USA 06/22 – Sesame Place + Knoebels

Courtesy of the awkward operational calendar from a certain park who shall go unnamed for today, this day was somewhat of a silly detour once more, even though we were finally (and sadly) heading back in the direction of Philadelphia. Ish. The second factor at play was a weak attempt on our part to not pay the absolute maximum possible price for what feels like one of the most expensive creds ever. But it had to be done.

Day 15 – Sesame Place

The place in question was this. Yes it’s on the Busch/Sea World season pass and yes I visited both of those this year as well, but fear not, I did the rather intensive maths and due to other Orlando deals being at play we still wouldn’t have been better off.

Sesame Place is cheapest in offpeak season, but this was now peak season. We could have directly swapped it with Kennywood and made it offpeak, but the price of Kennywood would have increased to matchit.

It’s also cheaper on weekdays as opposed to weekends, so that was the best we could achieve.

Oh and then there’s the usual ridiculously priced parking.

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It was a slightly murky weekday, finally, so I can’t judge the popularity of the park but it seemed very low on crowds. I knew there wasn’t much in the way of an attraction lineup though I was still surprised at how tiny the place felt.

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Nevertheless we only had one thing on the menu, another Gravity Group woodie. More specifically a baby one with a bit of a reputation. #1 Oscar’s Wacky Taxi kicks an extraordinary amount of ass from just a 39ft drop. The classic turnaround and first drop combo works a charm in the back and it just keeps on popping from there in an exciting and varied manner. Dare I say the best paced Gravity of the trip, but it’s tiny.

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It’s well presented too. Love the look of those trains, the detail on the zero car and the little worm character. The station has good announcements, though they drag a little when it has no queue and the staff were suitable grumpy to match the theme. Nevertheless we had our fill and soon the price for the package didn’t sting so bad.

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Plus there’s a second cred to be had, a custom(!) Vekoma Junior by the name of #2 Vapor Trail. Solid stuff.

Anything weather related gets us paranoid these days, so we hit the road pretty soon in order to maximise chances at the more important park of the day. The journey was spent inventing endless contingency plans for when it all went inevitably wrong and we stopped off at a small store to get a special discount on ride tickets. Sadly ‘their printer wasn’t working’, so it was no deal for us, though we were at least moments away from one of the most critically acclaimed parks of all the internet.

Knoebels

First stop was a little info counter to scout out whether everything was open. They had a TV screen with the status of most attractions but Flying Turns didn’t even exist on it. The question was asked to a member of staff. Oh, no, we don’t do that.

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#3 Impulse then. It’s not often I get to experience a new ride type these days and so I had had my eye on the Zierer Tower coaster for a good while now. Clearly going for the Eurofighter market, is it better? Generally, yes. The lap bars are a huge headstart and it rides rather well. There’s some interesting little tweaks and kinks inbetween certain elements which added a bit of character and it has some decent forces throughout. S’alright.

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#4 Kozmo’s Kurves is a worthy ride for the park mascot, being an even more aggressive version of our E&F Miler from the previous day.

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It was surprisingly easy to get lost in the woodland and rides here, thinking I just wanna ride the wooden one. We eventually stumbled upon #5 Twister after perhaps crossing a road and wandering through several houses. The ride was a hit, definitely one of the more memorable mid-tier woodies of the trip mainly thanks to the crazy lateral forces it plays to so well. The big double spiral provides some good visuals and is quite different from the standard layout fare we had become overly used to by this point.

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The joke about the fact they put all the effort and pride into rebuilding it and then not to run it has already been made, but here’s the sign again for posterity.

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More wood was round the corner however, bold claims and all. #6 Phoenix, best in the world eh? The last ride to claim that didn’t do so well in my book.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
It’s good.
It’s very, very good.

Buzz bars, the hype is real. I’ve always loved the freedom of movement these ‘restraints’ provide but it’s never been accompanied by legitimately terrifying airtime before. The ride starts off with a false sense of security by means of a middling first drop that could be any old woodie. I wasn’t ready for the ensuing combination of double up and double down which created a strange sequence of vicious moments that had me all over the place, out of the seat, knees colliding with the train and landing awkwardly on something solid. The Phoenix doesn’t stop there. While each turnaround provides a brief moment of hilarious contemplation, every straight section of hills is full of surprises and numerous airtime experiences like no other.

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No time to contemplate it yet though, the creds weren’t done. #7 Black Diamond provided some solid dark ride fun, in the guise of coaster hardware. Can’t complain about that. It gave off similar vibes to the other mining themed rides of the trip, only drier and with less wood.

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Last on my personal hit list was the park’s notorious Haunted Mansion. It was so refreshing to have a ‘ghost train’ experience that wasn’t taken at a million miles an hour and full of obnoxious noises, feels like forever since that has happened. This thing has class, it takes time over the scares, it has rooms with atmosphere and is overall worthy of any praise it gets.

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All the praise was going in the direction of Phoenix though as we splashed out on another handful of laps. Infectious, joyous, ridiculous, there’s a whole range of words I could use for it. One in particular that sprang to mind at the time was list-wrecker. Even now I simply don’t know what to do with it. The heart says it was my favourite ride of the trip, yet the head says don’t be silly. All I know for sure is that it came the closest to offering that fabled head in hands moment on the final brakes, not least on more than one occasion as it just kept on surprising.

Well if that hype was real, we supposed it was wise to check out the dining options here before heading out. I’m never one to pay a huge amount of attention to park food but I was once again aware of the reputation here. After a pretzel, a slice of pizza and a hugely generous serving of that dole whip stuff, all for less than the price of one subpar snack at any other park, we had thoroughly fallen for everything this place stood for.

Knoebels, the hype is real.

Day 16

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