CBCon - Dorney - Hydra - 5/21

Associated parks:

Monday, May 23, 2005 3:30 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar I'm not exactly an eloquent or entertaining storyteller so I'd simply like to share some random thoughts about the day.

Dorney Park - It's been almost 2 years since we lived in Allentown and made weekly (daily?) visits to the park. I always thought the park didn't get nearly the credit it deserves. Taking a whole season off and coming back was like seeing an old friend after a while. Same person, new haircut.

The park gets the old Cedar Fair "concrete jungle" stereotype, but with the sole exception of the top "L" shaped midway from the gate to Hydra, the park is filling in very nicely. Once you start making your way down the hill you'll find more and more tree lined and tree covered areas. Sure the midways are still the large, wide concrete 'big park' style walkways - but to be entirely honest, I like that feel.

As uncool as it is to say, Dorney remains one of my favorite parks.

STEEL FORCE - Ok, here's where I'm going to wander dangerously close to 'fanboy' territory - with Dorney's coaster collection. And what better place to start than the one that will get me into the most trouble?

If you've read anything I've ever written around here, you've probably caught my constant jabs at SFGAdv's Nitro. My main complaint is the over-engineered 'floaty' ride it gives. Well, let me just say I'd take one ride on SF over thirty on Nitro. Why? The floaty ride it gives.

Whaaaat!? (done in my best Moe Szyslak :) )

I dunno. Steel Force just does it for me. It's the 'floaty' counterpart to Magnum's 'ejector' ride. The rides are so much alike and so different at the same time. I thoroughly dig Magnum, but I think (again, as uncool as it may make me) I like Steel Force even more. I find myself just floating on every hill from the first drop into the tunnel all the way to the double-up at the end. Break it all up with the increasing lateral helix and I just find myself smiling after a lap on Steel Force.

Talon - Now here's a ride that's not so much underrated as it is a 'love it or hate it' ride. Most people I've talked to either rave about it or give me a disinterested 'meh' and move on.

I'm going to go out on my limb here again and call Talon my very favorite B&M Invert and certainly a ride that lands in my personal top 10. In the case of Talon I don't think there's a single standout moment or element, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. During the day Talon gives a wonderfully paced, exciting ride no matter how many laps I have on it (currently estimated at easily over 100) and at night it just seems to kick into overdrive and becomes a mass of steel hauling ass though it's layout with a vengeance.

I'm still a big proponent of riding this one in the back. Row 6 is (oddly enough) the sweet spot in my book but rows 7 & 8 are acceptable choices as well. I don't think the front part of the train gives you the little bits of "funny tummy" air that the back does. Row 6 after dark, kids. Good stuff.

Thunderhawk - I like this one too. I prefer front seat rides. My daughter is 7 and still relatively small. Even when strapped in safely and tightly, she has room to move. In the front of the train at the top of each big hill you get a hard pop of air. I feel it, but watching the train try to buck my kid from the seat is truly a trip to watch. If you ever want visual representation of the hard air Thunderhawk gives at three distinct points on the ride, sit near my little girl and watch her fly.

The only negative comment here is that the ride was really squealing around the turns. Like the Mean Streak 'wail of death' squeal. I'm not an expert, nor even knowledgeable, but I think someone needed greased up.

Laser - It's a Schwarzkopf and it has grey out level G's in the loops. Everything today's 'safe' coasters aren't and for that alone worth a lap or two every visit.

Wild Mouse - Oh, he's not going there! Yup. I'm talking Wild Mouse. Our first year at Dorney was 2002. The Wild Mouse was an overbraked travesty to the Wild Mouse name. In 2003, they seemed to let up on the brakes a bit and it got a little more intense, but still nothing like I'd done at other parks. In 2005, the brakes never touched until the bottom half of the ride and even then it was light taps rather than snug squeezes.

I'm not going to try to say the ride is great or it's up to par with models at parks that run wide open, but it's a vast improvement over just a few years ago.

Hydra - I know this is the one you're waiting for. Intamin Fan did a quick TR and called Hydra a 'safe' choice. I think that totally sums it up from one angle. It is certainly a safe choice. Or is it just the new 'family friendly' B&M? Who knows?

I didn't discuss the ride with anyone but the group I was with (coaster riders, but hardly enthusiasts) and the word that came up over and over was 'weird' - Yeah. Weird.

Between the 5 of us, we totaled 27 individual laps throughout the day and no one was able to really compare, rate or place the ride in comparison to other coasters. Weird, huh?

It certainly grew on us with more and more laps, but still I can't find a ride to compare it to effectively.

The layout is really unique and gives a ride appropriate of such a layout. Most noticeable to me way the way the individual elements seems to blend together from the drop to the exit of the Cobra Roll. They just seem to mesh together with the exit of one element becoming the beginning of the next right before your eyes like some kind of bizarre 60's style acid trip.

After the Cobra Roll the ride takes on a whole different vibe. Like someone designing a coaster in RCT and coming up with a great opening series, but having a hard time getting it to fit and connect at the end so they used what they could. From the airtime "S" turn to the final brake just seems to take on a whole different pacing and feel from the rest of the ride up to that point.

My personal take was that the front part of the train was 'smoother', but the back gave the better ride. I finally understand the comments about Scream's roughness or shuffling or whatever word is used to describe it. The back half of Hydra's train certainly has a 'roughness' or 'shuffle' to it that the front doesn't, but every single element delivered more when riding in the back of the train (the lone exception being the airtime "S" hill which I though was better in the front, even though it still felt too slow)

All in all I did enjoy the ride. It's better in every way than the coaster it replaced. It is certainly a 'safe' choice that will appeal to all kinds of riders, but as an enthusiast I think that was the one thing that kept me from raving about it. There is no standout moment and while I mention Talon having a whole greater than the sum of its parts, Hydra has a whole that is less than the sum of its parts. (if that's even possible or a logical phrase) It's just a weird ride.

As for the Jojo Roll. Again, I don't honestly know if I liked it or hated it. It's a unique moment in coaster history and a unique ride moment. You're out of your seat and in the harness the whole roll, but it's not uncomfortable in the least. At the same time, it's not overly thrilling and somehow screws with you before your ride really begins. I (we) talk about the 'pacing' of a ride and I think the Jojo Roll screws with the mindset of a ride having a pace to it at all. I wish I could grasp the words to sum it up better, but that's all I have at 3am.

Every single thing about the ride seemed to have opposite good and bad sides at the same time. Weird.

And just for Floorless coaster reference, I'm a huge Kraken fan, like Medusa at SFGAdv a lot, enjoyed my time on B:DK and am not a fan of Dominator at Geagua Lake.

Try to take that all in and come up with an answer for this ride because I can't. :)

CBCon - Good fun with an intimate group. (read: small & informal)

The lunch was standard Cedar Fair, so take that for what it's worth. Everyone seemed to wander in right around the beginning at 2pm and we only stuck around until about 3pm, but that still gave me some time to meet and talk to a few people.

Everyone started gathering in front of Meteor/Hydra right on time and while waiting 20 minutes or so for the park (or at least this area) to clear of guests, everyone talked as if long time friends. It was a small group and made for a good vibe. I was able to put quite a few more faces to screen names after this little gathering. Probably the highlight of the whole day for me was this time spent talking in person with some of the people I talk to online.

The entire group fit on two trains with no leftovers so it was pretty much 'ride until you're loopy' with everyone. The best part was there were really no 'noisy' riders in the bunch. No one screaming, wooing or cheering. On top of that Talon and Hydra are two of the quietest rides around. So you have these huge steel coasters, full of riders running two trains and everything is silent enough to hold conversation at a normal speaking level right beside the ride. It was creepy and hilarious at the same time.

When it was all said and done, the park left both coasters open an hour (give or take 15 minutes) and getting off either coaster at any time was purely optional as there were enough seats on each ride to hold everyone. I think the average was 6 laps on Hydra before needing a break and moving over to Talon where another 6 or 7 laps were possible, but I heard and saw more than a few people ducking out after 2 or 3 laps on Talon having had 'a little too much'

Heck, a dozen consecutive laps on almost any pair of coasters would make the best of us a little goofy.

Had some good conversation with a smaller group in front of Talon as the evening ended and the park began shutting down the ride. We ended up getting to our car around a quarter after eleven.

In the end the ERT was totally worth it and more exclusive than any ride time I've ever come across.

And hey, in my opinion, it certainly beat fighting the 6 hour lines in New Jersey. ;)

Monday, May 23, 2005 3:51 AM
I'd have loved to have headed up there for this, but it was just bad timing for me, as I had another engagement last weekend. Glad you had a good time at CB Con. Maybe I'll make it eventually. Guess I'll just have to Stalk you when I make it to Kennywood this summer, so that I can get your autograph on my RCT2 disc ;).
Monday, May 23, 2005 7:14 AM
I rode Hydra on Friday evening, no where near the number of times you rode it. I agree about the whole weirdness thing of the coaster. I thought it was better than Superman:Krypton Comet but it was lacking something or things that made it better than Kraken (the other two floorless coasters I've ridden). I kept thinking, why didn't they take it down the hill over the lake or add a misty tunnel to it. I liked the JoJo roll and the hanging feeling I got. Was disappointed about with the lack of air in parts of the ride but it had plenty of elements that twisted me all up inside. At times the ride was bumpy and I thought it was just me, but after reading a couple of TR that read the same thing I finally decided it wasn't me and that Kraken is better. Something I hard time deciding about.

Steel Force was okay for me. I got plenty of air particularly heading back into the station but after riding in a almost completely open train on Superman, I prefer Superman.

A day at the park is what you make it!

Monday, May 23, 2005 7:30 AM
Great TR Lord Gonchar. Being my first visit to Dorney, I think I agree with all of your observations. My opinion of Hydra is the ride rocks in the back but towards the front it is kind of "meh".

I really enjoyed Thunderhawk. But then again, woodies from this era are my favorite.

I loved Talon and agree it is one of the best I've experienced to date. The ERT was fantastic and kudos to the ride ops for staying the extra hour for us. What was really interesting was Impul-sive and I were the first to get on Talon for the ERT and we watched them "reboot" the ride which had basically gone into sleep mode for the night.

One of the Talon ride ops told me that they out did Hydra in terms of ridership that day by 1,000 passengers and were quite proud of it. I guess when you have a good product, it still draws.

Thanks to all who helped organize this event.

Other observations about Dorney in terms of the flats. We had a blast on the Crazy Cars. I've never been on anything like these before. The best is going full speed backwards and slamming people. I also thought their Whip was one of the best I've experienced, especially in terms of the whipping/side to side that occurs on the tangent sections.

I really like Revolution also. Now that I've been on Revolution and Max Air, I'm wondering why Kennywood didn't opt for one of these types and is going for the Screaming Swing instead.

Maybe we should plan a gathering for Buzzers at KW. They've been trying to organize a Phantom Phest event the last two seasons but it looks like it may fall through again this year.

I finished day 2 of the weekend with a trip to Knoebels. I agree that car 1 seat three on the Phoenix is the best seat in the train. The park was having a ride all day for only $16.50 which was a steal. I really enjoyed Twister this trip as well. The first time I rode it about three years ago it didn't leave with with a lasting impression, but after riding it multiple times toward the rear of the train, this ride definitely rocks. The Haunted House is definitely one of the best. I was surprised that Dorney does not have a single dark ride. Is this a Cedar Fair trait? Did Dorney ever have one in the past?

Blue Streak Marathon Rider 2003 and 2004 KW Gor_y Park Team Member
Monday, May 23, 2005 9:02 AM
Yep, I agree with all of that pretty much Gonch, good report. My wife and I made this our first trip to Dorney Park and also our first CB event. We had a fabulous time and we're actually quite impressed with the park.

After our 8 1/2 hr trip from Ann Arbor, Mich, we crashed at our hotel. The next morning we got a good head start and got ready and fed in record time and got to be one of the very few first cars in the lot. I felt like we were showing up at "Wallyworld" if you know what I mean - "first ones here ..." Anyway, after the gate opened we headed for Hydra and after a delay in getting it opened we went out front row in the first train out.

We bought our picture and then headed over to Talon and took 4 laps on that one. Then in order of proximity, we hit all the other coasters around the park. Afterwards it was pretty much time for lunch and we were quickly in, ate and got back out on that one.

By then it started to sprinkle a little and we headed out to the car for our rain gear and ended up waiting it out in the car for about 25-30 min or so. We came back in and did some souvenier shopping, and then hit a few more laps on Hydra and Talon.

Getting tired and needing a break we thought we'd head back out to our hotel room for a little while and then return for the ERT. Before leaving though we hit the Screaming Swing.

We returned a little after 9pm and hit a few laps on Steel Force before meeting at Hydra for ERT. 10 continuous laps on Hydra and 4 more on Talon made for a great way to end the night.

Lines were short all day. We loved all the coasters. The jojo on Hydra just made us laugh everytime we went through it. Talon is awesome and is a nice change from Raptor. We were very surprised by Steel Force, I think I much prefer that now over Magnum just the same reasons as Gonch mentioned. We loved the screaming swing. CP needs one of those.

We were very impressed with Dorney Park and it ended up being a much nicer park than anticipated. We'll definately make it back there in the future.


Monday, May 23, 2005 9:11 AM
eightdotthree's avatar I actually think the park's entire coaster collection is "safe." Talon, Steel Force and Thunderhawk (with its trims) were all very tame rides to me. From the reviews it appears Hydra is more of the same. Not to say I didnt enjoy myself when there, but it appears that they are setting the park up to be very non-offensive. Its hard for me to explain.

Glad to hear it was a good trip.

Monday, May 23, 2005 11:32 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

If you've read anything I've ever written around here, you've probably caught my constant jabs at SFGAdv's Nitro.

This is news to me.

Seriously though... great TR Gonch!

*** Edited 5/23/2005 3:33:21 PM UTC by Rob Ascough***

Monday, May 23, 2005 12:27 PM
Jeff's avatar Glad it went well. It seriously bums me out that I had to miss my own event, but I'm glad everyone seemed to have a good time.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Monday, May 23, 2005 12:44 PM

SpecialEd said:

I was surprised that Dorney does not have a single dark ride. Is this a Cedar Fair trait? Did Dorney ever have one in the past?

I remember a few from when I was a kid.

Journey to the Center of the Earth - a fun enclosed flume ride with a lift and drop at the end. The ride was very very slow. You would float past scenes of creatures and stuff. I always loved the end, when you would start to smell the grease from the lift. I think the ride was in the same building that had the old bumper cars and Thunderhawk station.

The Iceberg - I wish they never got rid of this thing. It was a "tea cup" type of ride in the dark. They played loud music, had a light show, and powerful AC. The best part was the back wall that had a mock up of the Titanic, with skulls in the port holes. The building was built to look like an iceberg from the outside.

A walk thru mine themed haunted house - I believe this was located in the basement of the Gold Mine Arcade. All I have is vague snapshot memories of it. Does anyone else remember? or have any info on it?


Monday, May 23, 2005 1:55 PM
Try this link for info on dark rides at Dorney.


Monday, May 23, 2005 2:07 PM
"Jojo roll" is quickly becoming as annoying as "plug 'n play woodie," "giga," and "immelman."
Monday, May 23, 2005 3:43 PM
You shouldn't have oughta gone and said that, millrace. Hehehehe.
Monday, May 23, 2005 8:53 PM
Great report. I would have loved have been there but I'll setttle for BeastBuzz I guess.

Sounds like Hydra has what many of us consider a "trademark" B&M ride. Thrilling in the very front, but the best ride is in the back. Apollo's Chariot and Raging Bull are the same way as many of us know.

"Heavily medicated for your safety!"

Monday, May 23, 2005 11:47 PM
This was my first CB event, and only my second ERT ever (PPP last year was my first), so I suppose I'm a late bloomer. I got to the park around 2:10, after a surprisingly uneventful ride on I-78, averaging 40-45 mph through the construction zone. Had a brief chat with the young parking attendant, who appreciated the Beatles tunes coming out of my car stereo (I'm pretty sure he said "Lennon" and not "lemon," as he pointed at my car).

Entered the park, walked down the midway, headed towards Hydra just for a look-see. Was also thinking at this time, I have no idea who else is here for this event, or what they even look like anyway. Just what does a coasterbuzzer look like anyway??? So I figured my best bet would be to head to the "grove" to see who was still around for lunch. Which was another adventure, since Dorney's map seems only to suggest generally where things are.

So after deciding that I wanted to take the walkway that was sort of behind the Whip, I turned the corner and Voila, there were pavilions. As was mentioned elsewhere, things were a little awkward there, as it seemed to me that everyone was already with their own groups and there wasn't too much mingling going on. Since it was my first event, I didn't want to be the same pushy, obnoxious person I am in here (: So I just limited myself to a few nods and "howzitgoins." Smooth, real smooth!

Anyway, after that it was ride, ride, ride. I decided to do T-hawk first, since I didn't get to ride it during Halloweekends last year. (It was closed because of the haunted maze in the walkway between the two coasters.) Rode toward the back, decent fun ride, slammed my shin right into the car when we hit the brakes. If this keeps up, I'll be using the barrier-free entrances before the day is over. Second thru fourth rides were all walk-ons, and the second seat is a much better ride. Great pops of air right as the car crested the hills. And now I knew to move the leg before we hit the brakes.

The best thing I have to report about Talon is that I can now sit in any seat, not just the "big guy" seats in Row 4 & 5. That alone made it a much more enjoyable ride than last year.
On one ride, it just started to spritz, at least I hoped it was rain and not a really nervous person in the row in front of me.

Just as I reached the picture booth, a pretty good rain started to come down. By the time I edged my way around the overhang on the arcade building, the rain stopped, and that was pretty much it for the whole day. What was weird is that each time it rained, it seemed to be getting blown in from a cloud that had already passed by, so it was raining while the sky was mostly blue and the sun was shining.

Got 6-7 rides in on Steel Force. Have to say I prefer the front end of the train to the back, you get airtime, but it's smoother and not as bumpy. (We middle agers appreciate smooth). You do get the different sensations on the first drop though, the pause in the front while you just perch there, vs. the pull right over the top you get in the back of the train.

My take on Hydra... I thought it was a really good, fun ride. Maybe not very intense, but the first drop is pretty steep. From there through the cobra roll, the elements are bang, bang, bang, one after the other. I think that's why the airtime hill that follow seems a little "dead" to some. Personally, I appreciated the chance to get my bearings again and figure out which direction I was actually going.

The infamous jo-jo roll, or shall we say P.L.I. (pre-lift inversion)for those not fond of the other phrase-- well I think it's a great element. It just totally cracked me up every time we went through it, no matter what row or seat I was in. You're hanging there longer than it appears when you watch a train. And there's a bit of a snap to it in the back rows as the front of the train starts to accelerate as it exits the roll and makes the turn for the lift hill.

The ERT was fantastic! Everyone was a lot more open and talking with each other as we gathered , comparing stories of the day and stories of other parks. I was honestly impressed that so many people traveled so far for this event. And I was a bit proud that this kind of small PA park impressed people who have been at dozens and dozens of other parks.

As was mentioned, the crowd didn't fill both trains on either ride-- I just hope that it wasn't that people decided not to come because the early reviews for Hydra weren't all outstanding-- if so, well it was their loss. That just made it more fun for the people who were there. It was sort of funny watching people scramble between rides to try a different row or seat each time. Oops, that row's full? Just wait off on the side for the next train, then hop on board.

Unfortunately for me, after 4 rides, the inversions and my allergy/sinus headache really didn't mix, so I gave up there. But I was determined to suck it up and get one front row ride on Talon. That really is one long damn walk up to the platform when you get to do it all at once without stopping every 3 feet!
The crews at both rides were really great, very friendly, laughing and joking with the riders. They actually thanked US for being there that day, which I thought was pretty nice.

After that, I figured I'd had it. I think my inner ear canal was lying somewhere under the jo-jo roll. It was time to head toward the parking lot where, as usual, my car seemed to be the furthest from the entrance.

At this point I realized I had a pounding headache AND hadn't had anything but some Italian ice since lunchtime. I was so hungry I was even willing to try that trashy McDonald's across from the park. The doors were locked, but one guy in the parking lot said the drive-thru was open. I told him I wouldn't trust this drive thru. Apparently familiar with this place, he replied, "I hear ya." Even the Hess Express next door was closed-- although the lady was willing to pass something through the little security window. I passed. Finally hit a BK out in Fogelsville with about 10 minutes to spare, then completed the rest of the hour long ride home.

So what else did I learn on this trip to Dorney? Well, those test seats outside rides have a variety of uses, such as phone booths for cell phone conversations, and apparently to lock your kid into when he needs a timeout. Also two vehicles will not fit into one parking spot-- and the SUV doesn't necessarily win, although it does inflict more damage. And if I ever hear the sound of a bouncing basketball again, it will be too soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 11:59 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

Whaaaat!? (done in my best Moe Szyslak )

Great application of a Simpson's reference! I find that just about any situation in life can be related to a Simpson's episode. Great to see someone else that appreciates the masterpiece that this show is.

Blue Streak Marathon Rider 2003 and 2004 KW Gor_y Park Team Member
Tuesday, May 24, 2005 2:06 PM
Yeah, a lack of darkrides seems to be a common theme at Cedar Fair parks, although some of Dorney's darkrides were removed before CF purchased the park.

A few comments...

ScottCim said:

Journey to the Center of the Earth - a fun enclosed flume ride with a lift and drop at the end. The ride was very very slow. You would float past scenes of creatures and stuff. I always loved the end, when you would start to smell the grease from the lift. I think the ride was in the same building that had the old bumper cars and Thunderhawk station.

The building was located right in front of it (if you're looking at Thunderhawk towards the hillside parking lot). I think the ride was located between the Thunderhawk's station and the picnic grove turnaround although it's likely it didn't go quite that far.

The Iceberg - I wish they never got rid of this thing. It was a "tea cup" type of ride in the dark. They played loud music, had a light show, and powerful AC. The best part was the back wall that had a mock up of the Titanic, with skulls in the port holes. The building was built to look like an iceberg from the outside.

It was a PTC Cuddle-Up, similiar to Hershey's old Coal Shaker. You can find smaller versions at parks like Seabreeze and Knoebels (referred to in industry terms as Crazy Daisys)

Friday, May 27, 2005 4:56 PM
I'll add my 2 cents here, it was amazing to go into a park and wait 1 train for any coaster, I was impressed.

I think the longest we waited was 20 minutes for the wild mouse.

Kudos to Jeff for setting this up although it was really funny in our group asking where he was and who was in charge. I think our part of the group nominated Gonch but by then the person who was in charge came and let us ride.

ERT was awesome, and I think it was Stanley76 who said that you had to ride Hydra in the front. Talk about a weird feeling. That JoJo roll was nuts. I think I sat next to Dannerman on that one.

Ran into Coy and him, my buddy and I went around and rode some rides before the ERT. We didn't make it to NYC Coy but thanks for the map tips.

I think someone else summed it up by stating the name tags should have had our screen names on them, it might have helped people be more social.

All in all, it was a great time, I am exhausted as me and my buddy did the 3 parks in 3 days as well. Look for a trip report in the next couple days.

Skol Vikings
Let's shoot us some deer Joe Joe!!!!

Friday, May 27, 2005 5:14 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I think our part of the group nominated Gonch but by then the person who was in charge came and let us ride.

If I had the power to put us on the rides, we'd have been on them. :)

While it seemed a bit unorganized at the time with us just waiting for nothing, in hinsight we were basically waiting around for the park to get the area cleared and get those wristbands on all of us.

In the end the park hooked us up with some serious ERT. :)

*** Edited 5/27/2005 9:14:22 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

Friday, May 27, 2005 5:53 PM
Yeah, in hindsight I wish I made more of an effort to meet more of you, but we were in such a hurry to get more rides in and had no trouble at that. Things seemed unorganized so we were in and out in a hurry. My wife and I were the couple in the Michigan State windbreakers. Counting ERT, we had 15 laps on Hydra and 10 on Talon for the day. Could have gotten more, but had other things we wanted to do too. ;)


Saturday, May 28, 2005 1:29 AM
OK, cyberdman. I chatted with you and your wife very briefly in line for Talon (first row) during ERT. We talked about our hometowns being on the name tags, and I remember asking how you liked your Dorney experience, since you had come all the way from Michigan. I was feeling those steps at the time-- I've never gone up those stairs so quickly-- well never been able to, actually.

Glad you had a good time here in PA.


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