Knoebels is a family-owned and operation amusement park/camp-ground located in Elysburg, PA. The park is situated in the beautiful mountains and forests of Pennsylvania, practically in the middle of nowhere. The area first earned the name Knoebels Groves back in the early 1900’s, when it was merely a nice picnic area along the Roaring Creek with an excellent swimming hole. In 1926 the first rides and attractions were added. Since then, the park has expanded almost every year, adding more rides and goodies. Although Knoebels has been listed on the top ten list of most notable amusement parks since its existence, it is also the least crowded by far.
The whole park gives off an old-fashioned feel. The shaded walkways and antediluvian buildings help produce the old-fashioned vibe, yet they are all beautifully maintained. There is the Anthracite Coal Museum, full of ancient locomotive trinkets with a full-size model out front. Because of this, Knoebels is attractive to many parents and older people. However, the area, while old-fashioned, does not feel out of date for one second. Kids and teens are not repulsed because of the traditional look of the park; in fact, they quite enjoy it.
One of the best parts about the park is that you do not have to pay to get in. You can either buy tickets as you go, or get a wristband for free rides all day. Half of the time I visit, I don’t even plan on going on the rides. The park is good enough that you can just walk around and take in the atmosphere all day. You can rent log cabins or camping areas where you can just relax under the shade of the over-shadowing mountain just outside the camp area. You can also visit the state’s largest mountain water-fed pool, along with its four water slides and play areas.
When it comes to rides (and that’s all we care about anyway, right?), this park has everything. Of the over fifty rides, there are eighteen for children. There are multiples of your standard run-of-the-mill thrill rides too, so younger children will never complain. In the middle of the park is the beautiful old-fashioned Haunted Mansion, which has been ranked the number one haunted house in the country. The Grand Carousel is a circa-1913 Kramers Karousel Works/Carmel machine with band organs and brass rings. The giant Ferris Wheel is the tallest in Pennsylvania. In addition, Knoebels is home to Skooters, best bumper cars in the country. Tim O’Brien, author of The Amusement Park Guide, has continually ranked these bumper cars in the top five non-roller coaster rides in the country. Here is what he has had to say about them:
“There are two ways you can identify a quality bumper-car operation: First, you smell the graphite when you get within twenty feet of the place. Second, the cars must be the classic Lusse Skooter cars, in near-perfect condition. Knobels passes the test on both counts.”
The main attraction, however, is the park’s two world-class wooden roller coasters: The Phoenix and The Twister. The Twister is the newest roller coaster addition to the park, and it does not disappoint. The roller coaster is one of the longest wooden roller coasters in the state and is a few minutes long. Surrounded by trees, your view of the entire park and its beautiful surrounding elucidates as you climb the first hill. The first time you ride, you will be so mesmerized by the view that you won’t even realize the first drop. Overall, this coaster is a real beauty and is probably one of the best wooden roller coasters in the country. It cannot, however, compare to its partner, The Phoenix.
Word’s simply can not describe the sheer brilliance of the Phoenix. It was originally built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1947 at Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas, where it was called the Rocket. When Playland Park closed down, Knoebels purchased the Rocket and renamed it the Phoenix, reborn out of ashes. The Phoenix was the first roller coaster to be moved and reassembled. Although it may not look like much, with an initial drop of only around 100 feet, the Phoenix is one of the top roller coasters in the country. It has been as high as number four on ACE’s top ten list, and number seven on Tim O’Brien’s. It has by far the smallest initial drop of any roller coaster on either list, and is also the oldest. Still, there is something about it that makes it so amazing. Although there are now coasters upwards of 300 feet and 100 miles an hour, very few can even compare the perfect design of the Phoenix. It is something you just have to experience to believe.