When: Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Weather: Sunny with scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms
Who: Myself, wife, mother in law (“mom”), father in law (“dad”), sister in law (Chele’s sister, April), brother in law (Doug), 8 ½ yr old niece (Dakota) and 3 ½ year old niece (Kyleigh).
Chele and I had several free park passes that we had gotten at the two Hershey Bears hockey fan appreciation nights this past season. Since we both had season passes and were not going to use these freebees ourselves, we gave them to her family and arranged for everyone to go to the park on the same day.
After my wife and her mom switched cars outside of Hershey (so both cars we were taking could park free with our free passes), we arrived at the entrance of the park just as they were opening for the day. After getting everything organized with the stroller (brought for our youngest niece but loaded with enough baggage for a trip across the Sahara, let alone a day at Hersheypark) we were on our way to Founder’s Circle.
Founder’s Circle: Keeping with the tradition that Cele and I have, the first ride of the day was on the Carrousel. Gotta love a classic carrousel with wooden carved horses (not those fiber glass things) that is still run the way it should be run… i.e. FAST. After this there were a few of the surrounding kiddie rides for the girls before we moved on to Comet Hollow.
Comet: Having visited the park once before this season and knowing that we would have opportunity to return later in the year, Chele said that she would watch the Kyliegh when we wanted to ride things that she was too small for, so the two of them waited while everyone else boarded Comet. Short wait. I rode in the first seat with Dakota. When we dropped down over that first hill and I saw Dakota’s mouth open and her eyes wide as saucers, I realized again why I liked this coaster! I rode it for the first time when I was somewhere around 8 myself and my reaction was the same as hers and it has been my sentimental favorite ever since.
With the sooperdooperlooper closed (maintenance crew crawling around the bottom of the lift), we crossed the creek and headed toward Mine Town.
Coal Cracker: No wait. Everyone rode. Chele, the girls and I were in one boat. I was in front and really couldn’t see what was going on behind me, but I heard giggling all through ride. The ride picture showed Chele, Dakota and I laughing with a very apprehensive looking Kyliegh peeking out from between the two of them. I guess it is kind of intense for a 3 year old!
Great Bear: While tall enough, Dakota was not quite ready for the Bear, so Chele took her and her sister on the Antique cars and Kissing Tower while the rest of us rode this coaster. Mom and Dad took a middle train seat (near walk on) while April, Doug and I waited for the front. Just as we were about ready to load, we saw dad step into the gate for seat 2. Since there were 3 of us in front with no single riders behind us, when it came time to load he stepped up and joined us in front. Best seat in the house on this coaster (as with any invert). And for the three of them, who don’t travel to parks like Chele and me, this front seat experience was spectacular.
Lunch: Forget what is called… in previous seasons it was called “Wok and Roll” and was near the Kissing Tower. Average park food, nothing spectacular.
Flying Falcon: While everyone else was watching Kyliegh on the Frog Hoppers, Chele, Dakota and I took a spin on the Falcon. Being in separate cars, I couldn’t see exactly what was going on with them, but Chele said that on the way up Dakota was a bit apprehensive, but then started laughing once the car reached the top and started circling. Chele on the other hand started to get dizzy and was kind of woozy for the next few hours.
Trailblazer: Kyliegh’s first “big” coaster. Hey, for a 3 ½ year old this IS a big coaster. Not quite sure how she liked it, but Dakota liked it so some of us jumped on for a 2nd ride with her. Okay, it is a slow little mine train, but it looks good. I never realized how neat it looks the way the one part of Storm Runner’s queue is tucked away in the middle of Trailblazer’s first helix.
After a rest at the Trailblazer Theater and watching the end of the one country music show, we were on our way up the hill to….
Storm Runner: The line was short (not even extending up the steps that lead to the station). April, Doug and dad had never ridden this thing before, so their apprehension grew as we got closer and closer to boarding. Soon we found ourselves secured in our seats and the train pulled out to the launch track. When the thing launched, April let out a scream that didn’t end until we hit the break run! Must not have scared her too much though, because she, Doug and I went back for a reride while everyone else headed off for the Board Walk. (Dad has proclaimed this as his favorite coaster... and I have to admit, I do prefer it over its bigger, one trick pony of a cousin in Jackson NJ)
After Storm Runner, the three of us headed for Midway America.
Wildcat: Walk on (even with the center seats blocked off). Okay, the Millenium Flyer trains helped this coaster a little… but it still jars your brain around in your skull that gives you a borderline headache.
Lightning Racer: Walk on. Fast as ever. Smooth as ever? Not quite… picked up some roughness over the last few years... nothing bad… but even the slightest roughness on this once smooth as glass coaster is noticeable.
We caught up with the rest of the family just as the Boardwalk water attractions were closing down due to an impending thunderstorm. As we started to walk toward the front of the park again, the storm broke loose in a down pour, but we were lucky to be near one of the catering pavilions where security was directing people to take shelter. After about 20 minutes the storm let up and we were on our way again.
By the time we got to music Box Way, only a few rides had reopened, so while the girls rode some of the kiddie rides, Chele, Doug and I rode….
Fender Bender: Okay, they are bumper cars, so they are fun, but they are no match for Knoebels Lusse Skooter’s!
Caught the end of the singing “Milkmen” show and then Doug and I took another ride on Comet while Kyliegh and Chele rode Sky View and dad took Dakota on the Wave Swinger. After meeting up with everyone again, they all decided to ride the monorail, but Doug said he really needed to ride Storm Runner again, so he and I headed that way with plans to meet up at 6:45 after the acrobatic show in the Music Box Theater was over (where the rest of the family had planned to be).
He and I got our third ride on Storm Runner and then headed cross the park to Great Bear. We were waiting in line for the front when it started to rain. They kept running. Then it thundered and the ride shut down. They said it would be a lengthy shut down (a 20 minute automatic wait plus time for the tracks to dry and for testing), so we started back toward Founders Circle after a cell phone call told us that is where everyone had gathered after the show. When we arrived there the girls were on some kiddie rides with mom and dad so the rest of us grabbed a funnel cake snack.
After my first spin ever on Starship America (with Dakota) and a carrousel re ride, it was off to Chele’s favorite…
the sooperdooperlooper, which had now been running since sometime late morning. Everyone but mom and Kyliegh got on. Chele said just as we reached the top of the lift hill Dakota looked at her and said “I don’t think I want to ride this.” Too late. Okay, while not the most thrilling coaster in the park… still a fun coaster and a favorite.
Mom then announced that she was ready for Storm Runner, so we took the path along the creek from the looper to the Trailblazer area and while Chele and the girls stayed at the Trailblazer theater watching another show, the rest of us hiked up the hill to Storm Runner’s station. A short wait again… this time for a seat near the front. There were 5 of us and being 2 seats behind mom, I couldn’t see her reaction, however I did see several coins from her pocket go floating above her head when we crested the first hill!
We then decided it was soon time to call it a day. We collected Chele and the girls at the Trailblazer theater and headed for the front of the park. Dakota said that someone had promised her a ride on Sky View so I went with her. A slow little ride… but with great timing we were passing directly above the tracks of Great Bear as a train roared past.
The sky was then really getting dark and the rain started falling. It was decided that we had better start walking fast for the exit or else we could get very wet. Too late as the down pour began before we reached the gate. Soaked to the skin, we were packed everything away in the cars and were heading out of the parking lot by 8:45. I’m just glad the skies didn’t open up a few minutes earlier… I don’t think being caught on Sky View in a torrential downpour would have been a good thing.
To paraphrase a line from C.Jacque’s book, as with most trips to Hersheypark, a good time was had by all. It was probably the longest single visit that Chele and I have made to the park in a long time (10am to 8:30pm) with only the rain causing us not to “open AND close” the park. This past Sunday Dakota was still talking about the fun day she had and afterward everyone decided to make this “family day at Hersheypark” a yearly “tradition”.
*** Edited 7/3/2007 2:12:36 PM UTC by SLFAKE***
I liked your description of Trailblazer. Most of us who vote in coaster polls or jabber on here don't think too highly of a coaster like that. But it's a whole different story to ride it with a youngster who'd never been on a coaster before. To see their joy and excitement should give a great feeling even to the most jaded enthusiast.
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