Monday, July 9, 2001 7:11 AM
...or why even GREAT BEAR
isnt as lame as Raptor. =]
Some buddies of mine and fellow POSSE members (you have to read the refreshinglook.com msg boards to understand), Tim & Dan, decided to spend the 4th (and 5th) at HersheyPark. Since they were coming all the way from Ohio, I figured I'd meet them there. Plus as many of you might know, I've never been there.
It was a pretty uneventful drive up. I managed not to hit any rush hour traffic around DC, B-more and Harrisburg. I actually got there a little before the 10am opening so I went down to a gas station and bought some cinnamon rolls to munch on. As I headed into the HP parking lot, I saw something that made me sick to my stomach. That night, in the Hershey Arena, there was a concert by none other than the Backstree Boys. Oh BROTHER! Visions of little screaming white 12yr old girls invaded my consciousness. However, I was resolved to have a good time anyway.
We chose to meet right at the main gates @ opening and right as I walked up, there they were. Since they had spent the previous day there, they were my tour guides (Ohio kids guiding me around a park that wouldnt be so much of a stretch for me to call home, Yes I am ashamed). Anyway, after paying the 26bucks to get in (I had a coupon, coke cans) we were off.
They suggested that we head all the way to the back of the park to the 'Midway America' section. They used that techinque the day before and were able to get in several rides on Lightning Racer with minimal waits. I had heard that HP *stays* crowded (not to mention the BSB concert) so any way to avoid crowds was something I wanted to do. And with that, after a brief opening delay, I found myself in the second row of 'Lightning' (bka the red side) of:
Lightning Racer (GCI racing & dueling wooden twisters) .
Now, if you been really playing along @ home, then you would know that I am a HUGE fan of wooden twisters. Lighting Racer was the coaster I was most intrigued by last year (yes even over Millie and Sonny) so I was really psyched to ride it; especially because of the Millennium Flyer trains. Well the coaster is beautiful and the ride was fun, but it seemed not to do anything; especially when compared to ROAR @ SFA. Furthermore, while I wasnt stapled, the bar seemed to keep finding its way into my stomach, causing some discomfort. Oh well it was still fun. Let's see what the other side is like.
We ran back around and found ourselves in the rear of 'Thunder' (bka the green side). This ride I enjoyed more. There was a good ejection on the first twisting drop and pops here and there. The bar still hurt me, but it was a fun ride. The layouts of the two coasters was not noticably different. Some of the crossovers may have happened at different times (or were mirrored) but I think they are pretty much the same ride. With that in mind, I came to the conclusion that the only reason I liked this ride better than the first one was because of where I sat. So, I had to try Lightning in the back for fairness. I did, and I liked it more back there too. For completeness, we rode Thunder in near the front too, and it performed just like Lightning.
Lightning Racer is a very enjoyable coaster. It's high on my 'just for fun' list. It's not the "-est" coaster, but I could easily ride this thing all day ('specially once I learned the secret, but I'm getting ahead of myself). We moved over to the other woodie in the area and GCI's first creation:
Wildcat (GCI wooden twister)
Tim & Dan said it was rougher than your average woodie and me being the masochist I am, aimed right for the back. The twisting drop here didnt provide much air and in fact reminded me a lot of the twist drop on Shockwave (SFGAm). When we got to the bottom, it bottomed out HARD (ouch), the rest of the ride was brutally intense (kinda like BOSS @ SFStL) but not really brusing. Not bad for a first attempt, but I'm glad they got better with ROAR and others. One more coaster was left in Midway America:
The Wild Mouse (Mack wild mouse)
It sits up on a hill so the mouse looks massive, but is your standard fare. However, it's braked very lightly so you get good lats all the way down, not to mention there are a couple good bunny hills too. One bit of excitement happened here. A girl got off on the wrong side and tried to cross in *front* of the car instead of walking back through it. The attendant working there luckly grabbed her before she hurt herself *whew*.
Well, it was time to leave MA and head on to the rest of the park. Since I was the *newbie* they let me decide the way to go. Be not being *truely* enthusiast minded, figured we'd just hit whatever we passed. Since I had never been there, I wanted to take in the whole park.
I guess I should interject this now. The theming in this park (and surrounding area) it hit or miss. The MA area, the main gate area and the Pioneer Frontier are excellent, beyond excellent (this is more of the theming I like, not that fantasy crap =]). But some of it had no apparent underlying theme (comet hollow) or that theme was randomly ignored (a dolphin show in MineTown?). But overall, it reminded me a little of SFGAm and PKI so that was cool. They had tons of flowers and trees were everywhere (except in MA, but what state fairground have trees anyway?). It was a visually pleasing park. Well the next coaster we came upon was:
Sidewinder (Vekoma boomerang)
Tim sat this one out as he's not a big fan of extra-intense loopers in general and boomerangs in particular. We walked on to a random seat in the back. I dont know why I like invertigoes but dont really care for boomers. At least it didnt hurt. *cha-ching* Moving right along, we came upon:
Trailblazer (Arrow Mine Train)
It was now Dan's turn to sit out as the lapbars dont really *conform* to his body type. This is one of the few mine trains that have only one lift. Consequently, it is very short. Would it have really hurt to put bunny hills on mine trains? Anyway, this has nice theming around it and is intertwined with the train. Could be fun.
We moved down (literally downhill) into Comet Hollow, and encounted the Comet. The queue line for Comet was full. I was willing to wait, but Tim suggested trying something else and coming back as "the line cant get any longer". That logic sounded good so we moved over to:
SooperDooperLooper[registered trademark] (Schwarzkopf steel single-looping terrain coaster).
Imagine a mine train or a speedracer (like Whizzer @ SFGAm), now stick a vertical loop on it. That pretty much sums up SDL. It's a fun little coaster, but not really thrilling by today's standards. What I think is best about it is its location. It is underneath and intertwined with:
Great Bear (B&M Steel Inverted: 4-inversions)
We headed over here next. I had heard pretty much nothing good about the ride other than the inherent B&M smoothness. This is supposed to be one of the "forceless" "newer" B&Ms. Tim actually said that he liked the ride and felt good riding it. Now as I said, Tim's not a fan of heavy-G rides, however *I* am so that didnt bode well for ole Ursa Major. Anyway, I wanted to try the front but the line was too long so we went for the back. Pretty much all the reports were true. The ride starts off with a weird helix into the Raptor-like drop. The pacing of the drop, loop, I-man, zero-G roll was good, then an S-turn around SDL into the flatspin another turn and a long straightaway home. It pretty much was without force. Not *bad* but way too tame to be an instant favorite of mine (still better than Volcano and SLCs, but down there with Ice and Raptor). Since we were in the area we also hit up:
Coal Cracker (Arrow Log Flume)
This flume is also intertwined with GB & SDL so it has some good scenery. It's also close to the edge of the park so you can see peoples houses from the boat. As for the ride itself, I think I'll paraphrase a fellow enthusiast's general description of Arrow flumes. Lift, dip, bang around low to the ground; lift, dip, bang around really high, drop, sprinkle, bang around back to the station. That's pretty much it. After that, we doubled back and joined the now slightly shorter line for:
Comet (Herbert Schmeck double out 'n back woodie)
After our longest wait of the day so far (about 30-40min) we sat in the usual 'ejector seat' (1st car, 3rd row) of the train; 3-bench PTCs with two-position 'buzz bars'. It also uses skid brakes, not fins. This coaster is a seat divider away from being an ACE classic. The ride was bumpy but fun. The second "out" part actually takes off in a different direction than the first one (If you looked down at the ride from above it would be almost "Y" shaped). It reminded me of a more comfortable Screamin Eagle with its use of the terrain. It might be one of my favorite out n backers (behind villain of course).
With that, I looked down at my watch and noticed it was only a little after 1pm. In less than 4hours we had challenged all the park's coaster tracks (including two each on Thunder & Lightning). We toyed with the idea of driving an extra hour or so up to Knoebels but the thought of me needing to drive 4 hours home didnt sit well so that will have to be another day. Anyway, we lunched at a full service restaurant right outside the main gates (but still a Hershey property) Pippin's. I had the pierogie stir fry (a cross b/w polish and chinese?) and it was really good. The cost averaged out to a little over ten bucks a person, but I was alright with that.
We then took the Chocolate World tour. A bad idea so soon after a potato laden lunch. The ride gave a good history of the factory in a gentle Epcot "Spaceship Earth" kind of way. But I was ready for a nap and this almost put me over the top. We re-entered the park and took the monorail ride, another relaxing historical narrative. By now my body was screaming for sleep. I decided that the next thing we did had to be fast so we went back to the fastest ride in the park GB. This time the line for the front was shorter so we went for it. It was here that I decided that it was *slightly* better than Raptor. You could actually feel some forces (not Fire Dragon like by any means) and there are tons of footchoppers on the straightaways. Also on the straightaway into the I-man, there are caution markings all on the ground, a neat addition. That woke me up a little.
We went over and rode the Condor, then headed into the Zoo America portion of the park. It was cool that they had it there, but we breeze through rather quickly as there was nothing particular to hold our interest. Also the abundance of little kids was somewhat annoying. The only thing we did note is the Raven. We joked that we saw the Raven, but couldnt find the station (okay, it was funny to us). We were making jokes like that the whole time (because that's what the POSSE does). We would keep fake asking (the GP not the ops) "do you get wet" (on the log flume), "does this go upside down" (SDL), does this go underwater (LR). Whatever...
Well, we decide to take a quick spin on the train then head back to MA for some more GCI goodness. Tim remarked that the previous day they did something similar and ended up getting rained out of an LR ride cause it started to pour *just* as they got to the station. I looked up and noticed that the skies had gotten darker. It had been overcast all day but I could now see darker patches above. Just as we get on the train, the winds start howling and the drops begin to fall. After our ride we sprint to the nearest arcade to wait it out.
It was raining really hard and I knew it would last long. Plus you could see how fast it was moving so I could tell our delay would be brief. A few minutes later the deluge stopped and we were in the Wildcat's front row. Wildcat was doing much better after the rain. It was still intense but not painful and there were brief hints of airtime. We then took a couple of spins on LR (one each side, where I learned that if I actually hold UP the bar during the ride it is wonderfully comfortable. AND a girl actually asked Dan if Lightning Racer went upsidedown :)) and headed back to Comet Hollow.
In Comet Hollow we took a back seat ride on Comet and a front seater on Great Bear. All the lines we were seeing kept getting shorter and shortet, likely because of the BSB concert next door. We headed, once again, to MA for more GCIness before the Laser Light show started. HP states that all MA rides may shut the lines down up to an hour before so as to set proper mood. We grabbed a quick second row ride on Wildcat (which had all the air of the front row and all the pain of the back row) and after grabbing some quick snacks (I had popcorn chicken, bland at best) we wanted to end the night on the now tracer light adorned Lighting Racer. We experienced the longest lines on LR at this time (still only about a 4 train wait) mostly because everyone was in the back to see the laser show. Hit Thunder first, near the back, got off and hit Lightning in about the same place. As we were about to board, I noted that they must have closed the line as the station had cleared out. Well when we got back there were like two groups waiting for the front seat. We asked the op if we could stay on and the guy just nodded and with his hand told us to stay put. So we got a re-ride to end the evening (I've been good getting ending re-rides). There were five of us on the whole train and Lightning was hauling gluteus. I think it actually went faster near empty than full!
After that, we posted up and watched the laser show. It was cool, I guess, but admittedly, I was bored by it. All that I was thinking of was the 2hr drive home. Finally the show ended, I bought a tee-shirt and bid adieu to my fellow POSSE members. Got in my car @ 11:20pm and after fighting the *somewhat unorganized" exodus from the park, having credit card problems at the gas station and an uneventful ride I was in my bed @ 1:50am; fully satisfied with my day at "The Sweetest Place on Earth" (TM)
I think this is my longest TR to date. If I was you all, I'd like ban me from writing them or something! =]
*** This post was edited by 2Hostyl on 7/9/2001. ***