Dorney Park & Hersheypark (8/31/2003)

Associated parks:

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Weather: Sunny and comfortable

Dorney Park

I had wanted to get back to Dorney all summer, especially after seeing its lights as we passed by on our return from our recent vacation. Michele had to work a weekend shift, so I decided to make a solo trip to the park.

Being a holiday weekend and a Sunday, I knew that the crowds would either be light or very heavy. When I arrived at 11:00am, I found a large crowd at the entrance. The longest wait of the day was to buy my ticket… half an hour. Once inside the gate, many of the people (most of them?) seemed to turn right and enter Wild Water Kingdom.

First up: Talon: The second longest line of the day at 15 minutes for a front seat. It would not have been this long except for the fact that there was a mechanic working on the turnstile and an employee manually doing “crowd control” and also counting the number of riders with a little hand clicker. I had nearly forgotten how great this coaster is. Good intensity and great pacing. I especially like that ground level helix near the end. Non ride related… in the past two years the bushes and plants around the queue line have grown quite a bit… almost like walking through a mini jungle to get to the ride… kind of neat.

Seeing that the line had grown longer when my Talon ride was over, I decided to move on. Skipping the Wild Mouse, I headed for Hercules and a short wait for the 3rd seat. The run from the station to the bottom of the lift is still fun (more fun that the entire course of some other coasters I know of). The top of the drop still has that break… but I was expecting that. What I was not expecting was a relatively smooth ride (by Hercules’ standards). This coaster truly gets a bad rap. It is not as bad as everyone makes it sound. When it is having a good day, it can be kind of fun… on a bad day though… kind of painful.

Venturing down over the hill to the older section of the park I got in line for Thunderhawk. Line is a bad description. There was a line (2 trains maybe) for seat 1 and for seat 3 (1 train wait), but a walk on for seat 2, so my decision of where to sit was made. I was actually surprised by the air at the tops of the 3 main hills after the first drop. The trim was at little annoying on the bunny hops, but oh well. Still a great coaster for its size… but then again… it is a Schmeck design, so what else is new? A nother 2nd seat walk on and a back seat walk on followed. With the line growing at Thunderhawk (Okay… no real line… a 1 train wait… but no longer a walk on), I continued on my way.

Two years ago I sold Laser short. I didn’t think much of it then. My opinion has changed after this latest visit. Short, but intense, a very good little coaster, and one of the few that I get dizzy from riding. While fun, two rides in a row were all my equilibrium could handle.

By now I had made my way to the far corner of the park and Steel Force. Remembering how this is a “front seat coaster” in my book, I chose seat 2 (shorter wait than seat 1, same effect) . Still a great coaster. Great drop, floating air on the second and third hills, fast helix, constant air on the bunny hops into the station. More “graceful” than “thrilling”, this is still my favorite hyper. Over the course of 50 minutes, I hopped 5 rides on this one.

I then decided to make my way back to the entrance… but not before I did two more rides on Thunderhawk (3rd seat… talk about ejector air!), 1 more on Hercules (a bit rougher in the back seat) and 4 more on Talon. I’ll say again… I forgot how good Talon was. After another front seat ride, I decided to try the back. Kind of intense and with some air time back there, I still like the front for the visuals. My 4th ride on here was in seat two (it was a walk on). Okay… next to the front, I will take the second seat (you still get some visuals between the front seats), but for my final ride I decided to wait for the front again. The wait was only around 5 minutes… not bad for any coaster ride, especially one as great as the front seat of Talon.

By now it was nearing 4pm. I on my way home I had planned on stopping at Hersheypark to finish out the day so I decided to call it a day here at Dorney.

I can’t comment on food or drink (I only had a Snickers bar from a vending machine), but over all the park was clean and well kept (as I remembered it) and the ops were efficient, courteous and professional. What surprised me were the lines, or lack there of. It is amazing how I managed to get in as many rides in one hour here at Dorney (5 on average) than I got in during an entire day at Great Escape while on vacation. Lower and more dispersed crowds were probably the main cause… but also efficient operations and two train operations on Talon and Steel Force sure helped.

Hersheypark (well… almost)

As I neared Hershey, I had the feeling that something was up. There was a good bit of traffic exiting I-81 at Grantville and all of it was traveling toward Hershey on Rt 743. When I got to Hersheypark Drive, I found very heavy traffic, and also I saw signs that said “Concert Traffic Keep Right”. Uh Oh. Cars were being parked in the grass field across HP drive from the park, and the parking lots for the park were very full. I saw a lot of people wearing KISS T-shirts (and 70’s stype hair cuts) heading toward the park… and then I remembered hearing on the radio about a KISS concert at Hersheypark Stadium. KISS? Come on… how old are those guys now?

Anyway, I did not want to fight this crowd, so I decided to pass on Hershey. There are still 3 weekends left in their season, so I’ll get there on those. Rather than fight the traffic on HP drive, I cut down Rt 743 and into the middle of town. Traffic going my direction was nothing, but going toward park it was backed up all along 743 from HP drive, past Lightning Racer, under the monorail and footbridge to Zoo America, across the RR bridge, and back to the traffic light between the old Hershey Department Store (Posers) and the former Hershey Drug Store.

While this is was not a really a park visit, I did notice something… sections of red Intamin box track and silver / grey colored supports laying in the strip of land between Lightning Racer and Rt 743. Some of the parts for the new coaster are on sight… now all we need to know is the name.

Half of the people surveyed agree, half disagree and another half are unsure.
*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 9/3/2003 11:09:06 AM ***

Just as an aside, I was actually @ HP on that Sunday. The park itself was not that crowded at all. I mean, yes, there were a ton of people, but with the exceptions of Trailblazer and Sidewinder (one train) the lines were quite reasonable all day.

Now, I got to the park near opening and left near closing so I didnt have to deal with any concert traffic, but *inside* the park, things were hunky-dorey.

lata, jeremy

--who was indeed amazed at the people parking in the grass.

BTW: It was a combo KISS / Aerosmith concert. Can you say "Old Farts"?

Yeah, well... if I were a little more adventurous I would have probably ventured in... but, as I said, knowing that there are 3 more weekends of operaiton, I'll get there at least once more before the end of the season (and at least once for HP in the Dark)

Later that evening my wife and I were watching "I Love the 70's" on VH1 (hilarious, especially if you actually remember the 70's). In the episode for 1977 they had a segment on KISS... Now I don't know how old those guys were back then... but if they were only in their 20's, they would be in their late 40's, early 50's today... if they were older.....

As for the people walking toward the park... nothing but T-shirts that were about a size too small (probably the right size when their owners bought them) and mullets as far as the eye could see.

Half of the people surveyed agree, half disagree and another half are unsure.
*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 9/3/2003 4:00:16 PM ***

I believe Gene Simmons just turned 54. It was cool seeing The Claw at HP on Extreme Rides 2003, if only for a few seconds.
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