Good Life

Find your thrills | Impulse coaster may be new, but Knoebels still a classic park

Impulse, which opened for Knoebels’ 2015 season, is the most expensive project in the park’s history.
Impulse, which opened for Knoebels’ 2015 season, is the most expensive project in the park’s history. Joel W. Styer

Impulse, Knoebels’ new coaster this season, is a state-of-the-art thrill machine with enough drops and inversions to please any roller coaster enthusiast.

Impulse is not hard to miss — as you are driving into the parking lot, its intertwined blue track and bright yellow supports appear right in front of you, and it is located prominently at the front of the park, so just about everyone who enters the park will walk right by it.

The brightly colored coaster, the most expensive project in the park’s history, is quite a contrast to the more subdued wooden coasters that formerly dominated the park’s skyline.

The ride experience is also quite a contrast to the park’s other coasters.

Stepping onto the eight-passenger car, you pull down the snug lap restraints (there is no shoulder harness, despite the coaster’s four inversions), then the car leaves the station and begins to climb the vertical chain lift. As you ascend, you see nothing in front of you but the sky. You then quickly go over the top and hit a breathtaking 98-foot drop straight down.

The coaster then goes through a quick, but nicely paced, series of inversions, twists and turns. The ride is not for the faint of heart, and is far more intense than the park’s other coasters.

“It makes your senses come alive,” said rider Adam Biddle, of Spring Mills. His favorite part of the coaster was the “sudden descent” of the first drop.

Impulse is not the first steel coaster in Knoebels’ history. Before Impulse, there were two others , Jet Star and Whirlwind. Both coasters have been removed from the park for space reasons.

“It has been 10 years since Knoebels guests were able to go upside down on a roller coaster,” public relations manager Stacy Ososkie said. Because many families come to Knoebels for vacation every year and stay on the adjacent campground, the park’s management wanted a ride to appeal to older children to keep them coming with their families.

“We hope to appeal to a new generation of riders and riders of any age who want to go upside down,” Ososkie said.

However, Knoebels is still an old-fashioned park that the whole family can enjoy.

Even though the modern, brightly hued Impulse is in the front of the park, the rest of Knoebels retains the classic atmosphere that many people’s parents and grandparents remember growing up.

“We still have the rides Grandma has been on and will now watch her grandchildren ride,” Ososkie said.

And Grandma still can get into the park for free. Although you have to pay to ride Impulse and the park’s other rides, admission and parking are free. Ososkie says Knoebels has no plans to change this policy.