The Fascination of Knoebels
This week we’re taking you deep into the mountains of Central Pennsylvania to a retro park that offers a nostalgic past for adults and new and exciting discoveries for kids. Knoebel’s is a classic amusement park that is home to some truly incredible old-school rides and attractions and is by far one of the coolest experiences you could ever have at a theme park. It is the largest operating free-admission park in the United States and has enough coasters, thrill rides, and family rides to keep you entertained throughout the day. As if the rides weren’t enough to keep you occupied, Knoebel’s also has free entertainment, multiple activities, and award-winning food. That’s right, AWARD-WINNING. This park has received the Golden Ticket award for best food almost every year since 1999. In all honesty, Knoebel’s is one of the biggest reasons we decided to start a theme park food blog, because it is the perfect example of how great park food really can be. While many parks across the country suffer from lack of consistency and variation of food, Knoebel’s excels in creating quality and delicious options throughout their ENTIRE park. From pizza to pierogies to their famous fresh-cut french fries, no matter where you decide to dine in this park we guarantee you’ll love it and you’ll want to try it all!
Before we get into some of our favorite food options, we want to take some time to tell you about some of the most iconic attractions in the world! Now, keep in mind, the park is full of unique rides and attractions so to cover everything that this park has to offer will take time. But, believe us, we’ll get to it all eventually. For now, we’ll focus on the two attractions that we enjoyed the most and where we spent the most amount of time on our past visit.
First up: The Grand Carousel. I’m sure many people who are unfamiliar with Knoebel’s Amusement park are probably thinking that a carousel surely can’t be special enough to be included in a review of best park attractions. But trust us, it is!
The Grand Carousel is a one-of-a-kind experience that offers two attractions in one! With the ride’s authentic German organ playing while you sit atop your hand-carved horse, it’s hard not to take in the vast amount of history that this ride carries. The carousel is over 100 years old and is one of the largest in the world. But, the best part, without a doubt, is that it is one of the few carousels left where you can still catch the brass ring! For anyone unfamiliar with classic carousels, many used to have an on-ride game, which encouraged riders to reach out from their horses (those sitting on the outter row) and stretch for an illusive brass ring. Every time your horse passes the claw arm dispensing rings, you try to reach out and grab one. It’s easy to grab a ring, but only one per ride is the special brass one! If you grab a brass ring you win a free ride (and bragging rights)! Some of this may be hard to understand in words, so check out this video below of Brittany grabbing her first ring ever!
Also, not far from the Grand Carousel is the Knoebel’s Carousel Museum. This free-exhibit features original carousel horses, painted panels, and other memorabilia from carousels dating all the way back to the 1800’s! It’s a unique experience and it is certainly worth your time!
Another experience in the park you don’t want to miss is Fascination! If you’re even the least bit competitive (which we are), you’ll love this skill challenge that is a cross between skee ball and bingo! It is so easy to spend hours in this building, spending quarter after quarter to play this unique game. Each person sits at their own machine and plays one synchronized game hosted by the Fascination announcer. Much like bingo, you are looking to get 5 in a row. It’s up to you to roll one ball at a time down a ramp and land in certain holes to make your board light up. It’s exciting, it’s a race, and it’s super fun!
Alright! Well, now that we’ve told you about some of our favorite attractions in the park, we want to share with you some of our favorite foods! Like we mentioned before, Knoebel’s is known for having the best theme-park food in the country, so narrowing down our favorites is tough. But, we’ll start with a Pennsylvania classic and fan-favorite: Pierogies. The park offers two varieties of pierogies at separate stands and, of course, we tried them both. Fans of the park seem to have a clear favorite when it comes to these two snacks, so we needed to taste each of them to see if we agreed. The first location is called The Roast Beef Stand. The pierogies at this stand are sautéed in butter and onions and more closely resemble the classic pierogies that many are familiar with. Park fans tend to favor these over the others, and we would definitely agree with them. We loved them so much that we considered ordering a second helping, but decided to try the other stand just in case. And, we’re glad we did. Even though we both favored the first batch, the second order found at The Round Stand were good as well. While the second order were not sautéed in butter, they did come with a side of sour cream, and we thoroughly enjoyed them. Just further proving that you can’t really order anything bad at Knoebel’s.
Another fan favorite at this park is the freshly made Kettle Korn. While this treat is more of a classic amusement park option, no one beats Knoebel’s when it comes to this salty-sweet snack. Sold in large bags for $6, Kettle Korn is the perfect snack to grab and share with your group while walking through the park. Or, heading out of the park for the ride home! However you choose to enjoy this snack, we’re sure that once you get to the bottom of the bag, you’ll be wishing you bought just one more!
By only covering two attractions and food options, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface on all that this park has to offer. Knoebel’s is a fun and totally different experience than many park-goers are probably used to, but it is so worth it to check out. The park has so much heart and nostalgia that it’s impossible not to fall in love as soon as you walk in. We look forward to returning and to covering more of our favorites soon!
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Parker and Brittany Ruhmel- Lovers of all things food and theme park related!