6 Reason to Visit Knoebels from a First Timer

Knoebels might have been the most interesting park I visited on my recent East Coast Coaster Roadtrip, or at least the most unusual. Visiting it sort of felt like going back in time. The park is filled with classic and historic rides, many of which are still hand operated. There are tons of unique food options you wouldn’t find at other parks (Knoebels frequently wins “Best Theme Park food awards”). Not to mention the park is a “free admission” pay per ride park, which is pretty rare itself these days, but definitely rare at these prices! It had one of the most confusing layouts of any of the parks I visited, but there are a bunch of things that make it a special park, and one that’s worth visiting if you find yourself anywhere near the area. Here are six reasons you should visit Knoebels if you ever find yourself in central/eastern Pennsylvania!

1. Phoenix is Nuts

If don’t like sitting down while riding a roller coaster, Phoenix is for you.

The historic wooden roller coaster was brought to Knoebels and restored in the 1980s (it originally operated in Texas in the 1940s). It consistently ranks highly on polls of wooden coasters, and one ride made it clear to me why. I don’t know that I’ve ever been on a ride where I actually lifted out of my seat this much. The “restraint” on the ride is just a bar across the top of the seat. It doesn’t really come down onto your lap at all, and there’s no seat belt. For a large portion of the ride, I was literally standing up. The closest to this feeling I’d had before was the double down on jack Rabbit at Kennywood. This was kind of like that, except it happened throughout the whole ride. of the ride. I’d never been on anything like it. You can get the feeling in most seats, although row 3 is definitely one of the best, and the back car seemed to be good as well. Oh also, it runs in the rain no problem!

2. Best Bumper Cars in America

The sign next to the bumper cars at Knoebels says it was rated the best bumper cars in the country by USA Weekend. I think the sign is correct. I don’t know what exactly it is that made them this way, but they were fantastic. The cars feel faster than typical bumper cars, but they also slide easily on the surface. It was not uncommon to get hit by another car and be spun around. Absolutely a blast.

The sign doesn’t lie.

3. The other coasters are unique stand-outs too

While Phoenix gets a lot of press, the other roller coasters at the park are pretty great too. Flying Turns is probably the best known of them. It’s a wooden bobsled coaster modeled after a 1920 design that was built in the 2000s (with a tumultuous construction).. It stands out because of how unique it is. Make sure to check the weather if you want to ride it though, it can’t run in the rain (and it takes awhile to get back running).

The line for Flying Turns has some great signage about the history of the original.

Twister, the other large wooden coaster at the park, was my favorite aside from Phoenix. Another ride modeled after an old design, it was built in the late 90s based off a design from the 60s. It’s full of unusual elements, like a split lift hill and a giant double helix. Another great example of a fantastic classic coaster design.

Along with those two, Impulse was a fun little vertical lift coaster (buitl by Zierer, one of three vertical lift coasters I rode on my trip, each from a different designer), and Black Diamond is a spooky indoor coaster/dark ride (and another coaster moved from a different location, originally built in the 60s).

Pretty good change of pace steel coaster!

And a cool “dark” coaster.

4. The food really is good

Obviously Knoebels wins lots of awards for food, so you might know this, but it wasn’t just that it was good, it was unique! The pierogis were delicious,but there were lots of other atypical theme parks foods too. Things like bison burgers, haluski, and kielbasas. The less adventurous stands were also solid, with plenty of good ice cream shops (the Old Mill was very tasty), snacks everywhere, and full service sit down restaurants. I wouldn’t ever say you should go to a theme park just for food, but again, if you’re in the area and thinking of stopping, combining a couple of coaster rides with lunch wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

They might not look like much, but these were delicious. And I don’t know of any other theme parks with Polish food!

5. A great collection of other flat rides

Why yes, this did make me nauseous,

Aside from the bumper cars, there are tons of other great, historic flat rides. The Haunted House was probably one of the spookiest I’ve ever been in (although some loud noises did make my ears ring). I rode a satellite for the first time, which was definitely the most dizzying, disorienting thing I think I’ve ever been on (it’s a Roll-O-Plane). Cosmotron is an indoor Music Express completely with laser light show to go along with the music. And of course, can’t skip over the historic Grand Carousel originally built in 1913. And that’s just a small fraction of the flat rides, the one I got to ride. If you’re into historic amusement park rides, you can’t miss Knoebels.

Not just a historic carousel, but also a carousel museum filled with historic horses!

6. It’s Affordable!

Finally, maybe the best reason to go if you’re nearby, IT’S CHEAP! At least relatively. For those of us used to paying “theme park” prices for food, everything is a good deal. A plate of three pierogis? Three bucks! Parking is free as well, which means it actually would be a reasonable lunch stop if you’re nearby. The rides themselves are also pretty cheap. The big roller coasters are only $3. My experience with pay-as-you-ride parks has mostly been at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with other visits to Luna Park at Coney Island and Belmont Park in San Diego. At those places you can expect $6+ per ride on the coasters, so I was shocked to see the low prices. It means even if you can’t spend a full day at Knoebels (like in my case), you can get in, spend $20-30, and ride a great collection of coasters and flats. It’s basically like going to a movie!

$1.75 goes a surprisingly long way at Knoebels (well, OK, $3 does)!

So why do you love Knoebels? Let us know in the comments what some of the other reasons are!

Finally, if you want to read more about my trip to visit 7 new to me parks over 9 days, you can check out everything I’ve written about my stops here. And, as always, make sure to follow Coaster101 on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with all the latest in theme parks and roller coasters.

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2 Responses

  1. uncledphl says:

    You did a great itinerary and recommendations for a 1st-time visit to Knoebel’s! The rest of the economic advantages are free parking and free admission plus there is camping; but, try to avoid extremely hot days that can take a toll on even the hail and hearty visitors. Crystal pool is a good alternative as well as standing near “SKLOOSH” where you get a soaking on the bridge or riding the log flume near the “PHOENIX.” {Just came home after an evening visit in the 91 F degree heat which felt like 105 F or more with the high humidity. And try going before most schools start back the week before Labor Day Weekend when it is open in the evening time.

  2. Harrison says:

    I think Knoebels is due for a new coaster