One-part traditional theme park and one-part county fair, the Knoebels Amusement Park nestled into a hardwood forest in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, promises free family fun. An institution here for 89 years, visitors can enjoy a picnic under their plentiful pavilions, enjoy free mini-museums on mining, Americana and the antique carousel, visit a bald eagle habitat or wander the park, choosing which (relatively reasonably-priced) games and rides they want to try.
Stuffed animals smile from kiosk games lining the walkways between the 110-foot Ferris Wheel near the entrance and the Phoenix wooden coaster in the back of the park. Bumper cars, tilt-a-whirl, a pirate ship, a carousel from the 1800s with traditional brass ring, log flume ride, haunted mansion and even an inverting steel coaster are just some of the more than 60 rides on offer.
A mini water park featuring a large swimming pool with four waterslides and a shallower kiddie pool is also on park grounds. As are a lazer tag center, an arcade and even eighteen holes of mini-golf – the family-friendly version of the company’s Three Ponds Golf Club, offering a full 18-hole par 71 course a quarter mile up the road. Adjacent to the park, Knoebels’ owned campgrounds offers tent sites and log cabins for nightly and weekly rental rates.
Knoebels Amusement Park is open the first weekend in May through the last weekend in October. Daily hours run June through August – it’s only open weekends in the shoulder seasons, and the pool is only open in the height of summer. Precise opening hours vary. While entrance, parking and some entertainment is free at Knoebels, tickets are required to ride the rides. Tickets cost between $1 for basic rides to $3 for some of the more elaborate thrill rides, including the rollercoasters. ‘Pay one Price’ plans –only available on certain days – cost around $37 for the basic plan (or $47 if you plan to try the wooden coasters) and allow you infinite rides on a single day visit.