Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
My two older brothers and I had been talking about planning a guys' trip somewhere this summer, possibly Cedar Point, but due to our crazy schedules we opted for a closer location this past weekend. Unfortunately my oldest brother couldn't swing it so it ended up being my middle brother, our longtime family friend, my 12 year old son Jake, and me.
My brother made the arrangements and drove us all up to PA Friday evening. We stayed at a cottage in Mt. Gretna about 20 minutes from the park. I don't recommend it; the house rode the fence between rustic charm and old dingy craphole.
Saturday morning we made a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for fuel, then headed across the street to the park. The line outside the front gate was massive, but wasn't terribly slow so we were inside in about 10 minutes.
First up was Storm Runner, a coaster Jake missed out on 3 years ago when it closed for inclement weather (he was devastated). This ride delivers, despite its short length. I didn't remember it being this good, and I'd rate it second best in the park next to Skyrush.
Next door was Sidewinder. I was hesitant when my brother suggested we ride, and he found out why; all of us except Jake felt nauseous afterward. Backward loopy stuff no longer agrees with me and my oldness. Ugh. It's still the smoothest and least headbangy boomerang around, but I didn't really care about that when it was over. I may have ridden my last boomerang.
Jake hadn't ridden Fahrenheit prior to this visit, so he took a spin while the three adults recovered from Sidewinder. I think he was looking forward to this one the most, and he dug it, but not as much as Storm Runner.
Wild Mouse was next. Painful, but always fun. Random mouse facts were posted throughout the queue, sponsored by Victor (the mousetrap manufacturer), which I found humorous.
We then rode the Whip. It was cool to see enlarged black and white photos of the original Mangels Whip and Twin Ferris Wheels on the back wall. I vaguely remember riding the now defunct kiddie whip when I was a kid, and vaguely remember having a lot more fun back then. I distinctly remember having less fun on the adult version this past Saturday. It was ok. My son wasn't all that impressed, either.
We looked for a place to eat, but the first two joints we hit were closed for no apparent reason. Finally decided to head outside the front gate to eat at Hersheypark Place, a nice sit-down restaurant with a decent menu. Had a burger with chocolate BBQ sauce, which tastes like BBQ sauce. It was good.
Since we were right there, we decided to take the Chocolate Factory tour, which my brother had mentioned was updated recently. The cars are all new, and the trains of three are colored to resemble Kisses, Hershey bars, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Each car has video screens with a female talking head explaining how chocolate is made, to which we paid very little attention. And all throughout the exhibits are new screens with annoyingly bad CGI Hershey candy characters, also explaining how chocolate is made in obnoxious cartoon voices. We paid less attention to those. Upon exiting, we were handed a sample chocolate bar by a woman who appeared to want to be absolutely anywhere other than where she was and doing absolutely anything else other than handing park guests free candy.
Back in the park we hit the one of the arcades. Jake won a butt-ton of tickets.
Upon leaving the arcade, it was raining, and pretty steadily. We putzed around a bit until it let up, then headed for Great Bear, which was the last coaster Jake had yet to ride. The wait was a little more than an hour, and it was irritating to see the second train sitting on the brakes outside the station nearly every cycle for a minute or more (usually more). I'm not sure what the crews were doing, but oddly by the time we got to the station they seemed to have stepped it up a bit. We rode in the front at my insistence; I'm a front seat rider on most coasters, but if the wait is insufferable I'll typically be fine sitting anywhere on anything...except inverted coasters. Great Bear is really, really good. I think I've only been on it 4 or 5 times in my lifetime, exactly because it always has an insufferable wait. Other B&M's seem to be people movers, but this one just never is. Of note were the pork advertisements hanging in the queue section just before the station.
Yes. You read that last sentence correctly.
Next, we hit up a larger arcade than the last. This one had a slew of classic arcade games which makes me giddy. As I was obliterating the reigning 5-digit high score on one of the two Galaga machines, I kept waxing nostalgic, thinking that if this was the 80s I'd have had a crowd of people around cheering me on. Almost broke 600,000 as my last ship exploded. Not too bad. Played a few more games while Jake won an even larger butt-ton of tickets and tokens which he then traded for a bunch of cheap crap. He was happy. Right before we exited the arcade, we stopped to play one of those dome hockey games that plays a little like foosball, but looks like hockey. We doubled up to play two on two, and had some of the most fun of the night. I think we played four games in a row, and I swear we all looked like Daniel Larusso playing Ali at Golf N' Stuff at one time or another.
Before heading out, we wanted to make a sweep through Comet Hollow to ride the 3 coasters there. SooperdooperLooper was first up, and by the time we were on the train starting up the lift, the rain had begun again. I've ridden this coaster over the years more times than I can count since I was 6 or 7, and it never changes. I love it.
Jake wanted to hit Skyrush next, but as we approached the queue, the staffer posted there said it was closed because of the rain. It didn't look like it was going to let up, so instead of waiting we opted for Comet. Jake handled the disappointment like a champ (way better than he had when he missed out on Storm Runner). Comet's line was crazy long, so we called it a night, had dinner at a nearby Red Robin, and then headed back to our old dingy craphole for the night.
Yeah, it was the first time I've left Hershey without having ridden a wooden coaster. No one was jazzed to ride Wildcat because it was still early and we still weren't fully recovered from the boomerang, and Lightning Racer had the longest line I'd seen in years.
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