Knoebels Amusement Resort

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Knoebels Amusement Resort
Knoebels Amusement Resort Logo.jpg
SloganIts My Kind of Fun (Is Knoebels Fun)!
LocationElysburg, Pennsylvania, United States
OwnerKnoebel family
OpenedJuly 4, 1926
Previous namesKnoebels Groves,
Knoebels Amusement Park
Operating seasonApril–September
Roller coasters4 (including kiddie coaster - 5th coaster complete but not operational)
Water rides2
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Knoebels Amusement Resort
Knoebels Amusement Resort Logo.jpg
SloganIts My Kind of Fun (Is Knoebels Fun)!
LocationElysburg, Pennsylvania, United States
OwnerKnoebel family
OpenedJuly 4, 1926
Previous namesKnoebels Groves,
Knoebels Amusement Park
Operating seasonApril–September
Roller coasters4 (including kiddie coaster - 5th coaster complete but not operational)
Water rides2

Knoebels Amusement Resort is a family-owned and -operated amusement park, picnic grove, and campground in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. Opened in 1926, the park has more than 57 rides, free admission, two wooden roller coasters, a 1913 carousel, and a haunted house dark ride that was featured on the Discovery Channel. The park and its rides have won awards from organizations such as Amusement Today, American Coaster Enthusiasts, and The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

Knoebels has won the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Award for best amusement park food for the past 14 consecutive years.[1]

The amusement park is owned and operated by the Knoebel (pronounced kuh-NO-bel) family, who also operate a lumber yard next to the park. The park's name has traditionally been spelled Knoebels without the apostrophe, and appears that way on all official park advertising and correspondence.

The park straddles two counties: Northumberland and Columbia.


Park history

Knoebels is located in a small wooded valley in Central Pennsylvania. The valley, originally known as "Peggy's Farm," with its creek-fed swimming hole, was a popular picnic destination in the early 20th century, attracting Sunday travelers and horse-drawn hayride wagons. Henry Knoebel, who farmed in the area, tended the horses and later sold soft drinks, ice cream, and snacks to the visitors. As the popularity of "Knoebels Grove" grew, Knoebel leased plots of land along the creeks for use as summer cottage sites. Some of these privately owned cottages, as well as cottages Knoebel built and rented, still exist in the park.

In 1926, Knoebel added a restaurant, a steam-powered Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel, and a few simple games to his grove, marking the beginning of Knoebels Amusement Park. On July 4, 1926, he opened a large concrete swimming pool on the site of the old swimming hole. Featuring a filtration system that provided clean water instead of muddy creek water, the pool was named "The Crystal Pool". Since then, the park has developed around the pool, adding 50 rides, assorted games, concession stands, and other attractions. A campground with six sites opened behind the amusement park in 1962, and as of 2004, the campground covered 160 acres (650,000 m²) with 500 sites.[2]

On June 22, 1972, the creeks that run through Knoebels, swollen with heavy rains from Hurricane Agnes, rose six feet over their banks. The flood destroyed six cottages and damaged many other buildings, including 24 of 25 rides and the park's roller rink. The roller rink building was re-floored and used as a skating rink until the mid-1980s, when it was converted into the "Roaring Creek Saloon", which now contains a concession stand, an arcade, the XD Theater, and performances. A new building constructed after the flood became the Haunted Mansion, where the Haunted Mansion dark ride opened in 1973. The ride has been recognized as one of America's best dark rides by organizations such as Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts and The National Amusement Park Historical Association.[3]

The park again suffered major flooding in 1975, 1996, 2004, 2006, and 2011. Each caused substantial damage, but the 1975 and 1996 floods occurred during the off-season. Although the January 1996 flood left substantial damage, the worst occurred after the waters receded, when everything froze, making cleanup and repair throughout the amusement park difficult. The September 2004 flood, caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan, was only a half-day affair and Knoebels staff had the amusement park partially reopened by mid-afternoon.

On June 28, 2006, a flood second only to the Agnes flood struck Knoebels. About 90 percent of the amusement park was under water just prior to the July 4th weekend. As the waters began to recede, Knoebels staff was able to reopen over 60 percent of its attractions within two days and 90 percent within four days. Because over 100 tons of mud had to be dug out of the Crystal Pool, it required 10 days to be operational. The last ride to return to operation was the Kiddie Panther Cars, whose repairs took almost three weeks.

Another flood happened on March 11, 2011. The park had minor damage, due to heavy snow, followed by a rise in temperature bringing heavy rain and sleet. According to Knoebels Twitter account, the Mini Golf was eight inches under water, as well as at the door of the Country Store. They also report that the flood isn't nearly as bad as they have had in the past.[4]

On September 7, 2011, Knoebels experienced its most recent flood, caused by Tropical Storm Lee. Water levels neared those of the flood of 1972 and damages exceeded that flood. The majority of the park reopened the following weekend, having missed only 2 days of operation.


The park offers free admission, free parking, and free entertainment. Visitors are able to ride the park's attractions by purchasing either pay-one-price, all-day/unlimited-access wristbands (which are not usually available on weekends, except near the beginning and end of each season), limited-access hand stamps or books of tickets, with hand stamp costs varying depending on the height of the rider. Knoebels has several hand stamp options, such as "Sundown Plan" and "Bargain Nights", when the park offers discounts on regular ride passes. Knoebels all-day passes do not include: the Haunted Mansion, the Scenic Skyway, the Black Diamond dark ride, and the Crystal Pool which are additional fees.[5]

Rides and attractions

Roller Coasters

Knoebels has four operating roller coasters with the flying turns having a complete track, but still awaiting the proper cars. The park has no major steel coaster and no roller coaster with an inversion. However, Knoebels' two wooden roller coasters are well known and are on top 100 lists.[6][7]

High Speed Thrill Coaster1955–2008A steel roller coaster that had operated since 1955, believed to be the last remaining Overland coaster in the world. Although it was designed to be a children's coaster, it was very popular among adults due to its air-time on the ride's bunny hills. Kozmo's Kurves (see below) was designed with this appeal in mind, and the ride opened on Aug. 1, 2009.High Speed Thrill Coaster 2.jpg
Jet Star1977–1992A standard production model Schwarzkopf Jet Star, removed from Knoebels after the 1992 season.

This ride was purchased from Schwarzkopf, originally owned by an independent operator who fell on hard times. After being removed from Knoebels, the Jet Star was relocated to Morey's Piers, where it also operated under the name Jet Star. The coaster was then sold to a traveling showman in France.[8] A regular stop for this show is Parc d'attractions Luna Park, in la Palmyre.[9]

Phoenix1985–PresentA relocated and restored Herb Schmeck (Philadelphia Toboggan Company) design. The first large-scale wooden roller coaster relocation. This coaster took 2nd place in the 2011 Golden Ticket Award competition in their worldwide wooden roller coaster category.

This ride was purchased from the Playland amusement park in San Antonio, Texas. It operated under the name Rocket before being moved to Knoebels. Uses Buzz bars.

Phoenix Knoebels.jpg
Whirlwind1993–2004A Vekoma Whirlwind double corkscrew roller coaster, removed from Knoebels after the 2004 season.

This ride was purchased from the Playland amusement park in New York, where it operated under the name of Whirlwind before being moved to Knoebels. After the 2004 operating season the ride was moved to Parque de Diversiones Dr. Roberto Ortiz Brenes and operates under the nameBocaraca.

Twister1999–presentA slightly redesigned "Mister Twister," a 1964 John Allen design.Knoebels Twister.jpg
Flying TurnsDifficulty in obtaining proper car operation, track has been completed since 2007.A wooden bobsled roller coaster modeled after a 1920s John Norman Bartlett and John A. Miller design. The coaster was being constructed with an intention to open Memorial Day weekend 2007, but it has been pushed back numerous times due to problems with cars navigating the mostly-trackless course. The most recent expectation is that the ride will be ready for the start of the 2013 season on the site of the former Whirlwind (and Jet Star before that) roller coasters.[10]Flying Turns Knoebels Construction.jpg
Kozmo's Kurves2009–presentA steel roller coaster that opened on Aug. 1, 2009. This is a successor to the High Speed Thrill Coaster, which operated on the site through the end of 2008. Kozmo's Kurves was designed to have the same appeal to all ages that the High Speed Thrill Coaster did, as well as incorporate elements the former ride did not have.Kosmo's Kurves at Knoebels.jpg
Black DiamondOctober 2011A steel indoor roller coaster formerly known as the Golden Nugget at Morey's Piers. The ride's track and cars were purchased by Knoebels after it was deemed irreparable by Morey's and dismantled. Knoebels has now given Black Diamond full attention until the new train cars for Flying Turns come in. The cars were not in public view or on the track as of September 24, 2011. The ride is being built on the former site of the newly relocated Bald Eagle Habitat.[11] The name change to "Black Diamond" is in recognition of the anthracite coal industry. The Black Diamond opened for the three weekends in October 2011 for their Hallo-Fun Nights program.[12]Black Diamond exterior at Knoebels.jpg


Knoebels has two carousels: one small merry-go-round in Kiddieland (added in 1976) which was built by Stein & Goldstein in 1910; and the Grand Carousel, a 1912/1913 carousel built by Kramer Carousel Works in Brooklyn, with a frame by Charles I. D. Looff and 63 hand-carved horses by Charles Carmel. It was purchased in 1941 from Riverview Park in Rahway, New Jersey and relocated to Knoebels. It is one of the few carousels remaining with a working ring dispenser, allowing riders on the outside row of horses to reach out and grab steel rings as they pass. The rider who grabs the brass ring receives the cost of the ride in tickets, making the ride free. Three band organs provide music for the riders. The Grand Carousel was voted the best carousel by Amusement Today in 2007,[13] 2010 and 2011.[14]


Other rides and attractions

The award winning Haunted Mansion Dark ride.

In addition to a 110-foot Ferris wheel (The tallest in PA), a 55-foot-high log flume, and a 50-foot-high Chute-the-Chutes ride named "Sklooosh!" (After the sound wet sneakers make), the park maintains more than 57 rides, including:

Restaurants & Food

Knoebels also has restaurants throughout the park, both sit-down and counter service in nature. These eateries have contributed toward the park winning awards from organizations which judge amusement park food, including Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for Best Food every year since 1999. Knoebels won the 2011 Golden Ticket for best food for the 14th year in a row.

The primary sit-down restaurant at the park is the Alamo. Counter service restaurants include Cesari's Pizza, Oasis Cafeteria, Phoenix Junction Steakhouse and the International Food Court. Food ranges from "Famous Fresh Cut French Fries", pierogi (a mashed potato filled Ukrainian dumpling) and potato cakes to Bison burgers and Gator bites to milkshakes and homemade fudge. The park also features novelty items like the pickle on a stick, caramel apple chips, and cheese on a stick.

The park's Cesari's Pizza and the International Food Court were featured on a Food Network special. The alligator bites served at the International Food Court were selected by as one of the top seven daring amusement park foods.[15]

Three Ponds Golf Course

Knoebels Three Ponds Golf Course is located on Rt 487 roughly a quarter mile from the park and campground. It is a par 71 eighteen hole golf course which provides two very different nine hole layouts. The front nine holes are located on the side of the mountain which provides the golfer with numerous elevation changes from tee to green. The back nine holes are located in the valley. The back nine landscape is less dramatic but still offers numerous challenges such as water and various risk-reward approach shots. The prices for the course vary from $20 to $38 and the course offers a nine hole rate as well. If you are staying on the Knoebels campsite the park offers discounted golf passes which can be picked up when you check-in for your stay.

Accident history

Three major cases have been reported regarding accidents during the park's recent history, but Knoebels still has a substantial safety record.

In 1999, an attorney representing two girls who sustained injuries while riding the Speed Slide discovered 15 injuries had been reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards in recent years, including six other reports of injuries to riders' genital areas.[citation needed] Both girls underwent emergency surgery. The park was charged with negligence, failure to monitor the amount of force of the water and its effect on riders, failure to fix defects, and failure to provide adequate warnings to riders. Both the plaintiffs fully recovered.[16]

In 2003, a man was seriously injured in a 30-foot fall from the Scenic Skyway chairlift, which had opened two weeks earlier. The man was a member of Selinsgrove Center, a group home for mentally disabled people in Snyder County, and was riding alone. He was airlifted to Geisinger Medical Center and made a full recovery. The home was subsequently cited for failing to adequately supervise its residents. Inspectors found no problems with the ride.[17]

On July 6, 2011, a young boy was found face down in the pool, By the time the ambulance arrived, lifeguards performed CPR and were successful at getting a heartbeat and the boy breathing on his own. He died later at the hospital. It was later determined that the child suffered from a pre-existing heart condition that is associated with Noonan Syndrome.[18]

Knoebels shut down their main website that day and placed the following message on the site to state the following: "A tragedy occurred at Knoebels' Crystal Pool early afternoon of July 6th. A young boy was seen under the water. Upon rescue, guards immediately began CPR. Initial reports indicated that he had hit his head. We later learned that no head injury was involved. He was transported by ambulance to Geisinger Medical Center. We are deeply saddened to report that the child has passed away. Please join the Knoebel families in placing the child's family and friends in your prayers." The website was restored several days later with a memorial to the boy at the top right of the home page, which had been removed prior to July 22, 2011. It was later clarified in the coroner's report that the boy died of congenital heart failure with no secondary cause.

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Knoebels group outings page Retrieved 2012-02-13
  2. ^ "Knoebels Amusement Resort History". Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  3. ^ "Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts". Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  4. ^ "KozmoKG on Twitter".!/KozmoKG. Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  5. ^ Knoebels price page, then open "Pay One Price" tab Retrieved 2012-02-15
  6. ^ "Wood Roller Coaster Poll 12 Year Results Table (1994 - 2005)". Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  7. ^ "Golden Ticket". 2008-05-28. Archived from the original on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  8. ^ "Jet Star (Morey's Piers)". Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  9. ^ "Parc d'attractions Luna Park ŕ La Palmyre - Charente Maritime 17". Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  10. ^ Beauge, (May 19, 2011). "2 new rides at Knoebels Amusement Resort still need some work, park's co-owner says". Harrisburg Patriot-News. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Knoebels". 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  12. ^ Knoebels 2011 Hallo-Fun Nights brochure Retrieved 2011-09-26
  13. ^ "Amusement Today". Archived from the original on 2008-07-13. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  14. ^ "Golden Ticket Award Winners". 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "1999 Accident Reports and News". Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  17. ^ "2003 Archives". Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  18. ^ Pennlive (2012-03-24). "Boy who died at Knoebels Amusement Park had undiagnosed heart problem, coroner says". Patriot News. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 

External links

Coordinates: 40°52′42″N 76°30′18″W / 40.8783581°N 76.5050447°W / 40.8783581; -76.5050447