East Coast Trip Part Two - HersheyPark, Williams Grove

Associated parks:
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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:27 PM
WILLIAMS GROVE - August 16, 2005

We had first decided to hit Williams Grove the following day, but realized that it would jeopardize a few hours of our limited HersheyPark time. So instead, we wanted to hit it today, since we were staying near Hershey which meant we could stay quite late there tonight.

Waking up and looking outside, one could just see an absolutely miserable day. I was mortified - as I'd heard that the Grove runs next to nothing in the rain, and thus it would put our Cyclone trip in serious doubt. We trekked on anyway, despite downpours ranging from small to "Oh, Christ." in intensity. After getting lost on the way [since the Williams Grove sign is hidden behind trees], we finally made it to the park, and lo and behold, nothing was running. Cyclone's ride op mentioned that the brakes don't work well [or at all] in the rain, however since the rain was light, he would allow us to ride - if we found two other people. So, we set out to find two others to partake in the journey with us. Unfortunately, by the time we found them, it had begun to rain harder, and the op refused to dispatch the train. After a good 20 minutes sitting in Cyclone's lead seat, hoping and praying for the rain to subside, we gave up, and left William's Grove with no credits and, more important, no terrifying Cyclone experience. Having been told that this could likely be the last year of the park's operation, I was quite saddened to learn that I may never get to ride the Cyclone, especially when I was so close as to be SITTING IN THE FRONT SEAT of the train.

HERSHEYPARK - August 16, 2005

Defeated, we made our way to HersheyPark. Since it was still raining, we were holding out for smaller crowds. Unfortunately, this was not to be, as the place was absolutely packed. I was also pissed because, contrary to it's name, Storm Runner is not run in storms, and today did not look promising for us to get a spin. We tried to make the best of the situation, as we walked over just to make sure it was down. Sure enough, it was, so we headed on.

Trailblazer was first on our list. My girlfriend seemed to be hoping for an Adventure Express-like experience from it, which I had absolutely no expectations of. While the ride didn't suck, and offered some nice views, it was heavily braked, slow, and short. It was okay, and again, nice views, but really, it wasn't very good. Fortunately, we only waited a few minutes for it.

After confirming Storm Runner's lack of storm running, we hopped onto the Sidewinder for a surprisingly smooth [still rough, but not Head Spin at Geauga Lake rough] ride. While we were on, we noticed that the Wild Mouse wasn't running, either, which was slightly surprising but still meant one less ride for the day. We wandered around and observed Roller Soaker for awhile, deciding if today would be a better day to go on it [since we were already soaked]. We skipped it, for now, but later would return to debate it once more.

We headed to Lightning Racer, and managed to get another two or three spins on it. We enjoyed it just as much as the day before, and perhaps even more today. This is just a superb coaster, and I wish it was closer to us so we could experience it more frequently. We by-passed a ride on Wildcat, and instead headed over to Comet. The wait for Comet was out of the queue lines and spilled onto the main walkway, due to SLOW one train operation. So, we skipped that and headed to Sooperdooperlooper - which was down due to the rain. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Next up was Great Bear - which was also running just one train, despite the over an hour wait for it. Not only that, but dispatch times were terribly slow. I asked an op what the hell they were thinking, and they said that the second train would not be entering service today because "we don't want to put the train on in the rain". Yes, this was an actual response. How professional.

After over an hour and fifteen minute wait, we finally boarded Great Bear in the front seat. Unfortunately, as we headed up the hill, the rain REALLY started to come down, absolutely ruining the ride for us, as we were pelted in the face for the entire trip. I did noticed that the lay-out looked quite interesting, and I really liked the first drop. However, the ride was incredibly short, and after the camelback, it really didn't do much but a couple of turns and quite a bit of straight track. Maybe there was some great scenery in here that I was missing due to not being able to open my eyes. But yeah, I was let down at this one, especially since I was looking forward to it a lot. Not necessarily the coaster's fault, more the fault of the operators and the rain.

We had had enough of Hershey for the day, since a ton of rides were closed, and those that remained open had horribly long waits. So, we made up our minds to get Roller Soaker out of the way. I still did not really want to go on it at all, however my girlfriend was looking forward to it and so I let her talk me into it. Big mistake! After waiting nearly 15 minutes for THREE TRAINS to be dispatched, we boarded. This ride got me absolutely drenched, and it was freezing cold water. The ride might actually be refreshing on a hot day [although my guess is that the line would top two hours for it, so uh count me out], however on a rainy day that wasn't particularly hot, it was horrible! I got off the ride shivering, cursing and calling it the worst ride I've ever been on in my life. I've simmered a bit, and while I think it would be quite an amusing ride on a hot, dry summer day, the lines and the unbelieveably slow operation and dispatch would likely keep me away from ever going on it again.

After buying a towel and wringing out what clothes I had been wearing, we made our way to the front and left. We spent a good 30 minutes perusing the Hershey stores and buying some chocolate and whatnot, and then headed off to find a hotel to stay at. After a good hour and a half of searching, and being denied by hotels [and being offended by their tone of voice when dealing with us], we FINALLY found one that had an open room, the Country Hearth Inn. It turned out to be quite nice, and their front desk guy was a class act, juggling phone calls and a mob of families with ease, and still being fairly pleasant about it.

HERSHEYPARK - August 17, 2005

The weather was much improved, which we were infinitely thankful for. I dreaded the crowd that would be awaiting us, however it was not much larger [if larger at all] than the previous day's, and since every ride was open today, lines weren't too horrible.

We walked over to Comet again, and again the line was out of the queue and into the walkway. Skipping it, we headed to Sooperdooperlooper - which was, unfortunately, STILL down. So I guess perhaps the rain did not shut it down? We made our way to the back of the park next, passing up on Great Bear for now. We finally made it to the Storm Runner queue, and were informed that the wait was over an hour. AHHHHHH.

Luckily, we were covered by shade most of the time, and the wait wasn't unbearable. I decided we should head for the front for the first ride, because the wait would probably only increase as the day went on. After a 25 minute wait in the station [made longer by two sets of "handi-capped" people being handed front row seats, which is a whole other matter entirely and would lead to many angry discussions between us throughout the trip], we finally boarded. The launch was great, the hill was great. The Immelman was great. The heartline spin into the dive loop was great, however it did hurt my shoulders, but - that's it? That's really the whole ride? I was stunned! I had honestly thought there was at least one or two more elements to the ride, but that's it? People were foaming at the mouth for this? I did thoroughly enjoy what had been there, but my surprise at the sudden ending overshadowed that. Definately a great coaster, and something that's much better than Top Thrill Dragster, despite the size/intensity difference. But the length of this coaster really bothered me, even though really I should've known better.

After a long discussion about that, we found our way back at Lightning Racer for a few more rides to wash away the feeling of disappointment. I'm tempted to have this coaster replace Millenium Force as my number one, however I don't think I could ever see myself waiting upwards of four hours for four rides on this coaster during the day, as I can see myself doing with Millenium Force every time I'm at Cedar Point. So, Lightning Racer will have to stay at number two for now. As we left, we noticed Wild Mouse operating, so we headed on over to find that the line was coming out of the queues. Fortunately, there were no switchbacks open, thus making the line seem much longer than it was. We spent about 20 minutes there, talking to a woman and her daughter who were from Jersey. Quite nice people, and over the course of the trip, we met many more like them. Despite not meeting any enthusiasts, we did meet quite a few families, a couple of people who recognized the bands on my t-shirts, and a few drunks from Canada. While a select amount of people came off as complete morons and dicks over the course of the trip, the nice ones were far more memorable.

Back to the ride, as uh, well, it was a whole lot better than Dorney's, however it was still heavily braked and unenjoyable on a large scale. Canada's Wonderland's the Fly from 2002, you are not!

After we hit up the Mouse, we made our way back over to Comet. The line was shorter now - being contained within the queue, however it still looked too long for our tastes, so we skipped it and headed back to Sooperdooperlooper, which thankfully was back up and running. The line was short, only about five minutes for the front, and I had actually been impressed with the lay-out of the ride. While I liked the first drop and the loop, the speed just wasn't kept up, and the mid-course brakes slowed it down to a crawl, thus ruining the rest of the ride. There is absolutely nothing that ruins a ride for me more than harsh mid-course brakes, and it seems as though we've run into it on practically every coaster on the trip. What a buzzkill that was.

Noticing Comet's line was still long, we made our decision to save it for our last ride, and instead walked over to Great Bear. The line was only slightly shorter than yesterday, despite the fact that two trains were running today [even though they were being stacked terribly every ride]. After just under an hour, we boarded the front for, hopefully, a better ride. Luckily, we got it. The view was much better when I could keep my eyes open, and I actually felt a bit of intensity from the ride, which I didn't get the previous day. I didn't enjoy it as much as Talon at Dorney Park, but it was a vast improvement from the rain-soaked run we had taken earlier.

I had read quite a few reviews praising Comet's running this year, saying it was much better than it had been in prior years. So I was naturally excited to get on another good woodie on the trip. After almost an hour of waiting, we boarded the front seat. While the ride was really smooth, it didn't exactly burn through the track. I also didn't feel ANY air, which is quite odd for me on the front of a wooden coaster. I wasn't let down, however the ride was just mediocre. It reminded me of Silver Comet, in that it was like a kiddie woodie blown up and marketed as a full-sized one. I wanted to try the back out, but didn't particularly feel like waiting an hour for that, so instead we made our way back to Storm Runner.

We braved the even longer line-up to get another ride, since we both decided that one just wasn't enough, especially since we had both been dying to ride it for a long time. We sat near the back, and again, it was a really good ride, but just cut too short. It feels like it has so much more to give, but just gets cut off at the knees. Again, it wouldn't be the last time I would feel that on this trip.

Since HersheyPark was probably tied for my second most looked-forward-to park on the trip, with Williamsburg, I'd have to say that over-all, I was disappointed, though I still enjoyed it. The crews were slow, many of the rides weren't particularly good [or were good and just way too short], the crowds were far more than we predicted [which isn't the park's fault], the weather wasn't particularly cooperative [again, not the park's fault], and the whole mind-set I'd had of this being an absolutely terrific park was shattered. Would I go back again? I think I would give it a second chance to impress me more, sure. Factoring in that I'd get more rides on Lightning Racer would definately weigh heavily on the decision, too, of course.

Was the park good? On the second day, I'd have to say yes - although certain things still bothered me [the amount of "handi-capped" people who ride really bugs me. If you have two broken legs, why are you on a rollercoaster? If the sign says, "Will not accomodate people with the following conditions..", why are people with the following conditions granted special access? This is not just a fault with Hershey; this fault lies within parks around the country, around the world. However! There are certain things that would make it fine with me. The first would be if they were not allowed to ride on the front or back of the train. Rows with an extra-long queue to support the popularity of those seats should not be forced to wait even LONGER because someone else has deemed these people appropriate to skip the entire line. Sitting them in the middle seats would be more than adequate, and if they don't like it, well, they can wait in the line like the rest of the crowds. The second is the fact people who are waiting for the seats do not get a choice in whether to have their wait prolonged even further by people who are skipping the lines. If you're going to allow the front/back seats to be used by "handi-capped" people, then at least get permission from the people who've been waiting in line for an hour or more to get on that seat. I was told, quite rudely, by an employee that our ride would have to wait because "handi-capped" people were going to take a spin. Had he asked, "Would you mind waiting an extra turn as to allow these 'handi-capped' people to take a ride?" I may have been nice and allowed it [though I was frustrated enough by then to say "No, they can wait."], however an employee walking by me, not even breaking stride, and saying, "Don't board this train, 'handi-capped' people will be riding it instead." just pisses me right off. Another thing is, I watched as four perfectly healthy looking people were escorted to the front seat for the ride. I'm sure they could have something wrong with them, and that's fine. However, if you're healthy enough to walk from the elevator onto the ride, and down the ramp afterwards, then you're damn sure healthy enough to wait in line. No limping, no visible ailments, perfectly fine conversational skills - where's the "handi-cap"?

Sorry for the rant, however this has been eating away at me for a damn long time, and here I am finally letting it out. If anyone has good explanations for this, or would like to rebut, I'm all ears. Sorry for coming off as a prick, it just REALLY bothers me [as you can probably tell!] and situations like this would play a large part in making us quite angry through-out the trip. No more angry than this aforementioned moment, however. It was the pinnacle of anger!

BACK TO THE REVIEW! Anyway, Hershey's second day was far greater than the first, and I was having a great time throughout most of it. Despite the slow load times and the abundance of people, I enjoyed myself quite thoroughly, and even though there were certain instances that made me wish terrible things upon other human beings, I would consider going back for a return trip in hopes that it would perhaps be even better.

After leaving, we had the fun task of driving three hours south to get to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Fortunately, our hotel there, an EconoLodge, was not a dump, and we got some much needed rest, before our next day's activities!

NEXT: The trip takes a turn for the better! Less bitterness! More coasters! PKD and BGW! WOW!

*** Edited 8/31/2005 8:28:39 PM UTC by grind your soul*** *** Edited 8/31/2005 8:30:38 PM UTC by grind your soul*** *** Edited 8/31/2005 8:32:59 PM UTC by grind your soul*** *** Edited 8/31/2005 8:39:23 PM UTC by grind your soul*** *** Edited 8/31/2005 8:39:56 PM UTC by grind your soul***

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 11:36 PM
That 4-person rule for Cyclone is a bit frustrating. Did you at least get a pic of yourselves sitting in the front car? Too bad you didn't get to ride anything at WG.
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Thursday, September 1, 2005 12:21 AM
I prefer calling them, "People with disabilities." This term put the "people" in front of the "Disabilities", therefor implying that the person is much more importiant than the medical problem.

I don't say "blind girl". I say "girl who is blind", and I only say "blind" if I the blindness is important to the topic. most of the time I never have to mention the disability at all when talking about someone who has a disability.

I see where you are coming from when you say you find it unfair that a person with a disability shouldn't have the choice of seats, but I disagree. What if you were disabled in some way? Wouldn't you want to be allowed to ride in the front if desired?

I don't know the statistics, but I really don't think that those who are disabled that are cutting in front of the line waiters are a substantial amount of people. I see no problem with allowing someone who can't wait in line to take my turn and let me go after.

Some people with a disability may not look like they are disabled. They may not be able to stand for a long period of time, or may not be able to be in the sun for more than 15 minutes. They may have a problem with getting severely restless or nervousness if standing in line. They may have a problem with feeling weak and needing to sit every 5 or so minutes.

I agree with you that you should be asked and not told that someone is going to ride before you. I really don't know anyone who would say "NO!".

(Keep in mind all of this is coming from an avid Q-Bot hater.)

...

Yes Hersheypark has a few short coasters, and a few not-extremely-thrilling coasters, but it is still a really great park to me. I personally think SR and Wildcat are incredible.

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 2:43 PM
From what I understand (from relatives) the guests with disabilities is set up different at Hershey. Rather than just going up the exit and getting right on the ride, for every coaster but Sidewinder and Trailblazer, you go the entrance, give the employee a book and they give you a time to come back that is the wait time. Like if the line for a ride is an hour, and you give them the book at 3, you can't ride until 4. So they still have to wait the length of the line before you can ride, just not actually in the line. They also supposedly limit how many people can go on the ride at once. If your group has 5 people for example and you want to go on the wild mouse and only 1 person has a disability, they will only allow 3 other people to go with that 1 person because 4 seats is all the car has. On other rides like the swings, you can only take 1 other person with you. *** Edited 9/1/2005 6:50:58 PM UTC by YoshiFan***
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Thursday, September 1, 2005 3:03 PM
So (assuming Yoshi is correct), it works exactly like a q-bot. :)

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 3:15 PM
I think the main reason why I hate the system so much is that they didn't even bother asking, they just said, "You're skipping a ride." Had they asked, I would've been much more forgiving and less bitter.

And I did not know about that system, if it's truly in place, Yoshi. It would make a lot more sense than just letting them cut in whenever. However since it's not publicized anywhere, it's not common knowledge to me [or else I would've been more forgiving].

Thanks for the responses! Next review should be up soon.

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 3:23 PM
I would think the park may have a policy section on the park guide/map. It might be there. Or as the website says you can get it at certain locations or from the website. I think that's kind of fair that they don't give it to all upon entering the park but make it available to anyone who needs it. Click link below for the policy.

http://www.hersheypa.com/attractions/hersheypark/images/pdf/2005Disab_Guide.pdf

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 3:42 PM
There's probably just a generic blurb on the map that they accommodate riders with special needs. Most people probably skip over it thinking it doesn't apply to them anyway.

Maybe they should make everyone aware of how the policy works so people don't feel that they're being cut in front of.

Gonch, I guess the difference between this and the Q-bot though is that while you could sign up for one ride and then stand in line for others until your appointed time, someone disabled would have fewer choices in what to do while waiting for their time. I mean they probably wouldn't be able to wait in most regular lines anyway, and they could only have one slot open at a time.

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 3:48 PM
Yoshi, you got the system for guests with disabilites perfect. We used it last year with my mom who's disabled and it worked great. Also, Hershey for the rapids ride has a totally separate dock for guests with disabilites. It is on the path to the right (when facing the entrance) and when you get on the turntable, look to the right you'll see a boat in a separate channel outside the turntable, that's the one. This works great... cause in case of a transfer (took like 2-3 minutes to help my mom transfer), it doesn't disrupt the attraction. The only other 2 raft rides with that system are Kali River Rapids (WDW Animal Kingdom) and Grizzly Rapids Run at DCA. I'm curious as to why IOA didn't see it... fit to install such a thing?
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Thursday, September 1, 2005 3:51 PM

RatherGoodBear said:
Gonch, I guess the difference between this and the Q-bot though is that while you could sign up for one ride and then stand in line for others until your appointed time, someone disabled would have fewer choices in what to do while waiting for their time. I mean they probably wouldn't be able to wait in most regular lines anyway, and they could only have one slot open at a time.

Good point. I'd be ok if Q-bot worked that way as well. We rarely pull the two line thing and when we do it's usually letting the kids do something nearby while we wait.

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 5:33 PM
Well, not to totally divert this thread into a Q-bot discussion, but I think it's the park's hope that you spend the time waiting doing something that causes you to open your wallet, like eat, drink, play games, buy souvenirs.

Hmmm, notice that grind seems to get happier once he leaves PA. What's up with that?

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 6:44 PM
Well.. in PA, I did thoroughly enjoy Waldameer :P I still haven't been to Kennywood, either. Maybe that'll improve my mood somewhat!
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Thursday, September 1, 2005 10:40 PM
I was at Hersheypark at the same time as the original poster (Aug. 16 and 17), but I had a different experience. On Aug. 16, it rained off and on, but I thought they did a great job at keeping rides open whenever possible. I felt that the vast majority of rides were kept open even in the rain. By midafternoon, the steadier rain had passed and rides closed due to rain were opened. There was a healthy crowd considereing the weather, but the crowds were minimal compared to most sunny days. I had no problems with long lines at all, and I really enjoyed the day because of the reduced crowds. The day in general, but especially the second half of the day proved to be one of the best days to be at Hersheypark. Hersheypark's ability to keep rides open whenever possible and their ability to open rides as soon as it was safe impressed me. Many food stands closed early due to smaller crowds while rides were opened. I was appreciated Hersheypark's priorities.

The original posters comment that Aug. 17 was not much busier than the rainy day also does no coincide with my experience. It was a beautifully sunny day after the previous rainy day, and crowds were greater than I have ever seen them at Hersheypark. Simply put, it was a madhouse getting into the park and lines were long.

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Thursday, September 1, 2005 11:10 PM
We left around 6PM on the 16th, and it had been raining steadily throughout the day. While there were no heavy downpours, it was a steady rain throughout the day.

It broke for about 30 minutes at one point, and most of the rides shut down for rain were re-opened, only to be shut down again. Wild Mouse, to my knowledge, was never opened, though it could've been when the rain broke. A lot of flats were shut down throughout the rain, however a couple did re-open when it broke for that slight bit.

The crowds weren't "small". Waiting more than an hour for Great Bear, having Comet's line out of the queues, having a 45 minute wait for Sidewinder, and a 20 minute wait for Trailblazer constitutes small crowds? I'm not sure of an average Hershey day, since these were my first two, but we didn't wait any longer the following day to get on any rides than we did on our first day. Also, every store we entered was absolutely packed with people, and every restroom we went to had lines to use it. And this was on a "light day".

Anyway, the second day there was no trouble getting into the park. We arrived at 11'30AM and basically walked into the park. There was a small crowd of others, but it wasn't like a 20 minute line waiting to be admitted. And it was a beautiful day, I can verify that!

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Friday, September 2, 2005 12:13 AM
It seems that my experience on those days was vastly different than yours. Even as you reitterate your view of the days I wonder if we are talking about Aug. 16 and 17 of 2005 or some other year. It simply goes to show that two people's experience of the same situation can be vastly different. Perhaps I was in the right places at the right times while you were unfortunate to encounter difficulties. The Wild Mouse did in fact reopen as did the few other closed rides. You said you left at 6pm, but from that point on the day was rather dry and rides were consistently open. That was four hours of full park operations, and that may explain the differences in our experiences. However, I can't explain how you perceived the 17th to be not much busier because I found it to be overwhelming. It was so crowded that the alternative entrance was opened behind the shops of Rhineland as a sea of people were flooding the gates and the alternative entrance during midmorning...unusual for midweek.
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Friday, September 2, 2005 11:05 AM
Gives a whole new meaning to "scattered" storms.
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Friday, September 2, 2005 1:48 PM

RatherGoodBear said:
Gives a whole new meaning to "scattered" storms.

Haha, that was good.

Yeah, I noticed that it stopped raining as soon as we left. We were going to go back in, but we had forgot to get handstamps. I can understand how the day would've got better after that.

I still didn't think the difference was THAT much the next day, however the rides were all consistantly open, so maybe people were just spread around a bit more and I didn't notice? Maybe we just have different opinions of what packed parks are. :P

New report.. uh, well I'll start it now.

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Friday, September 2, 2005 5:23 PM

grind your soul said:
Well.. in PA, I did thoroughly enjoy Waldameer :P I still haven't been to Kennywood, either. Maybe that'll improve my mood somewhat!

But those are WESTERN PA. They root for the Pirates and Stillers (well they're OK) as opposed to the Phillies and Iggles. And they drink Pop. And wear tennies. And use gum bands. And warsh their clothes. *** Edited 9/2/2005 9:24:33 PM UTC by RatherGoodBear***

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Friday, September 2, 2005 5:37 PM
Well, I like the Pirates and drink pop.. maybe I'm just biased. ;-)
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Friday, September 2, 2005 6:16 PM
Yeah, well I like the Senators and Canadiens! (Not really) :)
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