Dorney Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
Don’t laugh. I say this because of the numerous comments made on this site poking fun at Dorney. While it’s certainly not one of Cedar Fair’s top parks, it’s the perfect place to go for coaster enthusiasts who want to avoid extended wait times. For as long as I’ve been going there, the main draw has been the water park, and with the water park closed for the season attendance is way down. In fact I’ve never seen the parking lot as empty as it was on Sunday; it’s the first time in recent history that I was actually able to park fairly close to the entrance.
Although I usually save the best for last, I headed straight for Talon, the only adult coaster in the park for which I’ve ever had to wait more than 10 minutes. (Say what you like about the general public; they recognize this as the best coaster in the park.) When I got there the loading station was almost completely empty. There were so few people that I wondered why they were running two trains. I got on in no time and would have stayed on were it not for Dorney’s senseless prohibition against consecutive riding. This strikes me as particularly pointless when the loading station is practically empty. What do they seriously think is likely to happen were park guests to stay on the train in lieu of getting off, walking around, climbing the steps and getting on again? Are they afraid that people are going to pass out or puke? Hell, at my age I’d be more likely to pass out from the exertion of climbing the steps over and over than from riding. In any case, I went through this exercise 4 times in the space of about 20 minutes and didn’t change my opinion that Talon is seriously underrated. The layout is perfect, the zero-g roll is among the smoothest I’ve ever experienced and the swoop to the ground is a great coaster moment
Wild Mouse did have a wait, as is almost invariably the case with family coasters. On a crowded day I wouldn’t have been willing to wait for it but this was OK. I then went over to Hydra, which was almost as deserted as Talon, and took a seat in the last row. The train was empty except for a few people in the front. It was one and done. Not that I dislike Hydra; I can simply take it or leave it. Across from Hydra was my biggest challenge of the day: Meteor, a Zamperla Hawk 48. I still felt bad about declining to ride the installation at Kennywood (Aero 360) with a friend with whom I met up at the Coasting For Kids event last month so was determined to ride the one at Dorney (I’d ridden it years ago and hated it) even if it killed me. Fortunately, I found two little girls who were willing to ride with me. Otherwise, I’m not sure I could have done it; I was that terrified. Anyway, it wasn’t quite as awful as I remembered, except for hanging at the highest point.
It was time for a lunch break and as a lacto-vegetarian, I usually find myself at loose ends as to where to eat. The hostess at Chickie and Pete’s very helpfully told me that I could get mac & cheese without the crab around the corner at Suppertime, so I did and it was actually quite good. After lunch I went over to Thunderhawk, of which I have fond memories from way back when it was called simply The Coaster. My Aunt Agnes, who was crippled with polio and wore a leg brace but loved roller coasters took me to Dorney when I was 12 years old. I remember the track being painted yellow at the time and even remember what I was wearing (green Girl Scout shorts and a white blouse). Oddly, as much as I enjoyed our rides, except for some rides on the Coney Island Cyclone and original wooden Thunderbolt about 9 years later I never got on a roller coaster again until I was 59.
Steel Force, here I come. This was another one for which the loading station had very few people. As always, I thought that the helix was great and enjoyed the ejector airtime on the bunny hills at the end enough to want to keep going. So it was down the steps, around the bend and up the ramp two more times. This reminded me again of my friend from Kennywood, who was likewise unable to get consecutive rides despite needing a wheelchair to get to the loading area. I was also reminded of how much belly fat I’ve gained (too much mac & cheese), as the lap bar actually came into physical contact with me for the first time. By the 3 lap on Steel Force it had begun to rain, not very hard but hard enough to make me want to move on to something else in case conditions got worse. So I grabbed a ride on Possessed, which isn’t as good as it used to be because it no longer uses a holding brake on the straight spike. I considered riding Dominator, the drop tower, but would have had to ride it alone and I just don’t feel comfortable riding these types of rides without someone sitting next to me so I passed it up. Most of the other flats go in a circular motion, no good for someone such as myself with motion sickness, so instead I grabbed one more ride on Talon (still mostly empty) and left the park.
I just don't get the hatred for Dorney. While it's been 10 years since I've been there, I've always liked the place. Talon is a top invert, IMO, Hydra is okay, and any Morgan hyper is better than any Arrow hyper. Fight me.
Back when we used to fly in to Allentown for PPP, Dorney was always included in the itinerary. And our experience was always similar to yours, no lines at all and as many rides as you could handle. Nowadays, we just drive to Knoebels and do 2 full days. Did you attend PPP on the 5th with this trip? I hope you did, as it was a beautiful day on Saturday.
Nah, didn't get to Knoebels for PPP. Went to Knoebels on the 4th of July and had a blast but I'm content with going there just once a year. Dorney is an hour and a half drive, Knoebels 3 hours so whereas Dorney is a day trip for me, Knoebels involves an overnight stay. As to Morgan v. Arrow hypers, I don't know. I definitely prefer Steel Force to Magnum but Phantom's Revenge is a close call.
I was at the park on the 6th as well. Over the years I've grown to like Dorney more and more. I used to let the jokes about the park being a used ride dumping ground sour my opinion, but they really aren't bad rides. On top of that, I rarely ever have to wait for anything and it's a pretty solid park. I understand that some of the old charm was removed throughout the 90's, so I don't have that perspective of what the park used to be. But since my first visit in 2002 the park has really matured. The flat ride collection is pretty solid, too.
That said, my only complaint is Thunderhawk. Thunderhawk could be something special if it wasn't such a bumpy ride. I don't mean RMCing it, I mean really put some work into the track and change out the trim brake on the finale to a magnetic brake to make that hill not feel so jarring. The new train was definitely welcomed and I wish CP's Blue Streak would get this treatment as well (new trains no longer have the Volvo headrests).
Isn't Phantoms Revenge all Morgan now?
Except for the lift hill, it's all Morgan track in this POV from 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDylxkQDWAY
Dorney is a hidden gem. We’ve been there the last two Falls, and really enjoyed it both times. I’d like to get there to check out the waterpark sometime.
Bobbie- I used to love riding Wicked Twister in the rain, front seat. The rain seemed like it was funneled down the twisted spike. Is Possessed like that in the rain, too? Also what is a lacto-vegetarian?
Tommy- How was PPP? I’ve heard it get insanely busy around Knoebel’s for the Covered Bridge Festival... I gotta get to Knoebel’s one of these years.
My first and only trip to Dorney was a few years ago, and much as described - the waterpark was packed, and the rest of a really solid park was almost empty. (To be fair, it's a really good waterpark too.) I really liked Steel Force, maybe the smoothest coaster of any sort I've ever been on (and in that respect quite unlike the violent bunny hops on Phantom).
It's amazing to think that Thunderhawk (then "Coaster") was once on a prominent top-10 list. It's a perfectly fine ride, but man is this an indication of how the art has progressed in the last 45 years.
Thunderhawk is still my favorite wooden coaster, based on my rides in 2004-05. Not sure what's happened since then, but it was phenomenal then. And I don't remember ever hitting a trim anywhere.
I believe they changed the trains a few years ago. In the history timeline in the queue they sell it as "updating the safety system". Having only ridden it after that, I'd say the ride is simply "meh".
That said, I do enjoy Dorney and don't understand the hate. It's not top tier Cedar Fair, but the ride lineup is still pretty good. Talon is fantastic. Steel Force is pretty good. They have one of my favorite and most unique log flumes (the drop looks like the RCT/RCT log flume drops to me). They also seem to really be taking good care of Demon Drop, they have modified the ride sequence to hold before dropping for several seconds, and I get the impression they know they have the last one in the US and are doing their best to keep it going.
Vater, there is a trim on the uphill side of the second hill in the three hill finale of Thunderhawk. My thinking is that the brake run at the end isn't long enough to comfortably and safely stop a fully loaded speeding train. From what I understand, the station used to be after the transfer table, at the curve. So the stopping distance at the end was considerably cut down when the ride was reconfigured, I think that was done sometime in the mid-90's.
Shane, it wasn't raining hard enough for it to funnel down the twisted spike. Wicked Twister in the rain must have been something. A lacto-vegetarian is one who eats dairy - unlike a vegan, who eats only plant-based food. And Tommy, you're right. It would seem that the lift hill on Phantom's Revenge is the only thing left over from Arrow.
I turned in my enthusiast card years ago, so I don't feel bad that I didn't notice the trim on Thunderhawk. I think the entire turnaround is my favorite part of the ride.
They have one of my favorite and most unique log flumes (the drop looks like the RCT/RCT log flume drops to me).
Yet another reason I need to get there in the summer... We’ve only been there in the fall, in 2017 & 2018. 2017 was a HOT September day and they were running their Shoot the Chutes, but the log flume and river rapids were both closed. It turned into a perfect cool fall night and HAUNT was awesome. That prompted us to come back last year. We’ve found our Columbus Day weekend spot, and having Coaster Madness the same weekend is icing on the cake.
For me, the log flume and a chance to spend some time on Demon Drop again are alone worth the trip to Dorney.
For me, the log flume and a chance to spend some time on Demon Drop again are alone worth the trip to Dorney.
After seeing Demon Drop and Possessed, I want to take a trip up there next year.
That flume is pretty neat.
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