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Photo TR: NC to NYC Park Extravaganza

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Great report! Glad you enjoyed the Ohio parks. CP at night shows off a really outstanding light display. Thanks for the photos!


There's just something magical about being at park's at night. The ride's seem faster and the park just feels more alive. It could also be that I'm a night animal.

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This was the first surprise park on the trip. Before the bus left, Robb and Elissa promised a lunch stop near Pittsburgh. I was 50-50 that it would be an amusement park or Carrabba's. Since all of Pennsylvania's Carrabba's were on the east coast, Kennywood was the lunch stop. I had been to Kennywood once back in 2010 and loved the park. I loved how the park blended classic and modern rides. After having the Potato Patch fries, we did a speed run through the park.


Phantom's Revenge- Phantom's Revenge is intense. The second drop is one of the best moments on any coaster and the air-time hills at the end are taken at such a high speed that the airtime provided is matched by very few coasters. I'll definitely take this over the old Arrow loops. 10 out of 10


Jack Rabbit- The double down is legendary. That unassuming little drop provides some scary and intense air-time. The other drops are fun, but the ride is defined by the one drop which is fine by me. 9 out of 10


Sky Rocket- The launch is solid and the top hat gives some really nice air. I love both zero-G rolls as well. However, the finale is a bit of a letdown as the ride loses a lot of speed. Still one of the park's best rides. 8 out of 10


Thunderbolt- The biggest of Kennywood's woodies (that sounds so wrong, but also so right) is a truly unique ride. From the drop out of the station to the crazy lateral section to the largest drop being at the end, Thunderbolt keeps you on your feet. The ride has some of the most powerful laterals of any coaster and the lap bar only trains allow for some decent air on the larger drops. 8 out of 10


Racer- The Racer was a lot better than I remember. On my rides back in 2010, I remember loving the racing aspect but finding the coaster itself fairly tame. This time, the racing was just as good, but the coaster was wilder than I remember with some good airtime, especially in the back. 8 out of 10


Which way do I go?


I miss Pitt Fall, but this looks like an acceptable replacement.


Trying to be artsy.


The double down is legendary. And I'm not talking about In N Out Burger.


Surprise park 1!


Classic fun house.


Classic flat ride.


Through the trees.


There are also steel coasters.


Phantom's Revenge is one of my favorites.


The ride may be short, but the airtime is crazy powerful.


So much water.


It was a lunch stop. Look at those fries.


Kennywood has lots of wood.


Ready for launch.


Classy top hat.


Zero-G roll.


The park's newest coaster, Sky Rocket.


The park has some great flat rides too.


I think everyone who visits Kennywood has this shot.

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I had a few hours at Kennywood last summer and had a fantastic time. I don't recall seeing that S&S Screaming Swing, though! Either that's new or I really missed it because that's my favorite flat ride. Did you get on Black Widow? It's hands down the most intense of the Giant Discovery rides. MaxAir, Delirium, and the others can't hold a candle to it. Phantom's Revenge is incredible and we were lucky enough to ride it after a downpour. I've seriously never been that close to feeling like I was about to fly out of a coaster before!

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I really need to get out to Kennywood.


Yes. Yes you do, Bill. And you also need to say when you are coming.....it is my home park, after all! Might I suggest Phantom Fright Nights? While they're no Universal or anything like that, for a more modest/mid-sized park, I feel their Halloween event is quite excellent!!


Nice report and pictures! Looks like Robb and Elissa delivered another of their typical stellar and super FUN trips!!

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I really need to get out to Kennywood.


Yes. Yes you do, Bill. And you also need to say when you are coming.....it is my home park, after all! Might I suggest Phantom Fright Nights?


I'll definitely do that, but I don't know if I'd do Fright Nights as my first trip. I really want to be able to check out the cool flat ride / dark ride collection in it's entirety and there's a certain log flume with an uphill section that's calling my name. Plus I sort of want to check out PNC park when I go and by the looks of things that place won't have much going on in October this year.

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  • 1 month later...
I had a few hours at Kennywood last summer and had a fantastic time. I don't recall seeing that S&S Screaming Swing, though! Either that's new or I really missed it because that's my favorite flat ride. Did you get on Black Widow? It's hands down the most intense of the Giant Discovery rides. MaxAir, Delirium, and the others can't hold a candle to it. Phantom's Revenge is incredible and we were lucky enough to ride it after a downpour. I've seriously never been that close to feeling like I was about to fly out of a coaster before!


Unfortunately I missed Black Widow due to time constraints but the ride looked intense. Having been on Pitt Fall, I know the ride's placement probably has you swinging over the ravine and probably feels much higher than it is. My favorite frisbees actually are the Technical Park versions. They may be smaller than those large Huss versions, but they provide crazy ejector air.


Great report!


I really need to get out to Kennywood.


Yes you do. I promise its better than La Ronde.


I really need to get out to Kennywood.


Yes. Yes you do, Bill. And you also need to say when you are coming.....it is my home park, after all! Might I suggest Phantom Fright Nights? While they're no Universal or anything like that, for a more modest/mid-sized park, I feel their Halloween event is quite excellent!!


Nice report and pictures! Looks like Robb and Elissa delivered another of their typical stellar and super FUN trips!!


Do they have one large haunt walkthrough like their sister park (Lake Compounce) or do they have several smaller ones like other parks?

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Some say it never rains at Knoebels. Others have said that they've seen unicorns there. One thing is for sure, everyone loves Knoebels. From the outstanding collection of rides to the delicious food to the unique atmosphere, I don't know anyone who hates this park. Knoebels is one of my favorite parks and I'm glad to give it a glowing review (see Robb's report to understand this entirely).


The day began with a really cool tour of the Haunted Mansion. I've been on the ride a few times over the years, so I only remembered the most memorable of stunts. I was really impressed by the amount of detail in the mansion as there are so many little things around the corner. The highlights for me were seeing an upside down weenie dog (what can I say, I'm a sucker for weenies) and how little is used to produce the ride's scariest effect near the end (for those who have ridden it, you know the effect I'm talking about).


Flyer is still awesome and now that I've become better at snapping (experience on the one at Lake Compounce and Six Flags) has shown me how to be more precise, I had an even more balls-to-the-wall ride than ever. I'm pretty sure I got yelled at by the op at least once. The park also has one of those crazy ARM/Larson drop towers that are superior to ones three times their size. The park also has the famously fast and powerful Scooters and the Grand Carousel where you can exercise your hand-eye coordination. Then there are the rare flats like Looper and Satellite. Knoebels also has one of the best flumes around and a great coaster collection.


Phoenix- Phoenix is the most rerideable coaster anywhere. The ride is just a laughing good time from start to finish. With only buzz bars and no lap bars, the amount of air time the ride dishes out is insane. Thank you Knoebels for saving this coaster and for allowing us to bring lightsabers and glow sticks onto the ride at night. 10 out of 10


Twister- While Phoenix has unmatched air time, Twister has almost unmatched laterals. Once Twister crests the first drop, Twister doesn't have a dull moment. The ride really comes alive at night since there isn't many lights along the course. I would have wished for a few more pops of airtime, but I still appreciate Twister for what it is. 8 out of 10


Impulse- Unfortunately Impulse was down to one train operations. At any other park, a single 8 seat train would be a nightmare. At Knoebels, it was annoying but palatable thanks to 15 second dispatches. Yes you read that right. 15 second dispatches. The ride itself was really good. Very smooth with an air-time filled first drop and four solid inversions in rapid-fire succession. 8 out of 10


Flying Turns- I had been to the park so many times while this ride was under construction so I'm always glad to get a ride on it. Compared to the steel bobsleds I've been on, Flying Turns is quite a bit wilder. The final series of turns really cause the car to drift high up the trough. 7 out of 10


Black Diamond- This is really more of a dark ride than a coaster, but there is that drop. The ride is very well themed and as a dark ride, it's very good. As a coaster, it's just ok since it's relatively tame. I still appreciate how the park saved this ride from demolition and New Jersey. 6 out of 10


Kozmo's Kurves- Even the kiddie coaster at Knoebels is above average. Kozmo's Kurves has a nice setting above a little stream and has a few hills that give nice pops of air. Don't feel guilty riding this one. 5 out of 10


The Knoebels Haunted Mansion is one of the best dark rides around.


The holy grail of amusement parks.


Robb and Elissa were able to arrange a Haunted Mansion walkthrough!


Looks ominous enough.


So this is what creeps read.


What a kicking sound system.


For anyone who has ridden the Haunted Mansion, this is all they use for THAT effect.


I love weenies!


More dark ride than coaster, Black Diamond is another cool ride. Reminds me quite a bit of Canobie's Mine of Lost Souls.


Traditional and Sicilian.


Mmmmm pizza.


The mighty Flyers live up to their reputation. You can snap more than a poetry club.


Flying Turns is hard to photograph. It's a unique coaster and I'm glad they finally got it open.


The park's flume is one of the better ones as well. Great use of the park's setting.


Want to try for the brass ring?


And the park's newest hotness, Impulse.


I found it weird and cool that they had a cobra roll on a small ride like this.


Every looper should have lap bar trains if it was up to me.


It was pretty similar to a Eurofighter except much smoother.


The park really comes alive at night.


Knoebels does a great job mixing the old...


They also have one of my favorite coasters anywhere, Phoenix.


The amount of airtime this ride provides is insane. You will hit that lap bar (that rests a foot above your lap) a few times.


with the new.


And their collection of old is hard to match.


Knoebels has the most best (insert category) of any park.


This drop tower is nuts. So much air and the stomach dropping sensation is unmatched.


Phoenix does air time well. Twister does twisting really well.

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Dorney Park


Dorney Park was another surprise stop. After leaving the Knoebels area and being told we would make a lunch stop, I had a hunch it could be Dorney Park since it's right off the highway. Turns out I was right! Dorney may not be as popular as Cedar Point or Kings Island, but I do really like Dorney. The park is pretty big with a nice collection of coasters and never has any lines. The park also has a decent flat collection highlighted by Demon Drop.


The park also provided us with a buffet lunch at Chickie and Pete's. While the fries were missing from the spread, it gave me an opportunity to try some other food items like the chicken. Definitely a great lunch stop. Onto the coaster reviews.


Talon- This is one of my favorite inverts. I love the ride's layout and pacing, as there's no mid-course brake run. The first half has the typical B&M invert inversions (loop, zero-G roll, Immelman), but the second half is where the coaster really shines. There's a surprise drop that gives a large burst of airtime, a forceful corkscrew, and some speedy low-to-the-ground turns. 9 out of 10


Steel Force- This is probably the tamest of the hyper coasters that I've been on, but it's still a fun ride. My rides on Steel Force over the years have had varying degrees of airtime. I've had a few rides with only moderate air and others where the train is hauling through the course giving much stronger air. The one ride I had in the back gave something in the middle. There was solid floater air on most of the hills and it seemed like a toned down B&M hyper. 8 out of 10


Hydra the Revenge- This was my first floorless and I still like it better than a majority of them. Like Steel Force, it's tamer than its cousins, but the ride's elements are just pure fun. I love the jojo roll and the first drop. The latter gives really good air and I wish B&M made more straight drops on their loopers. 8 out of 10


Possessed- Great launches and I absolutely love the crazy holding brake. 8 out of 10


Stinger- Slightly smoother than Invertigo, Stinger was an enjoable coaster. I had the opportunity to get a front seat ride. 7 out of 10


Thunderhawk- This isn't the best classic wooden coaster unfortunately. The ride is fairly bumpy and only provides a pop or two of air. 4 out of 10


Onto the photos!


I love park's with carousels at the front. Hearing the organ when you enter just sets the mood.


Didn't get a chance to ride Apollo this visit, but this is a pretty disorienting flat.


The scary drop tower.


The newer and not so scary drop tower.


I kind of wish I could have tried Hercules, but then again that could have been worse than seeing hydra for real.


Hydra is the park's other B&M. It's a pretty fun floorless coaster.


Hello Dorney!


I really like this shot of Possessed. It was easy to photograph since it was still for a sec thanks to the holding brake.


Hi Snoopy.


Dorney is absolutely amazing at capacity. With their crowd levels, they don't need to run 3 trains, but they do anyway.


Drop after drop after drop.


Steel Force still dominates the park's skyline.


Take the tunnels!


Yay it was open! The inverted boomerangs are much better than their sit down brethren.


I just love the second half.


Having a sexy B&M invert at the entrance is also nice.


Talon is one of the best inverts. Great pacing and layout.


Creeping on these people on the log flume.


All of Dorney's rides seemed to have fresh coats of paint.


It may be bigger, but the trim on the drop saps what would be added speed.

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Six Flags Great Adventure


The last official park on the trip was a park that I've frequented quite a few times over the years, Six Flags Great Adventure. It's a Six Flags park, with that comes positives and negatives. On the positives, Great Adventure has one of the best coaster lineups of any parks highlighted by El Toro and Nitro. On the downside, Great Adventure seems to be lacking outside of the coaster department and there are several areas of the park that feel empty/run down (closed walkway from El Toro to Kingda Ka, area by the old Chiller, back area of the park, etc).


Robb & Elissa set up two fantastic ERT sessions. The first was a night ERT session on El Toro. As often as I've been to Great Adventure, I haven't been able to rack up night rides due to the park closing early due to rain or having to leave early to make it back to New England. Having night rides on El Toro was unbelievable. The ride is outstanding during the day and feels even faster at night. The next day had a morning ERT session on Nitro, which has some of the best floater air around.


One new experience for me was the Safari Off Road Adventure. The ride surprised me in some areas and was so Six Flags in other areas. The variety of animals was excellent and I really liked how open the safari was. The ride was also very long. On the downside, the park made us unload halfway through due to the line building up. While waiting for the return safari, we saw some trams being forced to unload while others could stay loaded, which left us confused. Once we boarded, we had a very weird and new tour guide. Well I've given enough coverage of the animals.


El Toro- This park may have the world's tallest coaster, but El Toro is the real star. After Skyrush, El Toro has the most powerful air time I've ever experienced. There were a few bumpy spots along the course, but the ride is still far smoother than most steel coasters and a rush from start to finish. 10 out of 10


Nitro- One of the first B&M hypers is still a great coaster. The ride has oodles of floater air and a great setting through the woods. 10 out of 10


Kingda Ka- Despite being taller and faster than Top Thrill Dragster, I prefer Cedar Point's rocket coaster. Kingda Ka has more of a shuffle to it and the over-the-shoulder restraints hamper the view. The launch is still one of the best around and needs to be experienced up front. 9 out of 10


Batman the Ride- This is still one of the most intense inverts around. I think this one has one or two more moments of headbanging than the other Batman clones I've ridden, but I would still take it over many larger inverts like Raptor. 9 out of 10


Superman Ultimate Flight- The Georgia flyer has spoiled me for this layout. The pretzel loop was just as intense, but the series of turns in the second half were less entertaining without the terrain and tunnel. Still a fun coaster and better than the Vekoma flyers thanks to the comfortable restraints. 8 out of 10


Green Lantern- This is tied with Riddler's for my favorite stand-up. I love the huge loops and the ride is fairly smooth. However, the Gs get really uncomfortable on stand-ups by the end of the ride. 7 out of 10


Dark Knight- The ride may have been overhyped, but the Dark Knight is my favorite mouse coaster. The ride is smooth, relatively unbraked, and has some theming that other mouse coasters don't. 7 out of 10


Skull Mountain- Make sure to ride this in back. The first drop provides a massive jolt of ejector air. The rest of the ride lets you take in the wonderful theming such as rock/metal music, disco balls, and a skull. 7 out of 10


Runaway Mine Train- Solid mine train coaster. There are some jerky moments, but the finale contains one of the best moments on a mine train with the huge pop of air and the picturesque turn. 6 out of 10


Onto the photos!


The invert in Batman.


The only Bizarro left.


Didn't get a chance to ride Bizarro this visit, but it's a solid ride. I prefer other floorless coasters like Medusa (SFDK), Hydra, and Dominator though.




El Toro is one of the wildest coasters around.


The airtime is unreal.


But I know El Toro is better than both.


However, the experience still felt Six Flags like thanks to confusing policies and operator errors.


This was my first time doing the safari. I liked the wide range of wildlife.


Great Adventure really is a B&M capital. You also have the stand-up, Green Lantern.


Harley Quinn is fittingly near her boyfriend, the Joker.


Too bad it was closed due to what looked like a lift hill related issue.


Joker really commands the back of the park.


Hello Kingda Ka.


And the hyper in Nitro.


Hmmm why do I feel like I've done this before in Roller Coaster Tycoon?


Rolling Thunder makes for nice lawn ornaments.


Many people worship the cult known as Skull Mountain. I just appreciate that awesome first drop.


The flyer in Superman.


I don't know if I prefer Kingda Ka or Zumanjaro more. Both are incredible rushes.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Coney Island


All good things must come to an end and New York City marked the final leg of the trip. I ended with a bang (not that kind, get your mind out of the gutter) at Coney Island. I had been there twice. My first visit was when I visited an old girlfriend four years ago and I was only able to ride the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel. I returned last spring for a job interview in NYC. Unfortunately all of the rides were closed, but I was able to get some great photos since the entire area was deserted. For my third visit to Coney Island, I was there with coaster nerds so I could get all of the credits.


The Cyclone always has been and always will be the star of Coney Island. Everything about the ride matches Coney Island, rough around the edges but incredibly fun and unique. I got two rides in the back and that really is the place to ride this classic. Every single drop gives incredible ejector air and it's augmented by the lap bar only trains. The first drop is particularly insane thanks to the suddenness and the whip from the long, heavy train. The ride is mostly smooth. The last two turnarounds get pretty bumpy, but the train has plenty of padding to absorb the shock.


I was also able to get my first ride on the Thunderbolt. I've seen much hate towards this ride, but I absolutely loved it as did the other two guys I rode with. The other guys on the tour who rode the following day absolutely hated it, so maybe it depends on how the restraints fit since they are weird (think of a panini press). I found them a bit uncomfortable, but I didn't notice it while the ride was in motion. The trains also have 3 across seating which is just odd to see. As for the ride, I found it perfectly smooth with the exception of a really bad shuffle at the top of the vertical loop. The rest of the ride had some outstanding ejector air. The return hops particularly stand out and are among the most powerful airtime I've experienced. I'd love to see more of these built and the ride could only improve with better restraints.


I also grabbed the rest of the credits on Coney Island. I already had the Tickler from my last trip, but added the Soarin' Eagle volare (which I really enjoyed and found smooth, another unpopular opinion), the Steeplechase, and the kiddie coasters at Luna and Deno's. I can't believe the Deno's one had an on-ride photo and I considered buying it to immortalize my dirty dirty face riding it.


I also rode two other classics in the Wonder Wheel and Spook-a-rama. The Wonder Wheel was as scary as ever and also provides great views of Coney Island. I really have to applaud Zamperla for the job they did breathing life back into the area. Then Spook-a-rama was a very well done haunted house with some genuinely scary gags. I also tried the Air Race and would love to see one of those crazy flats at a park in New England like Canobie or Funtown.


I was tempted, but unfortunately they were closed by the time I got all of the coasters.


These may have been a contributing factor.


Not this time. I tried Nathan's a few years ago and thought they were just ok. I don't know how Chestnut can eat 50 of these greasy wieners in one sitting.


So Coney Island.


Every subway needs art like this.


Deno's and the legendary Wonder Wheel are wedged between Zamperla Land.


What a simple but effective haunted house. Some of the gags really made me jump.


Say your final prayers...


I never got to experience Astroland, but I have to say Zamperla did an amazing job and Coney Island was absolutely buzzing at 10-11 pm.


The Cyclone is still a top 5 wooden coaster for me. The drops give insane ejector air in the back and the ride is smooth until the final turns.


A true classic.


The ride, the myth, the legend, the Coney Island Cyclone!


The trains are so cushiony.


I also liked this flying contraption so I may just have a high pain tolerance...


I still wish I could have experienced the old Steeplechase, but this is a decent consolation.


The new kid on the block was a lot of fun too! I didn't find the ride painful and those returning bunny hills have some of the top airtime anywhere.

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Great update.


Astroland was honestly an utter sh*thole. What Zamperla did for Coney Island is nothing short of extraordinary. We visited a few months ago for the first time in almost ten years and were blown away, and the Cyclone is running really well too (which was not always the case in the Astroland days). My opinion of Coney Island has completely shifted in the last few years.

Edited by coasterbill
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