The suspense ended Saturday at Knoebels Amusement Resort as the Impulse roller coaster did indeed open to the public on opening day of the park's 79th season of operation.
Brian Knoebel, one of the park operators who, with other members of the fourth generation of the family, was involved in bringing the new steel roller coaster to life, said construction workers and dedicated staff members worked well into the night and early morning to get everything ready for Saturday's opening.
"It was a true team effort with our staff, Anskis Construction and C&D Rigging working overnight to help make our dream come true," Knoebel said.
Knoebels Amusement Resort recently opened its Black Diamond roller coaster. The ride combines the likes of a roller coaster and dark ride. Black Diamond just opened on October 8th, just in time for the Halloween events, which fits in well with the theme of the ride.
Black Diamond was originally located at Morey's Pier where it was named the Golden Nugget. The ride was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) which is highly unusual, since PTC specialized in wooden coasters at the time it opened during the summer of 1960.
Golden Nugget was in the “Standing But Not Operating” status twice, once from 1993 to 1995 and again from 1999 to 2009. In 2010, Morey’s Pier decided to demolish the ride, but Knoebels decided to purchase the trains and track. The same thing could be said back in 1985 when Knoebels bought the famed Rocket from Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas, which was in the “Standing But Not Operating” status as well. Knoebels bought the ride, renamed it to the Phoenix, and restored the ride to its original state. Now Knoebels has duplicated history by buying Golden Nugget, changing the name to Black Diamond, and restoring it to the park’s version of the ride.
Dark rides have always been a specialty of Knoebels. The Haunted Mansion, located at the right side of the park, has been the voted the best dark ride in the United States by the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts club.
Black Diamond has been advertised by the parks as a mixture of a roller coaster and dark ride, which spans over three layers of a mine-themed experience. The theming in the Black Diamond is different from Golden Nugget. Black Diamond is located at the very back of the park next to the Phoenix, Flume, and the mining museum. Part of the Bald Eagle habitat was used for the ride. The exhibit was moved slightly to the right to allow for the ride to be built.
2011 doesn’t seem to be the magic number for the highly anticipated Flying Turns coaster at Knoebels Grove in Elysburg, PA. The coaster failed to safely complete some of its test runs, according to The Daily Item, further delaying the coaster’s opening.
The ride, based on the wooden bobsled coasters of the 30's, went under construction as another Knoebels in-house project in 2006 to replace the Whirlwind roller coaster, with a planned opening date in 2008. Five years later, and Knoebels may have to go back to the drawing board. The new trains, which Dick Knoebel, the co-owner of the amusement park, ordered for 2010, went off the rails and have even jack-knifed during testing, according to The Daily Item. Knoebel claims that the reason the ride is being delayed so long is because the trains are required to be much heavier than the lightweight trains and cars used in the 1930‘s, when park safety regulations were virtually non-existent. The trains are being redesigned by a company in Texas and will be back to Knoebels in approximately two weeks to test again, according to The Daily Item. These will be the fourth trains to be tested onFlying Turns. After the first trains were deemed too fast for rider comfort, the entire track was redesigned and rebuilt to accommodate new trains. Replacement cars were shipped in 2010 and still fail to safely complete the circuit, even with the newly redesigned track. In his interview with The Daily Item, Dick Knoebel said that “[The trains] worked beautifully 5 times out of 6,“ but went on to say “It has to be right each time.”
Flying Turns isn’t the only coaster being delayed at Knoebels. Black Diamond, an in-the-dark steel roller coaster, is being revamped and put together at Knoebels for the 2011 season. It too is experiencing delays that could push its opening until mid-to-late summer, according to The Daily Item.
The ride was originally “Golden Nugget Mine” at Dinosaur Beach in Wildwood, New Jersey from 1960 to 2009. The last time the ride operated there was in 1999, and was standing but not operating for 10 years after asbestos was discovered in the building in which it was contained.
Knoebel bought the ride after it was removed in 2009, and a new building with an entirely new theme is being constructed to house the unique, nostalgic coaster.
While some express hope that both of these coasters will be up and running by the end of the 2011 park season, others are pessimistic. Flying Turns has recently been removed from theKnoebels website and ride listings, but construction still continues. Dick Knoebel shared that he isn’t going to give up, calling himself “stubborn” and “determined” in his interview with The Daily Item.
Only time will tell if either of these unique pair of one-of-a-kind coasters reach their much anticipated potentials. But if anyone can do it, Knoebel’s would be a good bet, successfully completing their first in-house project, Twister, in 1999 and operating a commendable family park in a relatively quiet and rural location, very unusual for a thriving amusement park. When and if both rides do open, it will nicely compliment a park with a rich history based on honest, old-fashioned principals.
Guests may not have known it, but they rode Whirlwind for the last time during the 2004 season at Knoebels.The Pennsylvania amusement park has confirmed that the twenty-year-old steel looping coaster is being relocated out of the park, and out of the United States entirely, and will reopen next year in La Uruca, Costa Rica's Parque de Diversiones. Whirlwind operated at Knoebels since 1993 after it was received second-hand from Playland park in Rye, New York.The departing coaster is a Vekoma double-corkscrew Whirlwind model with a height of 64 feet and speeds of 37 miles per hour. Five other Whirlwind models currently operate around the globe.Dismantling of the ride is well underway, as preparation begins elsewhere in the park for the installation of two new flat rides at Knoebels for the 2005 season: Sidewinder and Flying Tigers. There is no word on what will replace Whirlwind.