Hersheypark- 7/10 and 7/11/2005

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 2:39 PM
Hersheypark- July 10th and 11th 2005

My visit to Hershey was much anticipated because I haven’t been to a “new-to-me” park since 2000. Living in West Virginia and not being quite old enough to go on my own coastering trips really limits my options. My family had been planning a trip to Hershey and Niagara Falls for some weeks, and I could barely wait to hop aboard some new coasters.

We arrived in Hershey around mid-day on Sunday, and my sister and I entered the park at 7:30. Hershey has a plan for people that buy tickets for the next day allowing them to “preview” the park the night before for free. This really worked to our advantage and allowed a few hours to feel the park out and get used to its rather confusing layout.

The first ride we hit was the Great Bear. I have ridden a few other B&M inverted coasters, but this one really surprised me. I was amazed at how powerful the helix before the first drop is. The rest of the layout was pure fun, especially the speedy, close to the ground straightaway sections. We would ride this coaster five more times during our visit without waiting more than ten minutes, even for the front seat.

After our first rides on Great Bear, we set about trying to find our way around this very confusing park. I think we found sooperdooperlooper next. This was my very first
Schwarzkopf coaster and I was very pleased with the experience. This ride was so smooth for its age. The trains were very comfortable, and the ride itself was very unique. I loved the way it intertwines with the Great Bear and the Coal Cracker log flume. The final helix was also quite a surprise. Sooperdooperlooper was an all around great ride. We rode once more the next day with no wait at all.

The rest of the evening was spent navigating the park from front to back. We got rides in on Storm Runner, Wildcat, Wild Mouse, Sidewinder, and Lightning Racer. I will save reviews on all of those coasters except for the Wild Mouse and Sidewinder for the next day section of my TR. Wild Mouse and Sidewinder were the only rides from the night visit that we didn’t do the next day.

Strangely, I was looking forward to Sidewinder. My only other Vekoma Boomerang was Mind Eraser back when Geauga Lake was Six Flags Ohio. I enjoyed that one, so I figured I would like this one as well. Unfortunately, this ride was extremely rough. There was no line so we walked on mid-train, and then we were along for the ride. I am 6’2”, and my collarbones were repeatedly smashed against the restraints in the cobra roll and portions of the loop. This was probably my most painful coaster ride ever, right up there with a few Son of Beast circuits.

In contrast, the Wild Mouse was quite a surprise. I am glad these coasters have made such a comeback as of late, they really pack a punch for such a compact coaster. My sister and I met up with my parents for this ride. The wait was around 5 minutes and then we were off. Every one of the hairpin turns at the top made me fear that we were going to rocket straight off the track and end up in the field down below. The height of this coaster was also a bit surprising. It was much larger than what I had anticipated. As compared to the Arrow Mad Mouse at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion that I rode a few years ago, this ride was silky smooth and it was very comfortable.

The next day we arrived right around 11:00. I’m not sure what time the park opened, but it was already quite crowded. Even with the large crowds, most of the attractions had minimal waits. On this day we rode all of the coaters except for Wild Mouse, Sidewinder (cringe), and Roller Soaker. Roller Soaker must have been down during our visit, I never once saw a vehicle leave the station and that section of the park was relatively dead.

Now on to the reviews of the other major coasters at the park. Storm Runner was such an amazing ride. I rode Top Thrill Dragster last year and I found it to be a one trick pony. In contrast, this Intamin rocket coaster had it all. The launch was powerful, the airtime over the top hat was incredible, and the rest of the layout was a blast. The zero-g roll straight to a half-twist out or whatever you want to call it has to be one of the best elements ever created. It took my sister and I by surprise each time we rode. Over the course of the day we would ride five more times and never wait more than 20 minutes. The dual loading station keeps this line moving very quickly even on a crowded day in July.

Comet was an awesome wooden coaster. Whenever I am waiting in line for an older wooden coaster, it’s always amazing to think about what an achievement the ride was for its time. Hersheypark does a nice job of keeping this coaster riding and looking brand new. All three of our rides on this gem were very smooth and fun. The line was very long for much of the morning and mid-afternoon, but by the time we left it had dwindled to a walk-on. If you visit Hershey, I would recommend waiting for the line to die down later in the day.

Trail Blazer was one of the hardest coasters to find in the park. Even with the map, we didn’t really find it easily until we discovered the path under Storm Runner’s launch track. Not much to say about this mine train coaster. It was outdated and the layout was super short. It was still smooth, and the banking in one of the turns was a nice surprise, but other than that it was pretty much just a ho-hum experience.

The last two coasters of the trip were Wildcat, and of course the stunning Lightning Racer. I was really anticipating my first ride on the Wildcat. I saw it on one of the Discovery Channel shows many years ago, and ever since then the coaster had intrigued me. Unfortunately, this ride was nothing like I expected it to be. The layout was twisted and stunning to look at like all other GCII coasters, but the ride was extremely bumpy and jarring. Perhaps it is because this coaster uses PTC trains, but I’m not really sure. It was so rough in some points that the lapbar was rattled loose and popped up before slamming back down.

Lightning Racer on the other hand, was just what I expected: smooth, fast, and extremely fun. The Lightning side seemed to beat the Thunder side on all of our rides, and on all of the rides that happened while we were in line. I’m not sure if that side was simply running faster while we were there or what, but Thunder was never able to win. We rode three times with never more than a one-train wait. This is definitely a top-notch wooden coaster and another hit to add to GCII impressive lineup. Their creativity and engineering genius is hard to beat.

Not only did we catch rides on all of the coasters, but on several other attractions including the Flying Falcons, Monorail, Kissing Tower, and ZooAmerica. One thing I tried to figure out was where the park planned to place Frequent Faller. Does anyone know where this ride was going to be placed?

Final thoughts and impressions of the park: Hersheypark was one of the most enjoyable amusement park experiences I have ever had. The park was very unique and had a wonderful atmosphere. This, combined with friendly staff, short lines, good food, and an awesome lineup of coasters made for an amazing visit. Unfortunately, my plans to visit Martin’s Fantasy Island never materialized, but I didn’t really mind much. Niagara Falls was incredible, and sometimes catching a few rides on a coaster just can’t compare to the awe-inspiring power of nature. Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 3:26 PM
Great to hear!

We were there on 7/6 for our free preview evening, then 7/7 and 7/8 for 2 full days.

My favorite ride was RollerSoaker, although its tough to re-ride on it, cause you get completely soaked on the first run :)

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 3:41 PM
How come you didn't ride the Claw? You also missed a really good 3D movie at Chocolate World. I do agree Hershey Park has a great coaster line up.
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Saturday, July 16, 2005 4:18 PM
The claw looked a bit nauseating to me, so we skipped it.

We spent some time at Chocolate World, but it was so crowded and everything was so expensive that we skipped out on most of the stuff there except for the "tour."

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 4:28 PM

TopGun said:

We spent some time at Chocolate World, but it was so crowded and everything was so expensive that we skipped out on most of the stuff there except for the "tour."


Well, 5 or 6 bucks for a 25-minute 3D film could be considered expensive, but everything else, including mementos and such were very reasonable and extremely durable and well constructed compared to offerings by most other parks. Also, the food, although not inexpensive, was another plus for both Chocolate World & Hersheypark, because of how well it all tasted.

For instance, I purchased the Hersheypark travel mug, with an engraved Hershey kiss logo on the front, which is made mostly of alluminum, not all plastic like everywhere else, for $9.99. There were so many unique items at the park and Chocolate World, I think most were worth the price.

How is a case of 24 candy bars for $10 expensive? That's less than the 55 cent store price per bar.

I can bet you, along with the kids I took, made sure they got all the free candy giveaways possible at the end of all the coasters? I think we ended up with over 20 free bottles of the new Jolly Rancher ROCKS!

*** Edited 7/16/2005 8:35:58 PM UTC by midwave***

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 6:43 PM
You are right, there were some excellent deals on most of the souvenir stuff. My whole family was kind of bummed because my parents were there several years ago and you actually got to tour the real factory.

We were expecting to do that, but the real tours have been discontinued in favor of Chocolate World. It was really cool, but just not what we were actually expecting. I guess doing a bit of research would have payed off. Oh well, the park was all I was interested in anyhow.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 10:00 PM
Boomerangs can be hit or miss, the one at SFDL is smooth as glass, while Great Escape's is very rough.

Great TR!

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 10:15 PM
Is there any extra charge for the "preview privileges" and when does it start??
Does the park let you bring in water bottles and snacks?? *** Edited 7/17/2005 2:22:02 AM UTC by Bob O***
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Saturday, July 16, 2005 10:51 PM

TopGun said:
One thing I tried to figure out was where the park planned to place Frequent Faller. Does anyone know where this ride was going to be placed?

The Frequent Faller was going to be placed between the Carousel and the old Hershey Arena where the Balloon Flite and Starship America rides are now. That was the location of the Giant Wheel until 2004. Balloon Flite and Starship America were taken out of storage to fill the space when the Frequent Faller deal fell through after the Giant Wheel had already been removed. What makes me sad about all this is to see the Giant Wheel removed without a suitable replacement...like it was all for naught. The Giant Wheel was my favorite amusement park ride ever, and I miss it. *** Edited 7/17/2005 2:52:13 AM UTC by gardener14***

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Saturday, July 16, 2005 11:15 PM
Gardener14, thanks for the info. I really couldn't see where there was room except for back near Lightning Racer.

Bob O, I'm not sure about bringing in snacks and water. However, there isn't an additional charge for the preview. You buy a ticket for the next day at regular price, and you get a few free hours the night before that starts depending on what time the park closes. If it closes at 10, then you can go in after 7:30.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005 12:12 AM
Bob O, to be added with TopGun's post....you pay for parking for the preview night, then show your stamped preview section on your ticket on your first regular day, and your preview parking stub, and you get your first regular day of parking for free.
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Sunday, July 17, 2005 2:31 AM

TopGun said:

The first ride we hit was the Great Bear. I have ridden a few other B&M inverted coasters, but this one really surprised me. I was amazed at how powerful the helix before the first drop is. The rest of the layout was pure fun, especially the speedy, close to the ground straightaway sections.

Glad someone agrees with me on this.


Trail Blazer was one of the hardest coasters to find in the park. Even with the map, we didn’t really find it easily until we discovered the path under Storm Runner’s launch track.

No actually, Storm Runner's launch track is over the path connecting "Minetown" and "Pioneer Frontier." :) The path was there for years before SR ever got there.

... but the ride was extremely bumpy and jarring.

Wildcat is one coaster where the wildness seems to increase exponentially the further back you sit. But believe it or not, this year doesn't seem to be as bad as the past few. I felt like my spleen was still attached when I got off the ride this year.

TopGun, glad you and your family enjoyed your trip to Hershey. I always like to read TR's from visitors to our eastern PA parks. You just need to come back more often so the layout isn't so confusing anymore.


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