Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
We were invited by my older brother and sister-in-law to join them (and my two nieces, 9 and 6) at Hersheypark for Father's Day. My other brother (the oldest) and his family couldn't make it, unfortunately. They had a decent deal for daily online passes that expired at the end of May, so I made sure to pick up four tickets before then.
We arrived at the park around 11am, shortly after getting a text from my bro that they had just finished riding the Chocolate World ride. We met them in the gift shop and headed for the front gates. The park looked pretty crowded, but deceivingly so--most of the rides were at most a 3-cycle wait, give or take, with quite a few walk-ons.
My son Jake, 9, has been on a handful of coasters, mostly kiddie ones. The only big rides he's done are Knoebels' Phoenix and the Schwarzkopf Wildcat at Adventure Park, USA in Maryland. Prior to this visit, he said he wanted to try Skyrush, and maybe one of the upside-down coasters. I told him he'd likely enjoy sooperdooperLooper as his first, as that was my first inverting coaster a lifetime ago, but I prepared for the possibility he might change his mind about wanting to ride any of the big rides once he saw them in person and had time to think about them.
My daughter Katie, 5, on the other hand, had never ridden a coaster and expressed her disinterest in riding any even in the days leading up to our trip.
Both kids had been to Hershey a couple years ago for the Christmas event, but prior to that, Liz and I were last there in 2004, pre-kid of course. I was excited to finally ride my 200th coaster at some point during the day.* I only had two more to go to get there,** and potentially four new-to-me coasters.
We spent a good portion of the morning and early afternoon in Founder's Way, riding the Carousel and watching as the kids rode a good number of flats, like the Scrambler, Starship America, and several of the kiddie rides. Venturing a little further into the park, my brother and I broke off with our 9-year-olds to ride Fender Bender while the ladies watched the young girls ride some more spinny (well, slow-rotating) kiddie rides.
Shortly after, all eight of us met back up to ride Reeses Xtreme Cup Challenge; the four kids took the front car and the adults snagged the back. Liz and I rode behind my brother and sister-in-law, and at the end I noticed that either Liz and I were either terrible shots, or there's a clear advantage to sitting in the front...but probably a little of both. I think Liz and I scored 5000 and 6500, respectively, but our riding partners had will over 100,000 points combined.
By this time, Jake was itching to try a new coaster, and he kept flip-flopping back and forth about whether he was ready for Skyrush. Comet was a good starter for the day, and it's running well. My brother and his 9-year-old joined us. Still seemed a little slow on the second leg, but that could be a perception issue--I'm usually a front-seat rider and we rode this one in the very back. Overall it was better than I recall, and a solid coaster. Jake loved it.
Next up, Jake wanted to try the 'Looper, so again, the four of us rode. My brother and I waxed nostalgic as this was the first time we had ridden this--my personal favorite coaster for years--together since we were little. The kids loved it so much we rode again.
Jake was feeling empowered by going upside-down for the first time. He decided he wanted to ride Skyrush after all, and wanted his mom to ride with us. My bro joined us and we took second car. Damn, what a ride. This is easily a top-5 for me, and I also credit it for what was to come: Jake being bitten by the bug. It was all over from there, and by nightfall I realized I'd found a new riding partner.
Some more flats were in order; this time Flying Falcon, which afterwards I decided I could have done without. Hot sun, dehydration, g-forces, lack of sleep, and my tendency to get queasy on spinny rides all contributed to my decision to sit out while the older kids rode a second time. The little ones knocked out a few more kiddie rides before finally heading toward the water park (Jake had been bugging us to go there all day).
Surprise of the day (and this after my daughter turned down the kiddie Zamperla, Cocoa Cruiser): my 9-year-old niece convinced Katie to ride her very first coaster, the Trailblazer mine train. No amount of convincing from her mom and me to ride anything worked; peer pressure from her beloved cousin was the catalyst. Only my sis-in-law and her youngest sat out; I could see Katie beaming and laughing during the entire ride from two seats back.
We headed to The Boardwalk, but my brother's family didn't bring their swimsuits, so we split off from them and planned to meet up later. It was around 6pm at this point, and the water area closed at 8. We spent longer than we anticipated, and had a phenomenal time. Katie's just learning to swim, so she and Liz spent most of the time in the small wave pool while Jake and I hit the big Waterworks area and some slides. Whirlwind (Tornado slide) and Vortex (bowl slide) were by far the highlights for me. We just about closed the place; it was just before 8 when we planned to meet back up with everyone else; on the way, however, since it loomed ahead, I took the opportunity to make Fahrenheit #200. It was a decent ride; some very intense moments and some really cool elements. The vertical lift was unnerving; the 97° drop is pretty crazy, although not all that noticeably different than Skyrush, to be honest; the inversions and turns are smooth, yet full of snap; overall it was more enjoyable than I expected, but not something I'd go out of my way to ride.
Once we met back up with our extended family, my older niece wanted to ride the Wild Mouse with Jake. I tagged along and we all had a blast; I'd forgotten how much better Hershey's is than most other Mice. Katie actually wanted to ride, too, but sadly we had to pull her out of line because she wasn't tall enough. Thankfully she wasn't too upset.
Right across from the Wild Mouse's entrance was Wildcat, and Jake begged me to ride. I assured him that this was most likely going to be a rough one (he chickened out on Knoebels' Twister a couple years ago), but he didn't care. I hadn't ridden Wildcat in eons; I may have ridden with Liz in '04, but I'm not sure. I know it'd been prior to the Millennium Flyers. Just as we were about to board, the station lights and chaser lights came on (and I saw the chasers on Lightning Racer across the midway as well); I love this part of the park at night. Wildcat was rough, but nowhere near as unbearable as I recall. Jake loved the intensity, and I wanted him to ride Lightning Racer because I've always enjoyed it much more than Wildcat.
We caught up to everyone over near the Whip (Katie apparently had a ball on that), and I asked my brother if he and his oldest wanted to join us on Lightning Racer. As we entered the near-empty station I thought it would be cool if we could race each other; my bro and niece waited for Lightning and Jake and I got in line for Thunder--front row for both. This was by far the most fun I'd ever had on this ride. I think my brother and I were the only ones paying attention to the other train; really funny to see him whizzing by at various parts of the course.
The kids had been wanting to ride the Pirate all day; we finally found it while heading back toward the park entrance, and even Katie joined them in the very last row. She's such a joy to watch when she's having fun with her brother and cousins.
As we neared the front of the park, the kids wanted to hit up a few more spin-and-spews, except for Jake; he wanted to ride Skyrush again. Our last ride of the night, we were able to nab front row seats, dead-center. Skyrush at night is just incredible.
We closed the park and headed home (after searching for my car for 20 minutes because we forgot to take note of where we parked). Arrived home around 1am, and man am I dragging as I write this (at work, shhh).
*I discovered this morning that I still haven't ridden 200 coasters.
**I needed four more, not two. I can't math.
So you can't spell OR count. Interesting.
Seems like you packed a lot in the day. The last couple times I was at Hershey I had a similar experience where it looked like it was going to be crazy busy, but once inside the lines weren't long at all.
Yeah, we got a lot more in than I expected. It seemed just as crowded as the last time we were there, but I was amazed at how short the lines were. I've already tossed around the idea of making it a Father's Day tradition to visit a park. If light crowds are typical for the holiday, might be the way to go.
Funny aside: we kept seeing people wearing Twenty One Pilots concert tee-shirts. I knew they had played closer to home a week or so ago, but I found it really odd that there were so many. Turns out they were playing Hersheypark Arena that night...duh. That would explain the even emptier queues we encountered after 8pm.
My wife was pretty disappointed; we're both pretty avid fans. That said, we'd appear the old farts trying to seem young and hip if we actually went to the show. On the plus side, though, we wouldn't be "those people" who were wearing the shirt of the band we were going to see. ;)
Nice TR. Glad you had fun. Did you ride Stormrunner at all? I need to get back to HP soon. I'd love to try Sky Rush.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
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