austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Peerless, fearless, knows every cloud

With the Flying Turns ridden, our trip to Knoebels was officially a success: we'd done the single most important thing we had planned. And the park would be open for ... actually, a surprisingly short time, just a couple more hours, after that. Well, it was a Thursday and we'd gotten started on the road slow and the Flying Turns queue was 45 minutes, after all. But there was the happy rest of the park to go to, after all.

The first other roller coaster we went to was the Phoenix, the wooden roller coaster that had been at San Antonio's Playland Park from 1948, and relocated just because Knoebels is the kind of place that will move a wooden roller coaster from halfway across the country. It's a great roller coaster, and when we rode it, in that wonderful twilight light, we found (a) there wasn't anything like the line we feared was going to be, and (b) it was feeling particularly eject-y that day. The ride always feels more eject-y than its near twin, the Wolverine Wildcat at Michigan's Adventure, because Phoenix has a single-position restraint bar while Wolverine Wildcat can ratchet the bar into your thighs, rendering you immobile. At the risk of sounding snobby, reaching the top of a hill and feeling your feet leaving the train floor is great, to my way of thinking. It's a shame Wolverine Wildcat secures you so well there's no getting that sense.

Afterwards we went to the Black Diamond, an indoor roller coaster/dark ride formerly in Wildwood (at the now-defunct Hunt's Pier), which starts out tamely enough with a ride into a coal mine, and then after a dynamite explosion ventures into the more haunted, spooky attractions you might expect, and then brings you into an imitation Centralia and a ghostly climax. It's a great ride, and I'm sorry not to have seen it in its Wildwood incarnation, where it was known as the Golden Nugget and had a different mining theme. Along the way we learned there's some kind of shuttle bringing rides between Knoebels, Wildwood, and Rye Playland: Knoebels got Black Diamond from Wildwood, but sent the Jet Star roller coaster to Morey's Piers, and ages ago got the Whirlwind roller coaster from Rye Playland, as an example.

Now it was getting dark, and bunny_hugger suggested we try the parachute ride. This isn't a very tall or very fast drop ride, but it did get us up several dozen feet, high enough to wave to confused passers-by, and descended not overly fast. In hindsight she might have been practicing for something. We also got onto the Super Roundup that was always my favorite ride back when I was a kid, and overheard a debate about how dizzying a ride it was. If you keep facing forward (toward the axis) it's not very dizzying; if you turn your head, good luck.

While we'd gotten to the most important thing for Knoebels this trip, we hadn't got to one of its treasures, the Grand Carousel, which is one of the few remaining coasters that still lets you grab for the brass ring. It was a pretty crowded coaster, but bunny_hugger was able to grab one of the outer-row horses and just as the ride had got up to speed and the ring-dispenser put into place she grabbed it! The ride operators got her name and announced congratulations to her for grabbing the brass ring, good for a free ride on the carousel. (At least in principle. What she won was enough ride coupons to pay for ride admission. Knoebels runs the old-fashioned way of not requiring any admission charge to enter the park, and you can buy a wristband for unlimited riding or just pay per ride, by way of coupons.) Me, I got my brass ring when we married.

While we were riding I noticed in the arcade nearby that Knoebels had pinball machines. It wasn't a huge selection but it was four very good games: Lord of the Rings, Star Trek (2013), The Twilight Zone, and The Wizard of Oz. This would be the first time bunny_hugger had to her knowledge played The Twilight Zone, and while it's an outstanding game it's also kind of tricky to get the hang of. I think she was still skeptical of the game by the time she'd had a couple rounds of it, but, it'd keep us until our planned trip to the Silverball Museum for Saturday. This would also bring us heartbreak.

Trivia: James Dewar solidified hydrogen in 1898 partly by use of charcoal: the charcoal's ability to absorb liquid hydrogen allowed it to be further cooled, ultimately to less than 13 degrees Kelvin. Source: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold, Tom Shachtman.

Currently Reading: A Low Dishonest Decade: The Great Powers, Eastern Europe, and the Economic Origins of World War II, 1930 - 1941, Paul N Hehn.

Tags: amusement parks, casino pier farewell tour, knoebels

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