Dorney - June 1 - Fast Lane - Music In The Parks - Less Wait But More Weight

Sunday, June 3, 2012 2:00 AM

As usual, I will start with the things that most of you want to know and then I will give you the rest of the story…

Weather: Cloudy some periods of drizzle until we left the park (7:45) where it rained steadily on the ride home.

My school got to the park on or close to 1:00 PM. We traveled as a large group in 4 (full) large air-conditioned coach buses. Other parents met us there.

As expected, the parking lot was about 1/6 full, but the bus parking lot was very crowded. There were huge groups of children walking around - mostly in their school band, orchestra or chorus t-shirts. Lots of chaperones and overall though the mob was large…I would rate the general behavior of the crowd as exceptional considering how many people there were.

My goal was to experiment with the fast lane - and go on a few rides with my students. We did have to be a the awards ceremony at the picnic area at 6:30 and the staff traditionally has dinner together at the Gameday Grill at 5 PM - because it is the only air-conditioned sit-down facility in the park.

Unlike most days at Dorney, when we got there the weather was very cool, so the majority of people who would normally be at the waterpark side were - on the ride side of the park. This had a huge impact on my decision to get a fast lane wristband. I would spend the first half of the day with my boss who likes coasters a lot, but who doesn't care for slow-moving rides (Like trains) or spinning rides.

This was our conversation with the Fastlane lady:

Boss: How much is this thing?

Fast Lane: If the two of you get it, 45 dollars. (She may have said 40, I don't hear so well)

Boss: And this will get us to the front of the line on the coasters?

Fast Lane: Today it will.

Me: I thought it was a general reduction in waiting and that it would depend on the lines?

Fast Lane: Today you will most likely get to the front of the line on most of the rides because we've only sold 7 wristbands today.

Boss; That's it, so you want to do it?

Me: With the waterpark traffic on this side today….I'm in.

Talon: Regular 40 minute wait - Fastlane Wait 2 trains. It would have been one train, but (sigh) we both needed the larger seats in rows 3 and 4. (The boss and I are stereotypical coaster geeks…we love to ride, we hate to wait and we both need to loose quite a few pounds). Great ride as always. Talon is impressive and has a sense of never letting up on the speed. Pretty smooth ride with only traces of headbanging. While we were on the platform there were two people with crutches and a guest. I asked one of the kids how he uses the crutches to get on and off the ride and he pointed to his father and he said I give them to him to hold for me once I get on the ride.

Hydra: Regular wait 30 minutes. Fastlane wait - 2 trains. Again the Fastlane went right up to the loading platform and we could have waited about more 15 trains for the front seat, but we ended up needing the seats in rows 4 & 5 this time. These tended to have two seatbelts locking the harness instead of 1, so that's what we looked for. There was one of these seats in row 4 and 5. The ride itself…is a little lackluster compared to Talon. I do like the Jojo roll if only for its slow speed. (Does anyone know how that element got that name?) The first half of the ride was ok but then the headbanging was very noticeable and I felt that the ride was lackluster. People ride it because it's there but there it is not spectacular. I would give it a 5 or 6.

Steel Force: Regular wait 40 minutes. Fastlane wait 1 train. The seatbelt went out far and over my legs and clicked very easy. The bar came down easily without a staple. The first half of this ride was great…no shaking, nice floater hill action and a little faster than I remembered. The second half after the turns had considerably more shaking than I remembered. I'd give it a 7.

Stinger: Regular wait 40 minutes. Fastlane wait 2 trains. No special seats were needed. I want to compare this ride to the Sea Serpent at Mariners Landing. The seats were tilted and comfortable the harness clicked into place. This hangs down instead of riding on the tracks. I thought it would need to go up higher than it did in order to run the circuit. It went up pretty fast and releases you and you go through the elements pretty quickly. Not too much banging at all, but the ride is new. Going up the second spire you can see the thick chain doing its thing on the track and then back you go. It was fun and yet another Dorney Coaster with a small footprint next to possessed. It works though.

Dinosaur attraction: I didn't do this. A lot of people considering the crowd didn't do this. (It was a $5 upcharge!) I don't think it’s a good idea. It certainly isn't the kind of thing that people will do on repeat visits. Also, quite a few people were taking photos near the "Demo" that shows people how the dinosaurs will move inside. Sometimes a photo with the demo is all that you need. Same thing with movies…sometimes a trailer is enough too. If you can't get a park filled with kids interested in this on a cool day...it probably wasn't a good idea.

Dominator: Regular wait 10 minutes. Fastlane - next cycle. I had never been on this. I had been on a few others,,,Power Tower, Pittfall, Mach Tower a couple of months ago. I liked the action of being blasted up on the red tower. Very exhilarating! I would have liked to have stayed up there a
little longer. No seat problems at all and we got two decent bounces on it.

Snack. I hate the food at Dorney. More on this later. I will say though that the pretzel stick I had there was FANTASTIC!!!! The boss loved his too and we kept saying that this was the best edible thing the park has to offer. The fast lane allowed us to sit and talk in the shade for a relaxing half hour without worrying about getting on rides…even on a crowded day with the waterpark people on our side. That’s a biggie to me.

Bathrooms: All were very clean! The water fountain near the pretzel place had the coldest water I ever had from a theme park fountain. Very refreshing and at least two smart kids from other schools were filling up their empty water bottles.

At this point my boss wanted to head back to get a few things from his locker. As we were leaving, we saw quite a few families from our school and I went on Meteor with a group of children and their families. I ended up giving up my place so the children could ride together and I rode with other people that I didn't know.

Meteor: No pass help - 3 cycle wait. I love watching the platform drop. I like to press down with my waterpark shoes to make it seem like I am causing this to happen. It also looks like the arms of the ride are moving and not the platform. It's a cool optical illusion. Starting to go backwards was disorienting. It ended up being refreshing with the added mist coming down as droplet from white water landing. It was also cool as the ride was slowing (on top) to be hanging from my shoulder blades. I liked this ride and all of the kids and parents from the school liked it too. (No seat issues at all!) (7 out of 10)

White Water Landing - The ride was stuck as a boat was about to get off the rubber and into the trough. A mechanic and a girl running the ride took care of everything. We waited 3 cycles in the regular line with the kids and as we were going up, I realized this was a mistake.. It really is too cold and windy for this ride today. When we entered the trough the water we got a good splash and the bottom of the boat was filled and my waterpark shoes were drenched. The depth of the water was ankle-deep. I also realized I would be in the air-conditioned restaurant soon and I didn't want to get sick. Our big splash did get us soaked and the effect of these boats pushing water on to a bridge of people never gets old. I also must point out of all the rides in the park, this one was the easiest one to get in and out of….but when the lap bar comes down…you are stapled like a punch in the gut. WOW that hurt. (2 out of 10) But to be fair if it were 90 degrees on a summer day (9 out of 10).

Music Express -I rode this with one of my students and another lovely young lady from our school. They were playing some forgettable dance tune and it only went in one direction for two minutes. I would call it a family friendly speed. Now even though the parents of these wonderful children were in full sight in front of the ride, as a male teacher I want to be
careful of being appropriate at all times. I was very mindful to place my hands in a clasped position in front of me or clapping to the music before the ride started. There are too many bad teacher stories in the news and I don't ever want to be one of them. That being said, I would ride a ride like Kennywood's Bayern Kurve with a student unless we were all in separate cars. (6 out of ten)

Apollo - I like this ride a lot…and yet it can make me a little dizzy. The speed of this ride is deceptive. This time I rode with two students…but I was in my own car. (7 out of 10)

Dinner - The Game Day Grille was surprisingly not crowded and there were some of our parents (some with their own children and some alone) in the restaurant. The waitress couldn't have been any nicer or more accommodating, and she apologized that we could only have our burgers well done. When we asked why she told us that it the only way "they" will allow us to prepare them. In any case the menu hadn't really changed from last year. It's not good, when you are very hungry, and you are in a sports-themed restaurant, and you are paying a lot of money and you know the food is going to suck. I brought up a few comments that have come
up on this board and unanimously the consensus was that everyone would have agreed to pay considerably more for a meal in the same place that they were going to enjoy. The mozzarella sticks were bad. How could a mozzarella stick possibly be bad? Just ask the chefs at the Gameday Grill and they will tell you. The burger I ordered was just bad. I wouldn't know this but the boss was wondering why on the tv screens they were showing old football highlights from the 1980s? This can be done so much better and the CEO interview that Jeff posted mentioned food quality in some way. I hope he's right.

Picnic Grove - The awards ceremony was done at a faster pace this year. This is because the Music In The Parks People expanded and had to run three separate judging locations instead of two as in previous years. Both of my schools did very well…and every school gets to take home a trophy for their ratings. I will talk more about that later. One of my students got a special award for his musicianship and another of my students received one for her vocal performance at the other ceremony.

FastLane Thoughts = I can't think of a time during the summer going solo when I won't get this at Dorney. I liked the idea of using a wristband because I didn't have to carry an expensive and bulky pager with me all day (Like the Q bot). I also liked that both my boss and I each got a wristband. This means that if we decided to separate we both would still be able to use it. The disadvantage…would be that if you bought a Q-bot for two people, I could switch off on who I took to bypass the line. (I could treat a student to a line by-pass, and I could then do it again with another student. It doesn't matter which 2 go with Q bot…only that 2 go.)

Now here is the rest of the story…

I've said this before, but Music in the Parks is one of the greatest thing that ever happened to the folks who run Amusement Parks. This group basically fills a park with discounted tickets on days that these parks would probably be closed. Here's how it works (keep in mind this is opinionated).

A school's music director (band, orchestra and chorus) wants a cool way to keep everybody together and get their group "Judged" by high quality judges and then spend the day going on rides with their children. Or letting the chaperones do that. They make a reservation to bring their group to the park. For our school, the cost of each child was 109 dollars. This includes a t shirt, bus, park admission, cost of trophies, tolls, tips and hotel rooms for the bus drivers (which is part of their contract), bus parking, etc. They also charge the parents a discounted rate from the gate price for their tickets and their t-shirts.

Our buses pulled out of our school at 5:30 and got to the high school (which has fantastic musical facilities) about three hours later. The kids unpack their instruments and get ready to go to the rehearsal room. The parents then lineup to buy coffee and assorted stuff from the concession booth - which benefits the high school's music program. When it's time, the kids perform on the stage in a beautiful high school auditorium and get judged. The judges are announced before each performance including a list of their credentials. Since we have three performing groups, we have some of these memorized by the time we leave. They are in the back of the room, wear suits, take notes and speak softly into their micro recorders.

There is a representative from Music in the parks who checks in each group and tries to keep everyone on schedule. Some buses are late…this year we were very early and we were able to perform early. Now here is something that I didn't know…the Music In The Parks Lady also sells discounted tickets to the amusement park (which is about 20 minutes away from the high school). A few parents were buying tickets to be used on different days throughout the season. (They are good all year and are sold for 25 bucks each.) Next year I will plan ahead and purchase some for people who want them.

After the high school…we drive over to the middle school where the chorus sings and the kids in the band roll down the hill near the baseball field and get into non-serious trouble.

Later in the day….At the awards ceremony everyone gets trophies from participant, fair, good, excellent and superior. There is also a contest to sees who comes in first second and third. This is n't really a problem because each group is divided by class. So since we were the only elementary school, we came in "first" for all three categories. The middle school people did the same. The high school did the same. In case there were more than one school in a category, there was something like "Class A" for x many kids in a group. "Class B" for y many kids in a group. In other words…everyone wins. (Just like real life!)

Not every school at Music in the Parks is judged together. Since there were three different performing locations, there were 3 different ceremonies.

Here is the website for the organization.

http://www.musicintheparks.com/

Thank you for reading this. I will be happy to address all questions.

Last edited by Richie Reflux, Sunday, June 3, 2012 2:06 AM
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Sunday, June 3, 2012 12:52 PM

It's amazing what a difference one day makes. I was at Dorney the day before and both the ride side and waterpark were empty. When I went to ride Talon, the station had no one in it, I guess I'll be avoiding Friday's in late May and early June at Dorney if the waits you posted are a typical with all the school groups there.

Also interesting to hear how few Fast Lane wristbands were sold. I have been to Dorney 3 times this year and have yet to see a single person using Fast Lane and it's surprising to hear they sold less than 10 when you were there, maybe it won't be too popular at Dorney although I guess on a summer or Haunt Saturday, it will sell better.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012 2:57 PM

Isn't the Jojo roll named for the in house engineer who thought it up?

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Sunday, June 3, 2012 8:51 PM

Richie, please enlighten me as to which pretzel stand and water fountain you're referring to. I'm always on the lookout for a VERY cold water fountain, but the only ones at Dorney I've ever found to be better than room temperature are the ones by the restrooms on the hill just down from the carousel and the ones near the games area as you head toward Hang Time and Talon.

Incidentally, Meteor is my favorite ride in the park, including coasters.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012 10:16 PM

Apollo - - - > I truly have no idea about the inventer of the Jojo roll. It's a nice trick that I haven't seen in other parks before. (At leat the ones in striking distance to me.) I like to listen to the screams from the first-time people who have never been on the ride before.

Mike - - - > The pretzel stand is on the top of the hill. It say's somthing pretzels. It is a stand with a striepd awning. That's all I remember about it.

By the way I hate that hill at Dorney. It gets steeper each year and longer as the day gets later. The bathroom with the cold water is either near it or the one behind the whip. I was shocked when I drank from it. Very refreshing!

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Monday, June 4, 2012 10:27 AM

Richie Reflux said:

By the way I hate that hill at Dorney. It gets steeper each year and longer as the day gets later. The bathroom with the cold water is either near it or the one behind the whip. I was shocked when I drank from it. Very refreshing!

Richie, yes, that hill and the hill at Hershey around Trailblazer get worse every year, I swear. Then again, we ARE getting older. *sigh* lol

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