For the first time I managed to make opening day at Knoebel’s – largely due to the event held by DAFE and ACE to celebrate the Black Diamond. If they hadn’t invited us to attend I probably wouldn’t have realized Knoebels was open so early in the year.
What a beautiful day we had – sunny and in the 70s – a definite treat after all the rain we’ve had. I even had to put on sunscreen!
My daughter Sheridan and I arrived shortly after 11 and went straight to Pavilion V to check in with our hosts for the day – DAFE. We got our park tickets and our name badges and were told to get our hands stamped and then head to the Black Diamond for a behind the scenes tour.
Testing the Roto Jets
The lines for the hand stamps were pretty long but not nearly as long as when we were done with our tour. I could not believe how busy the park was – tons of people. While we were waiting for the hand stamps I got a funny picture of one of the guys testing out the Roto Jets. He’s kinda hanging off of one making it go up and down. Pretty funny.
Black Diamond Building
We waited in line until Noon for the Black Diamond tour and it sure was worth the wait. You can see my report on our insider’s look at the ride here. For me this was the highlight of the whole day, but Sheridan’s high point came at the very end. (You’ll have to keep reading to find out what it was.)
After exiting the Black Diamond Sheridan went off to ride the Twister and I went back to the car to pick up drinks and my cell phone. I love that Knoebels has an open food and drink policy. You can bring your own stuff in and that is just great. They have amazing food at the park too but having the option of bringing our own drinks saves a ton of money.
The MIDDLE of the ticket line!
I had a hard time getting back to the car because of the ticket and hand stamp lines. The line stretched from the hand stamp booth through Kiddieland, over the Kiddieland bridge and out to the park entrance. The park was supposed to close at 6pm but around this time they announced they’d be staying open until 7pm. Good thing too since so many of those folks wasted at least an hour in line.
Parking is FREE at Knoebels
Knoebels does have a tram in their parking area which is great if you are parked far away, but my car was parked next to the tram stop where you board the tram so no reason to take it. The lot had filled up quite a bit since we arrived and it was getting really hot in the car. So different from the winter we had. I made sure to put on some sunscreen since the trees weren’t leafed out yet and shade was scarce.
My favorite train ride
After going to the car I went to the Pioneer Train. I love this ride since it is a 1 ½ mile track through the woods and part of the camp ground. In summer this is the coolest ride for non-rider type people like myself because the train moves at a pretty good clip and it is shaded and cool on the ride. Also kinda neat is that you pass through the Twister so you can get some great pictures if you time it right.
Squirrel Amusement Park
I saw something new on the Pioneer Train this time but couldn’t get a good picture – dogs. A family brought their two lab sized dogs on the train. Nobody said a thing and the dogs had a great time. You won’t see that at Disney or Hersheypark! (This wasn’t the only dog featuring ride either… you’ll have to keep reading.)
I checked to see if the Potato Cake stand was open, but alas it was not. They are so tasty!
I had to take a picture of this sign. Knoebels in house artists do some really different things. The message of the sign is something we should all remember, but I have to wonder if they’ll keep changing the price of gas.
Here are some other things to note about Knoebels:
- No liquor on premises
- Pets are OK if leashed
- No announcement system so make sure you have a meeting place for your party
- Bathrooms at Knoebels are very old school and some children (and adults) may not understand how the facilities work. (Buttons on the wall….)
- Knoebels has 14 pressed pennies available and their machines tell you where you can find them
I was really surprised to see the Skloosh operating at Knoebels. I’m not sure why I was surprised, probably because Hersheypark didn’t open Tidal Force at Springtime in the Park I guess. Even though it was only April, it was certainly warm enough for a good splashing.
I met Sheridan as she came off the Twister. She was trying to get a good video of it for me but wasn’t quite able to. We got some food – burgers, baked potato and fries. Just a little snack before we got our pizza lunch from ACE back at the pavilion. We brought drinks from home so didn’t have to buy any.
Got some rings but no brass
We rode the Grand Carousel with me on the inside and Sheridan grabbing for rings. I am not very knowledgeable about carousels but there were some things I noticed on this trip that I had never noticed before. First was that the horses had real tails – like hair tails – not painted on. I had never noticed this before. Second was that the carousel used two organs and neither was in the center of the carousel. Not sure why I hadn’t noticed this before either. I am used to Hersheypark’s Carrousel which has the organ at the center of the carousel. So go figure – still a great ride. Sheridan didn’t get the brass ring – the guy in front of her did. Too bad.
Then we went to play some pinball, one of our favorite things to do. They had 3 great new machines at 50 cents a play and we spent some time enjoying them. Sheridan preferred the Lord of the Rings game and I liked Pirates of the Caribbean. I had an awesome first game and I got to sink a ship!!! The last one was Avatar and someone else was camped on that one but it didn’t really appeal to me anyway. Sheridan played it later and said it wasn’t that great.
Our family loves games – pinball, skeeball, video games or whatever. We have a “quarter bag” that we fill up all the time with our saved quarters and we take it with us everyplace. It comes in handy for pressed pennies, vending machines and other things. We don’t miss the quarters in our pocket and it lessens the amount of money we have to shell out when visiting a park.
Waiting for parts AGAIN....
We went over to pavilion V and got our pizza and listened to the DAFE folks speak plus Mr. Knoebel came over himself to give us a rundown of what was new (the new frog hopper), what wasn’t done (the new frog hopper) and what was broken (the new frog hopper… ) You could tell he was a little irritated about the new frog hopper – he didn’t even blink when of course he had to answer again when Flying Turns would be done. (New cars were to be tested in the coming weeks.)
I won a prize in the raffle and enjoyed some cake and then we went off to do some other things. I finally got to ride Ole Smokey – the smaller train. It took us forever to find the entrance (which is also the exit.) We stood in line and looked over at the Panther cars.
The Pink Panther Car
Here was a dumb Mom moment for me. I saw that one of the cars was pink and said “Gee, if we ride those I want to ride the pink one.” And Sheridan, bright girl that she is, said “C’mon Mom, you want to ride the Pink Panther car?” Took about 5 minutes but I finally got it – HA! Pink Panther car! HA! (I love the Pink Panther – especially when comes out of the dryer as a giant fur ball.)
Finally it was our turn and after some discussion and confusion on my part (not my best day mentally) we ended up sharing the same seat. Note: If your child is over 6 foot tall I HIGHLY recommend you ride in separate cars. We did not and she complained the entire time! I thought it was kind of fun.
There was a dog on this train ride too – must be something dogs really like to do. You can get a good view of Kozmo’s Kurves from Ole Smokey. We were big fans of the High Speed Thrill coaster but I had to admit that I didn’t like the looks of Kozmo’s Kurves. It didn’t matter anyway since the line was really long and I didn’t feel like waiting.
So we wandered around and I tried to convince her to go into the Haunted House – we had tickets for it – but I could not. She’ll ride coaster and all that stuff but this ride is a NO-GO for her. Bad experience when she was little so now she stays clear of it. I kept our tickets for another time since I DO like to go into this ride.
Sheridan in the last car....
Finally it was past closing time and we went over to The Phoenix for the DAFE/ACE ERT (extended ride time.) This is such an amazing feature of being a member of DAFE and ACE. Basically for over an hour the only people on the Phoenix were DAFE and ACE members. I sat sipping a coffee while I watched a group of 50 or so people ride, exit, ride, exit over and over again as dusk fell. Everyone gives everyone a chance at the front seat, the back seat etc., so you get to get the best rides with no waiting in line. At some events when attendance is smaller I hear you don’t even exit the ride, you just re-ride.
So this was the highlight of Sheridan’s trip. We lost count of how many times she rode, but it was more than 10 when she was ready to go. There was still a half hour or more of ERT left – they gave us more time than they had originally planned – but we needed to head home since it is a long drive.
North Pole with a jacket
It was great to be in the park after closing, to see the rides quiet and dark. And to see that they cover the North Pole at night to keep it frozen and it vibrates slightly. How odd.
All in all this was a great mother/daughter trip and a wonderful start to our 2011 park season. My thanks to DAFE and ACE for making it possible. We’ll be there again next year on opening day to ride the Black Diamond!