austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

And I might have gone on my way, empty hearted

The evening was settling in and Knoebels grew that wonderful wash of dimness and artificial light that makes amusement parks look so wonderful. We figured to go around to make sure we got the roller coasters in again, including a last ride on the Flying Turns. The Phoenix was the closest to us, so that's what we went to first; it wasn't any less eject-y than it'd been earlier, and it's great riding. As we went up, the ride operator who was taking tickets had also taken to folding stray bits of paper into little doll figures.

Then we went off to the Twister where, I think, we got a front-seat ride or pretty near the front seat. At least in one of the rides we had that lucky break where people who're in a bigger group than just a pair ask if we want to go ahead of them so that they all can ride in the same train and I believe that worked for us this time around. We got a ride in the darker part of twilight, just after the narrow-gauge railroad that we never got around to riding made its way past.

With what we'd learned the previous night we knew we had to get to the Flying Turns by about 9 pm, and that's when we got in line for our last trip of the night. And it was nearly the last ride for anyone: they closed the queue about a dozen people after us, while the park kept on with its normal open action. This got us to a ride about twenty minutes before the park's closing at ten, and threatened briefly to be a second-car ride until we all stood up on the metal plates that surreptitiously weigh folks and the group in the first car turned out to be overweight, and our ``gates'' were reassigned. And we finally got our night ride on Flying Turns.

We'd noticed last year something called the Cosmotron, some kind of ride within a building, but not gone in. It turns out to have been a caterpillar --- a circle of cars running on a curved track and, originally, with a canopy that sweeps over during part of the ride, of which very few still exist and almost none of which have their canopies anymore --- which was moved to Knoebels in the late 70s. Sad to say, this one hasn't got its canopy either, though they did put the ride inside a building and run it in partial darkness and with strobe lights and that sort of thing, which is rather fun yet. Not answered at the ride is why it's not the Kozmo-tron, to match the mascot, although the museum offered the answer --- the Cosmotron was installed in 1978, when they got the Caterpillar from West View Park; back in 1978, the park's mascot was ``Billy Penn''. I don't know when Kozmo became the park mascot.

This took us to just about the exact hour of 10:00 and the park's closing, and riding something we'd heard of but missed last time, and that's a relic of a near-gone ride would be a nice closing moment ... although ... could we make it back to the Grand Carousel before they stopped letting riders on? Better, could we get back there in time to get a ride on the outer horses, where we might grab at the brass ring?

It was a bit of a rush, yes, and we had some annoying kids trying to cut in line ahead of us --- it's not that we're opposed to youthful exuberance, just that cutting is cutting and even if you're young you should know better --- but we got in! And then they seemed to be leaving the ride open so we ran back around to get on again, for a ride with the extra delight of bunny_hugger grabbing the brass ring again. We went back, of course, again, neither of us getting the brass ring this time (and me doing noticeably worse at just grabbing the steel ones anymore), and I think that was the last ride they held for the night.

They closed up the carousel, drawing the screen curtain around it, and finally turning off the lights, and that's as clear a finishing note for the day as could be had. We walked around the park some more, taking the long way out through the dwindling number of lit features, out back to the rental car. I don't know when we'll be back to Knoebels.

They do plan to install a new roller coaster for next year, one that shouldn't be nearly as troublesome as the Flying Turns: it's to be called Impulse, and should be a fairly standard steel roller coaster, about a hundred feet tall, with a vertical lift hill. It's proved controversial on the grounds that this is a break with Knoebels' tradition of wooden rather than steel roller coasters, a tradition that goes back to I guess 2004 when they took out Whirlwind, their steel looping roller coaster that apparently was around where the Flying Turns now is. That coaster's gone to Parque Diversiones in Costa Rica, where it's called 'Bocaraca'. (Possibly I don't understand the tradition that's grown in the past decade. Also everybody's agreeing not to treat the kiddie coasters as counting as steel coasters.) It'd be great to ride a new roller coaster there, but I doubt it'd be something that could be as thrilling as Flying Turns.

We needed dinner, of course, but Denny's again felt a little too much. Most stuff would be closed, though. Last year we got sandwiches from a Turkey Hill convenience store. This time we went back again to Weis, getting a tub of potato salad and a package of cheese cubes, which would be a little more dinner than we could have. We'd stow the rest of the cheese in a plastic bag within the ice bucket.

Trivia: In the United States adults spend about five percent of their waking hours chewing. Source: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Richard Wrangham.

Currently Reading: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, Peter Andreas.

Tags: amusement parks, casino pier farewell tour, knoebels
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