Knoebels Amusement Resort in the mountains of central Pennsylvania is a great amusement park. Parking is free, there is no entrance fee, and it has a great assortment of rides for all ages. Unfortunately we were on a tight schedule and only had a few hours to spend here.
Since we also focus on the RV lifestyle in addition to our love of amusement parks, I do need to bring up a couple of caveats from a RVing perspective. First, the location of the park makes it not so fun to get to in a large motor home. On the way there and back from the south there are two hills with an 8% grade and one hill with an 11% grade. Pay close attention to the truck speed limits.
Second, their campground is not very big-rig friendly. We tried to get a spot for the night in the packed campground and found the access roads to be narrow and tight to navigate. I mistakenly took a left turn to get turned around and a low hanging branch tried to take off our front air conditioner. Fortunately we only suffered a scratch on the housing and no major damage. We headed back to the park where they gave us a place to park for the day. Next time we will keep our motor home further south and come here in our car.
Speaking of parking, we got there early and it looked like not many people were there. You will note the influx of vehicles, though, and by the time we left a few hours later, this picture would have showed wall-to-wall cars. The staff was helpful in giving us a secluded place to park allowing us an easy exit.
Knoebels has been around for a long time, officially since 1926, and it has kept most of its charm including many picnic shelters. It was easy to see why they had so many as they were all quickly filled up on this sunny summer Sunday afternoon.
The main reason I wanted to come to Knoebels was for the Phoenix wooden roller coaster. After riding it, I was not disappointed and it easily made it into my top five wooden coasters. The air time (negative G forces lifting you out of your seat) is insane on this well-maintained smooth ride.
Here is a great shot of Phoenix from a nearby hillside. Many people don’t know that this entire wooden coaster was relocated from San Antonio, Texas in 1985 where it operated as the Rocket from 1947 to 1980.
Speaking of relocated rides, Black Diamond is a slow-paced, indoor dark roller coaster that takes you through three stories of a haunted coal mine. This coaster opened in late 2011 after being relocated from Hunt’s Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey.
There was also a big flood in 2011 whose height is marked at various places in the park. While the 1972 flood was higher, the 2011 flood was more widespread and caused more damage. Remarkably, Knoebels was able to reopen only 10 days after the flood. On an unrelated note, She is letting us know that the garbage can smells.
Knoebels erected a monument to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II. I am honored that they chose the iconic raising of the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi by the Marines (and Navy Corpsmen) during the battle of Iwo Jima. Semper Fi.
From there you can also get some great views of Twister, the other wooden coaster in the park. It is a good ride with lots of lateral G forces. While most parks outsource coaster construction, this coaster was entirely designed and built in-house.
Speaking of wooden coasters and being built in-house, Flying Turns is a wooden bobsled that is also being built entirely in-house. Unfortunately Knoebels has run into some snags and this has been under construction since 2006. You can see from my pictures that it’s still clearly under construction although recent rumors say that the kinks have been worked out and this ride should open sometime in 2013. That gives me a good reason to return to this classic American park.
I have only been able to highlight a portion of everything that Knoebels has to offer. The four hours that we spent here left a great impression on us and this is one of the places we will be certain to return to in the future. We’re already looking forward to our next trip which may be sooner than we expect.
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