Knoebels Amusement Park proclaims themselves to be America's largest free-admission amusement park. To our surprise and pleasure, we could have spent the day there without spending any money. Parking was free -- and an easy walk to the entrance. Walking around the park was free. Because it was free, you could enter from several points. There is no bag check. Leashed dogs are allowed to come in with their owners. There is a picnic area. After countless trips to Disney theme parks, the business model confuses us. Even the concession prices seemed reasonable. How do they pay their employees? How do they maintain their grounds?
Rather than questioning it, we tried to enjoy it.
Rides cost money -- but not a lot of money. Their biggest, baddest coasters were $3 a ride. Don went on five rides. I went on three. We spent $24 riding coasters. A drop in the bucket compared with a day at Disney.
Don's favorite coaster was a woody called Twister. I found it too jarring.
By contrast, my favorite was a woody named Phoenix, which in my opinion lives up to its proclamation of being "world's finest roller coaster," and an ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) landmark. There were signs inside telling us to stay seated. What else would I do? the loose lap bar practically begged for floating. The last half of the ride I was out of my seat more than I was in it. I felt weightless and invincible. It was awesome! Huge toothy grin at the end.
We even had our picture taken with characters, who came to the site by standing on the back of a golf cart. They did awesome crowd control. Parents were to stand behind a rope. The area was blocked off so the characters did not get crowded, and so there were no other people in the photos. Disney could learn from them.
The park also boasts a pool, golf course, and cabins. You pay for what you want. Entertainment is free. The atmosphere is laid back. We'd consider making the three hour drive again someday. It was a great way to spend our first weekend without rain in nine weeks -- a trend I hope continues.