Monday, October 7, 2013

A Look at Flying Turns' Grand Opening at Knoebels

Seven years in the making, the Flying Turns at Knoebels Amusement Resort finally opened to the public this past Saturday, October 5th.  The momentous occasion was marked by the annual Phoenix Phall Phunfest on the same day, so there was a plentiful amount of coaster fans in attendance - a fitting introduction to the world for Flying Turns.

The coaster is a wooden bobsled, though most readers probably know the story of Flying Turns already.  Construction began on the attraction at the start of 2006, and since it is a style of coaster that had not been seen on planet earth in three decades (at that time), there were some bumps along the road to its opening.

During the years of development the park stayed the course and would not give up on the Flying Turns.  Redesigns of the coaster's trains were necessary to meet modern standards and in the end a three car design was the winning combination.

Flying Turns started testing early yesterday morning, adding to the excitement of the day.  Above is a great shot of the train cycling through the track before riders were allowed to start to board.

Before long, the coaster was opened and the trains - there are three of them - started to zoom by the viewing area with riders. 

Needless to say there was quite a line for the new ride by the time it opened, and the mood was one of joy and elation for Knoebels.  It was hard to tell whether riders were more happy to be taking a spin or for the park for finally being able to open Flying Turns!

As for the experience of the coaster, it is one that no one has had for just shy of forty years.  The last wooden bobsled to operate was located in Coney Island and that one closed in 1974.  The wooden bobsled style was invented by John Norman Bartlett, with the first opening in 1929 in Ohio's Lakeside Park.

Mr. Bartlett went on to build eight of his wooden bobsled coasters, including ones at Euclid Beach, Rocky Point Park, and Steeplechase Park.  Including other designs, only around 10 of these coasters have ever existed, and that's including the new Flying Turns at Knoebels.

The trains on the Flying Turns at Knoebels are capable of seating two individuals per car, meaning a maximum of six passengers at a time.  There is a weight limit of 400 pounds per car, and riders are weighed before boarding - but fear not - no numbers are displayed.  Just a simple screen indicator whether the pair meets this requirement. A simple seat belt keeps riders in place, and there's plenty of room and some padding to keep them comfortable as they fly.

For those who aren't familiar with the history of wooden bobsled roller coasters, the park has placed two great information signs along the queue.  This helps stress just how unique the ride is to the general public who may otherwise just see Flying Turns as a ride that took a really long time to open!

After the station the cars ascend a short lift and encounter their first free-wheel experience.  A quick turn sends them up the larger lift hill for the second section of the ride.  This large double-decker, figure eight section is where Flying Turns really shows what it's capable of.  The ride has a lot of zip in it, just enough that it's a bit thrilling but still perfect for families and smaller riders.  The trains bank highly in the trough as they encounter the sharp turns but the ride remains extremely smooth and comfortable.

Riders came back to the station with great smiles on their faces, both happy to have gotten a ride but also to have experienced a part of history.

It was great that Scott, Carol (who provided these great photos), and myself had already planned on meeting at the park, made even better by the grand opening of Flying Turns.

Our congratulations to Knoebels for completing the ride.  We hope it proves to be an enormous success for you!