Saturday, July 14th, 2007

I got up at 7:30 on Saturday morning, with Knoebels being the only thing on the agenda for the day. With it being less than 60 miles from my hotel, I figured that an hour and a half should give me plenty of time to get there. I lounged around a bit, then got showered and headed out, leaving around 10:00 or so. Almost as soon as I left the hotel, I got turned around because the directions I had gotten from AAA told me to go the direction I couldn't go on a one way street. So I had to just kind of figure out where I was! Eventually I made it to the highway I needed.

Well I drove and drove and drove, and I didn't seem to be making any progress at all. I kept passing towns that were shown on the map, but since it was all at about 35 miles an hour, it felt like it took forever! Then once I got to a dead end in Ashland (home to the strangely wonderful "Momument"), my directions didn't tell me which direction to go. So I took a right, then drove and drove until I really found myself in the middle of nowhere next to a mine! So I turned around, backtracked what was about 10 miles or so, and tried going the other way. I eventually found my way, no thanks to my AAA directions though!

When I finally got to Knoebels it was 12:30...2 1/2 hours after I left Allentown 60 miles ago!

And the parking lot was packed. I mean packed to the point that I was almost at the very back of the lot, and there was still a huge line of people coming in! I thought I was royally screwed. But I parked, hiked my way up to the front, and ended up wandering directly into the park. There was no entrance or gate of any kind. Just a bunch of picnic shelters (all jam packed!), then a shoot the chutes and some other rides. It was weird and certainly not the way I had been picturing it.

I'd planned on buying an all you can ride armband, but I was told that they don't sell those on Saturdays. So in a rush, I decided to get $25 worth of ride tickets so hopefully I wouldn't run out before I did everything I wanted to. I wasn’t exactly sure where to go first since I didn't see a place that had maps, so I found a street and started to head back past the large pool they have.

At this point, I wasn't terrible impressed. Everything just seemed jumbled, crowded and the streets running through the park reminded me way to much of nasty Conneaut. But I kept an open mind as I got back to the Phoenix area. As soon as I got in line, it broke down. Blah. So I decided to grab some lunch at the International Food Court that I had heard so many people talk about. I hadn't eaten breakfast because I'd heard so many fantastic things about the Knoebels food, so I was starving at this point! The first thing that looked good on the menu was fish and chips, but it turned out to be kinda blah as well. The batter seemed overcooked on the outside, but was still pasty on the inside. It wasn't very good :-/ And the fries were pretty average.

A random house back by Phoenix. And no one was bothering it! Amazing!

I was still trying to keep my head high and enjoy the park, so I watched the bald eagle exhibit for a bit...

...then walked through the remarkably interesting anthracite museum.

By the time I was done, Phoenix was back open, so I grabbed a ride. The good thing about only allowing individual ride tickets was that despite how crowded the park was, the lines for the rides were pretty short. I waited for a ride close to the back, and I certainly wasn't disappointed by this ride. I suffer from anticipointment on so many woodies like Phoenix, where everyone goes on and on about how great they are, yet when I ride them, they don't seem that great to me.

Phoenix on the other hand...I can definitely see where the praise comes from. This ride was packed with airtime, especially on the return leg, and I didn't feel a rough spot on it. While it's not at the very top of my list, I can definitely understand how it might be at the tops of other people’s lists. It was a great ride!

Feeling that Knoebels had redeemed itself a bit with Phoenix, I backtracked and got in line for Twister. The wait was maybe 5 or 6 trains long, which was great all things considered.

I liked this ride too, though not nearly as much as Phoenix. It's quite a bit rougher, and seems to meander a little too much. But the double lift hill was awesome...was NOT expecting that!

Next was the thing I had probably been anticipating more than anything at Knoebels...the flyers! They are the stuff of RRC legends. I waited through three or four cycles before I got to ride, but it was well worth the wait! These things are INSANE! And I think it's nearly impossible *not* to snap them! I swear that I spent half the ride horizontal to the ground, grazing the trees! What an incredible set of flyers!

Feeling a bit dizzy after my Flyer ride, I popped into the nearby Fascination parlor and played a couple of games. I only had one dollar in cash left, so I only played two games during my visit. Didn't win either.

Feeling much better about my park experience, I went over to the other side of the park (the front? Does Knoebels have a front?). I was feeling pretty hot and thirsty, so I got an Icee and sat down in front of some game where you have to get balls into a dog's mouth. When I was done, I sucked up the $3 and rode the ski lift ride since that ride had been just about my favorite ride at Lake Compounce.

Knoebels as seen from the ski lift

The ride was very nice, but there were a lot of people riding it, so it wasn't as secluded and quiet as the Lake Compounce one. Still, it gave a great view of the park and the surrounding countryside. Worth the $3, definitely.

Afterwards, I thought I'd get my whore on and grab my High Speed Thrill Coaster credit. At only $.80, this ride is quite the bargain! It looks fairly unassuming, but the ride op we had was really cranking the lift hill, so by the second lap around the track, you were flying over the top of it!

Who knew that there was a kiddie coaster with stand up airtime? hahaha The ride was awesomely fun, made even better by the fact that the trains are huge, with tons of comfy leg room! I never assumed that this coaster would live up to its name...was a nice surprise!

Funniest condiment station ever. You have to milk the bottles like a cow to get the condiment out!

With all the credits out of the way, I figured that I better get to eating if I ever expected to finish off all the goodies from the park that I wanted to try. Earlier I had stumbled across the round restaurant that sold the pierogies, so I went back there and bought three of them as well as one much-talked-about tri-tater.

The pierogies were excellent! Again, it's no wonder that everyone talks so highly of them! I could have easily eaten three more of them, but I was running out of cash! The tri-tater though...I found that to be pretty much just your standard hash brown. It was good, but not something I'd probably get again when I could just order more pierogies!

Next, I found the entrance to the Ole Smokey train and joined the line. This would end up being the longest wait I had all day at probably 20 minutes or so. I've really gotten to where I like to ride a park's train if I can. Maybe that is a sign that I am getting old? haha I always hated riding trains when I was a kid! The ride was pretty short, and really only went around in the area with the kiddie rides, but it was a fun ride nonetheless.

Earlier I had passed the Skooters, which again is one of those legendary "best one you'll ever ride" rides that everyone talks about. Since it was hot and the line was long, I grabbed a bottle of Knoebels water (if Six Flags was smart, they would sell water like that!) then joined the line. Two cycles later, I was jumping into my blue skooter.

I thought it was a good ride, though I can't really tell what makes one bumper car ride better than the next. The cars looked cool, but I would prefer a rectangular "anything goes" ride instead.

Downdraft and the Ferris wheel

It was getting late, so I wanted to make sure to ride the Ferris wheel before it got too dark to take nice photos. It always seems to throw people off when I ride a Ferris wheel by myself...I get the strangest looks when I get in alone, and this ride was no exception. Afterwards, I jumped on the Pioneer train that runs underneath Twister. This was a considerably longer and better ride than the Ole Smokey, but then again, Ole Smokey is in the kiddie section! I wasn't able to get any good photos of Twister in action though *tear*

A lovely creek running through Knoebels

By now, I still had probably $10 in tickets left, despite having ridden everything I wanted to ride. I guess it was good that I didn't get the armband after all since I would have spent less buying the tickets anyway. With all that money burning a hole in my purse, I rode Phoenix twice back to back at $2 a pop. I also stuck some of the tickets away so I could use them for my scrapbooking.

During my subsequent aimless wandering, I spotted the North Pole, so like every other person who has ever visited Knoebels, I had to get my picture taken with it. Afterwards, I went inside the Christmas shop in hopes of finding an ornament to commemorate my visit. Last year when I put up my Christmas tree, I was noticing how opening up my ornament box is like opening up a little time capsule from my life. Since I try to buy ornaments on every major trip I take, I have all these wonderful memories associated with the stuff that hangs all over my tree. So now, as if I didn't before, I try to make an extra effort to buy nice ornaments because I know I will enjoy them more than anything else parks have to offer. I settled on a brass Phoenix one (I prefer brass or blown glass ornaments if I have the choice), and I thought it was just perfect.

Since I still had so many tickets left, I rode the Flyers again, which I think are the best bargain in the park at only $1. I also discovered that I was running dangerously low on cash, yet I still had pizza and ice cream to buy as well as more Fascination to play! So after my ride, I found an ATM and took out $20, the promptly hightailed it to Cesari's Pizza.

Cesari's Pizza

Y'know earlier when I said that the Ole Smokey train was the longest wait in the park? I lied. It was for Cesari's Pizza! I waited about half an hour, with really only about 5 or 6 people in front of me! I'm not sure what the hold up was, but they were having a tough time getting everyone served. I saw quite a few people leaving with entire pizzas, so maybe the oven capacity was to blame. I ordered a pepperoni slice, but when they went to serve it, they just took a cheese pizza slice, laid some pepperoni on top of it then put it under a broiler. Not exactly the same thing since the pepperoni isn't cooked into the pizza. It was still pretty good, though not nearly the "OMGZ best pizza EVAR!!1!" pizza that most people make it out to be. I've never found a theme park pizza that is though.

It was getting late now...probably around 9:00pm, and I knew that the entire drive home was gonna be pitch black, so I wanted to go ahead and get on the road before I got too sleepy. But I still needed ice cream! The line at the Old Mill ice cream shop was really long too, but luckily they were fast and efficient!

Tasty Kake Peanut Butter Kandy Kake...sounds good to me!

I got a peanut butter tasty cake ice cream in a cone and it was pretty much heaven. I walked for while, then sat down near the Fascination parlor to finish. Of course that made me want to go play some more... after I was done, I ended up plunking down five more dollars to lose 10 more games of Fascination!

When I was done, I really felt like I didn't want to leave! I'd had this sort of bad first impression of the park, but the longer I stayed there, the more I *wanted* to stay there, and by the end of the day, I didn't want to leave! I couldn't believe that I sounded like so many others who have gone to this little out of the way park and come away absolutely loving it! I don't know what it was about it that I liked. I just wanted to wander around, get something to eat, catch a ride, people watch, really made for a near perfect park experience. It had that certain "je ne sais que" that made me feel like I'd gone there my whole life. I can't even imagine how much fun everyone must have at PPP, and after my visit, it really makes me want to attend that much more!

So the time had come to bid farewell to Knoebels, so I found a t-shirt shop and got a brown college looking Knoebels shirt so I could wear my fondness for the park blazon across my chest. Then I headed off into the parking lot on the quest to find my car. I don't think I'd ever seen a parking lot still so full when it was so close to closing time. The whole park, in fact, was still going strong just before closing time. I eventually found my car hiding behind one of the tram stop shelters, and I began the arduous drive back to Allentown.

My kind of fun too!

Once I got back to the spot where my directions became correct again, I called Kevin and talked to him for the rest of the drive back (no wonder my cell phone bill was $70 higher than normal this month!). By the time I got back, I was pooped, and I knew that I had an early morning at Hershey the next morning, so I pretty much went directly to bed.

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