My family decided to take a roadtrip down to Washington D.C. The plan was to visit a beagle breeder and a few parks on the way. I did my part and found a top notch eatery on the way.
Since we hit the road later than anticipated, we only had 3.5 hours at Knoebels. That’s far from ideal. Even with the lightning fast operations of Knoebels, there is a ridiculous amount of must-dos at this park.
So while it pained me to skip rides like the Flying Turns, Skooters, Flume, and Haunted Mansion, some Knoebels is better than no Knoebels. And the crown jewel of the park is Phoenix.
It’s the world’s best wooden coaster after all according to the Golden Ticket Awards. It seems perfectly logical to me that a ride from 1985 claimed the top spot only after CCI, GCI, Gravity Group, Intamin, and RMC wooden coasters became a thing.
The restraints, or rather the lack of restraints, make this ride. I cannot believe a ride with this much airtime can run without seatbelts and just buzz bars. What starts as nice floater air morphs into crazy ejector air from the double down onward. Every hill from that point launches you into the buzz bar.
There are definitely more intense coasters out there. But few coasters are funner than Phoenix. After a day at Knoebels, my face physically hurts from how much I smiled while riding Phoenix. And that’s not an exaggeration. 10 out of 10
So next I went to a ride that genuinely terrifies me, StratosFear. I don’t know what kind of science-fiction voodoo Larson uses to make their drop towers so intense, but it works.
The aerial view of Knoebels is always a treat. It’s just so green. But then that drop happens. S&S towers give a strong jolt of air at the start of the drop, but you quickly slow down. On this tower, you get that jolt of air and never catch back up to the seat. It’s a rush! 10 out of 10
I have gotten some amazing rides on Twister the past two years. However, it wasn’t running too well on this visit. It was still quite smooth, but it just seemed to be running slow.
The finale, which usually has some very underrated air, was missing a lot of airtime. The hill after the tunnel still delivered an abrupt pop, but a lot of the other hills had less air than Kozmo’s Kurves.
The first drop and wicked pop of air on the turnaround were as great as ever though and I still love the layout. It compliments Phoenix perfectly. 7.5 out of 10
I think most of us agree the Knoebels Flyer is the best set of flying scooters out there. They’re fast and if you start snapping them, they’re one of the most intense rides on the planet.
However, this is one ride that is heavily dependent upon the operator. In the cycles before I boarded, I noticed the op was slowing the ride down if anyone got too wild. Whether or not the riders wanted to snap is up for debate since I’m convinced these things snap on their own.
My strategy with an op like this is to not go full tilt. The last thing I want to do is draw unwanted attention or worse, get kicked off. However, I ran into a problem.
I snapped once pretty early in the ride and the op requested me to stop. Well I tried. I let go of the rudder, but the darn thing still had enough momentum to snap again on its own.
Shortly thereafter, the operator slowed the ride down. When the operator sped the ride back up, I figured he’d be watching me like a hawk. So I definitely took it easy the rest of the ride. Even a relaxed ride on the Flyer kicks the keister of the others out there. 10 out of 10
However, it turns out I wasn’t the issue. When the operator sped the ride back up, I noticed a dude in a Steel Vengeance t-shirt almost do a complete 180. It appears he didn’t take the hint. After the ride, the op called him aside. All I overheard was “I wasn’t whipping the sails, I was just snapping.”
Impulse wasn’t a priority for me. It’s a fine ride, but at a park like Knoebels, it just isn’t a standout for me. But my sister had never ridden it and wanted to give it a whirl.
Since the main queue was long, we tried using the single rider line. The attendant said it was only for parties of 1. When we said we knew we wouldn’t ride together, she was still hesitant to break up a family but did let us use it.
And I’m ever so thankful since we boarded in less than 5 minutes. Impulse is essentially the Zierer Eurofighter. It has an awesome first drop and some great hangtime in the inversions. But most importantly, it has lap bar only trains. 7 out of 10
As night fell on the park, we started making our way back towards Phoenix. On the way, we hopped aboard the Grand Carousel. I went 12 for 12 grabbing the ring, but my sister (whose considerably shorter) really struggled. So when she got one, she was all jazzed up. 10 out of 10
We also made sure to play a game of Fascination. And sure enough, I continued my lifelong losing streak at this game. But at least I had fun.
For the last half hour of operation, I kept throwing more and more money at Phoenix. I think I spent over half my ride tickets on Phoenix alone and I have no regrets. This is one of the best coasters in the world.
I rode Skyrush the next day. And I rode Twisted Timbers and Intimidator 305 the day after. But without question, Phoenix was the superior ride. It truly is one of the best coasters in the world.
Outside of Lightning Rod, nighttime Voyage, and Steel Vengeance, there may not be another coaster I’d take over Phoenix. And that’s because of how well Knoebels runs and cares for this coaster.
Maybe I’m just a Knoebels novice, but unfortunately I left some rides on the table. While the ticket booths closed at 10 pm, the rides continued running past that time. Something I’ll keep in mind in the future.
Knoebels doesn’t have the theme of Disney or the coaster lineup of Cedar Point, but I have just as much fun at this place. It’s a textbook classic amusement park with some really unique attractions and a bonafide star in Phoenix.