9/23 Ride for Relief II Hersheypark--A short trip packed with lots of rides

Associated parks:
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Saturday, September 24, 2005 2:22 AM
Leaving late from Baltimore (around 4pm), I knew I was going to be fairly late getting to Hershey, PA. I saw a massive backup on the southbound side around the Maryland line and feared the worst. I’d estimate the backup lasted a good five miles or so, and at the speed they were traveling, it was probably easily a thirty-minute backup. Normally, I’d blame Pennsylvania for the construction, as it’s almost always their fault. Well, not this time. Using my rented Kia Optima which has a pretty kick-ass engine, I managed to pull off a few 80mph sections. As I pulled into the parking lot, I was cursing whoever thought the new parking lot design was great.

Anyway, I thought the event was going to be somewhat stripped down. But, it was anything but. There was lots of entertainment, characters, and greeters at the front gate. Every ride was running with the exception of Tidal Force, Canyon River Rapids, and Western Chute Out. Sure, there weren’t as many food or gift places open, but there was still enough open to satisfy everyone.

I sat down in the seat of Storm Runner at 6:21. I probably lost 20 minutes just between traveling through the badly laid-out parking lot, walking two miles to the ticket booths, and then hiking back to Frontier Land. So I don’t think I did too bad on the ride up. Suprisingly, the SR station was fairly full already. I basically took my time tonight since it was $15 and the last time I killed myself trying to fit the park into two hours. The hills of Hershey caused to me to pull a muscle in the back of one of my legs. NEVER AGAIN.

I did the usual one and done Sidewinder trip. I then headed to my favorite HP flat ride––The Claw. The first ride was uninspiring to say the least. We were on the bottom side everytime. I immediately did a re-ride, and it was definitely an improvement. It still however cannot hold a candle to Technical Park’s Street Fighter. Having only four sweeps vs. eight makes a HUGE difference. Even the Afterburner––which is the blueprint for the Claw––is better due to having two fewer sweeps.

On my way to Wildcat, a helicopter went overhead that landed in the field over by Lightning Racer. It was one of several rescue vehicles they had on display, and it wasn’t the only helicopter on site. So then I rode Wildcat––which has these new seat dividers that could cause problems for larger riders. They’re square shaped with the center being empty and they come up about hip height on me, and I’m 5’8” (more on these later). It was a great ride as always, but halfway through the ride I felt a pen roll under my feet and I thought it was mine. So I’ve got my left foot stomped down on this pen while getting thrown all around. We get to the end, and it’s not mine.

I quickly hit my favorite outdoor mouse and looked at the Chaos and thought “I’ll come back later, it may be my last chance” (sorry about the pun). I went next to Lightning Racer where I wanted to test out the ‘Lightning is always winning this year’ theory. One thing I must add first is with the exception of Comet, they were only running one train on Wildcat and LR. Well, sure enough, Lightning beat us. More on this later. Heading back in the other direction, I see a running Roller Soaker with something I’ve never seen before––all the water effects working. I’m telling you, this ride looks like pure evil with everything on. There’s multiple water curtains, mutiple geysers––that somehow know to go higher whenever a train is near, plus all the people on the ground with about as many weapon choices as in your average first person shooter games.

Heading back towards the front of the park, I again rode Storm Runner, which was getting more crowded. I walked onto Trailblazer and then took a relaxing ride on Flying Falcon. One thing I must add is that Hershey is very good at having food smells going around. While on Trailblazer or Storm Runner, you can smell the wonderful smell of death at Freeman’s BBQ. Sorry to all the vegetarians, but I was getting hungry. Once I saw the prices, I resisted. But what do I pass next but a Boardwalk Fries over by Great Bear. After my ride, resistance was futile, even at $3.30 for a small. Going with the theme of relaxation, I took the acrophobics three-minute worst nightmare ride called the Kissing Tower. Hey, it only goes up to 250ft, even though the tower is much taller. That should settle down your friends with height issues. Even with all the spinning, I still got to to see one Storm Runner run from up there and that was cool.

Getting my two Comet Hollow credits, I rode Super Dooper Looper and then Comet, which again had those funky seat divider things. Is this a new PTC invention, a Hershey thing or what? I’ll have to admit that the Comet is a great starter ride for kids and the parents who lug them on it, but it just has zero air. A small kid up front said it was boring. I kind of agree.

I still had time left, so I went back to Midway America, but on my way there, I rode the Huss-made Pirate. I don’t know if I’ve ridden this since my eight-grade field trip. It’s pretty lame, but good for kids I suppose. I then tempted fate and rode Chaos. Smartly, HP had every other seat section locked-off so as to balance out the ride better. I only managed four flips, which is pretty lousy for me. It’s hard by yourself though. Returning to the battle of the weather phenomonom, I chose Lightning. Again, it looked like Thunder had the edge throughout most of the race up until right near the end. Afterwards, I played around over in the Roller Soaker playground and managed to get a few folks wetter than they already were.

One more Storm Runner ride was in order, and even though the station had gotten even more crowded, I easily spotted that what looked like a huge line was only for the front row. The ‘balcony’ coming off of the steps is a great feature when you’re trying to figure out where to go and on which side. I waited one train to get a spot in the second row. Wrapping up the night, I wanted another fix on Wildcat, but when I came up the ramp and saw a huge line and one-train operation, I bagged that idea. Instead, I ended it off on a fun note with the Wild Mouse. On the way out, we were thanked for coming from the Salvation Army (I believe it was them) and for being a part of the 4,000 attendees. According to my math, that’s $60,000. How much of that money will actually end up in someone’s hand is another story. Not bad for an event that I only found out about on Monday (I believe).

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Sunday, September 25, 2005 11:23 AM
I had a blast on Friday evening as well. The Great Bear is awesome at night, Super Dooper Looper is incredible in complete darkness. The Comet was running incredible great, oh and the theory about lightning winning all of the time is just that, a theory. I rode the Thunder side and Thunder won.

Also, not only was the cost of admission being donated but the sales of the Ride for Relief shirts were being donated as well.

It was nice for the park to open and run almost all of the rides. It was definetly worth the 2 hour drive to the park.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005 9:46 PM
Hey, I wish I knew you were going. Everyone else I knew had to work. Sadly, I am a little bit sore again, but this time it was from trying to beat everyone out to the parking lot at the end of the night. I even left ten minutes early which is a rarity for me. When I saw that backup on I-83 going south, I feared the worst, but luckily at night there was no one in the way.
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Monday, September 26, 2005 11:04 PM
Sounds like it was a fun time. I would have liked to have gone, but since my hand was all bandaged up from surgery, and I really wasn't supposed to be using it that much (including driving), I decided to pass. It would have been too difficult just being a spectator-- which means I would end up riding something and really screwing my hand up. Looking forward to HP in the Dark.

Intamin, I'm laughing at your parking lot issues. I lucked out with my visits this year, ending up really close to the stadium each time. But there was one night last year I parked in front of the Giant center. We felt like we walked halfway to Harrisburg before we got there at the end of the night. Wasn't too hard to find the car though. I still haven't figured out how to park closer to Chocolate World, on the other side of the tramway.

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