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Knoebels Amusement Resort
Location Elysburg, Pennsylvania, United States United States
Owner Knoebel family
Opened 1926
Previous names Knoebels Groves,
Knoebels Amusement Park
Operating season April-September
Rides 55 total
  • 3 roller coasters
  • 2 water rides
Slogan My Kind of Fun (Is Knoebels Fun)!

Knoebels Amusement Resort is a family-owned and -operated amusement park, picnic grove and campground, located in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. Opened in 1926, the park has more than 50 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. The park has won the Amusement Today Golden Ticket award for best amusement park food for the past seven years.

The amusement park is owned and operated by the Knoebel family, who also operate a lumber yard next-door to the park. The name Knoebel is pronounced with the hard K sound (kuh-NO-bel.) The park's name has also 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 Counties.


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, became a popular picnic destination in the early part of the 20th century, attracting Sunday travelers and horse-drawn hayride wagons. Henry Knoebel, who had been farming the area, tended to the horses and later began to sell 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 himself built and rented, still exist in the park.

The year 1926 marks the official beginning of Knoebels Amusement Park. That year, Knoebel added a restaurant, a steam-powered Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel, and a few simple games to his grove. On July 4 of that year, 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 more rides in addition to 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.[1]

On June 22, 1972, the creeks that run through Knoebels overflowed six feet over their banks, swollen with heavy rains from Hurricane Agnes. The flood destroyed six cottages and damaged many other buildings, including 24 out of 25 rides and the park's roller rink. Work began on a new building but it was later decided that the original roller rink could not be reused, and the new building under construction became the Haunted Mansion. The roller rink building was refloored and used as a skating rink until the mid 1980s when it was converted into the "Roaring Creek Saloon", which now hosts a concession stand, an arcade, the XD Theater, and free performances. To prove that the park had recovered from the flood, the Haunted Mansion dark ride was 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.

The park again suffered major flooding in 1975, 1996, 2004, and 2006. Each caused substantial damage, but the 1975 and 1996 floods occurred during the off-season. The January 1996 flood left substantial damage but the worst part may have been that as soon as the waters receded, everything froze, making cleanup and repair throughout the amusement park difficult. The September 2004 flood, caused by what was left of Hurricane Ivan, was only a half-day affair and Knoebels staff had the amusement park partially reopened by mid-afternoon and allowed any remaining patrons to ride for free.

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 Wednesday morning, Knoebels staff jumped into action. Expending over 11,000 man hours in just a few days the park was able to reopen over 60 percent of its attractions by 6:00 pm Friday. By Sunday evening over 90 percent of the amusement park was operational. The Crystal Pool took 10 days to get back in business; over 100 tons of mud had to be dug out of the pool. The last ride to return to operation was the Kiddie Panther Cars. The entire track for this ride had been undermined and was a twisted mess. Repairs took almost three weeks.


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, 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 Crystal Pool, and the wooden roller coasters (Phoenix, Flying Turns and Twister), which are an extra fee.

Rides and attractions


Roller Coasters

The Phoenix
Flying Turns under construction

Knoebels has three operating roller coasters with one in progress. The park is unusual for having no major steel coaster and no roller coaster with an inversion. However, Knoebels' two wooden roller coasters are well known and are on multiple top 100 lists. [2] [3]

Ride Opened Closed Description
High Speed Thrill Coaster 1955 2008 A 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.
Jet Star 1977 1992 A 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.[4] A regular stop for this show is Parc d'attractions Luna Park, in la Palmyre.[5]

Phoenix 1985 A relocated and restored Herb Schmeck (Philadelphia Toboggan Company) design. The first large-scale wooden roller coaster relocation.

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.

Whirlwind 1993 2004 A 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.

Twister 7/24/99 A slightly redesigned "Mister Twister," a 1964 John Allen design.
Flying Turns Testing Final Train Design Expected to open May 2010 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. The most recent expectation is that the ride will not open in 2009 on the site of the former Whirlwind (and Jet Star before that) roller coasters. [6]
Kozmo's Kurves August 1 2009 A 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.
Black Diamond Construction to start 2010. When Flying Turns is completed. A 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 now waits for the completion of Flying Turns before they start the construction for Black Diamond. The ride is being built of the site of the newly relocated, Bald Eagle Habitat.[7] The reason for the name change to "Black Diamond" is after the Anthracite Coal Indsutry. The ride has began the concrete portion of construction, and will go into full construction mode after the opening of Flying Turns in May.


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.[8]


  • Pioneer, a gasoline-powered narrow gauge railroad installed around 1960. The track travels from near the edge of the park into a wooded area where there are feeders for viewing the local wildlife.

Other rides and attractions

The award wining 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 50 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 2009 Golden Ticket for best food for the 11th 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 Polish 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.

The park's Cesari's Pizza and the International Food Court were featured on a Food Network special.

Further reading

  • Futrell, Jim. Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.
  • Deitz, Harry J. Knoebels: An Amusement Park with a Heart. Reading, PA: Westlawn Graphic, 2001. (Now out of print)


External links

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


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