By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
A new survey ranks a Northumberland County amusement park No. 2 in the nation, something a park official said was “really gratifying.”
The Travel Channel released its list of the top 10 amusement parks in the nation and Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg was ranked the No. 2 — ahead of Hersheypark, which came in at No. 9, and the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, ranked No. 3. Cedar Point in Ohio topped the list.
The Travel Channel noted Knoebels’ affordability, saying “this old-fashioned amusement park is a must for nostalgic types as well as the budget-conscious.”
Nostalgia and family-friendly prices keep visitors coming back for more, said park spokesman Joe Muscato.
“We’re unique,” he said. “We don’t have the biggest or the fastest rides, but we have more traditional rides. And there’s free parking and admission, so non-riders can come along.”
Knoebels didn’t know about the Travel Channel’s rankings until they were released Monday. But it isn’t the first time Knoebels has outranked its larger competitors, Muscato said.
Themeparkcritic.com lists Knoebels as the No. 4 park in the country, beating out Disney, Dollywood and various Six Flags parks. BestAmusementParks.net also lists Knoebels as No. 4 in the nation, with the park this time falling behind Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland and Cedar Point, but topping Universal Studios in Orlando, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., and Hersheypark.
“We’ve topped the big boys before,” Muscato said.
The Travel Channel ranking is a little more gratifying than other industry insider rankings because it was compiled using public feedback, Muscato said.
“This is more the general public, which is nice,” he said.
And Knoebels seems to be a big winner among its competition when it comes to visitors’ wallets.
“The rides and coasters are reasonable prices,” said Susanne Strouse, of Lock Haven, who was at the park Tuesday with her family.
Strouse worked at Cedar Point as a teen and said the family had just taken a trip to Hersheypark recently. She and her husband were not riding any rides Tuesday, and she said she appreciated the free admission. Strouse also said she thought the rides at Knoebels are on par with bigger parks. “They’re keeping up,” she said.
Amanda Harrison, of Duncannon, also commented on the affordability of the park as one of its main attractions.
“You don’t have to pay if you don’t ride,” she said. “And you can bring your own drinks so you don’t have to spend a ton of money (on refreshments).”
Harrison said the park “has something for everyone,” and that the ticket prices are reasonable if visitors do want to ride.
Muscato said ride prices do rise from year-to-year as expenses go up. But budget-conscious parents should not worry about having to pay to watch their children have fun on the rides.
“The free admission, free parking, free entertainment and free picnic facilities is pretty much etched in stone,” he said.