A Trip Back In Time: Knoebels Amusement Park (Part 2) - PassPorter.com
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A Trip Back In Time: Knoebels Amusement Park (Part 2)

by Christina Radvon, PassPorter Message Board Guide (Moderator)
Last modified 06-03-2011

PassPorter.com > Articles > U.S. Travel > Traveling  

This week Christina Radvon concludes her series on the glory of a true old-time amusement park. To read the first part of Christina's article, check out this earlier edition of PassPorter News.

Knoebels offers culinary delights the likes of which most amusement parks can't begin to imagine, much less reproduce. Stony Gables Fudge and Nut Shoppe is one of the many rental cottages that were converted to concession stands. This gothic fairy tale cottage with arched doorways, bordered by a profusion of flowers and indigenous shrubbery is nearly impossible to pass by when you see and smell it for yourself. (When you walk inside, lean in towards the old stove at the bottom of the stairs and look up and to the far right to see one of the original pointed-arch doorways.) The far right side of the cottage is a fudge kitchen offering nearly every flavor you can think of. The far left side of the cottage houses the peanut roasting equipment in a sort of outdoor, screened concession stand. Between the two is usually a line of starry-eyed children and expectant adults drooling over the glass cases full of fudge and other candied delights. We loved the fudge-dipped marshmallows on a stick!

Knoebels is well known for its outstanding amusement park food. It holds the Golden Ticket Amusement Park Food Award for the last 5 years! But if there's one indisputable fact, it's that Knoebels has incredible food and tons of options for even the pickiest eaters.

When asked, neither my husband nor my son could choose just one favorite food or meal from our stay. Local treats like chicken and waffles with gravy, mac and cheese bites (deep fried, breaded spoonfuls of mac and cheese) and corn nuggets made everyone's list. Walt claimed gyros, eggplant fries, and top-your-own baked potatoes among his favorites. DJ loved the chicken finger kids meal, frozen yogurt, and pierogies.

At the top of my long list of favorite foods is the Deluxe Traveling Taco -- a single-serving size bag of Fritos, opened and topped with seasoned beef, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream, served with a fork for eating while you walk.

Knoebels offers more than just good food. Great eateries like The Oasis (an open-air cafeteria that offers all-you-can-eat meals on certain days), The Alamo (an enclosed diner-style restaurant), and Phoenix Junction Steakhouse (a covered food-court with top-notch daily specials like NY strip steak and jumbo fried shrimp dinners) add even more unique offerings to Knoebels' line-up of incredible, award-winning food. You'll never go hungry as long as you don't run out of funds.

Thrifty vacationers have another unique option. Knoebels also offers a number of free, reserved picnic facilities. Just call in advance and they'll reserve as many tables as you need in one of the many picnic pavilions near the Crystal Pool. Bring just the basics like hot dogs and hamburgers and they'll even provide you with small, coin-operated griddles for the day. Large groups can bring their own or have the park cater their picnic with all the good foods found in the park.

Friends and family were surprised to hear we'd planned to spend a week at Knoebels. Many assumed that meant we'd be camping! (I am not a happy camper.) Knoebels, to many people, still means camping and though we didn't get a look at the campgrounds on this or any of our previous trips, we've heard countless people rave about their camping experiences at Knoebels campground. We may try this one day when our son is older, but we found the cottage to be more than adequate for our needs and those of our young son.

Our trip was a new experience for us. It was our first week-long family vacation. Knoebels was just the right place to let us experiment with traveling with a toddler. While the cost of renting a cottage was a little steep ($900/week, Saturday to Saturday), the cost of ride tickets more than made up the difference. We spent $85 on $100 worth of tickets in advance (purchased at a discount through AAA). We had $20 in tickets left over from our weekend trip last year (cost last year: $17.00 through AAA). My in-laws came to visit for a day and bought $20 worth of tickets ($18.00 mid-week discount price). We bought another $10 worth of tickets ($9.00 midweek discount price) on our last night so we'd have enough for a few rides the following day. Added up: $150 worth of tickets for one week cost $129 (and $18.00 of that at my in-laws expense). We spent $111 on ride tickets for 3 people for 8 days at 1 park. But what we saved on ride tickets, we may have spent on games!

Knoebels offers typical amusement park games at atypical amusement park prices. We were pleased to also find some not-so-typical games. Many of the games are the kind you may remember from weekend visits to the Jersey Shore as a kid. We tried Flying Frogs, Ball Toss, Tip-a-Troll, and Roller Bowling, but as usual, we each have a favorite! Walt loved the Derby Races, DJ became an old pro at Kosmo's Tic Tac Toe and I triumphed over small children and teenagers at Killer Beez! Woohoo!!!

Knoebels is also home to one of the last few "Fascination Parlors" in the country. I gazed longingly at all of the fun prizes and the people seated on their stools, laughing and rolling the balls in an odd twist of tic tac toe, but never got around to playing the entire week! We stopped by the parlor one night early in our stay to find out how to play and the game caller gave me a handful of free tickets to use later in the week so I could learn.

My husband and I continue to be amazed by the people at Knoebels. The employees surprise and delight us every trip. This trip it was the Fascination game caller. Last year, it was the ride operators in Kiddieland. We were happily snapping shot after shot of DJ on the Kiddie Whip late one night when I heard a very tired mother telling her son she wasn't going to pay for him to ride the kiddie bumper cars by himself when there was no point -- there was no one else riding to bump. The Bumper car ride operator called over 4 or 5 other ride operators who had no line at their rides. Adult park employees gamely got into kiddie bumper cars -- one with a cast on her foot and some with their knees folded up to their chests -- so the little boy would have someone to ride with and bump.

Magic can be found in the most unexpected places at this nostalgic park from the past.

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