Hershey Park: 07/22/09

Saturday, July 25, 2009 12:47 PM

Have not seen an amusement park in three years since moving, picking up a new position requiring insane hours and no summer vacations for two years, and then having a puppy enter our lives. Suffice to say, finally having a week off for a vacation and to visit a park was exciting. We got to the park later than planned at around 10:30am so instead of going to Fahrenheit first, we just went coaster by coaster from front to back. Ride by Ride review as we rode them during the visit followed by a full write up:

SooperDooperLooper (5.0): Comet had a considerable line, so we walked right on to SooperDooperLooper and took the backseat. That first drop into the loop was a really nice way to start the day! Great pull from the backseat though everything after the loop is kind of bland.

Great Bear (9.0): My long awaited return to Great Bear was even better than I had remembered. We scored the backseat after a 15 minute wait. Wow, do I love everything about this coaster! Packs some of my favorite elements into a well paced and decent timed ride. Ride ops were really slow here. We returned to Great Bear for our last ride of the day and waited for the front. Not nearly as good as the back though it had a few cool pushing moments. This is my favorite B&M so far and I rank it highly above Raptor at Cedar Point.

Fahrenheit (8.0): After a 1.25 hour wait, we took our third back seat of the day for our first ride on Hershey's latest. Going up the 90 degree hill had an amazing feeling of falling backward out of your seat. Being pulled over and down into the first drop was grand. And that next element twisting into a dive was cool though I didn't think the fake to the right was needed. After that, I found the ride spun you around and shock you up but just didn't justify the wait. Not worth a reride considering the line.

Wildcat (4.5): Rode this last time I was at Hershey and remembered the turns. Didn't remember excessive pain but I will going forward. This was wild from the backseat. Too wild. I am quickly loosing my fondness for wooden coasters.

Lightning Racer (7.0): This is the best racing coaster I have been on and a much nicer ride than Wildcat. I really enjoyed how the two tracks were not a perfect mirror but rather looped around within each other and you could see the other train sometimes doing the opposite of what your train was doing. Still hurt a bit but nothing like Wildcat. Nice layout along the new Boardwalk. Walked on this coaster.

Wild Mouse (6.0): My first Wild Mouse ride. The top tracks provided amazing lateral force and was really surprising even though I knew to expect that effect. Wow! Hurt like hell being thrown sideways into the restraint bar and the bunny hops hurt as well. I liked the force on the top tracks but experienced too much pain to really enjoy the ride.

Storm Runner (9.0): What an incredible ride! Only 15 minute wait time despite some slow dispatches and both trains backing up in the station at times. Hard to believe Great Bear and Sidewinder had longer wait times than Storm Runner... incredible! We went middle rows on the first run and did another ride in the back row which was insanely good!!! Air time over the top hat was incredible and the launch was really good without the need of being the 120 MPH jaw dropper that TTD is. The Cobra Loop was sensational and the Flying Snake Dive mind boggling from the backseat. The final side to side shake was completely unnecessary and painful doing nothing to add to the ride. Would have been a perfect 10 of a coaster if not for that final lame side to side element. Much better than I had expected and makes a one trick pony like TTD seem like a complete waste of money.

Sidewinder (4.0): Pretty long wait due to the single train. My first boomerang ride and I am glad I got it out of the way. This ride really threw me off for the rest of the day. I found myself disoriented during and after the ride (something that never has happened to me on a coaster) which is odd considering the basic loop and barrelroll combo and I have ride on a backwards coaster before so that wasn't the issue either. This ride just did nothing for me, worse than nothing actually.

Trailblazer (4.0): What can I say? A mine train ride that is great for kids and families. The helix at the end of the ride had some good force for what it was.

We did not ride Roller Soaker or Comet. Great Bear remains my favorite B&M and Storm Runner really surprised me and goes into my top five. Both of these coasters I enjoyed substantially more from the back seat.

Full write up:

We left NH on Monday the 20th and camped out at Hickory Run State Park in PA. After some local hiking on Tuesday, we drove down to Greenlin Kennel in Middletown, PA to drop off the dog (highly recommended), stopped off at Giant for tickets, and drove to the park.

Getting through downtown Hershey sucked and we got to the park well after opening to a swarm of people at the poorly managed gate. Hordes of people made their way through the main entrance and I was nervous. I quickly noticed most had bags and were dressed for the Boardwalk, so I relaxed quite a bit.

This was my third visit to Hershey. My first was as a young teen on a family trip almost twenty years ago and my second was about ten years ago shortly after Great Bear was installed. Those trips are such a distant memory, it might as well have been the first time except that I remember really enjoying Great Bear.

Hershey Park is rather poorly laid out and their maps do not help much with navigation. The park has sections (I hesitate to use the word "themes" since there is no theming at all) that don't flow well in a natural fashion. I had a hard time finding my way around until we had walked through the park from front to back and even then I managed to miss a turn for a ride.

The other major distraction I noticed is that the park is extremely noisy!!! There were almost no areas where the volume decreased to even a dull roar. This is partially due to how Hershey stacked all their rides so close together and on top of each other. But speakers were loud in addition and there was constant loud music blaring everywhere. I had a sore throat when leaving the park from yelling to my partner.

My other major disappointment was the staff. All the ride operators seemed unhappy, slow, and sometimes depressed. This is a far different experience than my last park visit to Cedar Point where ride operators were moving quick, having a good time, and exhibiting some pep. The automated ride instructions and welcome back messages were a real downer to. I really enjoy having the ride operator interaction that a place like Cedar Point has (e.g. "How was your ride???" and having everyone cheer). Essentially, the place just felt like one big downer and dispatch times generally seemed rather slow. I know it is a tough job. And I do not blame the crew. Clearly, the park management has not made this a priority and just wants bodies to test restraints and push buttons.

The park was incredibly clean and I noticed staff in bathrooms cleaning at least 50% of my bathroom stops. Food was reasonably priced. We got a burger, fries, and soda for $12 each or so, the burger was generous and well cooked and the fries were great. Also got some iced cream which was reasonable at about $3 for a really large cup. Parking at $10 was okay and the attendant was chipper giving us information that I would have asked for (good for all day even if we leave). Park seemed clean but crowded due to the paths being narrow. Can't imagine this place on a weekend! I really liked how the Boardwalk was so seamlessly integrated with the park. It is really well done with many water rides integrated with the Boardwalk and the coaster placement of the wooden coaster in relation to the water park gives it a great feel.

Overall, it was a great visit. We hit up all the coasters except Comet and Soaker and had second rides on Storm Runner and Great Bear. Felt like we had to do an extreme amount of walking throughout the day due to the layout of the park. Ride times were relatively short for most rides except Fahrenheit at 1.25 hours. We did a lot in only six hours! Can't wait to hit another park, it has been far too long a wait!

Last edited by riverc0il, Saturday, July 25, 2009 12:51 PM
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:46 AM

I dunno, are you sure you liked the park? I can't tell from some of the paragraphs. :)

I agree that the park is sprawling-- they definitely could use some people movers that take you somewhere else in the park rather than just in a loop like the train, monorail, and skyview rides do now.

I also agree that what should be major pathways connecting some of the different sections of the park could be more obvious. I'm particularly thinking of the cutoff toward Minetown from Music Box Way. You go between some kiddie rides, behind the bumper cars-- it's more like a side alley than a main midway. And in all the times I've been at the park, I still sometimes get caught in that dead end between the pirate ship and flyers.

I don't worry too much about the lack of theming-- much of the original theming disappeared as they removed and replaced rides. Personally, I'm happier to have rides like Storm Runner and Great Bear than to have lame rides that fit the theme of Minetown or the ubiquitous western theme.

Good TR though. Nice to see the your impressions visiting the park after a 10-year hiatus.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 7:41 PM

I'm always glad to hear people express some Storm Runner love. :)

I can't say I ever experienced the park as being too noisy. It seems like a typical amusement park that way to me. Since they're short on themes, maybe you could suggest a Library themed section where everyone must whisper. ;)

I agree with your thoughts, RGB. In fact I laughed out loud at your comment about the dead end between the pirate ship and flyers. :) I've done it, too, and find myself having to stop and think about where that area is that looks like a midway, but isn't. lol

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:20 PM

Interesting TR.. We are seriously considering going there before the Halloween/Christmas madness and wife goes on lock-down from leaving the area.

Question for those who visited Hershey. Any suggestions on moderately priced yet nice accommodations near the park? Thought about Hershey's resort, but not really interested in paying 250+ a night.

We have never been there and the more I hear about it the more im interested in jaunting up there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:29 PM

Any chain in the area is pretty good, I think I stayed at the Hampton Inn once, very nice, free breakfast and counts towards my Hilton Rewards Program.

Hershey is a blast, you should defiantly head up there, especially if you're suffering from lack of wood at B&M Gardens ;).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:52 PM

LOL Touchdown.. Cute.

We have KD about 1h from our house so we get wood..

Thanks for the hotel info though.. May look into staying there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:00 PM

I only mention it because when I was in the area (DC) buying a BGW/WCUSA pass was a no brainer, thankfully though I figured out I could afford one more pass at a park and after considering my options (SFA, KD, Dorney, HP) it was an easy choice (especially since HP was only 2.5 hours away from DC.) Hershey's GCIs are pure fun, and it is a fantastic complement to BGW as a home park since its about wood, and the steel coasters for the most part arent comparable to the BGW assortment (Great Bear being the exception.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:41 PM

ridemcoaster said:

We have KD about 1h from our house so we get wood..

But Hershey's wood is 1000 times better than KD's. Comet is a fantastic ride, classic Schmeck. Lightning Racer is tons of fun and even Wildcat, the one that gets the least love of the 3 is still better than any wood at KD. Once you see how good PA wood is, nothing else can really compare. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 9:46 PM

Im sure.. But im not interested in a 6 hour drive for it everytime I want a fix :)

KD is much easier for us to get to for a quick wood fix.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 10:37 AM


If you're a member of any of the hotel chain rewards clubs, there's a good chance that there's a qualifying hotel in the Hershey/Harrisburg area. Pretty much every chain is represented.

Also, if you're willing to stay a few miles outside of Hershey itself, like toward Grantville, rates are a bit cheaper. I know a few years ago I checked some rates for people, and found that the Comfort Suites there had lower rates than places I'd consider lesser quality. I don't know what you consider "nice" and moderately priced accommodations. You can always check www.pacapitalregions.com for places to stay.

Other than that, Carrie can rent you a room for $199. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 2:06 PM

RGB, I have mine with Holiday Inn. The program I am on right now I get 1 free night for every 2 that I pay for. I am quite thankful for this since the hotels right near the park are $$$. The one we are using a comp for is listed at $192 a night.

BTW Ken, we will be there August 15th (evening) & 16th.

Last edited by DaveStroem, Wednesday, July 29, 2009 2:09 PM
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 3:12 PM

KnoebelsGrandCarousel said: Once you see how good PA wood is, nothing else can really compare. :)

Agreed...except I wouldn't really use HP's neutered Comet or Dorney's neutered Thunderhawk to illustrate the point. At least I once had fabulous rides on T-Hawk, with Comet I could only imagine how good the ride once was. ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 4:26 PM

Those 2 may both be neutered but they are still Schmecks. :) I wish they ran they way they were intended, however I still think we are incredibly lucky to have them, especially compared to the wood other parks have.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 4:34 PM

^If you want to ride a non neutered Schmeck, head on up to Canobie Lake Park and take a spin on the Yankee Cannonball, because I rode that ride first I dispise those two rides because I can just sense how incredible those two rides once were that its just not fun.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 5:10 PM

TD, I don't think she needs to travel that far to experience a non-neutered Schmeck.

Dave, I don't know whether you bothered checking or not, but is there any difference in the room price because you're staying on a weekend?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 5:20 PM

Except I must be the only person in the world that does not like the Phoenix, it did nothing for me (and I rode it once in the front, once in the back.) Nothing, in addition besides the cool bumper cars and brass ring carousel I was thoroughly non impressed with Knobels, it will be a while before I go back there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 5:37 PM

RatherGoodBear said:

Other than that, Carrie can rent you a room for $199. :)

Thanks RGB.. Good info.

I dont think Carrie wants to see the likes of me.. She was a few minutes away from me this past weekend and didnt even say hi.. :::SNIFF:::


We probably wont go until late August or September.. Will be down in Florida the first 1/2 of August hitting all the parks there.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 6:22 PM

RGB, The price for the room in Hershey would be the same on the weekend or during the week. As I said it is a comp so it is $0.00. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 8:01 PM

RatherGoodBear said:

Other than that, Carrie can rent you a room for $199. :)

I think you may be quoting my off season pricing there, RGB. ;)

I dont think Carrie wants to see the likes of me.. She was a few minutes away from me this past weekend and didnt even say hi.. :::SNIFF:::

What are you talking about? I talked to your anniversary logod-ass (I mean face) the entire time I waited for BBW and you never once responded, ya jerk! ;)

I would be happy to meet up with you when you are in town. I don't have a spare room, unfortunately, but you and the Mrs are welcome to a couch, the floor, air mattress, bathtub, or your own car parked out front. I would of course discount if you chose your car. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 8:27 PM

LOL Carrie..

So my CF, BEC, or Disney Annual pass doesnt cover parking at your place? Sheesh. What a rip-off..


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