WAY UP THERE! StratosFear ride debuts to rave opening-day reviews
By Justin Strawser
ELYSBURG - The combination of good weather and new rides attracted an enthusiastic crowd of park-goers to opening day at Knoebels Amusement Resorts Saturday.
"I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. Attendance was over the top," Joe Muscato, director of public relations, said.
The early-hour open
ing line snaked from the hand stamp booth all the way through the park, past the sign and ended near the Giant Wheel, Muscato confirmed.
While weekend numbers were not available, Muscato said he believes it was one of the "biggest opening days" at the park. However, he said, the overall crowds did not look like they were as high as attendance in July or August.
"We're happy to see all these people. It's been a long winter. They just all showed up at the same time," he said.
Everywhere one looked, there were laughing faces and eager people waiting to visit their favorite attraction, but all eyes Saturday were on the new StratosFear, the tallest attraction in the park at 148 feet high located across from the Twister bridge next to The Flying Turns project.
By comparison, the tallest hill of the Twister is 101 feet high and the Giant Wheel is 110 feet high. Dozens of spectators watched from below as the ride ascended.
The ride seats 12 people around the tower. They are taken slowly up to the top of the tower where they can see the entire park. Once at the apex, the vehicle drops 47 miles per hour on its trip back to the bottom.
In all, the ride lasts approximately 70 seconds.
"You're flying at first, but then you're falling to your death and it just stops!" said Nathan Danisavich, 12, of Frackville, moments after he experienced the drop tower for the first time.
He was attending the park with his father, Mark Danisavich, and cousin, Max Shirvinski, 10, of Elysburg.
"It feels like a roller coaster, but it's straight down. My breath got taken away," Shirvinski said.
The older Danisavich explained he has bungee-jumped before and compared the two sensations, but also noted the differences.
"Going up (in the StratosFear) is intense. You can't see where you're going or how much further you have to go up," he said. "I recommend this ride for anyone not afraid of heights."
The three family members said they come to the park at least three times a month and haven't missed an opening day in years.
Father and son said the new ride is their second favorite in the park after the Phoenix, but Shirvinski called it the "best ever."
Lori and Fred Haas, of Delaware, who met while working at Knoebels in 1977, were spending the day at the park for the first time in years.
"We love it here. I've been to more than 60 parks, and this is my favorite. It's also where I grew up and worked," Fred Haas, 51, said.
Lori, 49, worked at the former petting zoo while Fred worked at the Rocket Slide, and they spent many summers with their families camping near each other at the park.
The couple of 29 years said the pictures of the StratosFear didn't do the ride justice and they loved riding it.