BY WES CIPOLLA
ELYSBURG — Knoebels Amusement Resort opened for its 95th season on Saturday.
The family-owned resort, a hidden gem and vacation mainstay of northeastern Pennsylvania, is celebrating the milestone while still facing the COVID-19 pandemic, its greatest challenge since World War II.
“It will be a low-key celebration with a commemorative logo and maybe an in-park parade on July 4,” said Stacy Yutko, public relations director for Knoebels. “We’re going to save the big celebration for our 100th in five years.”
Her marriage was also affected by the pandemic. Formerly Stacy Ososkie, she married Robert Yutko, a lifelong fan of Knoebels, on Dec. 26, 2020. Their marriage was a year to the day after Robert proposed to her, and two years to the day after their first date.
“He plans on making an opening day visit a yearly tradition to get a coffee and loaded baked potato, and take a ride on the Phoenix,” Stacy said.
As was the case during the park’s 2020 season, masks are required at the park. Knoebels will only be open to 75% capacity, and attractions where it’s impossible to maintain social distancing, such as the ball pit and the Spacewalk bouncy house, are closed.
While the fallout from COVID-19 has dominated the circumstances of the opening, Knoebels has much more planned.
A new ride, Tornado, is expected to open at the end of May. Tornado is a family-friendly thrill ride. Guests will be able to control how fast the ride spins. Scheduled to open last season, Tornado was postponed “due to COVID-19 related project delays.”
Knoebels will also celebrate Autism Awareness Day on June 6. After partnering with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, 2021 will be Knoebels first year as a Certified Autism Center.
Staff at Knoebels received training to better accommodate guests on the autism spectrum.
For more information — including about opening weekend, prices and hours — visit knoebels.com.