Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scott And Carol Present: PPP With A Twist!

As the leaves start turning and the cold winds blow, park lovers thoughts turn to what do I want my last park experience for the season to be? Do I want to do a multi-park trip? Should I visit my favorite park one last time? What about visiting a totally new-to-me amusement park? Should I do it by myself? For many, their last big bash of the summer is riding a final time with friends and comparing their season’s experiences. All roads lead to eastern Pennsylvania in early October.

One event that attracts hundred of coaster and park enthusiasts is the Phoenix Phall Phunfest with a Twister held annually at Knoebel’s Grove and Resort just outside of Elysburg PA. It started small and then kept growing. Held in conjunction with the Covered Bridge Festival, it combines a craft and food atmosphere during the day with more intense attractions as the dark creeps through the shedding trees. Some people ride in costume long after the contest is over, relishing the joy of the experience in a new way.

Attendees come from all regions of the country, even into Canada. One such group includes people from New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Florida, and Michigan. They all gather together to share their love of amusement parks and great roller coasters.

One of the first events of this year’s gathering was a haunted wedding staged appropriately just outside the dark ride. Dressed as their favorite spooky characters, they stayed in costume throughout the evening. Some of the scariest bridesmaids ever assembled, they even outdid the groomsmen. The last group weren't guests per say, they just great costumes.

A tradition of the Phunfest is riding in costume. Here are just a few examples of costumes from 2008. The best ones have some sort of inside joke. Here, Thor perused carrying a massive hammer through the park chanting “Less coasters, more condos.” For those who don’t understand, Thor Development wants to redevelop Coney Island into a more upscale shopping and residential area. The other picture may appear to be nothing special until you recognize Jeff Pike, lead designer for the Evil Kneivel roller coaster at Six Flags St Louis.

The haunted car ride is the number one attraction. The creative minds of the park strive to outdo themselves every year by adding unique twists along the trail. The many vignettes along the track always seem fresh every year. Giant pumpkins, a working model roller coaster, and creative use of black lights are just a brief sampling of the ride. Every fog machine was set to max, and the fog also enveloped the lowest parts of the Phoenix’s track. You can see some of the haunted displays as you “phly” by.

The coasters looked spectacular in daylight and rode even more so after dark. The park staff take special care of their rides because they know that people travel from everywhere for this special occasion. The Flying Turns project continues to advance, but not quick enough for everyone. It is a very special recreation of an old ride that requires some very special techniques to build and now full attention has turned to the trains. Hope springs eternal with the changing seasons.

Phoenix Phall Phunfest’s Grand Finale is a huge bonfire where attendees can gather to roast hot dogs, toast marsh mellows and remember the warm days of summer, we can also look forward to next year. Remember, the best coaster is the next one you’re standing in line for. So as we watch the leaves fall and dream about next summer, here’s a last message from everyone at Knoebels.