Knoebels prepares for opening day in April
ELYSBURG - Knoebels Amusement Resort might not be unveiling any major projects for the 2014 season, but that doesn't mean they've been idle in their preparation for the April 26 opening day.
StratosFear and the long-awaited Flying Turns marked the beginning and end, respectively, of the 2013 season, and park enthusiasts still have another year to wait for the next big thing called Impulse.
Director of Public Relations Joe Muscato explained Knoebels has been busy expanding the infrastructure and preparing the park for two new kiddie rides and two new games.
A pony cart ride and a dry boat ride, which are similar in design, are currently being cleaned and reconstructed after being purchased from two separate private brokers, he said.
Locals might remember a ride similar to the pony cart at the former Doodlebug Park in Trevorton.
"We're restoring it to its original glory," Muscato said.
For the two rides, two children can fit in the vehicles - a cart on the pony ride, a boat on the other
- and they will move in a circle around a base with other vehicles, Muscato said.
As for the games, the Killer Bees near the Paratroopers never quite recovered from the Flood of 2011. It will be replaced by a game called Striker, a soccer-themed creation in which players shoot balls from a cannon into lighted holes. The first player to put out 15 lights wins.
During HalloFun in October, the Flying Frog game was covered up so players and employees wouldn't get wet during the cold weekends. It was replaced for several weeks with Creeper's Pumpkin Patch, a game where players throw whiffle balls into targets.
It proved to be popular, said Muscato, so it will be renamed and have its own location near the StratosFear.
New to many
Despite the Flying Turns opening Oct. 6 last year for the 32nd annual Covered Bridge and Arts Festival and the Phoenix Phal Phunfest, Muscato said many people are still asking when the ride will be finished.
"For most people, it will be new," he said. "Everybody's been waiting, so here it is."
Knoebels will focus its advertising around the new ride. A fourth six-person train was ordered to move people through the line and ride as fast as possible, he said.
Over the few weekends it was open, it was learned the ride could operate in a light rain, but they'd have to wait for the water to drain through the grates when it's a heavy downpour, he said.
The only true kink to work out now is where to put the photo-op, which will be ready come opening day, Muscato said.
The other new 2013 ride, StratosFear, was a "huge success," he said.
Season finale for two attractions
This will also be the last year for the Bumper Boats and Boat Tags, located near the entrance to the park. They will be dismantled in September and removed from after Labor Day to make way for excavation of Impulse, a steel coaster coming in 2015.
"I cannot believe the number of people who are upset the Bumper Boats are leaving. Where have they been? Because nobody's been riding them," Muscato said.
With ridership down and parts wearing out, Knoebels could not justify keeping it around.
"We're not getting rid of the bumper boats because we bought a coaster. We brought a coaster because we need to replace the bumper boats," Muscato said.
The first parts for Impulse are expected to arrive in December.
In order to keep the park experience viable for all age groups, Knoebels needs rides like StratosFear, Phoenix, Twister and the incoming Impulse for teens, Muscato said.
At the same time, it's important that the classic carousal where riders catch the rings and bumper cars are always part of the park, he said.
Behind the security building, park officials have been building a power substation which will provide additional electrical power to Impulse, a catering kitchen and future expansion to the park.
Other small projects include:
- Expanding the camelback bridge between kiddie city and the rink for better traffic flow.
- Expanding fiber-optic network and data capabilities.
- New reservation software to streamline reserving spaces in the campground.
- A new tram.
- Birthday packages for tweens or young teens.