Visiting Knoebels? Then You Need to Read This Sensory-Friendly Travel Review
Here are some great Knoebels travel tips and discounts, including info on how it accommodates children and others with special needs.
One of my favorite places to visit is Knoebels in Elysburg, PA. I have been going there ever since I was a toddler, and my (now deceased) grandmother even went there as a child. It’s that kind of place. Even though it’s a 2+ hour trek for us now, we make sure we get there every summer. It’s not that easy to get to, lots of 2-lane roads, but I love that about the place and I’m used to it.
What to eat at Knoebels
Knoebels allows you to bring food in. But I find their food to be very reasonably priced and very good. They are known for having better food than most amusement parks and win awards for it. They host spaghetti dinners, fish frys and even have a full-service restaurant in the middle of the park. I saw some allergy information posted at some food stands but did not see any carb counts (for T1 families) anywhere. Not all of the food stands take credit cards so have cash.
Same goes for the ticket booths, some only take cash. The tickets you purchase will only be valid for rides, not food. There are food tickets, but usually those are sold as part of a company picnic or family reunion.
Rides at Knoebels
They have many rides for little ones, which we love. You can buy an all-day ride pass or tickets. The tickets look exactly the same as they did 50 years ago and they never expire. We are now getting to the point that my one son gets an all-day ride pass and the rest of us get tickets to join him when we want to on a ride. They have several “scary” or more teen-oriented rides too, so there is something for everyone. You know how the price of one admission to most amusement parks is about $60 or more? That’s usually what we end up spending, total, for our whole family, all day. (Keeping in mind that they are preschoolers or ride mostly the preschool rides which require fewer tickets.)
Under a Shady Tree
There are plenty of shade trees and other options to get out of the hot sun, including a nice swimming pool. Despite it being shady and wooded, I’ve never had a problem with bugs and mosquitoes. There are plenty of benches for resting. There are plenty of out of the way places to get away from people and noise for quiet time. One of our favorite down time spots is in the back of the park, behind the blacksmith and the woodcarvers. They have restrooms and benches back there but it’s at one end of the park so it’s usually pretty quiet. We go to many amusement parks, and I feel less crowded in at this one, it feels less overwhelming and like we have more space–from a sensory perspective, if that makes sense.
Accessibility at Knoebels
I find it to be very disability friendly. It’s very low cost compared to other parks, as there is NO admission fee. That’s right! None! So if you go as an adult/parent/chaperone and you don’t want to ride anything, you don’t pay anything. Parking is also free.
They do have special armbands for people with disabilities. You have to go to the First Aid station which is in the center of the park. There, you’ll fill out a release form and get your armband.
The park itself is mostly small gravel, but I’ve never had any trouble pushing a stroller. There are paved walkways. A person who is wheeling their own wheelchair should be ok, but it won’t be as smooth as blacktop. I have found the people there to be accommodating when it comes to me helping my child on and off the rides.
A reader who read this post brought up a good point. Dogs are allowed in the park, and her son with special needs does not like dogs. Others pointed out that they felt that you were more likely to run into dogs on weekends and on bargain nights. If your child does not like or is afraid of dogs, you should know that they allow dogs there.
Other tips for Knoebels
I try to stay away from going there on weekends, and the lines aren’t too bad. They have wheelchairs, wagons and strollers available to rent.
If it’s too far for you for a day trip, hotels and campgrounds are in that area and are very inexpensive compared to metro Philly costs. Overall, it’s a nice family outing or weekend trip. I think you’ll like it.
My one major complaint is that the toilets don’t have toilet seats. None of them. I know, right? It’s weird, but very rustic and I guess because I love Knoebel’s so much, I forgive them this one error. If you have issues with your child and the toilet, just be forewarned. In the middle of the park there is a baby changing room and nursing area if you need it. (update: in 2017 some of the toilets had seats and some bathrooms have been renovated)
Knoebels Coupons and Discounts
If you are looking for ways to save money, Knoebels does put out discounts each summer. Here are some of them. (note: this is for past years, I do not have 2018 information yet, but a good starting point)
- At Weis Markets you can purchase a voucher for $20 in ride tickets for $16, a savings of 20%.
- At Wegman’s you can purchase a voucher for a weekday all day ride pass for $5 off.
- If you are an Affiliates of PA Recreation & Parks Society, you can purchase a voucher for a weekday all day ride pass for $5 off. Funny, since I majored in Recreation at Lock Haven University, I actually know what PRPS is.
- Selected Holsum & Buttercrust Breads have a coupon on the package for $5 off All Day handstamp M-F (these should appear a little later this month).
- Pepsi cans sold regionally have a coupon for $5 off All Day handstamp (M-F).
- A number of area hotels have coupons for $5 off All Day handstamp (M-F).
- Middleswarth Potato Chips have a coupon for $5 off All Day handstamp (M-F) on the Weekender bag. I love Middleswarth chips, the BBQ ones. They are not sold around here, but are elsewhere in PA.
Lisa Lightner is a Chester County, PA mom of two. This post is from the blog A Day in Our Shoes, which she co-authors. It provides support, resources and advocacy services for parents of children with special needs.