12 August 2005


We've been gone the past couple of days with some friends and their 3-year-old for a short trip up to Knoebels amusement park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania (a town, which, for some reason, shows up on maps as "Ralpho"). Knoebel's has been around since 1926 and, for most of that time, was called "Knoebel's Grove." It's around two and half to three hours from Philly, depending on traffic.

In almost every respect, Knoebel's is the perfect family amusement park, especially if you're travelling with toddlers: admission is free, parking is free, live entertainment is free, you can bring in your own food, pets are allowed, and they have a strict policy against immodest and obscene clothing.

Moreover, the staff are very friendly and interact really well with the little kids. Since you pay per ride, you only pay for what you end up riding, which is especially nice when you'll mostly be riding with your toddler or watching the toddler ride by him or herself.

Over half the rides (including almost all the kiddie rides) are in the 60-80 cents per ride range and all of the rides, with the exception of the new "Scenic Skyway" chair lift, are $2 or less per ride, with most of those priced at $1 or $1.20. And this includes two incredibly good large wooden rollercoasters.

One could compare Knoebels to, say, Morey's Piers in Wildwood, New Jersey where the kiddie rides begin at around $2 per ride and the rollercoasters are nearly $6 per ride.

At any rate, Claire, who will be 3 years old next week, had an absolute blast and, I predict, will end up being one these kids who rides the big rollercoasters over and over. A few months ago when we were down the shore in Wildwood, she approached even the kiddie boats with a bit of fear and, at one point, was unwilling to board the dreaded carousel. All of that is past.

We've exchanged fear and trepidation for giggles on the Whip, shouts of "Faster!" on the Teacups, and squeals of glee on the big Log Flume. Daddy might feel dizzy and ready to pass out, but Claire is running off to choose the next ride.

One of the other nice things about Knoebel's is the location, nestled among some small mountains on the north side of the Appalachian ridges, not far from Danville and Bloomsburg, both of which are quaint old towns, with some historic sites of their own. Thus the park itself is surrounded by trees and has several branches of the Roaring Creek running through it, which is what drew the descendents of Rev. H.H. Knoebel, who purchased the land back in 1828, to enter the lumbering business upon the profits of which the park was built.