austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Let's pick up our friends

With the to-someday-operate roller coaster looked at we went to one of the actually operating roller coasters, the Twister, the mirror-reconstruction of the one from Elitch Gardens, Denver. This is a beautiful wooden roller coaster, looking almost like a defining case of wooden roller coaster. As the name implies it's a very twisty roller coaster, all helixes and turns, and it probably gets overshadowed by the legendary story of the Phoenix --- rescued and transported against all sense --- and the morbid fascination of waiting to see if the Flying Turns ever opens, but this is one of the roller coasters that would measurably improve any park it was set in. (For example, I can find a Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 recreation of Phoenix, and of the Kozmo's Curves kiddie coaster, but not Twister.) It's a great ride, particularly in that it doesn't have a dull stretch at the end of the track; it goes into spirals, for a satisfying resolution to it all.

After the Twister we figured we could find our way to the Phoenix or the dark rides and that's when we first got substantially lost, as we followed the path of the ground-level train ride to the fading extents of the park and start of the campground. It's disconcerting to accidentally stumble out of a park, and there's some wonderful faintly illicit thrill in feeling like you're wandering around backstage without anybody catching you.

In a sense, we sort of had ridden the Phoenix before we ever got to Knoebels: at Michigan's Adventure there's the Wolverine Wildcat roller coaster. According to legend Wolverine Wildcat was inspired by Michigan's Adventure folks riding the Phoenix and wanting a ride that was a lot like this saved-from-the-grave, top-ten wooden coaster attraction. And they got it, a ride inspired almost to the point of plagiarism. They're not exact duplicates --- Wolverine Wildcat is a bit taller, shorter, and faster, according to the Roller Coaster Database, than the Phoenix is, but the major beats of the rides are very familiar. This was more distracting to bunny_hugger as she's ridden Wolverine Wildcat so much more than I have. The Phoenix feels like a better ride, though, probably most importantly because of the restraint system.

It would be a lie to say the Phoenix hasn't got a restraint system, but compared to Michigan's Adventure --- with a seat belt and a ratcheting lap bar --- you're much less tightly held by the Phoenix, which I believe has a single-position bar across the lap. You'll not realistically fall out of either, of course, but the Phoenix makes it easier to feel like you're being pitched out of the car on the nice big drops, and to slide in your seat as the car turns around for its double-out-and-back looping.

Also the Phoenix has a beautiful neon hat on top, the sort of loopy structure that looks like an atomic-energy symbol, and that's lovely to see in the day and gorgeous to see lit up at night.

Outside the Phoenix is a free-standing Wurlitzer 165 Organ, and it was blasting music into the open in wonderful, resolute, steady confidence. According to its sign it was built in 1907, and converted around 1914 to use double paper rolls. Knoebels bought it in 1948 from Croops Glen Park, in Hunlock's Creek, Pennsylvania, which I never heard of either. The sign proudly notes that it had 300 pipes, bells, and bars, and was 104 years young. And it was playing --- I swear --- ``The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down'', the first time I've encountered a band organ playing that in the wild.

This Wurlitzer stands by itself, though, not near any merry-go-round.

It was a tolerably warm day, and we were near the log flume, aptly named Flume, so figured, why not take a log flume ride? Codzmo would want us to. The ride operators really impressed us with their operational smoothness, as well: they were pairing up single riders and organizing groups so that boats were going out at capacity and the line was moving speedily. As with the parking lot, we saw, Knoebels folks know how to run things. The answer to ``why not'' take a log flume ride is that you can get excessively wet. Just as bunny_hugger got soaked at Kennywood, so too she got soaked at Knoebels, severely enough that she'd actually have been less wet if she were just pitched out of the boat and held underwater for a minute. We didn't get our ride photo from this one, and spent some time looking for sunlight or for breezy rides that might help her dry off, which I think we finally managed more or less on another Super Round Up.

That Super Round Up ride, by the way, we had the chance to reassure some new rider was not too intense or terrifying an experience. She didn't know what to expect, and the lack of restraints increases the sense that there might be danger present. But we explained how we just get to going around in circles, and we're pressed against the walls, and stick to them, and it's a very smooth, steady motion. She didn't seem to hate us for our confident explanations that it wasn't anything to fear, so, good job that.

Trivia: Until the mid-30s nine of ten Japanese automobiles were either the Ford ``Economy-Car'' or the GM ``Popular Car''. Source: Car Wars: The Untold Story, Robert Sobel.

Currently Reading: Naming Infinity: A True Story Of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity, Loren Graham, Jean-Michel Kantor.

Tags: knoebels, pennsylvania parks trip

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