I Didn't Remember Phoenix Being This Good... Knoebels TR
This report is comin’ off-the-cuff, so sorry if it’s a bit disjointed. :)
I got back from my second visit to Knoebels recently, and I had a blast, as it’s impossible not to do when you’re visiting a park like this! During my first visit in 2016, there were some rides that I didn’t get to that I was excited to have a go at. One of these was Flyer. I had been on some different, less intense Flying Scooter rides before, but I was not anticipating what hit me with this thing! It was literally pure mayhem! I had been hearing people rave about it for a while, but I wasn’t expecting a whole lot after having lukewarm “snapping” experiences on rides at Idlewild and Conneaut. On Flyer, it feels like you can barely move your rudder (which is an actual sail – material stretched over a frame), and you’ll start flying all over the place! The op on the ride seemed to turn a blind eye, too, so I was free to go crazy. The huge jolts and the feeling of flying inches away from the trees are just irreplaceable. Knoebels Flyer is a five-star ride!
Right next to Flyer is Flying Turns. My dad and I had a hard time getting on this ride early in the day, but we eventually lucked out with a short wait. I find it totally amazing that Knoebels spent so much time (7 years!) and effort to bring back an old ride like this. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it one of the most all-around fun rides you’ll come across. I found it much more forceful than I did in 2016, as well.
Another one of the three Knoebels wood coasters is Twister. Celebrating 20 years this year, Twister was my favorite coaster during my first visit three years ago. This year, it was a different story, but we’ll get to that… anyway, Twister is a whole lot of fun; I especially enjoy the second half. There was a bit of jackhammering around one of the turns, but besides that, it was all pretty smooth. I don’t find the two lift hills to detract from the ride; it feels like they build anticipation. Again, so awesome of Knoebels to replicate a legendary, old ride.
The Pioneer Train goes underneath Twister and also has a cool turnaround where the park puts out corn for squirrels. Another ride in the park that goes under the structure of a coaster is the Antique Cars, which go right underneath one of the turns on Phoenix. Okay, so Phoenix was an absolute ground-breaker for me on this trip. I ended up taking four rides in a variety of rows on this air-time machine. I didn’t remember it throwing you around so much on my lone ride three years ago! I got a ride in the infamous third row, but I didn’t feel much of a difference. The front row gets my award for this one. The double-up/double-down moment is absolutely amazing! Phoenix is an immensely re-rideable coaster that should be on every enthusiast’s bucket list.
Rides aside, Knoebels is a park that has a whole lotta charm. There are old hand-painted signs everywhere, and that touch of whimsy is just something that brings the park to life. For example, take the Carousel Museum. In an area that could just as well be a gift shop, the park has provided a free exhibit on the history of carousels, complete with all kinds of antique artifacts. Did I already mention that admission and parking are free, too?
The two Knoebels darkrides are amazing. Black Diamond is the newer of the two, and it has a very well-thought-out theme of a Pennsylvania coal mine with all kinds of clever gags. Again, it’s an old ride that Knoebels 100% brought back from the dead. Haunted Mansion, Knoebels’ other dark attraction, is one of if not the best old-school darkrides in the country. The use of lighting and diversion is truly masterful; this is a ride that is not to be missed!
Finishing up on the flats, we have the Skooter and Grand Carousel. These bumper cars are among the best out there and have to be seen to be believed. Classic Lusse Auto Skooters, they hit extremely hard and send riders skidding all around the floor. Riders pretty much obeyed the rules this time around; on my last ride, a rebel driver drove the opposite direction with plenty of gusto! The Carousel is one of two left in the country in which you can reach for the brass ring. My ring skills need improvement, but I can enjoy the ride nonetheless. All the horses and gorgeous, and there’s a magnificent band organ. Knoebels actually has tons of band organs around the park.
To finish, I’ll just leave a quick word on the food – it’s good! I ended up trying Tri-Taters and Potato Cakes for the first time, and I enjoyed them both. I was surprised by the touch of sweetness in the Potato Cakes! As always, the pierogis were a delight, too. Don’t miss the cool rotating rooves of the stands across from the Haunted Mansion!
If you haven’t been there, I can’t recommend Knoebels enough. It’s such a pristine old-school park, the type of which is too difficult to find nowadays. Very reasonably priced, you’ll be guaranteed to enjoy yourself. The rides are great, the food is good, and the atmosphere is stellar.
Andrew M. (who can't wait to get back on to Phoenix)
The thing that surprised me the most at Knoebels was the Skyride view coming back down. From that amazing mountain-side view, the park literally looked like "Hidden Valley Ranch" on the commercials; I heard that it's even more spectacular at night!
Thanks for reading! The Scenic Skyway at night is something I would love to experience. I can imagine the quietness on that mountain would be cool. Here's a pic (in the day).