Hersheypark 04/21/2013 - Working Up Courage and Questionable Legality

Monday, April 22, 2013 6:06 PM

I went to Hersheypark yesterday with a group of nine friends from church and family members as part of a corporate buyout day. I was pretty pumped as my uncle, one of the attendees and in fact the one who got us the tickets, had missed SkyRush on his one visit last year and I hadn't ridden it since the last time I rode it, and I was looking forward to solving that problem.

We got there pretty close to opening and opted to kick off the day by riding the Intamasterpiece. My cousin, who is generally afraid of coasters (she's actually ridden all but Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at WDW, but it's because they don't make it clear how high up you are in most situations), kept our stuff and off we went. The line wasn't horrendous despite the single-train operation, and my uncle suggested we wait for the front row. It was about a half-an-hour of waiting for the front, but he figured it would be our best shot at experiencing it. I'd ridden in the back and the middle before, but I'm generally a front-row guy, so I was excited.

I tell you, my friends, that ride was magnificent. It was freezing cold outside, so that kind of made things a little unpleasant, but it was just so much fun. Ruthless intensity throughout and glorious airtime ensured its place among my all-time favorites and also made me question how such fierce intensity could even be legal. I could've kept going (the restraints were perhaps padded better or my standards changed, I don't know), but we wanted to kind of make the rounds before the encore performances.

We followed it up with the Sooperdooperlooper (a ride I surprisingly enjoy a good bit) and Great Bear (a good ride in its own right) before making our way deeper into the park. We planned on grabbing lunch right after the Great Bear, but my cousin wanted to ride one of the few coasters she'll go for - the Trailblazer. I'm getting bigger into photography, so I opted to pass while they all rode that in order to get some shots of Storm Runner. I was glad everyone was so willing to go on it with her, as she spends most of her day holding our stuff and she shouldn't have had to miss out on the mild stuff just because we've ridden the heavy hitters.

Anyways, from Trailblazer, they noticed that Storm Runner had no line. We decided to push lunch back a few minutes and head over.

That became one of my all-time favorite Hersheypark experiences. Storm Runner was dead in a way I had never before seen. Both sides were running, and it was a one-train wait for the front row. I LOVE that ride in the front row, so my uncle and I seized the opportunity to lead the blue train through one of the finest rides in existence.

I tell you, that ride, for as...different?...as it is, was just crazy fun. The front row gave nice airtime pops all over the place, and I loved the unimpeded view. What a coaster.

With my uncle needing to eat for health reasons, and it being around lunch anyways, we split up to grab the eats of our preference. Several of us opted for the barbecue down by the Trailblazer, and I dare say I punished that pit beef sandwich. It's been a rare experience in my park-going career that I've found food that I genuinely, truly enjoy, but I love that place. Nom nom.

We reconvened over by Lightning Racer to begin round two. My cousin, who did have a slight burst of courage on the heels of her WDW experiences, decided to give it a shot. Again, non-existant waits even with the one-train operation allowed me to literally walk into the front row on the Lightning side, but our group was scattered throughout both sides. My goodness, I had forgotten how much I enjoy a proper GCII wooden coaster in the front row. That ride was stupid fun.

She, having ridden with her dad in the middle of our train, did not find it quite as entertaining as I did. I suspect she'll give it another run and learn to enjoy it more as the fear subsides, but the ride's signature first drop was perhaps a bit out of her league. That said, she did it, and I'm immensely proud of her, because we've been trying to encourage her over the years to give it a shot because we've been convinced she'll enjoy them.

Anyways, we followed it up with Wildcat, which had a pretty decent wait with the one train running. My cousin again decided to give it a shot, but her having all that time staring at the ride and listening to the auto-spiel with its statistics for the drop wasn't helping. As we approached the station, they brought the second train on, so we at least breezed through it from there. I again moved toward the front because I've ridden Wildcat before and I'm not stupid, and everybody else again scattered throughout.

To my great surprise, she actually kind of enjoyed it. Despite the larger overall size of Wildcat compared to its nearby racing brothers, the more gradual swoop of the drop was a bit easier for her to handle, and that's usually what gets her. I was proud because for the ride's faults, I really do love it, and at times I think it may be the best wooden coaster at the park. I applauded her taste and tried to talk up to her that the ride was actually uncommonly big for a GCII (I mean, it kind of is, right?). Another rung climbed on the ladder of coaster fear-conquering.

Most of the group went on a lap on the Wild Mouse while the rest of us chilled for a few, but once they came off, it was time for the re-rides. We kicked it off with SkyRush, wanting to avoid any possible end-of-the-day crowds. A couple wanted to wait for the front again, but most of us went toward the back.

Look, SkyRush was fantastic in the front. In the back, however, that ride is on a whole 'nother planet of excellence. It's rare that I vote for the back, but on that beast, the final row is where it's at. The airtime seemed to defy all of the laws of physics with me getting positively slammed into my lap bar, my clothes flying all up in my face (I'm sure the ladies enjoyed that ;), and my hair flailing all over the place. Mind-blowing, I say!

As the front row crew still had a bit of a wait, we jumped back in line for a third lap, this time heading toward the middle. It was maybe a three- or four-train wait both times, so we weren't holding anybody up. I passed on a window seat for this final lap of the day, wanting to afford other members of the group that opportunity. It was still every bit as awesome, although there's something to be said for added whip the outside seats give, especially during the snappy direction changes. The middle was a good balance, but the back definitely took the cake.

My uncle, though, didn't quite have such an awesome final lap as he discovered his wallet was not present at the end of the ride. I figured it was as good as gone, but he decided to check. Sure enough, he found it along the hillside between the lakeside path and the back of the buildings on the main midway with all but some papers and receipts still present. I made the executive order that he had to leave it in his bag from that point forward, though. He seemed to appreciate the humor.

We maneuvered back around toward Storm Runner for what was going to be our final ride of the day. The line still non-existent, my uncle and I again took the front row for another fantastic lap. That having concluded, some of the group wanted to take a spin on Sidewinder, but about half of us decided to use the time to chill. As we were sitting, though, we looked over and saw that Fahrenheit had finally opened despite the late hour (it was down from opening until then), so once they got off, we ran over and, after waiting a little bit, we were able to take a spin before leaving, and I again got the front row.

Now, Fahrenheit may not be my favorite ride at the park or a particular amazing ride in general, but it is a great deal of fun, and so long as I'm not waiting an eternity for it, I do try to get at least one lap in on each visit. If nothing else, it's got some great elements and it's a nice snappy little coaster, so it's fun to ride.

That concluded the day at the park, with every coaster except Comet being ridden by at least one member of the group (I know, I know, we should've done Comet). We proceeded to Chocolate World to acquire vast amounts of delicious candy before leaving.

I do want to mention how unbelievably fantastic the ride crews were, by the way. I know Hersheypark isn't generally known for the fastest crews, but yesterday defied that reputation. They were cranking out trains like nobody's business, and I want to give them credit for that. Even the rides with one-train operation still had fast-moving lines.

To sum up the day, though, SkyRush and Storm Runner were straight-up epic, Wildcat, Lightning Racer, and Fahrenheit were great fun as well, but there really isn't a bad coaster there. However, I want to add a quote from my cousin delivered while getting ready to board Lightning Racer, as it shows me I've earned a proper reputation in my family:

"Well, Justin said it's one of his favorites, so that's what concerns me."

Last edited by sirloindude, Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:45 AM
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:15 AM

Excellent trip report!

Wildcat makes me sad. When it first came to Hershey, I power rode that thing with my boyfriend and best friends for hours. Now I avoid it like the plague, even in the front seat. Even friends going for more credits try to get me to ride it, and I absolutely refuse. I loved it once, and it is still a nice looking coaster, but the pain...ugh.

I would like to ride Skyrush again and see if the restraints have been improved. It IS the most insane coaster I've ever ridden, and I'm glad they didn't trim it to solve its issues. *crossing fingers for new restraints*

Glad your cousin is riding more. I started off very similarly, refusing to go on certain height coasters and certain speeds and yadda yadda yadda. Now I've got coaster loops tattooed on my back and haven't been afraid of a ride since Kingda Ka. She'll get there. I laughed when I saw she wanted to avoid LR because it is one of your faves.

Don't feel too bad about skipping Comet. I never do (feel bad, I mean).

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 2:51 AM

That was a great read, Sirloin. Your TR captured many of my feelings toward Hershey my first visit this past summer. What a gem of a park with such fun rides. I can't imagine the bliss with no waits for coasters like Storm Runner.

Did I miss updates on SkyRush somewhere? Last I heard was that it was closed early last season for some failure with rumors of modifications to the restraints, station, etc. Did any of these things happen that you noticed?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:46 AM

I heard from other people on CBUZZ that Skyrush had painful restraints. Is this true? It looks like a sweet ride, but it is necessarily that highly regarded.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:56 AM

Jeph, I have heard two things with regard to Skyrush:

1) The restraints were being complained about so much that they closed the ride early last year and were going to modify the trains. This seems likely because I can honestly say Skyrush was easily in the top 3 painful experiences in my coaster riding life.

2). There was nearly an axle issue on the trains or some sort carastrophic issue on the track. This was a rumor I heard on another site, and I don't necessarily believe that. The airtime on Skyrush leads me to believe it COULD be a ride that would need frequent wheel replacement or something else replaced frequently due to the severely high stress of such hard airtime, but if El Toro can handle it with a wooden track, I'm fairly certain Skyrush didn't crack the track.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:51 AM

^Good point bunky. But the thing about El Toro is that a wooden structure can handle cracks (up to a point) and be fine. The wood on El Toro is also more flexible; the wood itself flexes and there are also thousands of joints where stuff can move. I don't think Skyrush has proper joints (ball and socket or hinge points, like Schwarzkopf or B&M coasters) but the steel does move and flex a bit.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:07 AM

I'm going to straight up ask: Is SkyRush a fun ride? Obviously Sirloin says it is. I've heard so many mixed opinions about it, though.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:49 AM

Then why ask? If you've already heard a mix of opinions, what makes you think you're going to hear one definitive one here?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:58 AM

Frankly, Tyler, I'm insulted you don't take my opinion as the scientific fact that it is. ;)

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:01 AM

Great, TR, Justin! Is that the same uncle we rode with at BooBuzz a few years ago? Sounds like you had a great time.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:21 AM

It was the same uncle, yes.

I really liked it because it was the first time in ages that I went to Hersheypark and it wasn't crowded. That, and it's always fun buying a whole lot more chocolate than I ordinarily would. ;)

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:39 AM

sirloindude said: I hadn't ridden it since the last time I rode it,

This is one of my favorite lines in my time on CoasterBuzz.

I felt the same way about every ride I went on this weekend. And this season. And last year. And the year before that. I'll stop now.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:50 AM

Mike, I had to restrain myself from saying almost the exact same thing. Was trying to stay on topic. So glad you pointed it out! :)

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 2:33 PM

Tyler Boes said:

I'm going to straight up ask: Is SkyRush a fun ride? Obviously Sirloin says it is. I've heard so many mixed opinions about it, though.

As to whether Skyrush is a fun ride, that's a very good question. (I agree with Vater that no-one here can give a definitive opinion.) What constitutes a fun ride? That got me to thinking. Although Skyrush is on my top ten list and I certainly had fun riding it 11 times during a Travel Channel shoot for Insane Coaster Wars because it was fun being part of a film shoot for TV, I have mixed feelings as to whether the coaster itself is a fun ride. I like it because it's the most intense coaster I've ridden, the angles are insane and the airtime is off the charts but wouldn't necessarily describe it as fun. The combination of intensity and painful restraints may not add up to fun. Another example is Kingda Ka. I enjoy riding it because I like the rush of adrenaline and the thrill of being launched at that speed to that height but wouldn't describe it as a fun ride. El Toro is one that I would definitely describe as fun, because although it's certainly intense, it's intense in a different way.

It all depends on your definition of fun. Back to Hersheypark - although I thought that Fahrenheit was pretty good and would ride it again, I did not think that it was fun to go up the lift hill while completely vertical. I found that very weird and decidedly uncomfortable.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 2:41 PM

Fahrenheit's vertical lift is one of the rare experiences in the coaster world that still unnerves me. I get nervous when I don't have a point of reference, and staring at nothing but sky while moving that slowly is not the most pleasant experience in the world.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 2:42 PM

Been saying it for quite a while....the only way to go up vertically on a coaster is via a launch. Rock'it, not so comfy. Wicked, very comfy.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:02 PM

Best freaky, unnerving vertical lift is the Chance Toboggan. Not only is the vertical part nuts, but you have the added double-claustrophobia of being fully enclosed in a single car you can barely fit in which is itself enclosed in a 40-foot tube.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:06 PM

Plus the knowledge of what's about to come.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:11 PM

sirloindude said:

Fahrenheit's vertical lift is one of the rare experiences in the coaster world that still unnerves me. I get nervous when I don't have a point of reference, and staring at nothing but sky while moving that slowly is not the most pleasant experience in the world.

You hit the nail on the head. It's having no point of reference that's so disconcerting. I vividly recall going up the lift hill staring up at the sky because there was nothing else to look at and feeling as odd as if I were in outer space.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:33 PM

I really hate Fahrenheit's vertical lift. I like to think no one down below can see the way I am trying to contort myself around the restraint for those very long 12 seconds.

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