Hersheypark - 8/31/2001

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Tuesday, September 4, 2001 9:24 AM
This was sort of an impromptu visit to Hersheypark that just grew and grew. Originally my wife was going to take our niece, but then my mother-in-law said she had off that day, then my sister-in-law said she had off that day, then I got the day off, and before you know it there were 6 of us (my wife, our niece, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, me and my father-in-law… who was in the car when they picked us up) headed off to Hershey. My wife and I get 3 free 1-day passes with our season hockey tickets, so everyone's entry fee was taken care of with one to spare since our niece is 3 months shy of 3 years old and gets in free.

First thing we hit was the Carrousel. This is sort of turning into a tradition for my wife and I as we usually ride this either for our first ride or last ride of the day. We were some of the last to get on and there was only one jumper left so my niece and my father-in-law got this one while the rest of us got non-jumpers on the outer row. This is one of the old PTC carrousel's that still revolves at its rate of 6 or so RPMs so it seems kind of fast. Not sure why, but on these non-jumpers it was harder to stay in the saddle than on the jumpers… my butt kept wanting to slide off to the left side.

Next up we hit some kiddie rides for our niece. There was one (a little train) that adults could ride, so "grand-pa" rode with her while the rest of us waited and watched. We made our way from Carrousel Circle up through Music Box Way hitting various kiddie rides. From there we ventured on toward Midway America. Knowing that we could possibly get up there one more time this season (still a few weekends left) my wife said she would take our niece and do a few more kiddie rides while the rest of us got on the Wild Mouse. My sis-in-law loves this one and could not stop laughing through the whole thing. The part that made me laugh was the on ride photo that showed three of us laughing and my dad-in-law with saucer shaped eyes and a look of fear on his face. Should of bought it… but didn't.

Next we had a stroke of good luck. Wildcat was down when we arrived, but they were testing. When we got off Wild Mouse, we saw that it was open and the 4 of us decided to hit it before the line got long. There was basically no line. Sis-in-law and I had a one train wait for the back seat while mom-and-dad-in-law waited two more trains for the front. Still as fast and wild as always, I think I hit more air on it this time than last. May not have had my seat belt as tight… not sure. After waiting to see the on ride phopo (and another horrified look on dad-in-law's face), we caught up with my wife waiting for our niece on "Frog Hopper".

After collecting everyone together, 4 of us got on Lightning Racer. My wife and I took the back seat of Lighting while my in-laws took the back seat of Thunder. As always, this was a great ride. Getting off, we made a "kid swap" (my wife watched our niece so my sis-in-law could ride). This time it was a next to front seat ride… sis-in-law and me in Thunder, in-laws in Lightning. As fun as LR is normally, I did find out that it gives even more wild sensations as you watch the opposing train for people you know… you really do see some near misses. Anyway, my dad-in-law (the same man who looked terrified on the Mouse and Cat) said he preferred the more out of control feel of the back of LR than the visual aspect of the front.

It was near noon so we decided to get something to eat (Bricker's French Fries and Fried Veggies). I was sitting there counting trash cans (in my small field of view, 6 trash cans, 2 recycle bins, and 2 "sweeps"), and my wife and I commented to the others how this is more of those things in that tiny section of Hersheypark than we saw during our entire visit to SFA a week earlier.

After lunch we went to Sidewinder. My wife, mom-in-law and I got on. I always have sat in the front of boomerangs, but today we sat near the back and found that while it seemed to be a faster ride, it definitely was a rougher one. Of the three of us, only I was able to walk with out wobbling. As a matter of fact, this put pretty much of an end to my mom-in-law's riding for the day.

Down to the creek next to Trail Blazer. I have not ridden this coaster in probably 12 years. I usually skip it. However on this visit my sis-in-law, dad-in-law, niece and I got on. I have often wondered why they keep this incredibly slow, short, and lack luster coaster, but on this day I think I found my answer. My niece is 2 ½ and this was the only "coaster" in the park that she was tall enough to ride. My sis-in-law and her took the back seat and my dad-in-law and I took the next to last. Looking back, my niece's eyes were very wide as the train made its way through the series of helixes as she clung to her mother for dear life. However, upon exiting the station and meeting up with "grand-ma" again, she exclaimed "I rode the big rollie coaster!" and she was smiles from ear to ear. So, Trailblazer served its purpose… giving yet another kid (in this case a 2 ½ year old) her first coaster ride.

Up the hill we then went, our destination was the Kissing Tower. The tower however was "temporally" out of service, so my mon-in-law took our niece on the Sports Cars while the rest of us got on Great Bear. We walked right up to the station and walked right onto a middle row (decided not to wait for the front). As always, another fast, smooth, and fun ride. Having ridden Talon at Dorney earlier in the summer, I thought I liked it better than the Bear. However, while both are inverted coasters, they are different enough to make me want to classify them differently. Talon is about twists and turns and G's, the Bear is about speed (and grace). I still rank this one right up there with the best of them. My dad-in-law said he liked this one best of all.

We then went back to the Twin Turnpikes and found that our niece and "grand-ma" were just about ready to get on the ride (it was a longer wait than for us to hop on Great Bear and get back to them). We made our way next to the top of the Amphitheater where there was some type of "Broadway Review" going on. Not all that interested in that, my wife, mom-in-law and I walked across to the Coal Cracker flume while the rest watched the show. Could have been just my imagination, but I swore that the boats were running faster today. Anyway, even though it is my least favorite flume ride, it is still a fun ride.

Catching up with the rest, they decided that they wanted to go to see the dolphin slow. My wife knew that I did not like shows like that, so she handed me one of our cellphones and said "get your front seat ride on the Bear" (we wanted to get my mom-in-law to ride it up front for the first time, but she said she wasn't going to ride any more coasters after her run in with Sidewinder). So, off I went. The front seat line was only around 15 minutes. Again another great ride on this great coaster. On inverteds the only place to ride is the front… especially on the Bear. There is something that is so wild about screaming through Comet Hollow at 55+mph!

I caught up with the rest near the dolphin arena. The show did not start for another 15 minutes (darn… thought I missed it), but they decided that they did want to wait for it after all. So we headed down toward Comet Hollow for my wife and my sentimental favorites. Only my sis-in-law and I wanted to ride Comet. We were going to wait for the last seat, but decided next to last was okay (heat and fatigue was starting to take its toll on everyone and we did not want to wait the extra few trains). I love this coaster. Not the biggest, fastest or longest, there is just something about the old Comet that, to me, is what a coaster should be. It even "smells" like a coaster should (the oil and wood in the station). As always, it delivered a very fun ride and the 2nd turn around trims did not even seem to be slowing the trains down that much.

After this my wife, sis-in-law and I headed off for the sooperdooperlooper while my in-laws and niece went off to the Kiddie rides in nearby Carrousel circle. The looper is to my wife what the Comet is to me… her first "big" coaster when she was a kid, and thus her sentimental fav. Her heart sank when she saw the blue sign saying "temporally out of service". I asked the employee at the blocked Queue if he had any idea when it would be back up. He said he was not sure and then explained that the weather radar the park uses picked up some lightning in the "vicinity" and that the park shuts down all coasters and aerial rides as a precaution. He said it will be back up and running when the storm moves out of the area. Well, it was a long, hot day and my wife and I will get back there at least during Hershey Park in the Dark at Halloween, so we decided to "call it a day." I did notice one thing though… Comet Hollow was eerily silent with out the old Comet clattering over her tracks or the roar of the Great Bear going through its paces.

We caught up with our niece and "grandma and grandpa" as they exited the Carrousel. Our niece and her "grandpa" headed back around to the entrance again and my wife and I followed. This time we all got jumpers… even our niece had her own horse. She managed to hang on (while my wife and dad-in-law spotted her from their horses to the left and right of her).

After a little photo op with the "Hershey Bar" and "Reeses Peanut Butter Cup" characters and our niece, and we headed out the gates and onto Chocolate World. While I have seen this plenty of times, my in-laws have not seen it in years. Our niece went through it back in June, but as any two year old, she could go through it every day and not get tired of it. Anyway, through Chocolate world we went and got our complimentary little Hershey Bar at the end (it tasted like a feast to me… trying to loose some weight and chocolate is a no no normally but we made and exception here).

As we left the parking lot the first few drops of rain hit the windshield and by the time we were nearing Harrisburg it was a pretty good down pour. The timing of our exit was perfect as we did not get wet at all.

All in all it was a very fun day (as is any day at Hershey). While the crowd was not light, the lines were not long. The longest was for Trail Blazer with other coasters either being a near walk on or a very short wait. For my wife and I, the clean paths and abundant trash cans were a very nice change from what we had experienced a week before at SFA. It was also a good feeling of confidence to see ride ops who were attentive and alert. It is easy to understand how Hersheypark won a recent "Applause Award", a replica of which is proudly displayed in a case near the Light Arcade just in front of Carrousel Circle.

"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

Wednesday, September 5, 2001 5:35 PM

Wow, long TR!  Seems like you had a pretty good time at the park.  I definitely agree that the "waste managment" crew does a really good job; they're always emptying trash cans, sweeping up, or just doing something to make the park look better. 

It was also a good feeling of confidence to see ride ops who were attentive and alert.

  Thank you! We try =). 

Rollercoaster -PA


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