Knoebels (oddly, the k is NOT silent, making this a three-syllable word) is touted as a family-friendly place that is ideal for those with young children. Many people who live around here speak of it as the place 'we always went when we were kids.' As a coaster nut, I couldn't see the appeal when I looked at it online. As a Grandma, I took a second look.
Hubby has long reached the point where trying to stuff his aching back and knee into some tight-fitting ride so he can feel like he wants to barf just doesn't work for him. And going to a standard amusement park stinks - he pays fifty bucks to walk through the gate and then feels guilty about spending more on a soda or a game.
And me? I'm pretty much over the Festival Prices that come with these parks. Dorney has a Subway restaurant, where a "$5 Footlong" goes for $12. They check your backpack for food and drink and ask you to throw it out or keep it conveniently located in your car. Oh, and your car? $15 to park.
So, hearing that Knoebels isn't like any other park, we decide to chance a change. We pack up the kids and the grands and head out.
One thing we learned on our long vacation was that our GPS has a vivid sense of the absurd. And it hates us. I'm pretty sure that wherever this beautiful bridge is, it is NOT on the shortest or most direct rout to Knoebels:
It was a nice detour. And I leave obsessively early for these things. We still arrived before the park was officially open.
The 'nice' part of Knoebels started when we pulled in. There's no parking charge. We unloaded and walked into the park. There's no actual entrance - you can come in from almost any direction - the road, the campground, the parking lot - anywhere. We rented a stroller at half of what it costs to do so at Dorney park, and started to explore the park before the rides opened up. It's fairly flat, very shady, clean and well-maintained. Tickets? Well, you get to pick. People over 4 feet tall can buy wristbands for unlimited rides that include roller coasters ($44), or for less, excludes them. People under 4 feet can get wristbands also, for half the adult cost. If you buy them ahead of time online they are all $4 less. People who don't plan to ride don't need to buy anything. People who might ride just a little can buy book of tickets and pay-as-you-go. I paid for bands for kids and grands and bought a $20 book of tickets (on sale for $16 - seriously) for Hubby and I. Before the day was over I bought another $10 (for $8, that's how they roll here). The pool and waterslides are a separate (reasonable) charge that we did not take advantage of.
We set out to play. Some disappeared deep into the park to try the two big wooden coasters. Some hit some intermediate rides, like swings and tilt-a-whirls. I spent a good part of my day in a lovely shaded corner with three hyperactive little people.
We got the full price of the wristbands out of these little biplanes even though neither of the kids ever figured out that if you PULLED the joystick instead of just rattling it around the plane would actually fly.
Squeaker loved the ball pit.
Sunshine wasn't so sure. She sank in over her head and was over it. Done.
Backwards, you say? Well, okay, as long as I can shoot somebody.
Squeak'sDaddy, DoodleBug and I went on a 148-foot-high drop ride. Squeak'sDaddy is no fan of heights, but he (oddly) likes the drop sensation, so he was game to try it. Most of these rides lift you up, suspend you for a few looooong seconds, and then drop you. Not this one. We went up. Even with the Ferris wheel. Eye-to-eye with the coaster. Peering down into the water slides. Way, WAY above the coaster. And the very instant we hit the apex of the lift, we dropped. Well, apparently those few seconds at the top are necessary for Squeak'sDaddy to collect himself and prepare for the bottom to fall out. When we got to the bottom (9.8 meters/second squared later), he covered his face, went from dead pale to beet read and literally wept. They had to hold up the ride for a minute so he could collect himself and get off. Well, and to give me time to stop laughing at him. I could barely move, seriously. Made me cry too, now that I think of it. DoodleBug and I rode it again. And again. And a couple more times. It's where I used up most of my tickets I think.
I rode the Phoenix with Babygirl. It was one of the best ever. It wasn't jarring, like many wooden coasters, and it lifted me out of my seat half a dozen times before it was done. It may have been the best wooden coaster I have ever been on, bar the Comet. I was pretty sure DoodleBug was going to achieve full lift-off right in front of me, which added a new dimension of terror to the process.
Hubby snuck off an played a few games here and there. He and I dumped the kids and rode the sky ride, which had amazing views and did not set off his fear of heights.
Our original plan for this trip was to go down for 3 days and camp, spending one day in the park. My Dad's unexpected arrival (and somewhat longer than expected stay) made that impractical, so we decided to just eat in the park and not worry about packing food, since we weren't sure of the park's rules about that anyway. It turns out that Knoebels doesn't care what you do. They want you to come and have a good time. If you buy food, great. If you bring food, awesome. They have picnic pavilions complete with gas grills. They have a birthday pavilion. There are hundreds of picnic tables - all well-shaded, clean and welcoming. They request that you do not have alcohol in the park.
All-in-all it was a great day. Perfect weather, good company, limited toddler tantrums (although I can't quite recall when Boo landed her sneaker on my leg - I have the perfect bottom-of-the-shoe print imbedded in the bruise). Everybody felt like this all day:
And everybody felt like this going home:
And you can't do better than that.