Wednesday, June 20, 2001 12:44 AM
The Big Trip 2001 :
Eastern PA Tour
Hershey / Knoebels / Dorney
June 11-13, 2001
Day 2 :
June 13, 2001
After a good night's sleep at the McIntosh Inn of Allentown, which ran an hour longer than we expected due to the alarm clock not going off, Joe Cernelli, Jeff Gaddis, and myself got ready to head over to Dorney Park. Rollison decided not to accompany us to the park for a few reasons, mainly money. He chose to spend a quiet day at the hotel reading and watching the tube. His choice.
We arrived at Dorney after about a 20 minute drive from the hotel. Due to the lack of an alarm to wake us up, it was already 11:30. We weren't that upset, though, since we didn't spend the whole day at either of the two previous parks and had more than enough time to do everything we wanted. (I must admit, I would have loved to spend more time at Knoebel's, but we had to get to Allentown to check into the hotel.)
After paying the $26 admission charge, we entered the park. A worker walked up to us, who, at first glance, I thought would be one of those picture Nazis. Instead of carrying a camera, though, he held a clipboard. He asked us to take a quick survey, which we did. The questions were pretty simple, such as "Have you ever been to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom before?" and "How many people will you be spending the day with?" The whole thing didn't take longer than a minute, and he thanked us afterwards. He even complimented Joe's PSU hat.
After the survey, I noted that the gate area reminded me of Cedar Point. After walking through the ticket booths, you're greeted by a carousel, just like Cedar Point. After a quick stop in the bathroom, we started meandering around the park.
The park wasn't very crowded and didn't pick up all day. I suspect that most of the people who decided to visit the park that Wednesday afternoon were headed to the Wildwater Kingdom section. With temperatures flirting with 100 degrees, I don't blame them. If I would have had my swimming trunks with me, I would have been over there, too.
After seeing a decent sized line for Hercules, we decided to skip it. I had heard pretty bad reviews of this woodie, so I wasn't worried about riding it right away anyway. We walked down past Dominator and got in line for the first coaster of the day, the classic Thunderhawk.
With the exception of those built within the last five years or so, I'm not really a fan of modern-day wooden coasters. I love old coasters, such as Kennywood's Jack Rabbit, Racer, and Thunderbolt, as well as the newly-added-to-my-track record Phoenix. I was looking forward to this old ride, especially since it generally gets warm reviews.
Sadly, though, the ride didn't provide much airtime and ran pretty roughly. Good for the count, but other than that, not much else. Still, though, bigger and better things loom, and loom large, just beyond Thunderhawk.
We walked down the nicely landscaped path from Thunderhawk to Steel Force. I was pretty excited about this ride, not only because it's a hypercoaster, but because it's a Morgan. Interestingly enough, I expected this to be my second Morgan coaster, not my first. But, since I didn't get to Kennywood to ride Phantom's Revenge before the trip (and, as of this writing, I *still* haven't ridden it), Steel Force got the honor of being my introduction to D.H. Morgan.
I expected this line to be the longest or second longest, behind Talon, in the park. Luckily, we were met with a two-train wait. It stayed that way or shorter the entire day. Can't complain.
I love the retractable seat belts, which are also on Phantom's Revenge trains. (I said I haven't ridden it. I didn't say I haven't studied damn near every aspect of it. ;)) They make it a lot easier to board the train, as you're not worrying about getting the seat belt out from underneath you before you actually do sit. Plus, they increase throughput, since you don't have, as Greg Legowski so eloquently put it, "idiots looking for the seat belt they just sat on."
Steel Force is a smooth coaster (my favorite kind). The first drop into the tunnel is hardly the best drop on a coaster I've experienced. As you can see from the ground, the first drop sort of goes out before it goes down. There's probably a reason for it, but I certainly can't figure out why it does.
After going through a ground-level tunnel, the coaster heads over the second hill and then into a big helix near Hercules. It continues to run smoothly the whole way through. After the helix, the train moves through a long brake run that really takes speed off the train. A bit upsetting, but the airtime over the return hills is still good.
We ended up with about three or four laps on Steel Force throughout the day. I like it a lot, but it's really nothing to write home about in my opinion.
Next up on the agenda was Laser, a portable Schwarzkopf double-looping coaster. People had warned me about the slow lift hill, but that thing is ridiculous! Seriously now, what is up with that thing? Once the first three or four cars are out of the station, the speed picks up, sure, but before that, it's hardly going one-fourth of a mile per hour. Incredible!
The two loops after the first drop are pretty intense, but I enjoy some good positive vertical G's. The rest of the ride is few helices before hitting the brake run.
After Laser, we took a look at the two kiddie coasters right across from it, Little Laser and Dragon Coaster. Since the sign on Little Laser said riders must be less than 54" tall to ride, I didn't even take the time to look at Dragon Coaster. (I think I read somewhere that Dragon Coaster actually does allow taller riders to ride. Oh well.)
We started back towards the civilized part of the park. (I say "civilized" because when you're out by Laser, it seems like you're hardly in the park any more. Strange.) After checking out a few shops, we decided to head towards Talon.
This side of the park was much more crowded than the Steel Force side, I'm guessing due to the location of the water park. (Did I mention the temperature got near 100 degrees?) Even still, the line for Talon wasn't even down the steps. When we entered the station, we found a one-train wait, and with two-train operation which they ran all day, it's safe to call that a walk-on.
This was the first time I really noticed the beauty of B&M's four-wide seating. Talon, a brand-spankin' new-for-2001 B&M inverted masterpiece, had the shortest line in the park all day.
And it *is* a masterpiece. After coming off the lift, you drop down into the B&M signature dip. From that point until you hit the brakes, it's non-stop action. I love the extreme banking on the first drop. The train flies up to the riders left and then glides down the hill to the right. It actually gives a pretty good feeling of flight.
The bottom of the first drop is pretty intense with some strong positive G's. The loop is wonderfully smooth with more positive G's at the exit. The coaster then rises and goes through an awesome zero-G roll. After the roll, an Immelman links up beautifully with a tight helix. The coaster then heads back towards the lift hill, which it immediately dives under. The on-ride photo is taken at the bottom of the hill under the lift, a good spot since a lot of people aren't expecting it.
The coaster rolls through a flat spin before rising up into the final brake run. Interestingly enough, there's a great pop of airtime just before the brakes. In fact, I think the air there may be stronger than the air anywhere on Steel Force. I love Talon.
We took great advantage of the lack of line and rerode a few times. We ended up with around 7 or 8 laps during the course of the day. That coaster was obviously the best at Dorney, and probably lands at number two on my favorite steel coasters list.
Since it's sitting right there at Talon's exit, we decided to take a spin on Hang Time. It wasn't as intense as I thought it would be, but it's still not something I can really get my rocks off on.
We took a spin on their Wild Mouse, a Maurer Shone. Like Hershey's, it's not something I found to be all that interesting.
From there, we rode the Bavarian Wave Swinger, which Gaddis and I affectionately dubbed the "Comfy Swings." (In fact, we refer to every wave swinger ride by that name. If you don't get it, don't worry. It's a "you had to be there" kind of thing.)
We headed down towards Hercules. The wait for this coaster was probably the longest we faced all day, about five minutes. (Laser might have been longer due to that painfully slow lift hill.)
This Summers/Dinn coaster is extremely rough and not very interesting. The trims at the top of the first drop, I thought, were much, much more noticeable than those on Mean Streak, another Summers/Dinn disaster. The headrests are completely unnecessary (are the necessary on any wooden coaster?) and gave my head a few more bumps than I was expecting. Luckily, the damn thing didn't give me a headache. Once was enough on that ride. I now realize why they call it "Hurt-cules."
After stopping for a drink from the Taco Bell near the laser show area (the temperature got near 100 degrees, you know), we decided to ride Dominator, Space Shot side. The wait was short and the shot was good. That about wraps that up.
The rest of the day was filled with more rides on Talon and Steel Force. We stopped to rest, drink, and girl watch a lot during our stay at Dorney, as the temperature got near 100 degrees. (Did I tell you that yet?) It was a fun-filled day, but I do have a few complaints.
First of all, after spending the previous day at Knoebel's, it's obvious to me that Dorney does *not* know the value of shade. We were hard pressed to find a shady place to sit even near the food stands. Who wants to eat in the scorching sun in 100 degree weather?
Let me preface my second complaint by saying the employees at this park were all very nice. As I mentioned, the guy who asked us the survey questions was pretty cool. A ride op on Thunderhawk noted my CoasterBuzz shirt and asked if I was a "professional coaster rider," to which I replied, "Amateur for life!" And the Talon crew was fast, efficient, *and* friendly, a combo which is hard to find at some parks.
But then, there was the operator on Dominator's Turbo Drop side. We walked through the completely empty queue where the operator told us to go to spots 1, 2, and 3. We stood at our assigned spots for about two minutes before she started yelling for some kids to move to spots 3, 4, and 5. Since we had been at our assigned spots for some time without her saying anything to us, we didn't realize right away she was talking to us. I figured it out first, and started moving back to the spots she was calling out. When I did, she said "No!" Apparently, though, she was telling another group of people to not move to 3, 4, and 5, because when I stopped moving, she moved toward us and screamed, "YOU! The ones with the hats! Three! Four! And Five!"
Now... If we had been harassing her or goofing off or making noise or doing something, anything to upset her, I could see why she would deem it necessary to make fools out of us. But we weren't, and I found it extremely embarrassing to be yelled at for something we didn't do. After all, all three of us heard her tell us 1, 2, and 3. She couldn't have been talking to anyone else in line because we were the only ones there.
When I looked at the numbers on the ground around the ride, I realized that 3, 4, and 5 were grouped together, so it's a good thing that we were moved. Still, though, that leaves her in the wrong, as she originally told us the wrong numbers. If she would have politely told us she made a mistake, nobody would have cared. We would have kindly moved back and I know I would have assured her that it's no big deal, as I always do when something like that happens. But she didn't politely tell us to move, she screamed at us for no reason.
As you can tell, that really worked me up, and I'm sorry for rambling.
All in all, it was a great day at Dorney Park. We spent the last hour of the day sitting on a bench near the Carousel gift shop at the front of the park just watching people and talking. We all marveled over our sunburned arms from the past three days of riding and walking, and we also checked out all the Sixers jerseys and shirts around the park. Two people wore Lakers jerseys, which we all thought was clever.
We returned to the hotel to meet up with Roll, who told us about his great day of watching four straight hours of Duck Tales on HBO. After a quick dinner at a local McDonald's (which is a story in itself), we hit the sack.
Thursday, we drove back to Uniontown. The drive seemed much shorter than I expected. We left Allentown around 11:30 and got home around 3:30.
So there you have it. The Big Trip Report 2001, like its namesake, has come to a close. I hope you've enjoyed reading about the biggest coaster trek we've taken to date. I tried to make the report as interesting as I could while keeping to the actual events. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to either email them to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org , or you can post them as a reply to this post.
(Note: All three of the day's reports will be posted to both CoasterBuzz and rec.roller-coaster as identical copies, so if you've read one, no need to read the other.)
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