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3 Park Weekend Road Trip


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We love going on roller coaster roadtrips, but work and family obligations often don’t allow us to have much time for them as we would like. In August 2020, we had a rare weekend with nothing planned, and we know it was time to hit the road to ride some coasters. We did not have a ton of time, but we knew we could get a few parks in with the time that we had.

I was able to schedule a half day off work on Friday, allowing us to hit the road around lunch time, so we did our prep work Thursday night. We packed up the car, loaded some movies onto the kids ipads, and bought way more junk food than we could possibly eat in 3 days. I started work early on Friday, allowing us to hit the road around 11am. We had the kids in the back seat, energy drinks in the cupholders, and the first park programed into the GPS. We were on our way!

The drive from Cincinnati to Altoona was slower going than we would have liked. Between traffic jams and our kids constantly asking to stop to go the bathroom, it took us almost 7 hours to arrive at our first destination, Lakemont Park.

Lakemont is a small, free to enter park in Altoona Pennsylvania. As much a city park as it is an amusement park, Lakemont provides a mix of basketball courts, mini golf, picnic shelters, and, of course, roller coasters. Lakemont is currently home to three coasters, although in past versions of the park it housed many more. The star attraction at Lakemont is Leap the Dips, the world’s oldest operating roller coaster.

Our visit to Lakemont did not start off well, with us driving past the entrance twice before finally making our way into the park. Once we entered the park, we discovered that Leap the Dips was down for maintenance, but would hopefully re-open latter that night.

We spent some time exploring the park, taking pictures and video throughout. The maintenance team was hard at work on Leap the Dip, and the staff member in the station welcomed me to explore that station and transfer track area. Leap the dips being down turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I never would have been able to explore these areas if the ride was running. After exploring the park for a bit, it was time to hit some rides.

First up was Skyliner, a classic John C. Allen Woodie. Skyliner was fun, and offered a few moments of great airtime. After skyliner, the kids enjoyed rides on the antique cars and the kiddie coaster, little leaper. At that time, we heard that Leap the Dips was open, so we rushed to get our rides on the worlds oldest coaster.

We rode leap the dips several times, and then got some food at the C2 trolly house, an outdoor bar in the old bumper car shelter that seemed to be the neighborhood hangout. After a tasty meal as some time enjoying the live music, we headed back to the rides, completing the nights with additional laps on skyliner and the go-carts. We stayed at Lakemont until it closed at 9pm, and then hit the road, heading to the first nights hotel. We choose a hotel between Lakemont and the next park, so we had about an hour drive, and were all in bed by 11.

The next morning started with energy drinks an hour drive to Knobles. We arrived at Knobels around 10:30, well before the rides opened. The first thing we did was get some breakfast. That’s right, knobels serves breakfast! I wish all parks did this. Seriously Cedar Fair, get with the program.

After we ate, it was time to hit the rides. We snagged a few rides on Phoenix early on, and I want to officially apologize for saying that ride is overrated after our visit last year. I was blown away by how good Phoenix was this time around. I finally get what all the hype is about.

After Phoenix, we made our way through the park, riding as many rides as possible, and eating as much of Knobels Golden Ticket winning food as we could. Unfortunately, both impulse and flying turns were down for maintenance all day, but there was still no shortage of things to do, and everyone in our family had a great time. By 6:00, we were out of ride tickets, and knowing that had a 4 hour drive to our next destination, we begrudgingly hit the road. We love knobles, it’s a one of kind park with an atmosphere you will not find anywhere else. If you have never experienced this gem of a park, you owe it to yourself to make the journey someday.

We drove the 4 hours to Pittsburgh, backtracking right past Lakemont. We were tempted to stop back in for one for ride on Leap the Dips, but it was already late, and we knew we had another long night ahead of us. We ended the second day of our trip at a hotel 10 minutes from Kennywood.

The final day of our weekend road trip started with a brief drive to kennywood, arriving at the park shortly before it opened for the day. We entered the park and started the day with rides on exterminator and the whip, before making out way through the park, trying to get in as many of the parks classic coasters and flats as possible. Kennywood is, in my opinion, the working definition of a hometown park. The locals love this park, and Kennywoods rich history has become a major part of the city of pittsburg’s culture.

On the day of our visit to kennywood, the crowds were manageable, and most of the coasters were running multiple trains. We got rides on all the major coasters except for Steel curtain, as that ride was down for maintenance. Its disappointing that this ride has been down for essentially its entire second season, and I really hope this is not a sign of things to come for this model of coaster. The kids had a great time at kennywood, with Madelyn overcoming her fears and earning 5 new credits in one day. Gwen also had a great time, with the visit to Thomastown being her favorite part of the day.

I know some people love to hate on kennywood, but we really enjoy this park, and will likely visit again next year. It has a great mix of classic and modern attractions, and has never lost touch with the community that calls it home.

We departed kennywood to start the drive home around 5pm. We would have liked to stay a bit longer, but I had to work the next day, and the kids were tired, so it was time to hit the road. After a 5 hour drive, we arrived at home, unpacked the car, and all passed out cold in our beds. We had visited 3 parks in about 60 hours, and we all considered the trip to have been a complete success.

As always, for the TLDR crowd, here is this trip report in youtube format :

 

 

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