We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott about 10 minutes away and I would recommend that to anyone. It was relatively affordable and I was quite impressed with the rooms, beds and bathrooms. It would have been nice if they included breakfast, but we just went to Bob Evans right in front of the hotel instead. We then headed off to the park. Before getting there, though, we ran into a TON of traffic at the Hershey exit. I wasn’t quite expecting that. Luckily the traffic was moving, so it didn’t take us too long to get into the park. My first impression of the park was, “Wow, this is like a mini Disney.” They have sports stadiums, an arena, a whole network of roads and everything looked brand new. I was very impressed and we hadn’t even parked the car yet. So, we paid the very reasonable parking fee, parked the car and got on the nifty little tram that drove us to the entrance of the park. I noted at this point the parking lot was PACKED and we arrived minutes after park opening. That worried me a little since we planned on leaving around 6:00pm.
After getting off the tram, we arrived at Tudor Square – or sorta the pre-entrance gate. This area is heavily wooded and very cool. This is also where they have the candy height limit things. I thought this was pretty cute. Later in the day we heard people telling their kids things like, “You’re a Jolly Rancher, so you can ride.” LOL!! Anyways, I was already very impressed with the park. The atmosphere was just great. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting much of anything from Hershey, but already I was overly impressed.
So onto the rides. We headed over to Storm Runner first because we just assumed it would have a longer queue later in the day. It was basically a walk on. This is the coaster I was most looking forward to at Hershey and it just disappointed me. Maybe I’ve just been on too many other Intamin launchers, but this one was just “eh” for me. The launch was good, but it barely crept over the top hat so there was absolutely no air. Granted, you don’t really get too much air on KK or TTD either, but Xcelerator was an airtime monster on the top hat. That’s why I just assumed a shorter top hat like Storm Runner would have some nice airtime. Oops – got that one wrong. Also, I’d never had issue with the Intamin OTSRs on KK or Rita, but I made the mistake of putting my arms up on the first ride. Wow - worst mistake of the day. It was VERY uncomfortable as my shoulders were burning at the end of the ride. We rode it again since the queue was still non-existent, and this time most of us rode arms down. It was MUCH better this time. Still no air on the first hill, but I was able to enjoy the other elements much better this time around. The heartline was my favorite element. I took a chop to the neck on both rides on the Stengel dive, so I didn’t really care for that too much. Truthfully, the experience made me very nervous about Maverick. Thankfully I know to keep my hands on the shoulder restraints and keep my head back. Storm Runner was ok, but nothing what I was expecting. The coolest thing about the ride was how Hershey integrated it into the rest of the park. Actually, I have to give mad props to Hershey for intertwining all their rides to beautifully. Instead of what most other parks do by plopping down a ride on its own plot of land, almost all their coasters mingle with other attractions and the landscape. As a designer myself, I was happy to see Hershey do this.
We then hopped over to Sidewinder since it was right across the midway. I’ll be honest and say I hate these rides with a passion. The only one I’ve ever even sort of liked was the one at Knott’s because it happened to be smooth. But, I succumbed to peer pressure and rode. The thing that stood out the most on this ride was the ride ops. I don’t want to be rude, but the one ride op was this rather large woman. It was obvious she didn’t like her job and she didn’t like moving around either. When she did get off her stool, she walked down the side of the train and just BARELY tapped each restraint with her hand. There was no pressure applied, no pulling up to make sure it was locked, just a light tap. I was like, “uh, how is that checking a restraint?” Then she just plopped back down on her stool and waited. At least the dude checking the other side of the train applied a tiny bit of pressure. Although, I’m still not sure how this is actually checking a restraint. But, whatever. The ride was ok, but my friends insisted on riding again since there was no queue. I really wish I had just sat it out because it gave me the worst headache the second time around. At least it gave me another chance to laugh at the ride ops checking of restraints though. LOL!!
We then headed over to The Boardwalk, passing Roller Soaker on the way. None of us wanted to get wet, so we just observed from the ground. The consensus amongst us was it was a wicked cool concept. I think it would’ve been better if the cars were able to release their water bomb quicker and the cannons on the ground were more powerful. But, even still, it was a cool coaster that interacted very well with the midway. I was impressed.
I was also really impressed with The Boardwalk. I’m not much for water parks and really don’t like when they’re in the theme park. But, Hershey really pulled it off. Granted it just opened, but the nearby attractions didn’t reek of chlorine and have corroded foam pads on them. Plus, the place was literally sparkling clean. I’m not sure how they do this over the entire park, but again, I was very impressed. I’d also like to ask everyone a question here. What is it with guys wearing boxers under board shorts at a water park? This makes absolutely no sense to me. Cotton isn’t comfortable when it gets wet – especially if it’s loose cotton? Can someone please explain this apparent phenomenon to me please?
I was dreading getting on Lightning Racer because I normally don’t like wooden coasters. But, there was no queue and it looked new, so we got on. I rode near the front to save myself from the headache of riding in the back. All I have to say though is WOW. I’ve never liked a traditional wooden coaster as much as I had when it was over. The structure and layout were beautiful, the trains were wicked comfortable and the ride was just pure fun. We rode it twice and I moved to the back on the second time. It was just as smooth and just as fun in the back. This ride just totally blew me away.
We then meandered over to Wild Mouse. I forget what happened on this to get me started, but I was laughing hysterically the entire time. So, I don’t really remember the ride much. But, with no queue, we rode twice and the second time was really fun. It’s a wild mouse. Nothing really earth shattering. But, it was fun. I was also happy to see it wasn’t a spinner. They’re just too overdone now.
Wildcat was up next. I knew about the new Millennium Flyer trains, so I was stoked after the rides on Lightning Racer. This coaster wasn’t as fun as Lighting Racer, but it was still a quality woodie for me. It was relatively smooth, surprised me on every corner, and had the really comfortable trains. It was a great ride for a woodie.
We then headed back to the other side of the park and stopped at The Claw. The queue was actually longer than any of the coasters we had ridden all day. But, we didn’t think it was going to go down, so we hopped in line. We got up to the front and were next to get on. If you read my Great Adventure TR, you know what’s coming next. LOL!! Yes, it broke down. The harnesses wouldn’t release. The hysterical thing here was the ride ops looked bewildered. I mean completely clueless. You could just see it on their faces. We all happened to look up in the control booth and the girl just pulled out the owner’s manual (or procedure book) or something. One of our group members just happened to say, “turn it upside down girl”, and then at that very moment, she flipped it over. Of course we all burst out laughing, so it made waiting for the ride to come back online more tolerable. It was also pretty funny when three maintenance guys showed up and only one needed to barely nudge the ride to get it to spin a little bit. Then the harnesses released and we were on. These things are fun. The most enjoyment from this ride was definitely the queue though.
We got a little turned around by the slightly confusing map, but we eventually made it down to Trailblazer. It was closed. Uh oh, two rides in a row breaking down. Not a good sign. Luckily, that was it for broken rides the rest of this day. After we returned, I saw that Trailblazer was a pretty crappy coaster anyways, so I wasn’t upset with it being closed.
Flying Falcon was up next. I’d never done one of these and I hate to say, it was terrifying. I’m not one to like Ferris wheels or anything like this with cars that are suspended by two little pins. But, this thing, OMG. First of all, there’s no seatbelt. Even though it’s not necessary, it would’ve been nice to have for me. Secondly, when the cars started spinning and rotating outward, I was freaking out. LOL!! If I remember correctly, the thing stops at the top and then starts spinning even faster on the way down. I was just waiting for it to stop. Ha ha ha!! I’m pretty sure everyone else loved it though. I’d ride it again, but it still freaked me out.
Great Bear was up next. This was the first and only ride of the day to have a queue of any substance. It seemed to just drag on for hours too. I think it only took like 45 minutes (maybe less), but it still was a tad surprising. Anyways, the ride was really fun. WAY too short, but fun. I loved the funky supports over the river and I also liked the first drop wasn’t right after the lift. It was a really good B&M invert, but like I said, it needed to be longer to rank up there on my list.
While waiting for Great Bear, we saw Coal Cracker and it looked pretty fun. So, we queued up for that. The queue wasn’t too long, but it was still a queue. Anyways, after maybe five minutes, this guy and his three little kids are like, “excuse me, excuse me….” Since I despise line jumpers, I was like, “Can I help you?” He then goes into this story about he left his keys on the ride and needs to go get them. So, of course no one in our group is letting the guy through. We tried to tell him if he really DID leave his keys on the ride, he should go to the exit and ask for them there – not force his way through the whole queue. He was so belligerent though, we were all like fine, just go. But, he only got to the next group of people when they sent him packing. LOL!! He was just really obnoxious and I felt bad for his little kids because he was so freakin rude. Anyways, we never saw him come up the exit, so I’m not sure if he lost his keys or not. Regardless, the ride was pretty fun. If you read my Magic Mountain TR, it was very much like Jet Stream. My feet got SOAKED on the first tiny little drop, the rest of the ride rode more on the trough than the water, but the last drop was really fun. I really like the old-school flume rides, especially since Cedar Point doesn’t have any more. Booooo.
Sooperdooperlooper was next. From the looks of it, I was instantly reminded of Revolution which really scared me (because I hated Revolution). But, with just the lap bar, it was a great ride. Sure, it’s old and doesn’t really do that much. But, it was fun, and that’s what I like. The loop was also pretty forceful since it was more of a circle and less of an ellipse. Good ride – I liked it.
On to Comet. I was a little scared since I didn’t see any Millennium Flyer trains and the track looked pretty old-school. But, it was a really fun ride. Again, I was highly impressed. It wasn’t rough, there was a good amount of airtime, and again, pure fun. Way to go Hershey.
We then were pretty much done riding what we wanted, so we grabbed some dinner at Crestano’s Deli. I know I’ve said I was impressed a lot so far. But, after our day at Great Adventure, it’s hard not to be I guess. Hershey had like a million food stands – all of which were open. Like the deli we ate at, they had way more than just traditional theme park food which made us happy. The wraps were great, and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie was scrumptious. I’ll also note here every retail and food stand at the park was open and fully staffed – sometimes over staffed. The park was absolutely packed (at least the midways were) but none of the stands had queues to speak of. Also, as I’ve mentioned, the rides didn’t really have long queues either.
We loved Lightning Racer so much, we went back to ride it two more times. Then we headed out early because we had to drive back to the NYC area for a BBQ.
In closing, Hershey Park totally and completely blew me away. I was expecting just a mediocre park with just “meh” rides. But, it was far from a mediocre park and their rides were all of very high quality. They prove you don’t need to have the tallest and fastest rides to have a really fun park. If you’re even considering a trip to Hershey, DO IT. You won’t regret it at all. I am definitely going to keep my eye on this park and plan future trips again. I think it would be fun to tour a little of the town itself too. *** Edited 6/21/2007 2:02:44 AM UTC by halltd***
Hersheypark is a great alternative to Great Adventure, imo.
I can't say the same about the Wildcat, though... I thought it was rough as hell and wasn't much to speak of at all. Suprising, as the two newer woodies look very similar. Lightning Racer totally kicked hind end over the Wildcat, I thought.
That Falcon was an experience, for sure! I loved it. Not many rides can give this old man the jitters; that one just gave the feeling of upcoming expulsion into the heavens at any given moment. They picked a great place for it, high up on that hill, as well. :)
Unfortunately, it was also rough. The addition of the MF trains has helped with tolerability, but I would like to see them retrack the entire thing. If they restored it to like new quality with the MF trains, the smoothness should last longer than with the PTCs.
I agree that Falcon has a great spot up on the hill. THat ride has actually scared me before, too!
Don't get me wrong though, LR is great fun.
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