I've always thought of Knoebels Amusement Resort as a living museum, representing a step back to a time before amusement parks were overrun by safety regulations, pop music, bouncing basketballs, and dour operators. One of the key reasons for this image has been the ride selection, which has tended the eschew the modern in favour of the historical. It seems unlikely that all that many parks would choose to retire their only adult-friendly steel coaster in order to resurrect a classic Flying Turns, a ride type not seen since the last original model closed in 1974, but the team at Knoebels did just that, and after seven years of heartache the new (old) ride premiered to huge acclaim at the end of 2013.
Given that history it was a shock to many when the park announced that its 2015 addition would be a steel coaster from Zierer with four inversions. My immediate reaction on reading the story was that this was akin to adding neon running lights to an Aston Martin, and as we drove up to the park today it felt very much like my worst fears were being confirmed, with bright blue and yellow track sticking out like a sore thumb from among the trees, towering over everything in the immediate vicinity. The effect was eye catching, albeit not in a way calculated to please long term fans of the park.
Impulse (#2269) is only the second ride to use the track system developed for Wicked in 2007, albeit without the LSM launches of the original model. The eight-seat cars featured a distinctive oversized lap restraint that I branded the "lap plate" to hold riders in place as well as high sides to keep arms within a clearance zone. The ride began well enough with a smooth lift hill engagement and first drop, and indeed almost all of the track was clatter free, a definite upgrade over similar ride designs from Gerstlauer. That said, however, the experience felt remarkably forceless; the only really memorable portion was the fourth inversion, an inline twist that was very good, if not quite at the level of the magnificent roll of the day before. Worse yet, the restraint had an unfortunate tendency to tighten while out on course, to the point that we were not sorry to disembark. We did a second lap later in the day that confirmed our first impression, namely that this was a credit to be ticked off and forgotten about.
Our second stop was at the Giant Wheel, from where we hoped to get some decent photographs of the new coaster. It wasn't particularly easy to do given a high rotation speed, though we did manage a couple of shots while paused at the top. The ride had at least half a dozen operators on duty, a surprising number for such a simple attraction, though it might have been deliberately overstaffed given what happened a few weeks after our visit.
The world's only Flying Turns was running very well today, perhaps reflecting the fact that it has had a bit of time to fully break in. My previous report described the ride as being on the short side, and I stand by that assessment, but for all that the experience is an absolute joy from start to end. Today the weight distribution gods put us into the front car, from where we could see wheel marks in the trough giving a clear visual of just how far to the side the cars actually travel, something that isn't always obvious from on board.
We'd probably have gone back for a second lap if the wait time had been shorter, but instead we decided to go for a meal break in the park's full service restaurant, The Alamo, which dates from 1926. The menu was comparable to that of the Cracker Barrel chain, with a few token Italian specialities added to the mix, and the prices were extremely reasonable considering the standard of catering on offer. After lunch we decided we'd take a little time to digest, and a good way to do that seemed to be waiting a few extra cycles for a front seat on Twister. The helix-heavy layout isn't what I generally look for in a coaster (as noted in my thoughts on Legend earlier in the week) but despite that the ride felt really good today, easily holding its own against the other wood coasters in the park.
It was mildly upsetting to discover air gates in the Phoenix station, apparently added this year despite the previous boarding system clocking up three decades of safe operation. On the plus side the modification didn't appear to be impacting boarding speeds significantly, though I still found myself cursing the nameless drone in an insurance company somewhere who took away one of the last wood coasters in America (if not the world!) where passengers are trusted to behave themselves. Fortunately the trains remain free of seat belts (for now at least) which allowed us to enjoy two airtime-filled laps.
Our final stop was at the Carousel Museum. As we walked through the door we caught a rancid waft of body odour that we quickly traced to an exceptionally corpulent female who was taking ridiculous numbers of photographs. I'm hardly in a position to judge on that particular foible, given that my archive of amusement park shots broke through the 250 GB mark earlier this year, but I at least have the courtesy to set my camera to mute. This individual, on the other hand, had her sound volume on loud, meaning that every shot was punctuated by a focus beep and a recorded click that became incredibly irritating within seconds. We did our best to filter out both the sound and smell as we learned about the history of carousels from 1800 until the present.