Malcolm's America Trip

A report on my recent trip over a lot of the Eastern half of America.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I had heard a great deal about Knoebels and was quite looking forward to this park (actually I was looking forward to all of them). This is a family run park that has been open since the mid 1920s and has grown in size since. It contains a large number of older type rides, similar to Blackpool in the UK. Unlike Blackpool however this is buried within some gorgeous forest scenery.

The first thing that surprised me about this park was that there was no big entrance gate. You just come off the freeway and you're in it. They don't bother with fences, their park is completely open.

Some had travelled to the park by coach, some by school bus (and there were quite a lot of them) and some had even travelled by golf buggy!.

Actually it belonged to Rick Knoebel, son of the family who had come to welcome us to his family's park.

Soon after we were also joined by his father Rick. In fact I have to say the entire family were all really welcoming and friendly. It was great to see them joining us for lunch later in the day and eating the same food as us. I hadn't seen that before, that I recall.

One of the most refreshing things about this park is that it is under the trees so we had plenty of shade, something that the big corporate parks failed to deliver. To me one of the best things about America is its nature, particularly its forests. I had done a tour in the 90s where I spent time in Yosemite and Big Sur and fell in love with this aspect of the country. Seeing views like this reminded me of that.

As well as being open to the public, the park is also open to the elements and is prone to flooding. This tree marks the heights that the floods have gotten to. Fortunately the park has recovered every time. A few weeks after we left the park they were hit with another!

The park is famous for a couple of things. Firstly it has a great ghost train dark ride, which didn't scare me but was quite fun to ride. Yvonne, who is scared of these things was "encouraged" to ride this, which she did. I had been told that there was one bit that would guarantee to scare me but it didn't, sorry chaps!

The park also house the Phoenix coaster, the first large-scale coaster to be relocated. It originally lived in Texas but was brought to this park in the 80s.

It's a really really fun ride with plenty of airtime and a joy to be on! I can fully understand why so many people like this ride. Like Thunderhawk at Dorney, this was made by PTC.

The park has a second wooden coaster called the Twister. This one is bigger and faster than the Phoenix but isn't as much fun in my opinion. It features a 2 part lift-hill, which I hadn't seen before on a wooden coaster.

The Scandinavian contingent seem pleased to be riding this, although I don't think the first drop out of the station is quite as scary as Odd Arne is letting on!

The ride does feature a pair of great big helixes that circle the station, perfect for photo-opportunities.

The park is currently bringing back The Flying Turns, a ride that used to be popular in the early 20th century but became extinct as more conventional rides became more popular. The park invited the club into the site to delay construction and take pictures.

"It's wood Jim, but not as we know it!"

Here's a photo of the shot of the group shot.

As well as the coasters the park does contain a big selection of older style rides. If you were looking for a museum of old rides then this is a good place to come.

Like Lake Compounce there is a chair lift that you can ride up to the top of nearby mountain and on the way back down you can take pictures of the park. Because the park is under the trees you can't take detailed pics, but it does give you a chance to get the coasters. This is the Twister, the Phoenix is over to the right but its not easy to shoot it as the trees on the mountain block the view to it.

The park has a single steel coaster called The High Speed Thrill Coaster. It's a weird beast powered by an engine that throws the train at speed up and over the lift hill. It's a kiddy coaster apparently but I thought it was quite crazy for adults too!

The land that the park is built on used to be a mining site, and a museum to that sits at the back of the park. It's actually quite informative, as well as having some nice air conditioning.

Stefan and Dirk enjoy the kiddy parachute drop ride.

Here's proof that the park doesn't have any fences around it, with the steam train ride running alongside the mountain road that you drive to enter the park.

This is just a helter skelter but when you're as heavy as I am you end up with something that is stupidly mad! I thought I was going to fly out onto the road I was picking up so much speed going down it.

I had never seen these rides before, although we do have something similar at the local gym just not on a track. Give the kids a work out whilst they enjoy themselves.

Conventional kiddie attractions also exist such as this interactive puppet show!
It was soon time to have our ERSs and the park had rather kindly given us both wooden coasters, starting with the Twister and finishing up with the Phoenix.

Twister was flying in the evening.

and the Phoenix was giving even more airtime than earlier!

Knoebels is a lovely little park, with some great rides. Admittedly they're not world class attractions but sometimes you don't need to have that to have a good time. The location of the park alone is reason for me to come back to it!

Lets head into Amish country for surprise park #2


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