Dorney Park is one of those parks that you kind of just show up, stay a couple of hours to get everything in, and then leave unless you’re doing an event or the water park. I knew it wouldn’t be a long visit and with Platinum Cedar Fair passes, why not stop by? We got in fairly quickly and headed straight to the closest coaster to the front.
Talon–There was a one train wait for the front row, and I’d almost feel spoiled, but it is Dorney. The first drop is really great. It’s odd how quiet the coaster is. The loop is really great, the next set of inversions are fun and powerful, and the ride has a really great layout. I really like it.
The mouse had a bit of a line as usual. I think it may be the only ride that ever has a line at Dorney. So we walked back towards more coasters. Dorney really kind of reminds me of a mini Cedar Point. You can definitely see the influence in the front gate, midway, and in the Shoot the Chutes ride. Up next was a quick shot of Hydra.
October 8, 2016 Elysburg PA Phoenix Phall Phunfest
My previous visit to both Knoebels and PPP (also my first) were in 2010. It was a sucky day leading up to getting to the park much later than I’d planned, and it really wasn’t the type of event I thought it was going to be. But I dug Phoenix and Twister, and some of the classic flats, so there was that. I had intended on taking Isaac to PPP in 2015, but then in August I found out after constantly telling my then PCP that I really didn’t think it was bronchitis that part of my lung had indeed collapsed because I had a tumor growing right at the start of the airway leading to the upper lobe of my left lung And even though the first surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled for the Thursday before PPP, I really felt I’d be able to make it.
Isaac wisely decided we should wait a year. So here we were. I needed a Knoebels redemption in the worst way because I was not so impressed on my first visit. And it was mostly not Knoebel’s fault. Because we had just gotten back from an amazing trip from SoCal the weekend before and were both trying to have a smaller budget for this trip, we opted to drive. After work on Friday I drove up to meet Isaac an hour away, parked my car at his friend’s place, and then headed up to Pennsylvania. Several hours (and some hotel/hotwire drama) later we had a room and a few hours of sleep. Then we got up the next morning and headed up to Elysburg.
Arrival was around 9:30 AM, but the park opened at 10, the rides at 11. The covered Bridge Festival, however, had already started. And I saw a sight I didn’t like that was very reminiscent of the last time, non-moving cars trying to get in to the park. And the last time it took me almost 2 hours to go a quarter mile to park. We turned around near the entrance of the car park, then realized they had just stopped so they could move some cones and let everyone in. We realized that because the line of cars that had just grown much larger was now making it’s way in, so we headed across to the opposite road, turned around, and headed in, parked, and walked to the park.
We woke up Monday morning to head, not to Idlewild as originally planned, but to Kennywood. And I wasn’t a bit mad. I wish I’d been able to go to Idlewild, and Kennywood is magical at nite, but any time spent at Kennywood is enjoyable. We headed to the Giant Eagle near our hotel to get discount tickets and drove the 2 more miles to the park, parking near the escalator, and headed down to the entrance. I was extremely excited as I love Kennywood. And even though we wouldn’t be there at nite, I was going a little nuts inside.
I don’t really remember what the entrance looked like on my first visit which, I believe, was just before they renovated the entire thing, but what they had now is really nice. And I’m glad they painted the concrete walls that take you down to the tunnel. It was much nicer looking.
Once in the park we got a locker near the front and headed back to a fairly empty Kennywood where we quickly ran into the first stop, a newly renovated Noah’s Ark. I was glad that I got to ride the previous year and on this visit in order to compare. First, the whale and it’s tongue were great to see. The ride was a lot of fun, the animatronics very well done, and the whole thing a classic return to form. I’m glad the current owners are putting money in to areas of the park that need it while maintaining Kennywood’s classic charm.
This trip to Kennywood was more about getting to do the things I didn’t get to cram in to the previous year, and just enjoying the park for the day. There was one ride that I hadn’t had the opportunity to ride at either Kennywood nor Conneaut, and that was the Turtle. I’d seen it, heard it was fun, but never ridden it, so that was our next stop and it was super fun.
Next up was my former #1 coaster and one that is still ranks high on my list, Phantom’s Revenge. I absolutely love Phantom. And it was running very well. We rode a couple of times in the front but mostly in the back. It has that amazing aggressive airtime that you don’t get on many rides.
I believe that next we rode Thunderbolt. Man, does Kennywood have amazing wooden coasters. It was a great ride as usual. Aggressive but fun, with airtime and laterals. Then we walked across the park to Exterminator. Its the only wild mouse that doesn’t scare me since it is inside and ‘feels’ less like its going to go over the side of the rails, and we got a really fun, spinny ride on it.
While over by Exterminator we rode The Whip. I wish they’d put the roof back on as being in direct sun in the hot summer is a bit uncomfortable, but The Whip is a truly classic ride that would still fit in at any park, new or old, and still be popular. And it’s capacity eats people up. Too bad most newer versions of the ride have been relegated to slightly themed kids rides in kids sections.
After having a great time on MaxAir earlier in the trip and Delirium at Kings Dominion earlier in the season, we got in line for Black Widow next. What should have been a 2 cycle wait turned in to about a 40 minute wait. Some kid vomited red slush all over himself and the 2 female ride ops responsible for cleaning it up dragged it out for over 30 minutes. They spent a good 15 minutes standing and looking at it and arguing about having it clean it up. People in line (myself included) got rather vocal because they just stood there.
Then they took another 15 minutes to clean it up when it wasn’t more than a 10 minute job total, before standing around another few minutes complaining until another ride op came over and whipped them in to shape and made them hustle. It was ridiculous. I get not wanting to clean it up, but c’mon. It would have been a 10 minute job that they spent more than a half an hour complaining about when they could easily have been done with it.
Having said that, Black Widow is the best spinning pendulum ride I’d ever been on. It slowly spins clockwise and then counterclockwise, has a large and high arch, and gives a long ride cycle. If my local park were to get one of these types of rides, I’d want this model from Zamperla. It was seriously amazing.
Next up we went over to Log Jammer for my first (and last) ride. It was a fun flume ride, and while it thankfully didn’t drench us, it cooled us off in the hot, hot sun. Then we went to Racer. We only rode one side because of the queue being largely in the sun and it being the hottest part of the day. Racer is a fun family friendly wooden coaster that I appreciate more as I’m older. Next was Jack Rabbit, one of the best old coasters with an amazing double down that still throws you out of your seat.
It had been over 10 years since I’d ridden the Auto Race, so we rode that as well, but again, some shade over the queue would be nice. Hand slapping ensued and Auto Race, while not only a classic ride, is a lot of fun. Too bad theres only 2 left in the world.
I’d wanted to ride the the newest dark ride, Ghostwood Estates, for some time. I’d ridden it as Gold Rusher on a previous visit. Ghostwood Estates was really well done. I hadn’t realized it was trackless. It had a fun preshow, and it seemed that all of the attractions’s theming and effects worked. I really enjoyed it. I wish more parks would make trackless dark rides.
We rode the Bayern Kurve next, which is one of my all time favorite rides, then we heading back to Phantom for a few more rides, and then headed to our last ride of the day, Sky Rocket. I loved it. I wish more parks would build medium to larger sized coasters from Premier. Isaac didn’t enjoy it because his restraint was in a bad spot and he wasn’t able to be comfortable, but I really liked Sky Rocket. So with that our day was over. We headed over to the car and back to NC by way of WV, VA, and SC. I love Kennywood, and even though this wasn’t the way we’d planned it I’m glad we had a decent amount of time at the park during the day.
Sunday morning I woke up to breakfast at the Kern’s home in Hudson, OH. And it was really great. I sat and talked to Isaac and his parents for a bit. His mom loves coasters and loved Kennywood so she was excited for our trip. Around 11 AM we headed a couple hours north to Erie, PA for Waldameer which is one of my favorite smaller parks and, surprisingly, one I’ve visited several times in the last few years since my first visit in 2013.
Arriving around 1 PM we were there just after the park finished it’s rolling opening where the rides open in phases about every 30 minutes or so. And our first stop, if I recall correctly, was Ravine Flyer II. I cannot say enough good things about RF2. The line wasn’t long and it was running great. This coaster is near perfection and the reason I keep getting called back to Erie. This coaster is in my top 10 for wooden coasters. The airtime! The view at the top! The first drop! The hills over the road!
Next we headed over to the Wacky Shack then to Pirate’s Cove. As we were heading over to ride Steel Dragon, my friend Bryan sent a text to let me know that Kennywood, which was to be our second destination for the day, had closed due to weather. Bummer. So we had to discuss what we wanted to do and regroup. Part of this trip was going to be my first trip to Idlewild the next day, which I was really looking forward to, but they closed at 8 PM, and we wouldn’t get there in time to really enjoy the park. We decided, since Isaac hadn’t been to Kennywood in forever and my time the previous year there was cut short, that we would instead stay at Waldameer for most of the day before heading out to Pittsburgh, and then doing Kennywood on Monday before heading home, forgoing Idlewild and not visiting Kennywood at nite.
This was good in that I never get to spend a lot of time at Waldameer, so we headed to Steel Dragon for a spin. Then we rode the drop tower before heading out of the park for lunch. Bryan had recommended Sarah’s, a burger joint just down the road from Waldameer. I’m glad he did. Isaac had eaten there before but forgot about it. The burgers were really good and worth the trip. Then we headed over on to Presque Isle for a bit before returning to the park. We rode Comet again, then Steel Dragon with the second time way better and way spinnier. Then we rode the the Mega Vortex (Disk-O), the Train, the Ferris Wheel, the Sky Ride, the Log flume for my first time, and I REALLY loved the log flume! Finally we headed back to ride Ravine Flyer several more times. I even ate most of a whoopee pie.
There’s so much to do at the park and we really enjoyed ourselves. I like Waldameer and wish there was a similar park closer to me. In fact, I wish someone would turn Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, NC in to a park like this, but alas that will likely never happen. We headed out and stopped at some meh ‘pub’ on the way to Pittsburg before checking in to our hotel and out in the city for the night.
So we left Conneaut and headed towards our next stop, which, unfortunately it seemed to take longer than anticipated to get to and get started. This was the first time I’d not gotten lost on the way (and the first time I didn’t see any of those darn yellow arrows) to…Kennywood! It had been ten years since my last visit and the park has changed in many good ways. It was a nice evening, and this was my first time getting the ‘true’ night time Kennywood experience (my only other nite experience at Kennywood was during Fright Nights, so that was much different).
After getting into what I’d forgotten was a beautiful park (and this was I believe my first time seeing the new gate), we headed first to purchase Kennywood’s version of pay to cut. It’s a little different, and I really just wish you could go at whatever time and ride everything without waiting once, because the times really kind of set us back. Then we headed to the Bayern Kurve. Unfortunately it broke down just as we arrived, and both of us were really looking forward to riding the ride, so we knew we’d check back later. Since that was a bust, we went to what was for a very long time my favorite coaster ever, Phantom’s Revenge.
Phantom’s Revenge–I was blown away by this ride every other tim I rode it. The only thing I didn’t care for was the first drop, actually. I know they’ve replaced all of the track on the first drop, did some tweaks, undid some tweaks, and added a trim. Would it still be amazing? Our first ride was in the front of the ride, a first for me. That first drop was actually better, and the straight track after had some positive forces I didn’t remember. Then you head up and into roller coaster bliss. That first hop up and into the ravine is magical, as is the rest of the ride. Aggressive, powerful, and chock full of airtime. It’s still as amazing and insane as ever. Phantom still holds up after a ten year absence. It’s just that good.
Doug and I got in to my car and headed across Pennsylvania to a place I’d never been, but had toyed with stopping by on my last trip this way. I knew I’d better stop thinking and just go, because it’s a park that just may not be with us for the long haul. After what seemed like an eternity driving thru the countryside of Pennsylvania, we finally arrived…at Conneaut Lake Park.
The front of the park actually shows what kind of potential the park has (had?), but it is totally unused. This is one of those parks that I just wish I had some money, time, and labor to make it so much better. After walking thru the front gate area, there were 4 pads with rides, and some empty or half empty pads. We walked around all of that and headed back towards the middle of the ‘park’ (I use that term very loosely) and got what ended up being my 4th wristband of the trip at $10, which was actually kind of a steal, and I do feel good about supporting a small park, even one struggling.
There were actually a decent amount of people in the park, and everything that could be running was up and running. The only thing I wish I’d ridden that we skipped was the Tumblebug. After the $10 band purchase, we went to Devil’s Den.
Sunday morning we woke up, quickly got ready, and left the motel in Sandusky as soon as we could. It was really terrible. So we headed off on a trip I felt I’d just made not long before to Waldameer, thru Cleveland and back up to Lake Erie. Waldameer was going thru a transformation, and had a new front gate and they were also beefing up their already quaint looking (and popular, it would seem) water park. The new front entrance was nice. I wish there was something like Waldameer somewhere in North Carolina. It’s charming, it has lots of quirky stuff. It’s affordable family fun, and it’s just a great little park.
Heading over to see what was already open as the park does a rolling opening we rode the drop tower first. I actually like the fact that you drop as soon as you hit the top, and you don’t know when that will be. Plus you get amazing views, and the last time I was there it was gloomy and overcast. After that we went through the haunted house, Wacky Shack. I had done this last time, so I knew what it was all about, but it was neat to see the look on Doug’s face when it was all over. I wasn’t going to miss doing Pirate’s Cove this time, since it came so highly recommended by EVERYBODY last time. I just thought it was a small kiddy funhouse and didn’t bother; it hadn’t opened yet so we went over to our first coaster of the day, Ravine Flyer II.
Ravine Flyer II–I absolutely love Ravine Flyer and it was moving faster than the last time I was there. I don’t quite know why they weren’t filling both trains, they most definitely had enough in line to do so, but whatever. We rode near the front of the train for the first ride. I love the first drop, and man, those hills over the road kill it for me. They have amazing airtime and I love them. Hopping around on the other side of the road and back is a lot of fun and this time there was sustained speed even thru to the end. This ride really ranks high for me, and I didn’t expect to be back so soon to ride it, but again, I’m so grateful to have been able to make the trip. Over the course of the day we rode at least 2 or 3 more times.
I woke up early on Saturday morning. It was still very overcast and misty. I left Cleveland going north east, and after less than 90 minutes I was at Waldameer. That Sirius XM had a Daft Punk special on made the drive go by even faster. I got to the park and it immediately reminded me of a nicer Camden Park. It was very quaint. I got there around 11:00 AM, but the park didn’t actually ‘open’ until noon, and then they do the rolling open where rides open in phases through 1 PM. After buying my wrist band the lady at the gate noticed my nifty Gatekeeper jacket and asked how I liked it. I ran in to some other coaster geeks in the park throughout the morning, all very nice.
The first hour I spent wandering around the park, taking some bad photos since the lighting was terrible, and sat down for a bit. The park was very quaint, and the employees were very friendly. I’d love to have a park this size close to me for convenient evening coaster riding. And right at noon, the National Anthem played and some rides opened. My first ride was the Wacky Shack dark ride. It was really a lot of fun. Again, it reminded me a lot of Camden Park There were some decent flat rides, but I didn’t feel like spinning a lot during the day. I rode the chair lift across the park and took more pictures. I wanted to ride the Mega Disc-O, but decided to skip it. Besides, there was one at my next destination, Kennywood, right? (Insert ominous tone here) So after getting back around to the end of the ride I headed to the Comet, the park’s smaller wooden coaster.
Comet–This was a lot of fun. I was in the 2 row. There was nice light floater air over the various hills. You turn and go up the lift hill and the first drop, while not very large, was fun. And there were plenty of hills. Plus the setting is very nice running thru the trees.
I went and got in line for the drop tower next, which was very good. It drops you as soon as you hit the top, and you don’t stop till very near the bottom. Then, finally, I walked over and waited till Ravine Flyer 2’s queue opened. There was about a train’s worth of people in front of me. When I did finally get in the station, I opted for the front.
Ravine Flyer 2–This coaster was really amazing and packed such a punch for a smaller wooden coaster. The first drop had beautiful views of Lake Erie, and then it’s airtime over the bridge, amazing airtime on the turnaround section, more airtime back over the bridge, airtime up and down, then a slower 90 degree turn that was odd, and then you dive back in the ravine, then up and into the brake run. It was non-stop. I immediately got on closer to the back and it was even more insane.
After riding RF2 a couple of times I went over to Steel Dragon. It spins, so I didn’t know how I’d like it. I was in line for a bit, but the park just wasn’t that crowded, so it was ok.
Steel Dragon–I set on one side while 2 smaller adult brothers were on the other side. I went up the hill backwards. The first drop was really amazing. We got some decent spinnage when we hit the release for the car. This was my first of this type of spinner, and it was definitely better than the Gerstlauer spinners and the spinning mice I’d ridden. Highly enjoyable. I’m not sure why more parks, big and small, don’t have one of these.
I went back over to Ravine Flyer 2 for some more backseat rides. This was going to rank highly for me. It was smooth, fast, and chock full of airtime. I toyed with another Comet ride, but I wanted to get to Pittsburgh. I was going to stop by Conneaut on the way, but I didn’t have cell service, so I couldn’t call to see if Blue Streak had opened, as they were re-tracking it. I probably should have just stopped. I did get to my hotel near Pittsburgh around 4:30. Craig and kids were at Kennywood and they said it was packed, Phantom was down, and so I decided to wait till Sunday morning to go instead. I went to bed around 5 PM and didn’t wake up till the next morning. Side note, the Sheraton in Coraopolis was very nice for $53 a nite.
On Sunday I wanted to go to Kennywood a couple of hours and the head home, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. When I went to get gas, my debit card wouldn’t allow me to make any purchases. I had moved money from my checking to my savings. Nothing recognized the savings account. No ATM, no store, no nothing. And the stupid number on the card was all automated and there was no one to talk to.
Eventually, I had to drive all the way to WV, about 70 miles, to a BB&T ATM, as there were none in Pennsylvania, just to get the correct number to call and get it straightened out. Apparently at some point, BB&T didn’t have my savings account attached to my debit card. I toyed with going back to Kennywood, but I was about 90 minutes away at this point, and I was on my way home. And I really needed some quality Phantom time.
So that was that. I arrived home around 7:30 and uploaded my pictures. I missed out on 2 parks during the weekend, but in the end, I still had a great get away.
October 8, 2010 Phoenix Phall Phunfest
Knoebel’s Phoenix Phall Phunfest was one of the last of the major yearly coaster events that I’d yet to attend, and having cancelled out so many times before, I really wanted to make it in 2010. I’d heard so much about the park and how great Phoenix and Twister were and I really wanted to visit. Plus, there were some other folks going that I’d yet to meet in person after knowing them online for many years.
I was flying out of Greensboro early Saturday morning heading into Philly, and then driving to Knoebel’s. I’d forgot to fill the Xterra up on Friday evening, so I had to stop and get gas, which took a little longer than I’d have liked on Saturday morning. I hadn’t actually driven to GSO from my house before as previously I headed over from work, which was about 20 minutes from the airport. The drive was longer than I’d expected. Though I’d wanted to get there at 6:30 AM since I’d left my boarding pass at work after checking in and printing it out on Friday, I needed to print one at the airport.
Once I parked outside the main terminal’s front gate I ran into the terminal to print my pass…only to find out that the self service machines have a cutoff of 30 minutes prior to departure. It was about 27 minutes prior to departure so it said to see someone at the counter.
Because we got back so late from NYC, we decided to sleep later and get to HERSHEYPARK around noon or a little later. On Sunday morning we got up, got ready, and headed 90 minutes to Hershey, PA. I’d actually been thru Hershey once, and drove by the park with my brother, but had never actually been to the park, so I was excited. The drive was longer that I’d have liked, but we stopped for food at Sheetz and then fueled up about 20 miles from Hershey.
It’s interesting to drive along the Pennsylvania countryside and see rolling hills, then see the park and the town in the distance. Hershey is a quaint little town, and I’d love to get the opportunity to go and walk around town in the future. Once we arrived and turned into the park, we drove around a good 15 minutes to try and find parking. The lot was FULL of cars. I know this park has a reputation of always being busy, but would that translate into long waits?
We walked by Chocolate World and Matt said if I wanted to do it we should do it now since it would likely be closed when we left, but I decided against it since I was itching to go into the park and start riding. I wanted to do Chocolate World, but it wasn’t the priority.