Ride Review: Impulse at Knoebels Amusement Resort

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.

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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.

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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.

Replies (9)

May 30, 2015 at 6:40 PM · Thanks, Bobbie! Knoebel's is a favorite park of mine. Great operations, staff, and food, and a real family spirit. I hope you didn't leave without hitting up the Phoenix...
May 30, 2015 at 6:49 PM · Here is the listing for Phoenix, BTW. I'm gradually getting to adding listings for the major attractions at Knoebels.
May 31, 2015 at 5:36 AM · Hi Jonah and Robert! No, I didn't leave without tackling Phoenix. From the back the ejector airtime was even more extreme. And I got two almost consecutive rides b/c the queue was so short. The only coasters I rode that had any wait whatsoever were Flying Turns and Impulse. And I developed a new appreciation of Twister as a result of this visit.
May 31, 2015 at 5:42 AM · Park staff was great and someone in security actually charged my phone for me when it went dead. (The battery always conks out at parks, even in airplane mode.)
May 31, 2015 at 7:49 AM · It's great that Knoebel's has a listing on TPI now! Thanks, Robert! I have a question for anyone that might know. It seems as though the woodies at this park are always in great shape, smooth and well cared-for. I just came back from my first visit to Cedar Point, which was awesome in many ways, but one huge disappointment was the wooden coasters. Another Philadelphia Toboggan Co coaster (like Phoenix), Blue Streak had the potential for great airtime. But the ride was so rough, and anytime the upstop wheels came in contact with the underside of the track, it was obviously rusted and super rough under there, so that it slowed the train down a ton, brought the car back down, and made the airtime hills all herky-jerky which made the entire ride extremely unpleasant. What is Knoebel's doing that Cedar Point isn't and why can't more parks maintain their wooden coasters?
June 1, 2015 at 11:47 AM · It is indeed great that Knoebels has a listing on TPI! Robert deserves a lot of thanks. This park is in sharp contrast to most that I have visited. I can only speculate as to why Knoebels is doing a better job of maintaining its wooden coasters. They went to the trouble and expense of purchasing Phoenix AKA The Rocket from a park in San Antonio, reconstructed it, recognized it as the gem that it is and take enough pride in it to insure its continued well-being. As to Blue Streak, the last time I rode it maybe two years ago it was a very bumpy ride and felt more than a little rickety. Why Cedar Point has not put more effort into maintaining it is a matter of pure conjecture. Perhaps it's been overshadowed by blockbuster attractions such as MF and TTD? Who knows? I know only that wooden coasters are expensive to maintain - but Knoebels obviously considers their woodies valuable enough to justify the maintenance.
June 2, 2015 at 9:50 AM · Great review Bobbie! It's nice to read something from a park that we don't hear much about here. It's a nice but short coaster, it's quite similar to Untamed at Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire. If I remember correctly, the retraints on Untamed were sometime tight and sometime comfortable, so it's possibly a design aspect. I still think that Phoenix is the star of the show here as I love wooden coasters, but this is a nice addition to the park nonetheless.
June 3, 2015 at 7:51 AM · $3? Here in California, a ride on the West Coaster (a small yellow coaster with not inversions or large drops) is $6!
June 3, 2015 at 11:11 AM · Great review Bobbie and article well written.

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