6-3-03 -- HersheyPark

Associated parks:

Monday, June 9, 2003 8:34 AM
The next phase of my travels took me across the Pennsylvania border to HersheyPark, which admittedly, I have not visited in nearly 15 years. Some things have changed, but a lot of what made this park one of my favorites has still remained the same.

I got a late start that morning and didn't arrive at the park until nearly 4:00 PM. Since the park was closing at 8:00, I knew I'd have my work cut out for me.

It was raining that afternoon...not in Syracuse, for a change, but as soon as I got closer to Hershey, the drops started hitting my windshield. I was certain that this would make for difficulties in my trip. Boy, was I mistaken.

The brunt of the crowds at Hershey were high school kids, most of whom thinned out of the park by 6:00 PM. After all, the next day was, doubtlessly, a school day. I had no trouble getting on Comet, although, admittedly, I didn't feel like waiting for the front seat. The second seat wasn't a bad ride, though. It's just as fun a ride as I always remembered it to be. Thank god for preservation...what a loss to the world it might have been if this coaster had ever disappeared.

I decided for the heck of it to ride the skylift next. I got some decent photos of Comet, SooperDooperLooper and Great Bear from this vantage point. Of course, with the rain to dampen everything but my spirits, it wouldn't surprise me at all if I'll have to revisit the park in order to get better photos. Hmmm...is that a bad thing? :-)

I arrived at the Looper just in time to watch it depart from the station. I timed the coaster for my book and the ride operator asked me what time I came up with. Allowing for time adjustments due to rain, I told him 1 minute and 50 seconds. He wasn't surprised...he said the park's publicity kit records it as 2 minutes, give or take...I managed to ride this coaster just once on my trip because I had much more to cover.

Great Bear was next on tap. I looked at this monster with a little trepidation. After all, I had never met a Bolliger and Mabillard coaster yet that hasn't kicked the you-know-what out of me. I was pleasantly surprised to discover just how smooth this ride was. I left it without having my ears boxed or the wrenched shoulders that I've become accustomed to. I have finally found a suspended coaster that I can actually deal with!!! This coaster also accounted for my longest waiting time, since I tend to wait for a front seat and I was there for almost (drum roll, please!) 15 minutes...

On the way to Midway America, I ran into the trailblazer. Not a bad little mine train for the money, but I wish that more of the scenic enhancements were angled towards the coaster rather than all facing the train ride, which I believe was not running that day. Due to the relative tameness of the ride, I was able to try to get a peek at the scenery...but, unlike "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" at Disney, there was not much here that was intended for perusal strictly by Trailblazer riders.

I had almost forgotten that HersheyPark actually has a fully operating zoo. ZooAmerica became my next stop along the way. There weren't any lions or tigers, but oh my, were there bears...I spent about 20 minutes wandering through the paths. The wolves looked most pathetic of all, obviously not being exceptionally fond of the rain. Admittedly, too, I came up with a horrible pun on my way through into HersheyPark. I told the gate tenders AFTER they let me back in, rather than risk being thrown out on my ear for this one:

If a buffalo lived to be 200 years old, would he celebrate a Bison-tennial? (Okay, okay...enough of the tomatoes, already...)

A boomerang coaster, I've found, is a boomerang coaster regardless of how tall or how fast the parks may claim them to be, and Sidewinder is certainly not a unique addition to the fleet of Vekoma ride experiences. It was, however, easy enough to hop into the front seat and ride her twice. I guess, from that perspective, I can't complain too much...

I pushed and shoved my way through the crowds (can't you just SMELL the sarcasm, here) to get to Lightning Racers, next...I was easily able to ride both trains, first the red, then the green...In each case, I found myself on the winning side and was pleasantly surprised that, even though the timing is the same on both sides, the ride experience is a little different...what a smooth wooden coaster!!!

I would imagine that Roller Soaker would be a lot more fun on a hot midsummer day. What a great way to mix two pleasures into one...a roller coaster and a water ride. It's not a GREAT coaster...nor is it a long one, but what fun it must be to waterbomb parkgoers as you laughingly sail by overhead...Wait, you mean they can shoot back?

Who's clever idea was it to put the Wildcat right across from the Wild Mouse, anyway? I liked the mouse a lot, despite it's rough ride...but you don't go onto a ride like this one and expect it to be like a stroll in the park, anyway, right? I rode around on it twice.

The line for Wildcat was non-existant at 7:30 PM...No, I mean, literally...there was NO ONE in line. I hopped right into the front seat and was jossled and shaken quite a bit on this little beastie. When I arrived back at the station, I called out, "Again, Jeeves," to the operator. After checking the harness for a second time, the coaster was once again dispatched and I had, basically, two rides for the price of one...

Unfortunately, the day was coming to an end and the park was shutting down. I hurried back to the front of the park and had just enough time to ride Comet one last time before setting out on the road. What a marvelous way to end the day...

I had planned to stay in PA for the night and visit Knoebels on Wednesday, but knowing that it would be raining the next day actually put the kibosh on that idea. I set out on the road for home and got there around 1:00 AM...but with memories of a great day behind me.

It's rather funny...I added nine coasters to my "official" ride count that day, but in reality, I only rode six I had never been on in the past...so, in a manner of speaking, two coaster counts went up at the same time. I'm starting to like this book idea, more and more!!!

Don't you just love the rain?
Writing a book about roller coasters sure has it's ups and downs...

Man, do I have a long way to go...5 parks down, 70 to go...

Coaster Count -- 20

Monday, June 9, 2003 8:49 AM

R. Bernard said:

I have finally found a suspended coaster that I can actually deal with!!!

uh,,,,,,,,,,,its an invert not a suspended coaster

Monday, June 9, 2003 9:01 AM
Well....if the trains are indeed suspended under the track you could arguably say it's a suspended coaster. After all, doesn't Vekoma call its full-circuit invert a Suspended Looping Coaster?

Thanks for taking the time and effort to submit a TR.


The CPlaya 100--6 days, 9 parks, 47 coasters, 2037 miles and a winner.....LoCoSuMo.
*** This post was edited by CoastaPlaya 6/9/2003 1:02:27 PM ***

Monday, June 9, 2003 9:38 AM
Truth be told... the Wild Mouse was actually put across from the Wild Cat (seeing that the Cat was the first installed).

There was a time in the 1990's when two of Hershey's coasters shared names with two Hershey sports teams... the Great Bear and the Hershey Bears (AHL hockey) and the Wildcat and the Hershey Wildcats (soccer... now defunct). Granted, this was purely a conincidence... seeing as the Great Bear was named after constellation Ursae Major and not the namial and the Wildcat was named after the park's first coaster (Wildcat, 1923-1945, Herb Schmeck / PTC).

As for Knoebels and rain. Not sure of their procedures on weekdays, but I do know that on Fridays and weekends they do in fact operate in moderate rain. Actually, some of my best visits to Knoebels have been in the rain. Can't beat Twister and especially Phoenix during a good rain.

Kind of hard to take a post as objective if a park or coaster name is part of the "user name"

Monday, June 9, 2003 9:55 PM
Thank you all for your responses...to address each of them:

Dante, I stand corrected...it is indeed an inverted coaster, however, I have always referred to this type of coaster in conversations as suspended since riders do technically "hang" from the tracks, rather than ride upon them. It is, of course, different from the "suspended" coasters with enclosed cars like Iron Dragon or Big Bad Wolf, but I still think of them as "suspended" never-the-less.

Thanx for your kind words, Coasta. You can follow my continuing adventures in this forum as I travel the northeast gathering info for my book. Hope you get as much of a kick out of reading my trip reports as I get out of writing them.

SLFAKE: I stand corrected yet again...but the humor in my question dealt more with the "Cat and Mouse" question rather which came first, the hunter or the prey...

You obviously sound like you know a bit about the history of HersheyPark. I just might have to pick your brain sometime...if you'll let me, that is. (Don't worry...I won't cause any permanent damage)

Writing a book about roller coasters sure has it's ups and downs...

Man, do I have a long way to go...5 parks down, 70 to go...

Coaster Count -- 20


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