As some of you may be aware, I am an amusement park junkie--although of a particular sort. I dont go in for the Six Flags/Cedar Point superparks, I prefer the old independently-owned ones that have somehow managed to survive. My favorite is probably Kennywood in my hometown of Pittsburgh.
This week I finally had a chance to visit Knoebels in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, and even though it was beastly hot (90s and humid) my wife and I had a fine day. Knoebels has two great wooden coasters, both of which have been built in the past ten years. But what I really came to ride was the Haunted Mansion (not to be confused with the Disney ride of the same name), which is legendary among fans of dark rides (good sites on this subject are the Darkride and Fun House Enthusiasts page and Laff in the Dark). Now Ive been through a lot of haunted houses in my day, and this stands out as perhaps the best. The special effects werent Disney quality, of course, and a lot of the stunts will be familiar to any dark ride fan--the old snake-in-the-clock, the oncoming bus (complete with deafening air horn), the waterfall that stops just as youre about to pass under it, etc. But on this ride the action happens only inches from where the cars go past. As a result you spend the entire ride wondering whats going to pop out at you next. Lots of fun.
By the way, if you like dark rides, another good one is the Whacky Shack at Waldameer Park in Erie.
By the way, Cedar Point, despite its huge size, doesnt have a single dark ride. No wonder I dont like it.