May 30, 2015, 6:30 PM ·
Impulse opened at Knoebels Amusement Resort on schedule at the end of April and I belatedly had an opportunity to experience this new thrill ride from Zierer. Although renowned primarily for its wooden coasters – the phenomenal Phoenix has been consistently ranked among the top 10 – the park has had a succession of steel coasters, of which Impulse is the most extreme. It’s the first one to feature four inversions.
Located near the park’s entrance, Impulse represents a striking change of scenery and according to the park, is the “single largest project” in the history of Knoebels. It operates with three trains, each consisting of two cars seating four across for a total capacity of eight riders. While this is statistically low, it’s counterbalanced by the speed and efficiency with which the train is loaded. The restraint consists of a heavy lap bar. Padded inserts similar to child seats are available to raise the seat height for shorter riders.
The ride queue was fairly lengthy so I was delighted when a park employee, noticing that I was alone, said that she needed to fill in seats and escorted me to the single rider lane. Within minutes I was secured in my seat and ready to rock and roll. (It should be noted that the seats are unusually wide and spacious.) Upon dispatch, the train made a right turn and ascended a 98-foot vertical chain lift hill. Going up vertically can be somewhat unnerving – I’d done this on only one other coaster – but it didn’t take long to reach the top hat. And from that point the train went into a 90-degree free fall. This was followed by a cobra roll, vertical loop, heartline roll and 540-degree helix, interspersed with banked turns. There is some disagreement as to whether the fourth inversion is an inline twist or heartline roll, especially as the two elements are similar, but to me it felt like a heartline roll. The ride duration is just over a minute.
As to the ride experience, it was pretty awesome and enjoyable with some qualification. This coaster is certainly not lacking in intensity. The airtime is excellent and the elements are nicely paced. Highlights for me were the free fall and heartline roll. The downside – pun intentional – is the restraint. At the bottom of the free fall the restraint tightens perceptibly. When I say perceptibly, that is an understatement. It was so tight that I might as well have been trapped in a garlic press and this somewhat diminished my enjoyment of the ride. Interestingly, when I polled two other riders, one said that his restraint was comfortable and the other indicated that his restraint was uncomfortably tight. Anyway, other than that there are no drawbacks or disappointments. Impulse is an exciting attraction and at $3.00 a ride, one more reason to visit Knoebels. There’s nothing like a park that offers guests the option of paying per ride and doesn’t charge for admission or parking.