A Hershey Miniature- 6/7/09

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Some co-workers and I decided we were going to get seats for the Calder Cup finals in which the Hershey Bears (hockey) are playing. We got tickets for the Sunday afternoon game, which would be played at 5:00. I figured the game would be over somewhere around 7:20 or 7:30 (if it ended in regulation). Since the park would be open until 10:00, I figured I would have time for about 2 hours of riding and strolling.

At around quarter past four, I was approaching from I-81, when traffic began to slow 2 miles from the park. That will happen when nearly 11,000 hockey fans converge on the Giant Center at the same time. I entered the long looping driveway around the arena, and when I got to the parking booth, I flashed my HP pass at the attendant and said I was going to the park, and she waved me through. Hockey fans were being charged $6.00. Well, I wasn't lying, I did go to the park eventually.

I passed by all the cars waiting to park close to the arena and went well down into the park parking area. I doubled back and found a spot right across from tram station 1. I figured this would work better than parking by the arena and walking all the way to the park, or vice versa. This would serve me well later in the evening.

The game was exciting, and the Bears pulled off a nail-biting 2-1 victory over the Manitoba Moose, even though the Moose came close to tying it in the closing minutes. I kept saying "no overtime, no overtime." As the jubilant fans exited the arena, many of us made our way over the bridge crossing Park Road. Unlike all the others who would sit in traffic, I headed over to the tram station, where a tram was just making its last boarding call. Good choice, because of the arena traffic, that station was as far as the tram was going today. Within seconds I was headed to the park entrance.

The weather was beautiful, one of the first warm sunny days in nearly two weeks. There were plenty of people in the park, but at this hour, there were far more leaving than entering. With limited time for riding, I had to choose which coasters to hit. I decided to head back to Midway America for the wooden coasters. The only bad thing about this is it's a 20-minute walk from the entrance to that part of the park. On the way back, I noticed all the other coasters running, including Storm Runner.

I noticed Wildcat going out with empty seats, so I figured I may as well go there first. As I navigated the queue, I remembered the days when they were all full and it took close to an hour to get on this ride. Tonight, it was a straight walk to the platform. They were running both trains, but were filling only the first four and last four seats. It was enough for a train or two wait. I went for the back seat and enjoyed a rough in a good way ride.

Next was Lightning Racer. I figured I'd get a lap on each side. I got to the queue entrance to be met by a group of people exiting. Then more, then a steady stream. I looked up to see one Thunder train sitting just beyond the station. One woman leaving the line said the ride was down, and they didn't know how long it would be till they started again. Just then I noticed 3 maintenance workers heading up to the station, so I took a chance that the wait wouldn't be too long and went up to the platform.

I went to the first seat of Thunder, where I've never ridden before in 9 years. The employee in the station was telling people not to bother waiting, but the few people there stayed put. We heard a few hisses and puffs of air and soon the stuck trains moved out and the trains that had been sitting in the brake run entered the station. The people got off those trains, and after a minute or so, somebody yelled to the operator "You can open the gates now." Hmmm, they were letting us on after cycling exactly zero trains?

It proved to be a good move as we headed out with no problem. Lightning won, as usual it seems, so I headed down the ramp and right back into line. This time I rode Lightning in the back seat. No events, and even though we were behind by about 4 seats at the second pass-by, Lightning came back to win again. Both rides were great, fast with a decent amount of airtime.

Maybe I'm getting old, but as I walked back toward the front of the park, I found myself debating whether to ride Fahrenheit (or fartin-right, as I tell my niece). I'm not wearing cargos, the pockets in these shorts might not hold everything, I don't want to lose my keys, phone, change... At the last second, I decided to go for it. Good thing too, because the line was the shortest I've seen yet, only 4 switchbacks deep. The wait was only 10-15 minutes, even though the loading wasn't the quickest. They weren't using single rider line, and had to call out for single riders a few times that I heard.

My first night ride on F-97 was worth it. You see even less going up the lift hill than in daylight. That still unnerves me a bit, being plastered to the back of your seat looking skyward. The Norwegian is still one of my favorite elements. I like how the ride pitches you slightly to one direction then rotates you in the opposite. The cobra still has that rattling. I wonder if that has anything to do with the "rescue" of the train when it valleyed during testing on opening day last year. We also booked it through the bunny hop near the end. That thing kicks ass, and is totally unexpected for first time riders. It gets almost as strong a reaction from people as the first drop.

Four rides on three coasters (or four depending how you count them) in a little more than an hour and a half. On the way out, I stopped for a Nathan's dog, since I only had a late breakfast, and figured I need some "real food" before I bought chocolate. Dog and a medium soda was $6.24, with the season pass discount. Yikes! My only complaint about the whole night. Visited the Chocolate house just outside the gate (better discount than Chocolate World) then hopped on the tram and got dropped off a few feet from my car.

That's one cool thing about having a season pass. It makes a quick visit like this possible. I feel like I had a fun night without worrying about what I paid at the gate and getting my money's worth. Thanks for perusing.

Carrie M.'s avatar

I completely agree about the season pass. I kind of take it for granted, but it's really nice to just go over for a few hours in the evening. And I enjoy it even more when I am able to use the preferred parking lot without any trouble. I think it's definitely a great value.

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

Nice TR, sounds like you got a decent amount in for a short time. I miss Hershey, someone out this way wanted to plan a road trip out to Hershey Park this summer, not sure if it will happen but it is a definite plan to get back next summer when I'll be in PA again! Until then I got IB to hang out at, lol.

Last edited by P18,

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