Alright! On to day 2!
We awoke the next morning at our hotel in Frackville (yes, that's really the name of the town) to a cloudy, rainy morning. For those unfamiliar with the bumblefucktucky region of Eastern Pennsylvania, Frackville is lcoated off of I-81 near Mahanoy Cityand most importantly NOWHERE F*CKING NEAR KNOEBELS. Why were we staying in Frackville? Because the Covered Bridge Festival fills every single hotel in the region to capacity so the only options left are places like Comfort Suites in Sunbury that jack their prices up from about $85 a night to over $250 a night that weekend because they're dicks.
Because of this, the closest Choice Hotel (because there's no way I was staying anywhere else with the promotion I brought up here going on
) that wasn't completely gouging was an Econo Lodge 45 minutes from the park. The hotel was pretty much sh*t. It had weird motion sensors that turned lights on and off throughout the night (Brit was convinced it was haunted) so I ended up unplugging every lamp in the place so we could actually sleep but when you're trying to stay near Knoebels on Covered Bridge weekend you can't expect much without shelling out hundreds of dollars so I guess we couldn't complain too much.
I know Knoebels has a campground, but I'd rather die than go camping. True story: I used to be a Boy Scout and 3 weeks in we went tent camping on a 10 degree night in upstate New York and it was f*cking miserable. I quit scouts the day we got home. Never f*cking again. I don't work 5 days a week to sleep in the f*cking woods, much less in a tent next to a bunch of coaster enthusiasts where I would (presumably) have to listen to them discuss whether or not Twister was getting rough or complain about how the "Schmeck Seat (which I guess is a thing?!?!?!)" was roped off on Phoenix for a portion of the day while I was trying to sleep. I know Econo Lodge sucks, but it's better then camping. Literally everything is better than camping.
Anyway, the rain was sort of a bummer but we knew it was a possibility and we also knew the forecast called for it to clear up early on so we weren't too concerned. Thankfully it seemed to have scared people away as we pulled into the lot around 9AM without any backups whatsoever. Holy crap! You don't see that very often at the Covered Bridge festival. Best of all, by the time we pulled into the lot the rain had completely stopped.
The park didn't open for about 3 hours but the festival was in full swing which is why we got there so early. I'm not really a craft fair guy, but it's always fun to spend a few hours at the Covered Bridge Festival. We have a habit of spending way too much money there as they actually do have some pretty cool stuff but we were on our best behavior this year, spending most of our money on dips from the dip lady (If you've ever been, you understand), marinades and just general Knoebels food like Tri-Taters.
We spent the next few hours browsing, eating and shopping. The Covered Bridge festival is probably more of a Brit thing than a me thing, but I still enjoy it quite a bit. There's plenty of food tents (with tons of free samples) and tents that appeal to guys to keep me entertained while she's browsing around sh*t I don't care about like jewelry made from walnuts, $80 Himalayan salt lamps that don't work and clothes. Plus with all of the talented and creative vendors you do occasionally come across something so artistically brilliant and masterfully crafted that even I can't help but be in awe of it.
By the time 12:00 rolled around we had really had our fill of the festival so we went back to the car with our haul and proceeded into the park. Normally on the second day of the festival we take a more relaxed pace and buy tickets rather than wristbands so we bought a few tickets and made our way over to the Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion isn't included with pay one price plans so we always make it a point to save that for day two. As classic dark rides go, this one is absolutely outstanding and we ride it infrequently enough that we never remember where everything is so it always feels fresh with plenty of good scares scattered throughout the house. As usual, every effect seemed to be working and perfectly timed. They really have this thing down to a science.
I hate to be the one to break with tradition, but since it was only noon, we were already done with the festival and we were hoping to right the wrong of only getting 3 Phoenix rides the previous day, I broke down. Normally we avoid it on day two, but it was feeling like a handstamp kind of day. After discussing it with Brit we both concluded that we had no will power at all and made our way over to the booth as part of our endless life mission to give Knoebels all of our money.
Since we were in the area, we made the flyers our first stop. Like the previous day, they were cracking down on snapping by slowing the ride way down once someone started putting on a show. One and done for us... riding these things during Phunfest is never as much fun as riding them any other time when they don't seem to care as much. It was still fun though and we still snapped them quite a bit.
Next up was Twister, a ride that we had somehow only managed to ride once the previous day. This time we waited for the front and as always the ride was absolutely insane. For me, Twister is a front seat ride. While the back is certainty more aggressive, the front offers a great pop of air on the turnaround hill after the drop and by it's very nature the ride is full of great visuals. There's not a bad seat on Twister, but the front is where it's at.
After another great ride on Twister, we decided it was time to right the wrongs of the previous day and head over to Phoenix (after making a pit stop at StartosFEAR on the way was amazing as always). Phoenix was running one train but it doesn't really matter as the crew was dispatching that train in about 20 seconds each and every time. We parked ourselves at Phoenix for awhile and managed to rack up 3 or 4 rides in a span of about 20 minutes... most of which were near the front which provided us with the type of ridiculous airtime display that only the Phoenix can.
I often say that the only standup coaster I actually enjoy is the Carowinds Vortex (yeah, I know) but I really feel like I should consider adding Phoenix to that list. If you ride this thing with your hands up and don't hold on for dear life you basically stand up on the double up double down and the entire last run of airtime hills. The fact that this thing only has a buzz bar is so wonderfully awesome that you can't help but wonder how it's even allowed to exist in this lame a** country in 2017. This ride is absolute perfection, as is the park. Please never change.
After 4 (ish) rides, we reluctantly pried ourselves away from Phoenix to check out the rest of the awesome park. Fandango (the park's frisbee ride that we had somehow missed the previous day) was our next stop, and luckily it was loading right as we walked up so we got right on.
While it's no "Maxair" or "It", we're big Fandago fans. While the restraints aren't the most comfortable things in the world, the actual ride experience more than makes up for it. If you're lucky enough to be facing the sky on one of it's powerful upward swings it delivers an insane amount of airtime once it reaches it's maximum height. This ride feels a lot more like a KMG fireball than it does a Huss Frisbee in that it actually feels like it's being forced downwards once it reaches it's maximum swing angle and doesn't just drop with the normal force of gravity. I have no idea if that's true or not but it certainly feels that way and it's a great ride. The ride gets bonus points for the severed feet / leg decorations below the floor too. It's only visible from the ride when the floor drops but it's a hilarious touch.
Lucky for us, our legs were spared being sliced apart by the Fandango floor so we were able to exit the ride under our own power and walk to our next destination, Impulse! Impulse was only running one of it's trains (with mechanics visibly working on the other) but the line didn't look too terrible so we decided to stick it out.
Given the one train operations, the line ended up being about 40 minutes (if we knew that we PROBABLY would have spent that 40 minutes at Flying Turns instead but whatever) but I can't complain too much after being spoiled the previous day. While I still find it incredibly strange that the ride is at Knoebels, it's an incredibly fun coaster and I'm really starting to like it. That slow barrel roll is one of the better inversions on any coaster anywhere just because you can throw your hands up like an idiot and it feels like you're going to slam into countless supports and track as you slowly roll through it. It's no Phoenix, Twister or Flying Turns but I like this thing.
Since the line was longer than expected, by the time we got off we realized it was already after pierogie o clock and we were running late so we made our way over to the glorious land of pierogies to correct this injustice immediately. As always, I think I heard a choir singing in the background as I ate them and they continue to be one of the single greatest things I've ever tasted. Holy sh*t, Knoebels. We're not worthy.
Such brilliance often takes time to digest as your system tries to comprehend all of the greatness within and figure out how to properly process it so we decided to hit something slow for our next ride. We had ridden the chairlift the previous day and we contemplated riding it again but in the end we decided on the ferris wheel instead.
The ferris wheel provided a nice ride (as always), though Brit finds herself completely terrified of these things for some reason.
I prefer the view from the chairlift, but the ferris wheel does offer some great views of Impulse and the front of the park. It's always nice to take it for a spin.
By the time we touched back down to earth we were running light on time and only had about 90 minutes until close so we decided to start slowly making our way to the back for a Phoenix party (or "fest" if you will) but we wanted to hit a few more things on the way.
Brit had a score to settle so our next stop was the Scooters where she definitely managed to pay me back for the previous day, getting behind me and proceeding to pummel me at every opportunity. The scooters were awesome as always, and she looked pretty proud of herself by the end of the ride. lol
Next up was the Carousel, a ride that we had ridden the previous day but didn't get to sit anywhere near each other due to the mad rush for outside horses. This time we managed to get to the front of the line and sit back to back. It was clear from the start that I had gotten over the slow start from the previous day and I managed to snag every ring as we continued around. As I was so focused on grabbing each of the ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings, I barely even noticed that at some point I had somehow managed to grab the brass one, earning me free tickets to ride again! That's actually a first for me, so it definitely offered me some bragging rights when we got off.
Still basking in my glory, we continued our trek to the back. We were down to our last 45 minutes or so but we snagged a quick Paratrooper ride before making it back to the Phoenix for the last 30 or so minutes of the day to end our weekend in style.
We racked up more rides than I could count on Phoenix, switching from the back seats to the front seats to (on one occasion) row one (which was excellent). Every single seat provides an absolutely amazing ride every single time. This coaster is absolutely phenomenal.
This is an amazing time for wood coasters. Just in the last few years, RMC and Intamin have totally changed the game. Wood coasters can (successfully) go higher and faster than ever before. We have launched wood coasters, we have wood coasters doing barrel rolls, dive loops, zero g stalls and ridiculous acrobatics that older wood coasters could never dream of doing. We all still love the classics, but for the most part they can't compete with these coasters.
This coaster though, continues to hold it's own. It's a classic but it doesn't get by on nostalgia. Phoenix is legitimately one of the best coasters in the world. It's stats are amazingly unimpressive, but it's brilliant design, great restraints (or lack thereof), and absurd amount of airtime put it in an elite class. I don't know if there can ever be a "perfect coaster" but a coaster from 1948 that's infinitely better than 99% of the world's coasters (wood, steel or otherwise) 70 years after it opened is about as close as you can ever get. We're incredibly spoiled to live so close to a coaster this amazing and I can't think of a better way to end a perfect weekend! See you next year, Knoebels!
Up next: Busch Gardens Williamsburg for Howl O Scream and Kings Dominion!