Dorney Park, 10/06/06, A Somewhat Hollow-Weekend

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Sunday, October 8, 2006 10:31 PM
Since a few folks mentioned a visit to Dorney as a P5-T (pre-PPP-park-trip), I figured why not. I had Friday off and could get all the errands I intended to do finished during the day, leaving the night open for a visit.

The park wasn't open until 6 PM anyway. And I planned on waiting until after rush hour anyway to head toward A-town. It was closer to 7 by the time I left home, and I still had to contend with about 4 miles of single lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-78 east. I didn't get to the (sparsely filled) parking lot until almost 8:15.

I noticed I was in the "Linus" section, the second tier of parking just behind the "Charlie Brown" section. Had to laugh thinking that the outlying sections of parking were for those marginal Peanuts characters like Shermy, Violet, and Frieda who only ever show up in the Christmas show. The real outcasts must get the "Pigpen" section.

Anyway, I placed a quick call to rollergator (whose idea this all was anyway) only to find his flight out of FL was majorly delayed and he was just leaving Philly. He was going to pass on Dorney and head straight to Danville. No big deal, Halloweekends have been a solo trip for me for the past few years anyway.

He also told me that T-hawk wasn't running (that I knew since it doesn't run at nights) and that Talon also was down. I looked up from just outside the gate and saw the inactive inverted. That sucks. Well, you just have to make the best of the situation.

First up for me was going to be my remaining credit-- the Wild Mouse. Yeah, I've never ridden it, and now that I have, I won't be going out of my way to do it again. It's average as far as Mice go, heavily braked and not as many dips as the one at Hershey.

But for me, the loading procedure was the worst part of the ride. As you get to the station, you're assigned to one of four rows. But then, they don't necessarily load cars in the order the rows are filled. An operation complicated by a shift change. As a result, at least 4 people who showed up after me got to ride before. I know it's a petty complaint, but still. The brake at the end was sudden too, enough to elicit an audible "JC" out of me.

Moving onward, I went next to Hydra. It was practically a walk-on. Well, it would have been except for the fact that they couldn't get the floor to drop and they had to empty the train before me. They announced the ride would be temporarily closed for maintenance and we could either wait in line or leave the way we came in. I didn't stay around to see how long the people in the previous train got to wait in the brake run.

OK, this was starting to piss me off. I certainly didn't pay 27 bucks for admission and parking to ride a Wild Mouse and a few flats. I made the long trek toward Steel Force. The trek seemed even longer passing games and refreshment stands with nobody in line and only a few people on the lower midway. When it isn't crowded, you really notice that there isn't that much once you cross the Zephyr tracks. (Suggestion: a few more family flats to compliment the kiddie rides would be nice).

Steel Force was a walk-into the station. No line even down the first set of stairs, let alone into the queues. They were running two trains, which were going out mostly full. When I got there, they were about 3-4 rides deep in the front third of the train, a few in the back and empty in the middle. I took the first seat in the third car, and about a minute and a half later was reminded why I prefer the front of the train.

I really like this coaster, I just can't sit toward the back or middle on it. The bottoms of the dips are a bit rough on the lumbar region. But the train was running great and the helix is fantastic, especially on a cool night like this.

Next was Laser, the ride with the longest trip up a lift hill. While in line, Zephyr passed us, which was the only time I saw the train run all night. I did have to contend with some obnoxious teens in line in front of me, then I had some little pre-teen girls run past me for the front seats. But I showed them as I plunked myself down in the third row separating their group. (Don't poke at the bear.) :) Once we started heading downhill, it was a really swift exciting ride. Love the double loops.

I decided that as long as I was here, I should take another circuit on the Force. This time in the third seat of the front car. That's the Steel Force I like, much smoother ride, nice airtime and that two or three seconds suspended till the rest of the train makes it over the top. This time even the guy at the mike was livelier and more animated.

Stopped near Dominator for some hot chocolate, noticed that was launching only every now and then. Figured I'd check out Hydra again, and saw it was running while I was walking back up the hill. Stood in the plaza till I finished my drink. Walked into the queue just in time to see a train stop about a quarter of the way up the lift hill. Is this ride cursed or what? After about 5 minutes, the ride started again, right as the sound system started playing Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious." Hmmmmm.

OK, we're going for it. Went into row 7 behind a teenage girl. Two women slightly younger than I filled out the row. The one next to me politely informed me she was a screamer. She was telling the truth-- from jo-jo roll to brake run. The ride itself was surprisingly smooth and fast, and the jo-jo still cracks me up. The screamer informed us that she lost her pretzel. Just where was she keeping it?

That was followed by a ride in row 2. Ah there's that vibration, and why did I have to start thinking about that thread about opening restraints while we were going up the lift hill? Had to follow that with a ride in the back row, my favorite. Again a very smooth ride. I happen to like this ride, not my favorite, but I like it nonetheless.

Before heading back to the main midway, I had to get a few bags of the 25-cent cotton candy. That was one thing you saw just about everybody in the park carrying. Good move by Cedar Fair. Let's face it, they're still making money on it, and many people think with the money they're saving there, they'll buy something else.

My last ride was on the "Cedar Freak" RR. I had never ridden this before, since the line was usually extremely long. This night, the line was just long enough to fill the next train. It was a decent ride, some nice effects. I just wish there had been more animated or interactive features. Only 1 or 2 live actors out along the track, a bunch were hanging out in the station though. They were spooking a few of the kids and teenage girls. I had one giving me a look so I said to him "I have cotton candy and I'm not afraid to use it." He cracked up. Gotcha!

All in all it wasn't a bad visit in 2 1/2 hours, so the title might be a bit misleading. I got to ride most of what I wanted to, but I was disappointed that Talon was down, and Hydra's ups and downs were frustrating. Most of the flats were running though, and everything was illuminated.

Mostly, the sparse crowd was a drag. It definitely took away from the atmosphere and made things feel more desolate. Having a park almost to yourself really isn't a good feeling. Hopefully they have better crowds the rest of the season.

And that was my PPP warmup.

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Sunday, October 8, 2006 10:45 PM
Why doesn't Thunderhawk run at night? I have never heard about that before...
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Sunday, October 8, 2006 10:58 PM
Just during Halloweekends, Dave. They don't run the Scrambler either because they have a haunted attraction along the walkway between the Hawk and Steel Force. The park map says it's because of the fog generated-- but I think it would be cool to ride T-hawk in the fog. I say run it in the dark and fog, and it won't bother the haunted walk either.
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Sunday, October 8, 2006 11:36 PM
The problem is that the both the entrance and exit to Thunderhawk are right in the middle of the Fright Zone walk through along with the other rides in the area so I guess they don't want people trying to walk to the rides when it's so dark and foggy. I think they should have just made the Fright Zone start past the Thunderhawk so it can run all night.

That's a shame Talon was closed. It must have been something that couldn't be fixed in enough time to get it open for the night since I have seen closed rides open back up even with only 2 - 3 hours before the park closes.

I also agree about the Wild Mouse loading issues. I have also had other people ride before I did when I was in front of them in line. The rule of 2 adults maximum per car also doesn't help.

The crowds you described are what's been typical so far for Halloweekends. I have been there every weekend since it started and other than the Wild Mouse and 1 day that Steel Force had a 10 minute wait, no coaster has had a wait of more than 5 minutes. I really don't understand it since it seems like Great Adventure has been packed these past few weeks (from reading other TR's) and it doesn't make sense that on a day like today where it was sunny and in the low 70's, there couldn't have been more than a few thousand people in the park. *** Edited 10/9/2006 3:46:54 PM UTC by YoshiFan***

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Sunday, October 8, 2006 11:59 PM
During the first year of Fright Zone they had the entrance past Scrambler and had Thunderhawk open. However, I believe the thick fog from Fright Zone was setting off sensors on Thunderhawk causing it to E-Stop, so in subsequent years they just closed Thunderhawk and made the Fright Zone longer.
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Monday, October 9, 2006 8:05 AM
Hmmmmmmmmmm coaster in the fog? I seem to remember riding one saturday night. It was awesome. So it makes me sad that they can't run T-Hawk with the fog.

Talon down, Hydra acting like a non B&M what is this world coming to?

Hope the rest of your weekend went well ;)

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Monday, October 9, 2006 9:07 AM
Thanks, RGB! I was concerned that the ride NEVER operated at night anymore!
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