Knoebels reveals plan for new coaster, Impulse
ELYSBURG - Close your eyes.
Imagine sitting at a 90 degree angle, looking straight up into the wild blue sky, and slowly moving toward the heavens. Imagine having only the steady, anticipatory beat of your pulse to count the seconds to the top. Imagine knowing you'll eventually reach the apex of your journey, but not knowing exactly when you'll plunge face first into oblivion.
Is that your heart in your throat? Good, that's the way the fourth generation of the Knoebel family wants it.
On Thursday, they announced their first major project, a steel coaster called Impulse that will open in 2015.
"This ride is quick, nimble, agile, spry. It will make your heart rate go up," Brian Knoebel said.
Knoebels Amusement Resort announced the forthcoming steel coaster via a tweet at 6:53 a.m.: "You've heard rumors... you've made guesses ... now get a glimpse of #Knoebels Project 2015: http://tinyurl.com/knoebels2015 Will you ride Impulse?"
The link showed various colorful drawings of a large coaster with a very steep peak in the center. The park's website has a link to the same picture.
Park officials were secretive about the project three weeks ago, saying only that Brian and Rick Knoebel, sons of Dick Knoebel, and Trevor Knoebel, son of Buddy Knoebel, were to lead the project.
Several teases announcing the "next big thing" also started appearing the last week of January on the park's Facebook site.
The largest hill on Impulse is 98 feet high with a 90 degree incline and drop. Comparatively, the StratosFear is 148 feet high, the tallest hill of the Twister is 101 feet high, the Giant Wheel is 110 feet high, the Phoenix's tallest hill is 78 feet and The Flying Turns is 48 feet.
Riders will enter an 8-passenger car - four in the front, four in a slightly elevated back seat. The vehicle will leave the station onto a piece called a top hat, which is a chain lift that will take passengers straight up the 90 degree incline before dropping them down the other side at the same angle, reaching speeds of 56 mph.
The decision to slowly lift the car instead of launching it "is very Knoebels," public relations manager Joe Muscato said. "They (the riders) are looking straight up at the sky, not knowing when they're at the top."
The 2,000 feet of track will take the riders on 70 seconds worth of thrills and through five different inversions, including a cobra roll, a loop, a barrel roll called an immelman, a helix and several hills for air time.
Impulse will be the first steel coaster since The Whirlwind closed in 2005 if you don't count Kozmo's Kurves, a kiddie coaster that replaced the High Speed Thrill Coaster, and Black Diamond, a three-story dark ride.
Jet Star, built in 1977, was replaced by The Whirlwind in 1993. The Flying Turns, which opened in October, was built where The Whirlwind once stood.
The ride will be manufactured and designed by German firms Zierer and Stengel, respectively.
The Bumper Boats and Boat Tag near the entrance to the park will be dismantled in September and removed from the park to make way for excavation of the new ride.
The first steel piece is set to arrive in December, and a launch date is planned for opening day in 2015.
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.
For two years, the fourth generation searched for the perfect ride to honor the park's history while moving into future, Knoebels said.
"We don't want to change what Knoebels is. With Impulse, we are satisfying our guests' needs and wants. We want to answer our guests and we chose this ride to do so," Knoebel said.
The search for a steel thrill coaster has been requested many times on the park's social media sites and customer review kiosks around the park, he said.
"There's a substantial number of people who want to go upside down," Knoebel said.
The name was chosen by a committee of six who had 100 suggested possibilities from park employees, he said.
While the fourth generation has been instrumental in bringing other attractions to the park, including the popular StratosFear last year, this will be their first major project they are spearheading.
It's the "most expensive attraction in the history" of the 88-year-old park, but Knoebel wouldn't reveal the pricetag.
Knoebel also thanked the staff for keeping the coaster secret; they were told in November the attraction was coming.
'Packs a punch'
The co-founders of All American Thrills, an amusement park enthusiasts group, were excited when contacted Thursday about the news.
"It's great that a park with such classic rides is able to deliver a more modern attraction," said Brandon Strouphauer.
"Now they'll have something to speak to the thrill riders," said Walter White.
Both men have ridden coasters similar to Impulse, such as Fahrenheit at Hersheypark.
"There's basically nothing below you, and then you drop and see the track. There's plenty of fast turns. It's pretty thrilling to say the least," White said.
"It will be a ride that really packs a punch," Strouphauer said.