful photos!

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I also have to say that Skyrush completely blew me away. The restraints were a tad uncomfortable, but took absolutely nothing away from the ride for me (which you can probably tell from the dumbfounded / dumb look on my face in that picture.)
^It's one of the few rides that actually frightened me a bit (particularly during the first half).

These are pretty standard first-ride impressions, aren't they?

 

As far as the 5 lb Hershey bar, my partner bought that for his two grand-kids at the Hershey Highmeadow Campground....it took them close to one full year for them (and Mom and Dad) to eat it all. Obviously, it had to be store in the freezer the entire time, but they were able to eat it all!

OK, that's a little more reasonable!

 

Skyrush is just a balls to the wall, crazy roller coaster experience. It's the only coaster I've ridden where I felt like I was actually going to get flung right off the track.
Skyrush is easily the most intense coaster that I have ever experienced.

It's right up there for me -- right at the limit of about how intense I'd want a coaster to be, without the crush of prolonged positive g-forces that I don't enjoy.

 

When I think of Skyrush, I think of speed and airtime. For Millennium Force, it's speed. For Fahrenheit and Storm Runner, it's unique maneuvers. For Maverick, it's the mix of unique maneuvers and airtime. For all the above, it's fun from start to finish.

 

...how did your thighs feel the next day after an ERT session on Skyrush? I can't even imagine multiple re-rides on it as I remember mine were tender the next day after just one ride due to all of that crazy ejector air.

For me, it was not awful -- the pain was usually worse right on the brake run, but I don't think it bothered me much through the rest of the day. However, I didn't actually get to ride Skyrush without leaving the seat -- we had short waits that morning with the hotel guests, but did have to walk around the line. I actually had a minor issue with Storm Runner after 12 straight rides, in which the fast twist on the flying snake dive was starting to hurt one of my ears. It wasn't due to head-banging or anything, just from the twisting motions that threw something off! No big deal -- felt fine by the next morning.

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I love Skyrush! It probably terrified me more than any other roller coaster I've ever ridden. I didn't go on this trip with TPR, but my family did visit the park in July last year too and Hershey is just amazing. I love Hershey! This is a great trip report! Totally brings back the memories. Don't know if the rumors of Storm Runner getting the I-305 restraints is true, but I would definitely welcome it. Storm Runner is a crazy intense ride but fun as hell. Just great coasters all around in this park. Now my only question is...Is Skyrush my favorite roller coaster? I got three all fighting for the top spot...I-305, Fury 325, and Skyrush...I think it's a tie. They're all just incredible!

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For me, it was not awful -- the pain was usually worse right on the brake run, but I don't think it bothered me much through the rest of the day. However, I didn't actually get to ride Skyrush without leaving the seat -- we had short waits that morning with the hotel guests, but did have to walk around the line. I actually had a minor issue with Storm Runner after 12 straight rides, in which the fast twist on the flying snake dive was starting to hurt one of my ears. It wasn't due to head-banging or anything, just from the twisting motions that threw something off! No big deal -- felt fine by the next morning.

 

I think marathon-ing any coaster 12 times might be an endurance test for anyone's equilibrium - especially a launched multi-looper that goes every which way you can think of! I think I rode Leviathan about that many times in a row (without getting off) during the TPR bash and I definitely felt a little weird in the head when I finally got off.

 

Not to mention 7 times in a row on Banshee during Banshee Bash....my collar bone was killing me the following day from the restraints!

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Day 8 -- Knoebels

Friday, August 1, 2014

 

Scorecard:

 

Flying Turns

Twister (x4)

Phoenix

Flume

Anthracite Mining Museum

Knoebels History Museum

Black Diamond

-- Lunch --

-- Fascination --

Grand Carousel

Kozmo's Kurves

Whipper

Scenic Skyride

Satellite

-- Snack --

Pioneer Train

Downdraft

StratosFear

-- Dinner --

The Flyer

-- Fascination --

Haunted Mansion

Cosmotron

Skyslide

Pioneer Train

Skooter Bumper Cars

Phoenix (x12) (Glowphest ERT)

 

The Report:

 

To casual coaster fans and most of the public, Knoebels is a bit of an unknown destination. Within the enthusiast community, Knoebels has been portrayed as one of the best independent, traditional amusement parks on the planet. That's quite the endorsement for a park I'd be making my first visit to on the TPR Mini East Coast trip. I looked at maps, I watched POVs, I viewed some pictures, and I heard the stories. Could I trust what I'd been told? Is this small, almost-disheveled looking place really the can't-miss park that people have described? On the first day of August in 2014, I finally got my chance to see what the hype was about, and to learn how and why this is a park that must be visited to be understood.

 

What follows is a trip report that will focus not so much on artsy pictures of roller coasters, but more on the experience and the fun that a big TPR group can have at this classic park.

 

Leaving at 830 AM, we drove north on an array of winding, hilly Pennsylvania roads. We arrived at Knoebels at 930 AM, the park popping up seemingly out of almost nowhere in the heavily-forested landscape. As this day had been opened up to other Club TPR members who were not on the trip, we joined with the expanded group, and did a big picture at the Knoebels sign near the middle of the park. We expected our first stop to be an hour of ERT on Twister, but with a busy day expected, the park was nice enough to let us line up for Flying Turns before the public arrived. Even with our relatively small group (under 100 people), Flying Turns required about a 20-30 minute wait. That still worked out for the best, with waits of over an hour later in the day. Needless to say, our group was quite happy!

 

We did head to Twister next, picking up about 45 minutes of ERT -- enough time for several rides and some pictures as well. The big group split up after that, and started to explore the rest of the park. I headed to Phoenix, anxious to get my first ride on such a legendary wooden coaster. I was told not to judge it too heavily based on my first impression, and that was good advice -- the morning ride was good, but not spectacular. That opinion would change pretty clearly late in the evening.

 

My group rode the log flume and explored the co-located mining and history museums, before finishing our pre-lunch schedule with a ride on Black Diamond. We had complimentary tickets for pizza at Cesari's, which was probably the second best pizza of the entire trip -- hard to call it the best with a visit to NYC scheduled just a few days later! Next on the agenda was a trip to the Fascination parlor, which (at just before 1 PM) was still relatively quiet. We only had a group of 10 or 15 people playing (including other park patrons), but I earned my big win of the day -- a cover-all victory (with every spot on the board lit up) for a ten ticket prize! Celebrating as if I'd just scored a breakaway goal in hockey, I injured my knee upon slamming it into the bottom of the Fascination table. Yet another bruise to add to my growing list from the preceding week and a half.

 

The next few hours were a tour of several awesome Knoebels attractions, with highlights including the classic Grand Carousel, the better-than-average kiddie credit (Kozmo's Kurves), and the Scenic Skyride chair lift -- a great spot for photography of both TPR friends and the park's scenery. We stopped for an entirely unhealthy snack, tried a few more rides, and eventually headed to our dinner meeting at Pavilion V at around 430 PM.

 

It was just before this time that the weather began to threaten for one of the only times on the entire trip. Thunder became audible in the distance at around 4 PM, a little before we met for dinner, and a glance at radar indicated that storms were on their way from the south -- almost certain to reach Knoebels.

 

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There's an oft-used and frequently-invalid saying that thunderstorms can "go around a place" instead of hitting it. Usually, it's not that simple -- or as lucky. On this day, I could think of no other way to describe it. As TPR finished some afternoon rides and made their way to the Pavilion, the first batch of storms hit just about every inch around the park, drenching the nearby hillsides and lighting up the sky with a barrage of bolts. We stayed dry. It wasn't until around 5 PM, with everybody settled in under the picnic shelter, that a downpour finally hit the park -- and for no more than 5 or 10 minutes. Everything had cleared up by the time we headed out.

 

Oh, and how was dinner? A spectacular mix of pierogies, ham, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and ice cream. For dessert? We had appearances from Rick Knoebel (fourth generation park operator) and his father, Dick Knoebel (park president). Dick spoke with pride about the completion of Flying Turns in late 2013, while Rick gave us a teaser of what was yet to come in 2015: Impulse, the biggest major steel coaster in the park's history. Rick also joined Robb in encouraging us to purchase an array of glowing items for the Phoenix "glowphest" ERT later that night.

 

We still had a few hours left before our evening ERT on Phoenix, and the first stop was at Knoebels' famous flying scooters -- one of the wildest sets of flyers on the planet. After that, it was time for a near-complete TPR takeover of the Fascination parlor. The Fascination takeover lasted nearly an hour. With 54 tables, at 50 cents per game, Fascination easily made several hundred dollars from just the TPR group. That's money well spent. The pictures I'll share from the Fascination takeover are some of my favorites from the entire 2014 trip.

 

Before night fell, my small group had a few more rides to get through -- and some glow to purchase. We eventually met up with the rest of TPR for a 930 PM takeover of the Skooters, which provided some of the most fun I've ever had on a set of bumper cars. Despite all the fun we'd already experienced, the highlight of the day was yet to come. We gathered outside of Phoenix and waited for the park to close, assembling our glow and searching for a last chance to get something to eat -- sadly, I missed out on the pork-chop-on-a-stick by just a few minutes!

 

Glowphest ERT on Phoenix began at around 1025 PM, running for just over an hour. If you haven't seen the video,

-- go watch it! Everyone got their glow ready to go -- including masks, swords, hats, bracelets, glasses, wands, and anything else that could be found. Initially taking one lap at a time, the operators playfully threatened to send the train again, with the fakeouts inducing chants of "one more time" from the raucous TPR group. Those chants were answered, with double rides being doled out for most of the ERT session. We had hand slaps on the lift hill, chanting and screaming and wow-ing through the final leg of the trip, and even Rick Knoebel joining in for some rides -- smiling in the front row, or rowing the boat in the back. Our rides were so intense that something -- perhaps a piece of the track -- began to smolder. This was the night that Phoenix almost fulfilled its mythological prophecy! That required a short break, before our glowphest continued ahead. It would be nice if I could learn to get out on the correct side of the station, but I never missed more than a single cycle. By the time the ERT was done, I'd picked up 12 laps on Phoenix, and a new wooden coaster to fit somewhere in my top-5 list.

 

We left Knoebels at 1140 PM, arriving to our hotel at 1245 AM. I'd bet that most people didn't stay completely awake on the bus ride back -- it was a long, exhausting, but very fun day.

 

Overall Impressions:

 

I didn't get involved with TPR until 2013, but I'd been watching the videos and occasionally reading the forums as far back as the mid-00s. The media that Robb and Elissa produced back then was a little different than today -- Coaster Expedition, music videos, and a whole lot of friends simply having a good time at parks. Our day at Knoebels embodied that "old school" TPR spirit -- the enormous amounts of fun a good group of people can have at a simple, well-run park. No 300-foot tall coasters, orca shows, superheroes, or 3D glasses. None of that was necessary, and at least for one day, none of that was missed.

 

Knoebels is a unique park with very unique geography. Part of the Anthracite Coal Region and within the Susquehanna River watershed, Knoebels is located on a valley floor about four miles north of Little Mountain, surrounded by several hills. Knoebels was built at the confluence of Mugser Run and the South Branch of Roaring Creek, at an elevation of about 610 feet above sea level. The nearby hills rise as high as 1200 feet, roughly 600 feet above the level of Knoebels. All of these factors combine to make the park especially prone to flooding, and historical signs around Knoebels are a constant reminder of the damage that floodwater has done. The Knoebel family -- now on its fourth generation of managing the park -- has never been too deterred to rebuild. Amusement park fans around the world are all the better off because of that.

 

Knoebels is a traditional, independent family park. With that in mind, if I had to compare the feel of Knoebels to any other park I've visited, it would have to be Indiana Beach -- and I promise that I don't mean that in a negative way, understanding that Indiana Beach does need a bit of work put into it. It's the very homemade feeling of the place that inspires the comparison, and it's something I find both welcoming and authentic. In some ways, Knoebels feels like a permanent rural Pennsylvania festival in a summer camp setting -- and I've been to local festivals in similar areas of Pennsylvania, so I totally get the aesthetic. During the day, it's easy to get lost between buildings -- the Fascination parlor on one side, a gift shop on the other, Cesari's pizza a few hundred feet away, and the park's amphitheater not far from there. At night, the place lights up in neon -- a warm glow amongst the trees that completes the transformation to something about as far away from a corporate theme park as you'll ever find.

 

By the way, has anyone else seen the

video, now up to 35 million views on Youtube? This guy -- Steve Moore -- is a hilarious entertainer. Where was the video shot? You guessed it -- Knoebels. In fact, on our 2014 visit, we missed his band by less than a week!

 

If you've spent more than 5 minutes reading TPR, you've probably already heard about Knoebels' reputation for friendliness. If you've spent more than 2 minutes here, you'll also know they serve up some of the best amusement park eats in the country. Don't come into Knoebels expecting Epcot (delicacies from around the world) or Silver Dollar City (southern cooking at its absolute finest). Knoebels' goal is to provide the best of what you'd expect to find at a traditional park or county fair, and they've made a science out of it. Fried things on a stick? Fried things not on a stick? They've got it, and it's fantastic.

 

How are the park's operations? Phoenix was regularly dispatching at intervals of under a minute, and frequently down to as low as 30 seconds. The other rides not only loaded and unloaded quickly, but ran lengthy cycles to ensure each guest got their money's worth. Knoebels is famous for running their flat rides on long, intense programs. Even if you're mainly a coaster rider, you'll want to give them a chance -- the vast majority won me over.

 

What did I miss? I hit two of the museums, but ran out of time for the carsousel museum, and also wasn't able to locate the bald eagle habitat. In terms of rides, we were a year too early for Impulse, and both Power Surge and 1001 Nacht were down for maintenance. I didn't get a ride on the Ole Smokey train, and can't believe I missed the Giant Wheel for photography purposes. Combined with all the favorites from the 2014 trip, that easily gives me justification to return to Knoebels soon -- if not this year, then definitely in 2017.

 

I went into Knoebels unconvinced, and came out as a huge fan. If there's any downside at all, it's that I'm not sure Knoebels would be as fun on a solo visit. Larger, corporate parks can be OK for that sort of thing -- ride coasters until you're blue in the face, and check out when the day is done. Knoebels is set up more for interaction, for friends, and for families. Out of all the TPR days I've been on, only the Silver Dollar City day in 2013 was as fun from start-to-finish as this one. On both of those days, I went in wondering if I'd have enough to keep me occupied for our lengthy amount of time at the park. I left with a list of things I ran out of time for. Despite being in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, far from the trappings of most amusement parks, I was never bored -- quite the opposite, in fact. I didn't expect that at first, but grew to figure it out very quickly, learning quite effectively why Knoebels has to be experienced to be understood.

 

The Attractions:

 

Phoenix: The famous Phoenix finished at #5 on the 2013 Mitch Hawker wood coaster poll, and is frequently cited as a favorite by TPR veterans. My first ride during the day didn't do the trick, but the repeated cycles during ERT made it one of my favorites. I have to be completely honest here -- a large part of Phoenix's adoration comes from the seatbelt-free buzz bar restraints. That kind of restraint system is rare in general, but almost unheard of on a coaster with a significant amount of airtime like Phoenix. That "airtime buffet" near the end of the ride would be good with standard, modern PTC restraints. With buzz bars, riders spend most of the coaster's final leg floating above the seat, nearly reaching standing posture, and probably smashing into things at the bottom of the hills. I admit that it's hard to compare Phoenix to wooden coasters with much more ambitious layouts -- El Toro or Outlaw Run, for example. Phoenix, in all of its enjoyable simplicity, fits perfectly at a park like Knoebels. It's earned a spot in my wooden top 5.

 

Twister: Phoenix's larger sibling is known more for its lateral forces than its airtime. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the large double helix that surrounds the ride station -- an interesting design element that provides for several great views for photography. Twister's other distinguishing feature is the double chain lift, fitting a 100+ foot gain in height into a smaller footprint. I prefer airtime to tight turns, so Twister didn't leave as much of an impression on me a Phoenix. Twister was also the rougher of the two coasters, though Knoebels had been doing some rehabilitation work, helping to restore a few sections of the ride to an acceptable level of smoothness. For a wooden coaster of its size, I'll put Twister somewhere near (or just above) the middle of my rankings.

 

Flying Turns: The distinguishing characteristic for Flying Turns is the length of time it took to build and become an operational coaster. Taken at face value, it's not an all-star attraction -- pretty much everyone seems to agree that it's not worth a long wait more than once, but that's more of a commentary on the ride's capacity than on the ride's quality. It's fairly short, but the coaster's key middle section is a lot of fun, with a bit of an out-of-control feeling as the three-car trains snake their way up the walls of the wooden trough. It's a unique experience, though it's not -- and was never meant to be -- a major thrill ride.

 

Kozmo's Kurves: Is there a better E&F Miler coaster than this one? In height, length, and layout, this is clearly a kiddie coaster. In ride experience, even adults had better be ready for the quick jolts of air on the bunny hills near the end of the circuit. I've never had a problem with Miler coasters -- compared to Zamperla, which will earn my disdain in every other report segment of the Mini East Coast trip -- and this is probably my favorite of them all.

 

Black Diamond: Black Diamond is a tri-level dark ride / coaster hybrid, taking guests on a ride through the mines of the anthracite coal region of east-central Pennsylvania. The concept is similar in execution to the sibling Herschend rides Fire in the Hole and Blazing Fury, though Black Diamond lacks the climactic drop at the end of those two. The final scene of Black Diamond journeys through the nigh-abandoned borough of Centralia, which is legitimately one of the creepiest places in the country. Only 15 miles from Knoebels, Centralia is home to a massive underground mine fire, one which may continue to burn for centuries to come. Searching for an awesome theme for a creepy dark ride? Knoebels didn't have to look far at all.

 

Haunted Mansion: On a trip with several very good classic haunted house rides, Knoebels' Haunted Mansion was my favorite. Riding through tight turns in the darkness on a single-track path, the Haunted Mansion has all of the classic scenes -- jump scares, grotesque humanoid figures, loud noises, and bright lights. Where Knoebels excells is in the production value, which is a clear step up from other haunted rides of its type, without losing the kitschy charm that any good haunted house ride provides. It's not fair to compare this to Disney's Haunted Mansion (which has a completely different style), but it measures up very well with others that I liked, beating out both Spook-a-Rama at Deno's (Coney Island) and the Haunted House at Beech Bend. Though it's an upcharge attraction, all members of the TPR group were given a ticket for one ride. Watch out for the truck!

 

Scenic Skyride: Knoebels' chair lift gains 350 feet on its journey up the hill directly north of the park. Though the hill is heavily wooded, there are a few good views of the park on the way back down.

 

Pioneer Train: The Pioneer Train is a 10-minute circuit along roughly a mile of track, starting near the center of Knoebels and ending up in the forest well southwest of the park. It's a fun ride that passes under some stone bridges, past a few cabins in the woods, and loops around an array of corn cobs (where you may find some squirrels eating lunch). Because this train travels exclusively through the forest, aside from a short section underneath Twister, there aren't any good views of the park's rides.

 

Flume: Once again, I get to sing my praises for a classic log flume, and Knoebels has a pretty good one. This flume has two hills, a tunnel, a wooded section, and great visibility from a viewing platform near the ride station. Knowing how Knoebels takes care of their classics, this is one flume I doubt I'll have to worry about being removed any time soon.

 

Grand Carousel: Is it possible that this is the first classic, brass-ring carousel that I've ever been on? I only wish I could have had a second ride on one of the outside seats, because I never got a chance to reach for the prize.

 

Satellite: Knoebels' Satellite is a Roll-O-Plane -- a strange, old rotating-arm carnival ride that never quite inverts due to the twisting of the cabin. That's in contrast to a Rock-O-Plane (eggs on a wheel) and a Loop-O-Plane (non-twisting salt-and-pepper shakers), other classic rides with similar names. Satellite was something to experience, and experience once! It would be a fun ride if you're willing to get cozy with your partner, and if they've got a strong stomach. I'm glad I rode when I did -- I was told that Satellite was inoperable later in the day.

 

Downdraft: Another spinning carnival ride, Downdraft is like if Dumbo the Flying Elephant's arms moved rapidly up and down, at about twice the standard rotational speed. It's remarkably simple, but a whole lot of fun, with airtime and outward forces that somehow never get too nauseous.

 

The Flyer: Knoebels' flying scooters are famous for their wild speed, making them easy to swing around, even for a novice. This was only the second set of flyers I'd been on, and the first was a small set at Stricker's Grove. I was able to get my cabin snapping, at least to an extent. I never quite mastered the extreme snapping I saw from some of TPR's better pilots.

 

Cosmotron: Cosmotron was one of my favorite rides at Knoebels, and I'm not saying that lightly. I don't even like Himalaya / Music Express types of rides all that much, but Cosmotron has a few tricks up its sleeve. Enclosed in the dark, Cosmotron features a circular array of colored blinking lights, and very loud music -- we had the thundering bass of Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, for example. Cosmotron has no business being as fun and awe-inspiring as it is, but it does it anyway. It's a must-ride.

 

StratosFear: This was the third ARM/Larson tower on the 2014 trip, and this one delivered the thrills just as I'd come to expect. A view of the approaching thunderstorm made it just a little bit more frightening than the others.

 

Skooter Bumper Cars: If your only experience with bumper cars is a standard Dodgem model, you've got no idea what you're in for. A set of Lusse auto scooters on a counter-clockwise track, these things run a little faster than typical bumper cars, and are notably missing the big rubber bumpers most bumper cars are equipped with. The collisions are metal-on-metal, and you're going to feel every single smash, sideswipe, bump, and crash. Best in a large group, these cars aren't for the faint of heart.

 

Day 8 -- The Pictures (Part 1)

 

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Let's start with our voucher haul for the day -- unlimited rides, dinner at Pavilion V, and lunch at Cesari's.

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First on the agenda was Flying Turns, which had been fully operational for less than a year.

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Here's the 3-D wood panel ride sign for Flying Turns, which is fantastic.

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"Flying turns is no roller coaster. It doesn't even run on a track. . .And here's the wonder of it. Though the inclines are frightfully steep-nevertheless, they are always absolutely under control and that old man, 'centrifugal force' makes the cars just as safe to ride as a baby carriage." --Floyd Gibbons, World War I flying ace

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A look at the curved wood on the outside of the trough. Flying Turns was modeled after a ride from the 1920s. Construction began in 2006, but the ride did not open until late 2013.

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Here's the loading platform, which is not large, owing to the ride's low capacity.

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Flying Turns draws its theming from both aviation and road transportation, with this BGS a fine example of the latter. That's "Big Green Sign" for you non-roadgeeks, and before you make fun of me for being a roadgeek, remember you're on a roller coaster website.

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The ride is sensitive to weight and momentum, so all guests must weigh in to make sure the trains hit the intended target.

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Finally, it's time to board the trains...

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...and head up to start the ride!

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After Flying Turns, we headed to Twister for another round of ERT.

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Twister isn't an actual relocation, but it's based on the plans from the Mister Twister coaster at the original Elitch Gardens location in Denver. This bolt was saved from that coaster, and installed at Knoebels to help pass the torch.

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The transfer table arm from the Mister Twister coaster was also saved. Knoebels is a park that loves to connect to its history, so displays like this are common throughout the park.

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Knoebels keeps good care of its rides, and there was plenty of new wood on Twister.

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Straining my neck to look up at the top of the lift hill.

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The double helix around the station provides a ton of great photo opportunities.

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The best part is that if you miss your shot, you'll get a second chance just moments later.

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Too many people to caption! Here's the front of the train...

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...the middle of the train...

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...and the back of the train, perhaps the most excited of all. Maybe the front can do better on the next run?

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Much better.

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How was the ride? The picture tells the story!

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A look at the entire curved loading platform near the end of our ERT session, as a few general park guests had begun to join in.

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Knoebels is a supporter of Give Kids The World Village, using this wishing well as a fundraiser of the park

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The fifth generation of the Knoebel family -- yes, the fifth generation -- is heading this up. Huge thumbs up to them!

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I didn't mention it earlier, but I had also hoped to try out Knoebels' mini golf course -- which looked pretty good. Just plain ran out of time, so here's a single picture until I can get back and give it a try.

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Time to head over to Phoenix -- the star of the show!

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Phoenix is located at the west end of the park, near the antique cars and the log flume.

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The hand-made signs all around Knoebels are awesome, and this is one of the best.

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Phoenix has a storied history, and a rare status as a relocated wooden coaster. It started its life as The Rocket, built in 1947 at Playland Park in San Antonio. Phoenix rose from the ashes at Knoebels in 1985.

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Just up the path from Phoenix is the park's log flume. We'll watch Nathan and Troy take a run on the Pepsi-sponsored attraction.

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Looks like they're enjoying themselves so far on the slow turn.

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Wait 'til they see what's up next!

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Heading down the drop...

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...and making a pretty big splash.

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Hoping to stay dry on the run-out...

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...and not quite successfully.

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All smiles. Yes, I rode the flume as well, and enjoyed it quite sufficiently.

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Hey, uh, the New York part is still about three trip reports later.

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The co-located Anthracite Mining Museum and Knoebels History Museum were next on the agenda.

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On the left: a 10 ton lump of coal from the Mammoth Vein in Mt. Carmel, PA. On the right: a petrified tree stump found while mining for coal.

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The shared museum space contains several murals of life and scenery in this part of Pennsylvania, including this one behind the gift shop counter.

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Coal is the main theme of the Anthracite Mining Museum, along with its many uses.

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Helmets. Helmets are good, when you're digging for rocks in a hellish underground environment.

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The Breaker Boys started work in the coal mines as early as age 6, earning four-and-a-half cents an hour. That's almost seven days of work for a single ride on Phoenix in 2016. Yikes.

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Next, meet this insane dinosaur.

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Moving into the park's history museum. If there's one thing Knoebels does better than anybody, it's history.

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Want to hear a song? Just 50 cents for Kozmo and Dexter's player piano.

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Another mural on the wall, featuring several of the park's rides, and a healthy dose of America.

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A look back to simpler times at the swimming hole, before chlorinated pools became all the rage.

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Why completely trash an old Ferris wheel, when you can stick part of it up on the wall?

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The "day we give it all away?" Holy smokes. In my high school, they just asked you to a dance.

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As mentioned in the trip report, Knoebels is especially prone to flooding. 1972, 1975, 1996, 2004, and 2011 are just a few of the years in which the park was impacted.

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Knoebels always moves ahead, parrying heartbreak with success. From Phoenix, to Twister, Flying Turns, and now Impulse -- there's always been something for the Knoebel family to look forward to.

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Day 8 -- The Pictures (Part 2)

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Black Diamond, home to what I can safely assume is the only amusement park tribute to an uncontrolled mine fire. To note -- the next time I'm at Knoebels, I'm taking a side trip to Centralia.

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Knoebels has an outstanding classic carousel.

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The history of this carousel dates back to over 100 years ago.

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Top panel: man hunts animal. Bottom panel: animal hunts man.

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Enjoying the ride on a Golden Ticket Award-winning piece of history.

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So disappointed I didn't get to go for the brass ring!

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Time for a kiddie credit, and it's a good one! Also, find me another coaster -- of any type -- with a top-down map of the circuit on the ride sign.

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Yet another strained-neck view at a coaster lift hill...

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...and yet another reminder of the recent floods. Most of Kozmo's Kurves would have been underwater.

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How about a ride up the hill on a chair lift? Spoiler alert: half of TPR had the same idea!

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We'll start at the intersection of Pine Swamp Road and Knoebels Parkway.

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A look northwest on the parkway, which serves as the main access to the Knoebels parking lot.

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Heading north on the scenic skyway! This chair lift was purchased from a ski resort in Vermont.

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On the chair in front: Scott, Nicole, and Nathan.

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On the chair behind: David and Charles.

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On the chair to the left: we're going to hope that was dispatched empty.

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Doing some maintenance on the path up the mountain.

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Getting closer to the top.

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Chris and George are on their way back down.

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Warning: don't be an idiot.

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Coming up to the big turnaround at the top of the hill.

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There's a bit of a view to the north, though it's only through breaks in the trees.

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Like I said -- don't do anything dumb. They're watching you.

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That means you, Nathan.

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AJ and Evan finish the trek up the hill.

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Now, to take in view on the way down!

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Here's the wide view over Knoebels. With all the trees, only parts of the park are easily visible.

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Skloosh and the Ferris wheel are straight ahead.

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Twister and the Crystal Pool are just off to the right.

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A wider view shows the numerous hills in the distance. Knoebels is in a valley at one of the lowest points in the area.

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A golf course for real golfers well off in the distance.

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The east end of the park and the parking lot come into better view about halfway down.

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Phoenix and StratosFear also become visible to the west.

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Guaranteed air time on either of these rides.

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A wave from Nate on his way up the chair lift.

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Coming closer to ground level, and about to cross Knoebels Parkway again.

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One more look at the Ferris wheel, which I did not get to ride.

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Hairtime on a kiddie coaster. Almost unbelievable, but it's Knoebels, so...

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No shame in riding this kiddie credit. It's one of the best.

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One last bump on the turn into the station.

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The Skyride home stretch is just ahead, but another gauntlet of TPR members is about to pass.

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Dan and Derek lead the pack.

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Robb and Chuck are next. Robb, post this video!

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The Crouse family follows behind, bringing our chair lift adventure to an end. The entire circuit took about 20 minutes to complete, though I recall there were a few stops along the way.

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OK, actually, this is kind of creepy.

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Perhaps the most colorful swing ride I've ever seen.

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Satellite is next on our list -- the park's Roll-O-Plane.

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The cages make it hard to get pictures of the riders, so these two random park guests will have to do.

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I enjoyed my ride on Satellite. I enjoyed it once. That's probably all I'll need, ever.

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That's David and Charles in cabin #4, probably laughing uncontrollably as they're thrown around like tennis balls in a half-broken washing machine.

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Let's follow up the Puke-O-Plane by eating some fried /everything/.

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Fried chips, fried pickles, and cheese-on-a-stick!

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I opted for the mango ice and birch beer. I love birch beer, but it's very much a western Pennsylvania to southern New England regional thing, and not readily available in Ohio or elsewhere.

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Retro Active pulls out the shiniest suit jackets I've ever seen.

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Knoebels finds its next generation of performing artists.

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The famous Knoebels sign during the day, in one of the busiest areas of the park.

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Henry invites us for a ride on the Pioneer Train.

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Don't cross the train bridge on foot. That would be unwise.

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This is the tree fort I always wanted.

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Under the slides and through the support structure of Twister.

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Another train is on the way. Interesting that the inbound and outbound tunnels are shaped differently.

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The stone arch has 1865 written on the keystone. Of course the arch has a keystone -- we're in Pennsylvania.

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This is what it looks like deep in the woods on the Pioneer Train. It's not quite a half mile from the heart of the park, but it feels like much farther.

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Also, if you want some corn on the cob, have at it.

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The squirrels have been busy.

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The 1916-1917 Frick Steam Tractor looks like it's ready to plow some fields.

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Crossing the bridge on the way back to the park, with several of the picnic areas just off to the right.

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No flooding on our visit -- water levels were quite low.

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Knoebels isn't shy about about patriotism, including this memorial (with a flag flown in Afghanistan)...

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...and this re-creation of the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

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Power Surge has been temporarily replaced by hugs from two anthropomorphic small, fuzzy mammals.

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The rules of the game: don't do anything stupid and you won't get kicked out.

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Dartron Downdraft nerd shot.

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Chuck-a-Luck? Chuck-a-Chuck?

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Skloosh! One of the best ride names ever.

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I did not ride Skloosh, but I insisted on having some time for pictures. Splash boats are too much fun to photograph.

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Skloosh has one of the most impressive waves I've ever seen on a splash boat, especially given that it's not all that tall of a hill.

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Why didn't I ride? I would have still been wet on the bus ride back to the hotel.

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That mist hangs in the air for a long, long time.

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Another awesome part about Skloosh? It's the only splash boat I know with a public viewing area that extends immediately next to the drop hill.

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I promise I stayed completely dry while this picture was snapped, even if that appears to be impossible.

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Skloosh is a fine example of onomatopoeia. It gets its name from the sound a pair of shoes makes after being completely soaked.

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Turbulent seas and waves, seen from one of the only splash boat rides that allows this angle of photography.

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If you don't want to ride, you can always get yourself soaked on the bridge.

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There are bridges all around Knoebels, and the covered bridges (like the one seen here) are among their most famous.

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Some of the wood on this bridge dates back to 1865. The white pine timbers were originally cut for the nearby Berninger Grist Mill.

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The bridge is adorned with another reminder of the height of a few recent floods. It's also adorned with a boatload of graffiti.

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These people are at the wrong park.

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Day 8 -- The Pictures (Part 3)

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Ready for some Flyers?

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Although there was a healthy line for the ride, the two-riders-per-plane rule was not being enforced.

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Do not whip the sails? Yeah, about that...

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The Flyers are located between the Fascination parlor and Flying Turns.

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There's a decent view of the Flying Turns lift hill from the Flyers line.

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Most of my group got on the Flyers cycle before me, which provided ample time for photography. David's ready to fly!

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Troy says he's good to go.

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Scott gets his flyer snapping.

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The Knoebels Flyers run on an gas engine, and the ride takes a while to get up to speed. Once it does, it's pretty fast.

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It moves quick enough that even a basically-first-timer like myself was able to get things snapping a little bit.

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Still, it takes an expert to really "pick up the slack."

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Troy nearly goes vertical.

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Scott hits the bottom of the swing.

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No forced smile from David -- this ride is as fun as it gets!

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Oh yes, everyone knows what's next!

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Fascination costs 50 cents per play, because I wasn't smart enough to buy the tokens ahead of time.

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The balls are rolling! The action has begun in the huge Knoebels Fascination parlor. With 54 tables, it's significantly bigger than the 32-table parlor at Indiana Beach.

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Will and Sean demonstrate my favorite part of Fascination photography: focus. No matter how impossible it may be to actually have a strategy, every player is going to give it their best shot.

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I believe the Knoebels parlor is an important spot for these two. Do not keep Laura and Ryan from their Fascination!

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Will, Sean, and Evan are rolling ahead at the start of a new game.

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Another slew of TPR contestants compete on the near wall.

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Fascination POV shot!

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Rob and Victor are settled in on tables 31 and 32.

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Again, the concentration. It is intense.

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On the other side of the room, the games continue.

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Dan prepares for his next shot.

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Doug goes in for the kill.

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Congrats Doug! We have a champion! What will you select with your winnings?

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Choose from any of these lovely items. Perhaps a lamp? A dartboard? A pancake griddle?

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A garden hose? A Disney princess barbie? A transformer? A lunch box? The options are endless!

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Over on the near wall, the competition continues.

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Thad and Ian contemplate their existence while rolling a small red ball into one of 24 gridded holes.

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On the far wall, another round of Fascination has begun.

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Kristen and Elissa are among the experts in the group.

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25 points x 54 tables = 1350 game lights in the parlor. There's your math lesson for the day.

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Jack and Derek go for the win.

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I have no idea what is going on here.

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Big Mike, Andrew, Nicole, and Charles play tables 43-46.

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Caesar and the Simko family take tables 47-50.

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Reflections and bouncing balls.

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An aerial view of our contestants in action.

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Pure focus from Scott as he wills the ball forward.

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A line in any direction will earn a win, but the red and yellow rows are worth more.

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There may be nothing more frustrating than watching the ball bounce around for 15 seconds before settling in.

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Let's head back to tables 52 and 53 to check in on Nathan and Dan.

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The group was thinning out, but these two would not be deterred.

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Getting closer...

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Nathan wins! Nathan wins!

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Nathan, Laura, Ryan, and Chris play on well into the evening.

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The near wall keeps up the pace.

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Michael is going for the slow cooker.

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Thad is going for the superman towel.

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Oh, Fascination. The thrill of victory...

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...and the agony of failure.

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Back outside and hanging out at the lighthouse. Apparently, there are puppet shows here.

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Lots of parks have water wheels, but at Knoebels, it feels more authentic.

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It's a replica of a water-powered sawmill from the 1800s at nearly the same location. This sign was painted on wood cut at the original mill!

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Is this the world's largest baseball bat? Louisville might argue otherwise...

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A pretty good crowd had gathered at the Knoebels Hawaiian Bandshell.

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I wouldn't have minded another ride on Flying Turns, but the queue was at least an hour long, and our time was better spent elsewhere.

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There's a great viewing area on the inside of the ride.

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A picture of my admission ticket for the Haunted Mansion, before it was wisely spent.

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A terrifying adventure in darkness!

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Warning! This ride can be scary! Please prepare your children! But what about your adults?

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If the Haunted Mansion isn't right for your kids, perhaps teaching them swordfighting at the Once Upon a Time theater is a better option.

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I loved Cosmotron -- way more than I should have.

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Strobe lighting? Seizures? Sign me up!

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The Skyslide is a classic helter skelter. Apologies to the Beatles fans for sticking that song in your heads.

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Adults get two mats to help reduce the friction on the way down.

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A good sideways-slide-out is the best way to stop.

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This is more frightening than most of the things in the Haunted Mansion.

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My "remember the Alamo" credit was checked off on the 2013 TPR trip.

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Authentic carousel music on cassette tape! Apparently part of a 9-volume series! This is vintage audio gold!

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Knoebels at night becomes a glowing mix of neon (throughout most of the park) and LED lighting (on some of the rides).

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We rode the Pioneer Train a second time, taking a late-dusk journey through the dark of the forest.

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The Skooter takeover was our second-to-last item for the night.

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Everyone get loaded in and ready to go!

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Head-on collisions are strictly disallowed, but sometimes hard to avoid.

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It's a relentless counter-clockwise race...

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...and no driver is spared.

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I don't think everyone's gotten the hang of the whole counter-clockwise thing yet.

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Hey, save that level of determination for the Fascination parlor!

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If you've ever wanted to hit your dad and brother with a car, now's the chance!

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No pictures from the Glowphest ERT on Phoenix, as I was too busy riding! If you've seen Robb's video and Jack's long-exposure shot, you've seen better than anything I would have come up with. So, I'll end with a picture of the iconic neon sign. What an awesome end to an awesome day. Thanks for the hospitality, Knoebels!

Edited by The Great Zo
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Nathan, Laura, Ryan, and Chris play on well into the evening.

I don't think I won either. lol

Amazingly out of the number of times I go up there each year, that was the first time I've ever played Fascination.

 

I really enjoyed reading your opinion of Knoebels and you pretty much nailed it. It really is one of the best parks for it's type with a mix of great rides, food (which reminds me, I need to find out where the dole whips are here this season), and a unique theme all to it's own built off of the location and trees.

 

Glowfest really had to have been the best rides I've ever had on Phoenix! Nothing but glow bracelets showing where the train was from off-ride and just a maze of glowing lights from the back rows on the train! Fall Phunfest really had nothing on it.

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Oh, man. I love Knoebels...

 

Great report, Andy! I've been there 3 times, now, and this was probably the best time that I've had there. Twister was running great. I hadn't really been a fan of it until this trip. I think I spent right around $40 on Fascination that day, but I finally won a few rounds. The TPR takeover on the flyers was amazing, our group was really getting those things to snap, and got a few angry comments from the ride op! And who can forget Phoenix essentially starting on fire that night? Absolutely incredible. I've done 2 ERT sessions with TPR on Phoenix, and I didn't think the first one would ever be topped. I was wrong. Phoenix was an absolute beast that night. It's not my #1 (close), but I think in terms of fun, it's the roller coaster that provides the most fun. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I don't care.

 

Thanks for the pictures!

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Phoenix was an absolute beast that night. It's not my #1 (close), but I think in terms of fun, it's the roller coaster that provides the most fun. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I don't care.

 

 

Yes, it "makes sense." "Fun" should be the number-one criterion for judging any ride.

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Definitely my favorite day from that trip. I was also a little skeptical going in, but I totally loved the park. Everything there is so much fun, even rides that are at other parks are better there. That ride on the Roll-O-Plane was very interesting (I was being thrown around the entire time ), and the flyers are absolutely terrifying if you can get them to snap well. I can't wait to visit Knoebels again this summer!

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I've never been to Knoebels, but it seems like Impulse is away from the main areas of the park. Is it placed in a odd location?

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Fascination! Arrrrgggghhhhh! I just kept handing the woman $20's and didn't win anything. By the way, these pictures make my head look big, not as big as Thad's head though. Pretty awesome day, must do it again!

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This was such a great report, I love love love reading people's experiences about Knoebels. Taking my girlfriend there last summer for the first time was such a great time, because I could share in her excitement about the place. It truly is the kind of place that needs to actually be experienced to believe On paper, it just doesn't seem to be anything all that special.

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This park just looks amazing and fun! I'm really looking forward to going here opening weekend this year! Thank you for all of the pictures and report, it's really gotten me more excited for my trip. Hope I have enough time to try everything! We might even camp out at the campsite there, have any of you done that before?

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Such a great trip report. It really took me back. Before going to Knoebels, I was wonder what the big deal was. After our stellar day there, I was like "Oh, I get it". It really is a special place. It felt like being at summer camp, but surrounded by great rides and experiences. I would love to go back again. Looking forward to the next installment. Keep 'em coming, Andy!

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That ride on the Roll-O-Plane was very interesting (I was being thrown around the entire time )

No kidding! I can't remember if I rode with you or Troy, but it was kind of violent!

 

Such a fun day! Thanks Andy for the most excellent trip report and photos.
Such a great trip report. It really took me back.

Thanks Chris and Doug, and glad you both saw this since you both feature heavily in the pictures.

 

Fascination! Arrrrgggghhhhh! I just kept handing the woman $20's and didn't win anything. By the way, these pictures make my head look big, not as big as Thad's head though. Pretty awesome day, must do it again!

 

When I was putting this report together I thought it was hilarious that I had several pictures with you in it, yet we didn't meet that day, but finally did in March in another country.

 

"Fun" should be the number-one criterion for judging any ride.

Thumbs up, Nina Kleppe, +1, etc.

 

Nothing but glow bracelets showing where the train was from off-ride and just a maze of glowing lights from the back rows on the train!

Even from the station, trying to look out at the track, all you see is a random array of blinky lights shooting through the wooden structure of the ride. On-board, you're kind of surrounded by it, which actually makes it even harder to see everything else in the darkness around you!

 

I think I spent right around $40 on Fascination that day, but I finally won a few rounds.

Knoebels thanks you for your efforts

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That ride on the Roll-O-Plane was very interesting (I was being thrown around the entire time )

No kidding! I can't remember if I rode with you or Troy, but it was kind of violent!

I'm pretty sure we rode together and I was basically falling on top of you the whole time

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