Thursday, February 25, 2021

Knoebels 2020

After a slightly disappointing four hours at Hersheypark, my dad and I made the hour-long drive to Knoebels, one of my favorite amusement parks. This was one of the first weekdays they were open last year, so I was able to get multiple rides on all of my favorites. Here's the amazing Flyer, still the best flat ride that I've been on. These "flying scooter" rides are a dime a dozen, but none of them allow you the wild level of control that Knoebels' does!
Twister is one of the park's two fantastic wooden coasters, patterned after the legendary Mr. Twsiter at Elitch Gardens.
 As you might guess by the picture below, the Pioneer Train provides great views of the ride, as well as the surrounding woods during its 1.5-mile trip.
While I love Twister, Phoenix will always be one of the great American coasters. Saved by the Knoebel family from a closed park in Texas, it set the example of how a coaster could be saved and is still consistently voted as the best wooden coaster in the country. 
A refreshment stand and its seating areas are housed in former merry-go-round frames that Knoebels bought. The two closest ones in this shot rotate, with the rotation of the red-and-white striped covering at left controlled by the water wheel in the far rear.
There's plenty of concession options. After all, Knoebels has the best amusement park food in the nation!

The Time Machine Theater is the home of puppet shows, and normally, ones that let the audience be part of the story.

With picnic grove roots, Knoebels lacks the grand architecture of Kennywood, but there's still some old neon.
Being from Pittsburgh, I had to go for the black and gold car on the world's best bumper cars, Skooter.
The creeks that run through Knoebels are scenic and look good at night when illuminated, but the threat of flooding they pose has caused the park some setbacks over the years, all of which they've recovered from very quickly.
This visit to Knoebels is one of my fondest memories from last year. Hopefully I'll get to go back soon!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Indiana Beach

One of the last stops on our Midwest road trip was Indiana Beach, a lakeside park in Monticello, a town in North-Central Indiana. In February of last year, it was announced that this 90-year-old park would close forever. I was sad that I would never get to visit, but luckily, a buyer stepped in, and this strangely turned out to actually be one of the first amusement parks in the country to reopen. After more than a decade of corporate ownership, the park is now family owned once again!
The Indiana Beach mascot is a crow!
Being in the middle of nowhere Indiana, it's cool to walk out of these trees and enter the park across a suspension bridge.
Here you can see some of the park's densely-packed roller coasters. It's a great entrance approach.
The most unique coaster at Indiana Beach is Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain. It's by far the wackiest coaster I've ridden. A while back, the park wanted to add some extra thrills to one of their dark rides, so they wound roller coaster track around the faux mountain that was used for the former ride. As a result, Lost Coaster has not only an extremely tight turning radius, but an elevator lift (the structure to the left in the below image), enclosed cars, and various darkride effects. And the most amazing thing is that it's a wooden coaster! The video shows this ride better than I can explain it.
Cornball Express reflects the Indiana Beach slogan: "There's more than corn in Indiana!"
This is one of the park's two traditional wood coasters. Built in 2001, it is the lower track in the picture below. The train above is actually for a different coaster, Hoosier Hurricane, built in 1994. Of the two, I definitely preferred Cornball Express; even though it's smaller, it offers much better airtime! 
Steel Hawg is an unorthodox steel coaster that had the world's steepest drop when it opened. It was a lot of fun!
I witnessed a startling collision of two cars while in line for the Tig'rr coaster; the car didn't stop at the unload station (on the right), whipped around the bend, and crashed into the car waiting at the load area. No one was hurt, but more importantly, I was worried that I wouldn't get to ride this coaster. ;-) Luckily, it passed the rigorous Indiana Beach mechanics' inspection and reopened a couple hours later. If this was Kennywood, it would've been closed for the rest of the season.
Another Indiana Beach highlight was Frankenstein's Castle, a multi-level haunted walk-through.  Check out the facade!
It had some great tricks and took about six minutes to walk through. 
It was also fun to ride a new sky ride - this one had very minimal restraints.
Several of the Indiana Beach flat rides are built on platforms in the lake; this Yo-Yo is the best swing ride I've ever done for that reason!
Indiana Beach is a park that I had wanted to visit for years, and although there are no antique rides, the park overall does have a vintage feel. There are several completely unique rides that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, and the way attractions are layered on top of each other just makes you feel like there’s always something new to discover.