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USAirtime - Day 5: Knoebels 🌽

I'll be sharing day by day trip reports from my recent adventure across the pond. It was a relatively short visit, but the priority was to visit the best of the best parks along our route, favouring quality over quantity. We love the US, but have only visited Florida previously so it was great to see some more traditional parts of the country.

Cedar Point was the main motivation for booking this trip, I've been wanting to visit ever since Dragster went up when I was 13, and Steel Vengeance finally gave me the kick up the arse to book. Also airtime. We don't have much of that in the UK.

I took around 2,500 photos on my phone, so this could be picture heavy.

Here's what we did...

5th August - Arrive NYC
6th - Full day NYC
7th - Six Flags Great Adventure
8th - Hersheypark
9th - Knoebels
10th - Kennywood/Pittsburgh evening
11th - Cedar Point
12th - Cedar Point
13th - Kentucky Kingdom/Louisville evening
14th - Kings Island
15th - Travel/Tippecanoe/Chicago evening
16th - Six Flags Great America/Flight home

Day One: Travel and NYC

We flew with Norwegian from Gatwick, taking off at around 10am and landing at JFK around 2ish. We took the air train and subway to our accomodation in Queens, and despite the tiredness we dumped off our stuff and headed straight out to Manhattan. Yeah... We didn't last long. Mooched around Greenwich and then Times Square for a few hours before heading to bed at around 10.

The hotel was ok for the price we paid, very basic but clean and modern. Woke up a few times due to our room being opposite the elevator, and again by the couple next door having what Alan Partridge would describe as 'hardcore super-sex'. It was located next to the Queensbidge Houses, once home to the likes of Nas and Mobb Deep. Pretty sketchy area but no different to parts of London that we are used to.

Day Two: NYC

We hopped on the subway heading towards Wall Street ready for our 9am sightseeing boat trip from Pier 15. Nabbed a good deal for this on Groupon, and a river cruise is always a great way to see a city.


The second best way to embrace a big city is to walk, so we took our time walking 4 miles from the World Trade Centre down to Central Park, via Chinatown, Little Italy, Madison Square Park and the Empire State Building. We stopped for a few drinks and some shopping, but mainly for air conditioning as it was hotter than a pot noodle.

For the standard tourist observation deck experience, we opted for the Rockefeller Centre over the Empire State Building because of the central park view and lighter crowds. The view from up there gives an impression of just how huge the city is, it's unbelievable.


The main event for the evening was Disney's Frozen on Broadway. This was all for Rachael, who's a huge Disney fan, but we both loved it - the physical effects were cool and there was some great use of projection mapping whenever Elsa went berserk. We were seated row 1 on the upper tier, so had a nice full view of the stage. $15 for a f*cking can of beer though.


After the show we sat down in Times Square and watched the world go by. This was interrupted by what turned out to be the biggest adrenaline rush or the trip. I won't go into it too much but a terrorism scare caused a mass panic and stampede. Turns out a motorcycle backfired which was mistaken for gunshots. It somewhat killed the mood so we grabbed a final drink and got an Uber back to the gaff.

Heading back over the bridge to our hotel provided some stunning views of the Manhattan skyline under the moon, but NYC had absolutely battered the credit card and I was actually quite relieved to be out of the crowds and heading to our first park of the trip the following day.

So yeah, a mixed bag but we managed to cram a lot into our short stay in the city.


Active Member
Looking forward to this. You guys more or less did that same lot of parks as I did last month, so it'll be interesting to see how your thoughts compare with mine.
Looking forward to this. You guys more or less did that same lot of parks as I did last month, so it'll be interesting to see how your thoughts compare with mine.
Catching up on your report now bud, the Live looked excellent.

It's great hearing first time reviews of parks and coasters, so I'm looking forward to sharing my own.
Day 3: Six Flags Great Adventure

To the coasters. We picked up our Nissan Versa from just across the river in Jersey City, this was a tactical decision to avoid driving through Manhattan, but it also turned out far cheaper than picking up from JFK. We could have got a Jeep Cherokee for pretty much the same price, but went for the more fuel efficient option.

Parked up at Six Flags around half hour before opening and picked up our season passes ready to head straight for Ka and El Toro. This was my first ever Six Flags experience and first impressions were pretty good! The entrance area is pretty nice and we were greeted by Looney Tunes characters. Crowds seemed very low early on as storms were forecasted nearly all day, but the sun was shining for now.

El Toro opened bang on time which was a pleasant surprise. After a short SFLF (Six Flags Locker Faff), we walked straight onto the front row. This was one of my most anticipated coasters of the trip, in many people's top 3's with apparently legendary airtime. Our first ride was very, very good and the first drop was amazing on the front row. The ride op/stand up comedian was great and let us switch seats for repeat rides for as long as we wanted. Naturally after the front row, we headed straight for the back. I definitely preferred the back row as you really get hauled over that first drop and following hills, but it was a lot rougher than expected. As a bit of a fat bastard, the lap bar did begin to dig into the gut and cause quite a bit of discomfort, but it was well worth it. Overall it's an excellent coaster but not quite top 10 for me.

After a solid half hour of smashing the back row of El Toro, it was time for Kingda Ka. I must admit I wasn't exactly buzzing to get on this due to the restraints, and with Dragster coming up in a few days. I reaaaaally dislike the restraints on Stealth as they press right down on my shoulders, causing a claustrophic ride and uncomfortable ride. Anyways there was only a 5 min wait, but obviously waited an extra 10-15 for the front row. The restraints were fine much to my relief, completely unnecessary but ever so slightly more spacious than Stealth's. The wait to launch felt like an eternity, giving enough time to ensure that I was ****ting myself (forgot what this feels like on a coaster tbh). The launch takes a while to get going, but the speed you eventually hit before heading vertical is amazing. The tophat was ok, you're not up there long enough to appreciate it's scale before coming back down to earth and hitting the breaks. Again, not a top 10 but it's still delivers a powerful 128mph Intamin launch - which is always gonna be a good thing. Wish I rode it more tbh.

We then made our way over to the other side of the park for Nitro. B&M Hypers are quite possibly my favourite coaster type, and this was our first of 3 on this trip so I was pretty pumped. It was around midday now but there was no queue and we hopped straight onto the back row. It was becoming clear that crowds were going to be at a bare minimum today. Nitro was ok, I spent the first half waiting for some decent air but it didn't really happen. The second half was an improvement, and Christ on a bike that upward helix is intense and seemed to go on forever - definitely greyed out. Mako and Silver Star remain my favourite of these coasters, followed by Shambhala and then Nitro, but it's a solid 8/10.

Took a quick spin on the rapids, which was short and sweet. Stayed on for a couple of goes until getting moist enough to cool off from the heat.

Skull Mountain was up next, and I had no idea what to expect. In fact I thought it was a boat ride until getting to the station. This was pretty crap, quite rough and forceless but ok for youguns I guess.

For some reason we then headed back to the other side of the park via the cable cars, and went on the Runaway Mine Train. It's a decent length and pretty fun. We then went for a front row ride on Bizarro - this was a very pleasant surprise. All of these Six Flags B&Ms just seem to merge into one, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of a layout or theming. It's probably my favourite B&M sit-down/floorless, a good fun ride with nice compact inversions.

Tried to get on the log flume, but it had closed due to the incoming storm - uhoh. After 20 mins of solid rain and some thunder, most attractions were back up and running so we went on Batman: The Ride. I'd only ever heard good things about these Batman clones and it was great to finally get on one. It was ok, I like the loop-roll-loop combo but it lacked the intensity of Nemesis and understandably couldn't match the sheer scale of Montu. Those two remain in a league of their own from the inverts I've been on so far.

The Dark Knight was decent, the fact it's indoors and there is some theming makes it pretty re-rideable compared to other Wild Mouse's/Mice.

The weather took another turn for the worse, so all the rides went down again and we took shelter in what turned out to be a hidden gem - Justice League: Battle For Metropolis. Fair play to Six Flags, this was an impressive dark ride with some fun twists and turns.

After an overpriced Cheesesteak and Corndog, we headed over to ride Green Lantern. The initial drop and first couple of inversions would have been pretty boring, but standing up makes it pretty fun. As the ride goes on though, it gets a bit too uncomfortable to fully enjoy.

Superman Ultimate Flight was nothing special, I'll accept a pretzel loop if the overall ride is good, otherwise just no. The highlight here was spotting a Groundhog on the grass a few feet away from the queue.

The heavens opened once again and all rides went down, we headed back towards El Toro which eventually reopened - got a few more back row rides and it had warmed up significantly. It got me thinking they should send some test dummies round with the restraints up and see where they end up after the first hill... Possibly the moon?

Kingda Ka was seemingly not going to re-open, and we had a fairly long drive across to Hershey so we decided to leave a few hours early. Turns out we didn't miss much, we drove through a seemingly never ending thunderstorm shortly after leaving which would have been game over anyways.

So overall we missed a few rides, but got on everything we wanted to including double figure rides on El Toro. Great Adventure is a top tier park with a very strong top 5 coasters, we had an excellent day here and I'm sure I'll return eventually.

Coaster Ranking:

1. El Toro
2. Kingda Ka
3. Bizarro
4. Nitro
5. Batman: The Ride
6. Green Lantern
7. Superman
8. The Dark Knight
9. Runaway Mine Train
10. Skull Mountain

Park Rating: 7.50/10

Took barely any pics here due to that pesky grey sky.


Day 4: Hersheypark

The drive from New Jersey was textbook stuff despite the raging storm and we arrived at our Motel around 9pm. This was our favourite accomodation of the trip, it was very dated but comfortable. Kind of like staying over at the home of your favourite ederley relative but without the smell. We headed to a nearby bar for a quick drink, then Chipotle for a burrito and went to bed. Oh and the room had a Skyrush view.

In the daylight, we quickly fell in love with the town of Hershey. Apart from Chipotle and the one Starbucks we didn't spot a single fastfood and or chain restaurant. Just farmland and small businesses. We decided we need to live here, I will operate Skyrush and Rachael can waitress at the Hershey Pantry (best breakfast ever).


The park was open til 10 and we arrived at the gates around 12.30pm, it was heaving with people so we expected some big queues inside. We waded through the crowds and stumbled across the monorail, which is always a good place to start and was only a 5 min wait.


The monorail gave some great views of Storm Runner in action, so we then decided to get in line for our first coaster of the day. There was only a 10 minute wait but we decided to wait for the front, adding another 15 mins or so. I'd completely forgotten that this coaster existed, but it was very impressive. The launch was the highlight, but overall it's relentless from start to finish with some unique elements thrown in. Again, the restraints are completely pointless, just whack Taron trains on it and you've got a world class coaster right there. Also, why on earth is Rita even a thing when this opened a year before? Idiot machine. We went straight back round for a back row ride.


Next we headed deeper into the park, battling through the swarms of people until stumbling across the Boardwalk area. The huge waterpark was completely rammed all day, soaking up (lol) a lot of the crowds. We ended up on Wildcat, and as the very keen ride op pointed out before every dispatch - this is the very first GCI coaster. Given its age it's harsh to compare it against the newest GCI's but this was pretty crap, probably made worse cos we were sat at the very back.

We opted to skip Laff Trak as it was on a 45 minute wait, not worth it for a spinner. Next up was Lightning Racer, which was brilliant. After a short 10 minute wait we boarded the back row of the 'thunder' train. This thing delivers from start to finish and it's almost the perfect wooden coaster. It's really long and the layout provides some great interaction between the two trains. There are a few nice airtime moments during the twisty layout, and it's pretty smooth too.

I was becoming keen to get on Skyrush by this point, so we made the trek over to that side of the park. Hersheypark is actually a lot bigger than expected, it's a fair old distance from the entrance down to Lightning Racer. It's a bit of a weird layout too with no real shortcuts. We stumbled across some live entertainment in the form of dancing chocolate bars with a marching band... Absolute scenes. I had a go on the Hershey Tower, the tallest of the three drop towers. So much more forceful than it looks, an excellent ride.

Skyrush was a walk on, and after watching it charging up the lift hill from the hotel room the previous night, and again throughout the park during the day - I was buzzing to get on it. You can tell from just watching it that it's bonkers. The first hill looks far too small compared to the first drop, maybe a third of the size? Again we went on the back row, and were soon rocketing up the lift hill. That first drop is something else, the speed you go into it gives a good kick over the top, but then half way down it gives you a scary ejector moment. The turns are very forceful, one in particular is very intense. All of the hills give strong ejector airtime, but the first one is a particular highlight. What I also loved is that as you head back towards the safety of the brake run, there is one final airtime moment that tries one more time to murder you. This thing starts and ends on a high... Perfection. Rachael wasn't a fan, but was happy for me to jump straight back on for another 5 back row rides.


We then went to mop up the remaining coasters, starting with Sooper Dooper Looper. Again we walked straight on, and this was really good fun. There's a lot of fannying around moments but the layout gives some good views, and a lap bar loop is always good.


Great Bear seems to be the most popular ride at the park with a 20-30 min line all day. As with all B&M Inverts, it was a solid ride but with a pretty unique layout. The helix before the main drop seems unnecessary, but it's quite fun. The rest of the ride is forgettable with no real standout moments, it's not very forceful however it does give some nice views in a good location.


The daily thunderstorm began to roll in and half the visitors run for the exit back to their cars, lovely stuff. It was around 5pm now and we joined the queue of people waiting for Fahrenheit to reopen. The cattlepen of doom began to fill up and we ended up waiting around 30 mins or so in the slowest moving line of the day. I'd imagine this coaster was pretty fun when it opened, and I remember thinking that back in the day. But a lot has changed since then and this thing is just dull. It kind of made me appreciate The Smiler a bit more, which rides quite similar but it's a lot more fun. These padded Intamin restraints were growing on me, giving hope for the upcoming Maverick. They seem to be built a bit bigger in the States.


We had another couple of goes on Lightning Racer after getting the biggest iced coffee in the Western Hemisphere from Dunkin Donuts. Went on the Whip which was cool. Skipped Laff Trak again due to the long wait. Skipped Sidewinder and Trailblazer in favour of more Storm Runner rerides - that launch is up there with the very best.


Regrettably we didn't get on Comet, which looked awesome lit up at night. It only had a 20 minute wait in the evening, but Skyrush was a walk on and time was running out. Skyrush had definitely warmed up, and it got better and better each ride. The lack of stapling from the staff was ideal, sending me flying over that first drop on multiple occasions. Got around 10 rides in total, all on the very back row. I completely get why some people aren't so keen on Skyrush, it's brutal and relentless. For me that's what makes it so good. The thighs and backs of my knees were aching big time, but it was so worth it.

We ended the night with a back row ride on the last Great Bear train of the day. We loved Hersheypark, and took our time leaving the park. Looking around the shops and soaking up the last of the atmosphere.

It was an ideal park day, buzzing with crowds but pretty short queues on most coasters. Skyrush stole the show, with Storm Runner and Lightning Racer making up a very strong top 3. Hersheypark has a real family feel to it, and despite the obvious chocolate branding everywhere, there isn't a money grabbing, empty your pockets kind of vibe. We will 100% return here someday, it's up there with Europa Park for me.

The following morning we got up earlyish to visit Hershey's Chocolate World. The dark ride tour was ok, and we didn't bother forking out for the other experiences. We purchased plenty of Reece's in the huge gift shop, grabbed a milkshake and then hit the road to Knoebels.

Coaster Ranking:

1. Skyrush
2. Storm Runner
3. Lightning Racer
4. Great Bear
5. Sooper Dooper Looper
6. Fahrenheit
7. Wildcat

Park Rating: 9.5/10
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Staff member
It's nice to read someone have such a genuinely good day in the park. It's not always about smashing out all the creds with tons of rerides (although it sounds like you did alright), but you sound like you had a great day.

I think Hersheypark is pretty fab too, definitely one of the better ones.
It's nice to read someone have such a genuinely good day in the park. It's not always about smashing out all the creds with tons of rerides (although it sounds like you did alright), but you sound like you had a great day.

I think Hersheypark is pretty fab too, definitely one of the better ones.
Yeah we were keen to prioritise the things we know enjoy on this trip, and not rush around too much despite not having much time.

I'm halfway through typing up Knoebels, forgot how much we loved it there too.
Day 5: Knoebels

Another easy peasy drive led us to our next park - Knoebels. We took it slow in the morning and arrived just after 1pm to a very busy, and very grassy car park.

The main reason for this visit was Phoenix, but we could tell instantly that the overall atmosphere of Knoebels was something special. Walking through the car park, past all the picnic benches, through the trees, you kind of stumble into the park by accident. Where are the perimeter fences? Where's the entrance? Where's the security? Bag check? Ticket booths? Lines to get in? Parking payment? **** that, Knoebels just invites you straight into their house and puts the kettle on.

I opted for the wristband option, whilst Rachael purchased $20 of ride tickets considering she's not into marathoning coasters. The plan was to head straight to Phoenix, which we hadn't even laid eyes on yet. We navigated our way to the back of the park using the paper map, the old fashioned way, which always adds to the fun. It took us a long time to get there cos there are so many 'cute' distractions around every corner of the park.

Anyway, Phoenix! The line was poking just out of the entrance, giving a chance for the standard photo opportunity in front of the golden ticket award sign. I love how proud they are to show this off, then proudly displaying the full list of other coasters below it in the top 20. People notice this too, guests were always taking an interest in the signage. It was running on one train, and we waited around 20 minutes in total for the back row. Despite the blazing sunshine, we were soon plunged into the pitch black tunnel and up the pretty small lift hill. The first drop was ok, but that's when you realise how minimal that lap bar is. Then you're straight back up into that slow turnaround and down another good fun drop, then another turnaround and then there it is - your first real taste of that famous airtime. But it's after that final turnaround when the fun begins, every single one of those last bunny hills delivers. So our first ride was excellent, and we would return in a few hours once it had warmed up.



We were pretty hungry at this point so went for our first dose of Knoebels Food Porn. $5 for some loaded pulled pork nachos and $3 for a rib sandwich?! Shut up and take my money. Sat down and ate this next to the water mill which powers the rotating roof of the seating area, next to a lovely local couple. That's another thing, Knoebels has to be the friendliest amusement park on the planet - staff and the general public.


Next up was the famous Haunted Mansion, and it did not disappoint. This was perfection. It's got the vintage fairground ghost train vibe, but completely action packed from start to finish. There are so many jump scares in here, and not a single moment is wasted. It's not included in the wristband (anyone know why?), but it's well worth paying extra for.


We then took a ride on the chairlift up the hill and into the forest. I assumed you could get off at the top and have a mooch around, but nope straight back down. This offered some great views of the park and surrounding area, and it's a great way to chill out for a bit.



Out second coaster was Impulse. You can probably tell by now I'm not a huge fan of pointless restrictive shoulder restraints on coasters, so I was excited to get on this. This ride was perfectly fine, it's smooth and packs a decent amount into a fairly short layout, but lacks the force of the similar Gerstlauer models. Stick these restrsints onto Saw, Speed etc and they would be much higher in my rankings. We planned to return later but stuff got in the way, so this was our only ride on Impulse.


We then decided to check out a few of the many flat rides on offer at Knoebels, with one in particular being a hell of a lot more evil than it looks off ride. I cant remember what any of these were called so *checks Google*... Downdraft you absolute bastard. Power Surge was the opposite, looked menacing but wasn't too bad. Regrettably, 1001 Nachts was down all day - I really wanted to get on this after seeing old photos of the one at Alton Towers from years ago, but it wasn't to be. There are *so* many rides at this park, all crammed into a fairly small space. The throughput isn't great on a lot of the older rides and it was packed, so we didn't even get on half of them.


Twister was up next, and I had no idea what to expect from this. No one ever talks about Twister, which is understandable with Phoenix just around the corner. We joined the queue passing under the cheesy but quite cool looking entrance sign, and waited around 5 minutes for the front row. It's a pretty weird start, straight up a lift hill and down a small drop, turning round into another lift hill. You get some incredible views from the top, particularly into the campgrounds. Anyway, once it gets going, it's a really fun coaster! It doesn't have enough airtime to be top tier, but it feels pretty wild throughout with some good headchopper moments. It's pretty smooth too. We went straight back round for another couple of rides at the back. Big statement from Rachael: it's better than Phoenix.



We then headed back towards Phoenix, stopping off to mop up some more flat rides. We walked past the huge swimming pool which was rammed, but looked very tempting in the heat. Apparently they have a popular annual event where you can bring your dog for a swim - yep Knoebels is basically the happiest place on earth. Sorry Disney.

Our second ride on Phoenix was on the front row, and we were now both in agreement that this thing is world class, and of course better than Twister. We tried out the mythical row 3, but it wasn't noticeably better. Row 1 is where it's at, well worth the extra wait. The airtime is a lot more violent towards the front of the train, pushing you up and over the many hills.

Knoebels Food Porn Part II: Turkey Leg and Corn, again very reasonably priced. I had no idea how good the food options were here, but have since read about the multiple industry awards they've rightly earned. Theme parks are supposed to serve you overpriced burgers and lukewarm fries, not this stuff. Obviously it's not Michelin star fine dining, but it's all top notch freshly cooked comfort food, served with a smile.


Black Diamond was a suprise, as in I didn't know it existed. After a short wait and just enough time for that Turkey Leg to go down, we took our seats. It's half coaster half dark ride, with some of that charming old school, tacky theming. It was ok, but quite uncomfortable in places and generally forgettable. One and done kind of thing.

If I wasn't into coasters, I'd probably be a log flume enthusiast. And this one looked like a real classic. We got a boat to ourselves and off we went into the trees. I was surprised at how short this was, it's a shame really because of the parks location, a long flume ride through the woodland would have been nice. Oh well, it was good fun and nice to cool down.


It was getting late now, and as the sun began to set we joined the longest queue of the day, 30 mins for Flying Turns. "They told us we couldn't build it, but we did anyway". A hell of a lot of effort has gone into this coaster, and they're quite rightly very proud of it. There are some nice signs in the queue line explaining the history of the ride, building the anticipation. After being weighed on the scales like pieces of sunburnt fruit in a Walmart, we were assigned our seats. Overall it's a pretty fun family coaster, and some of the corners are taken very high up the track similar to Bob at Efteling. It's nothing special, but the fact that it even exists is pretty cool. We would've liked to get on a few more times as it's so short, but it wasn't to be.

It was pretty dark now, and I didn't think it was possible but suddenly Knoebels became even more charming. We took a lap around the park, soaking up the atmosphere. You get a feel for just how isolated the park really is at night, you're surrounded by dark forest, with the multicoloured fairground lights lighting up the park. There is no pop music playing, all you can hear is the screams and laughter from the rides along with the vintage fairground music. A beer would have gone down nicely, but couldn't find one anywhere. There were so many more food options we wanted to try too, but that turkey Leg had finished me off.

The last hour or so was spent on Phoenix, we just couldn't stay away from it. This is another corner of the park that gets a second wind at night, the atmosphere is cranked up another notch with the lights and sounds. Phoenix was now kicking all sorts of arse, and we racked up double figure rides. Every single train that came back into the station was filled people laughing and comments of how much time they spent out of their seat. There were queue line high fives with the train as it went up the lift hill and smiles all round, and everyone seemed to go back round for one more go - again and again. Phoenix is pure fun.



They kept it open for another 15 mins after the park closed at 10pm, no idea why but fair play. We then headed back towards the car park, but the lights were still on and Carousel music still playing. At the front of the park, all food outlets were still open and the Ferris Wheel still running. We had a go on the frog hammer arcade game thingy and won a prize. As we eventually got to the car, it seemed strange leaving at almost 10. 30pm with the park still buzzing, but we had a long drive ahead.



Our hotel for the night was 2 hours away in Altoona, bang on halfway between Knoebels and Kennywood. This drive was brutal, we were absolutely shattered and just about made it with the help of a rather large coffee.

After this whole trip, we both agreed Hersheypark was our favourite. But after typing this out I'd say our day at Knoebels was possibly better - it was just perfection.

Coaster Ranking:

1. Phoenix
2. Twister
3. Flying Turns
4. Impulse
5. Black Diamond

Park Rating: 9.5/10

X: Uknown

The Haunted Mansion isn't on the wristband because they don' want teens riding it so much they get bored, get off mid ride, and vandalize it. Giant Flume was bought from a defunct park, that's why it's longer.


Well-Known Member
What a lovely report! I really hope Knoebels doesn't lose its charm by the time I get around to visiting. Sounds like a really great place!
The Haunted Mansion isn't on the wristband because they don' want teens riding it so much they get bored, get off mid ride, and vandalize it. Giant Flume was bought from a defunct park, that's why it's longer.
That's a very specific reasoning, I guess they must have had a fair few vandalism incidents previously.
What a lovely report! I really hope Knoebels doesn't lose its charm by the time I get around to visiting. Sounds like a really great place!
Thanks! I wouldn't worry about it losing the charm any time soon tbh.