Friday, August 24, 2012

Knoebels: A Look at Black Diamond and Flying Turns

I never made it to Knoebels last Fall when the park opened their new indoor coaster/dark ride, Black Diamond, but heard plenty of good reviews of the ride.  I'm happy to report that those opinions were dead on, and while the ride hasn't received an overbearing amount of coverage, it deserves it in my opinion.

Since most of the ride is inside the main building there's not an awful lot to take photos of, which makes writing a story about the Black Diamond difficult.  For those who didn't know the ride was formerly the Golden Nugget at Hunt's Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey, though it hadn't operated since 1999 or so.

The ride was designed by John Allen and built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, and exists as about as one-of-a-kind as you can get.  The ride's steel track was a major departure from the company's wooden coaster experience, and while its thrills are neither tall or fast, the ride mechanics are, well, fun.  Big kids, little kids, grandparents, moms and dads, the whole gamut will enjoy this one.

When Knoebel's purchased the ride from Morey's in January 2009 they had a plan to reopen the ride in Pennsylvania, but without a solid time frame in place.  Fast forward a few years and last October the Black Diamond gave preview rides during the park's famous Phall Phunfest.

Now themed to the long history of coal mining found in the areas surrounding Knoebels, I have to give a ton of credit to J.M.M. Studios for the theming inside the ride.  There's so much to look at, even with the slow speed of the ride it takes a few trips to take it all in.  I especially loved the tribute to Centralia, PA, the town that is continually burning under ground!

Black Diamond is such a perfect fit for Knoebel's already stellar collection of unique rides and attractions.  While some folks complain about rides being moved to other parks, it seems if Knoebels is their final resting place there's something special sure to come of it - Black Diamond certainly is.

A quick pause to point out that Phoenix was running amazingly well when I was at the park, not that that's really a big surprise or anything.  Another transplanted ride, Phoenix originally came from Playland Park in Texas after it closed.

I think what is so appealing to me about the Schmeck designed ride is that the air-time is just right, not too intense and not too light, very Goldilocks like.  The lack of seat belts made operations quick even with only one train running - gotta love that!

Now for Knoebel's ongoing project, Flying Turns.  When I first saw the ride it was still under construction, having just replaced the park's Vekoma Whirlwind coaster.  As we all well know it hasn't opened quite yet, with the park taking their time to get things right with the trains.

It's been decades since a wooden bobsled coaster has opened anywhere in the world, so credit must be given to the park for even trying!

As of my visit the park was doing some construction work on the brake and transfer areas, seen above.  There have been some rumblings about the ride heading toward as possible opening next year, but that's also been the case for the past five or so years.

At this point I don't think that Knoebel's has any intention of giving up on the Flying Turns, despite the long delay in opening.  They released a point of view video of the ride during testing last Summer, and that alone confirmed for me that this should be worth the wait!