Hersheypark 7/25/02

Associated parks:
None

Thursday, August 22, 2002 7:33 PM
From 7/21/02 to 7/29/02, I decided to do a coaster invasion of some northeastern states. My stops were:

7/21 Fly in
7/22 Morey’s Piers
7/23 Six Flags Great Adventure
7/24 Six Flags America
7/25 Hersheypark
7/26 Knoebel’s
7/27 Dorney Park and a party at a friend's house
7/28 Dorney Park
7/29 Fly out

July 25 was a visit to Hersheypark. Out of all the parks on this trip, I was really looking forward to going to Hersheypark. I had heard so many good things about it and I really wanted to ride Lightning Racer.

I arrived at the park around 9:00 and parking was $6. This was a bit refreshing after being charged $9 to $10 for parking at Six Flags. As I was walking to the park, I could smell chocolate chip cookies from Chocolate World. In fact, as I walked around Hersheypark, I could smell chocolate chip cookies from time to time.

Chocolate World was open at 9:00, so I took the tour. The tour is basically a 15-minute dark ride that shows you how chocolate is made. The best part is the free sample at the end. This wasn’t a dinky Hershey bar that you get for Halloween. This was a full-sized bar!

I headed to the park to get in line for tickets. I had a $7 off coupon (graciously sent by a friend) and my admission cost was $27.95. As soon as the gates opened, I headed to the back of the park to Lightning Racer. It wasn’t open yet, but the Wild Mouse was. I did the Wild Mouse, followed by Lightning Racer, the Wild Cat, Roller Soaker, Sidewinder, Trailblazer, and the Superdooperlooper. Then I caught some shows from 12 pm to 4 pm. Then I did the Comet and the Great Bear. Then I did some re-rides and caught the end of the day laser show.

Let’s go onto the coasters…

WILD MOUSE

This was a pretty fun mouse coaster. It has the standard layout of one. I like the placement of the coaster. It was in the middle of a clearing. You could get some good photos of the entire layout of the ride. If you watch the Wild Mouse, it looks like a huge Tinkertoy. Mouse trains are constantly going up and down the circuit. I did one ride on this one and they were running several mouse trains at once.

LIGHTING RACER

This coaster was the highlight of my visit. It is the only dueling/racing coaster in the U.S. In my opinion, it is also one of the best wooden coasters in the U.S. First off, the seats are so comfortable. Secondly, the ride has some vibrations and shakiness of a wooden coaster, but I didn’t feel most of it. Something must have been absorbing all that roughness. Lastly, most everyone on the trains had a big smile on their faces. Every time I looked at the other train, I saw huge smiles on everyone. The ride is pretty amazing. Both trains swoop and turn a lot on the path. Sure, the heavier coaster wins, but still it was a celebration when my train one and disappointment when we lost. Both sides, Lightning and Thunder, had pretty much the same layout.

They were running two trains on this one. I rode Thunder and Lightning 9 times each, so I had 18 total laps on Lighting Racer. Can you tell that I loved this ride? I rode it at different times in the day and the wait was no more than 5 minutes.

Most of the time, Lightning won. Thunder won on ¼ of my rides. It’s interesting to hear the winning announcement. If Lightning won, a woman’s voice would tell whom the winner was. If Thunder won, then a man’s voice would come on.

WILDCAT

Here is another twister wooden roller coaster and yet another example of why I don’t like twisters. This one was like the others: it shook and beat me up. I swore not to ride this one again. I only rode it once and they were running two trains. The wait early in the morning was a few minutes.

ROLLER SOAKER

Believe the warnings: this ride will get you wet! The coaster puts you into 4 seat trains. Two people are facing forward and two are facing backward. You turn down the track and keep on going down as people below and geysers of water shoot up at you. People were coming off this ride soaking wet, like they just jumped into a pool. I did the ride in the morning and late in the evening. I waited about 20 minutes for each ride.

I was a sissy and put on a poncho. It covered up my shirt and shorts. I wasn’t concerned about my feet since I wore Tevas just for this ride. I didn’t care about my hair since that would dry off fairly quickly. On my first ride, I faced backwards and the poncho kept me mostly dry. It was hard to find people to dump the water on. I pulled the lever and hoped I hit someone! On my second ride, I faced forwards. The poncho wasn’t as protective this time. The front of my shirt was damp! Still, I would trade dampness over utter wetness any day!

Since I was only one person, the other seat was empty, so I could pull on the other seat’s lever to dump the water. I was double-barreled and was able to nail people twice! The ride was fun, but it was short and loaded slow (hence the lengthy wait). Around 1 pm, the line appeared to be an hour! I think they were running eight trains. That may seem a lot, but remember each train holds 4 people. Hence, another reason why the ride loads so slow.

SIDEWINDER

I waited 15 minutes for this one. It was yet another standard boomerang with another cobra roll and loop. Maybe I ought to start counting a boomerang track record. It wasn’t a bad ride.

TRAILBLAZER

This was another mine ride. I still have to get it into my head not to ride these. None can compare to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney. Still, I had to add another one to my coaster count. They were running one train with a 10-minute wait. The ride wasn’t bad – it was just a bit too rough for me. The coaster was on a one-train operation.

SUPERDOOPERLOOPER

This coaster has the silliest name ever. Also, with the age of the coaster, I thought it would be very rough. I rode some older coasters at my previous parks and they were rough. Surprisingly, this ride was very smooth. The loop may have been super duper when it was first installed, but there are more super duper loops on other rides, namely the Great Bear next door. I rode it two times. The first time was a 20-minute wait at 1 pm. After 4 pm, it was a 5-minute wait. They were running two trains.

COMET

This was an out and back wooden coaster. With the age of this coaster, I also thought this would be rough. I was wrong! It was very smooth with some good airtime. I rode it after 4 pm and the wait was about 15 minutes. They were running two trains.

GREAT BEAR

This was another B&M inverted coaster. I thought that the Great Bear could have been nicknamed “B&M’s Greatest Hits.” Most every maneuver on this coaster can be found on other B&Ms. All that was missing was a cobra roll! Still, it was a good ride and it was very smooth. It was one of the smoothest B&M coasters that I’ve ever ridden. The first drop is interesting. After the lift hill, you circle around and then drop. It is a short ride, though. I rode it after 4 pm and rode it two times. I waited about 10 minutes.

WHIP

OK, so this was not a coaster, but I rode it anyway. I had never been on a Whip ride and I wanted to experience one. It wasn’t a bad ride. There’s a sense of anticipation as you approach the whip area and then it’s “whee!” as you are “whipped.” It’s not overly thrilling, but it’s fun. I rode it in the morning and had to wait a few minutes.

I saw the Friends of the Sea dolphin show. I thought there was too much time feeding the sea lions and dolphins. It was like 30 seconds of a trick and then a few minutes feeding them a fish. Sea World shows have much better pacing. I also saw the Trash Time band. It was entertaining to see a bunch of guys playing music on trashcans. I wanted to ride the monorail, but I couldn’t find the entrance. Finally, after the park closed, I found it!

I ate at Wok N Roll for lunch after my Superdooperlooper ride. It was pretty much standard mall Chinese food, but it was tasty. It costs me $11 for the General Tso’s chicken combo and a large soda. I ate at Decades for dinner, which was pretty good. I had the ‘90’s combo, which was a spicy chicken sandwich and fries. The sandwich was good and the fries were tasty. The fries were shaped like little records. That cost me $9.75 with a soda.

The end of the day closed with a laser light show, which was a nice way to close the day. I would have liked to have seen fireworks, though.

I was very impressed by the park. It was lush and beautiful. The ride throughput was pretty good. Unlike Six Flags, an employee stood by the entrance. I think a good park will have people standing there to answer questions and measure people for height before getting in line. I always think that at Six Flags, an employee won’t measure you until you hit the loading area. Some people don’t even bother to read the signs or measure their kids beforehand. So I wonder how disappointing it would be if a kid wasn’t tall enough to ride after they had waited an hour. I can see angry parents yelling at the ride ops. It may cost more money to have someone stand at the entrance, but I think that it’s better customer service.

Another thing that impressed me about the park was the upkeep on the older rides. Older coasters like Superdooperlooper and the Comet would be rough because some parks don’t invest as much in the older rides as they do in newer rides. They may spend a lot of money on their latest and greatest B&M coaster. To be fair, the B&M coaster probably draws more people in than an older, less thrilling ride. Hersheypark really maintained the older rides so they are as smooth as when they first opened.

Hersheypark also had water fountains by the bathrooms. Truly that’s the mark of a world-class park!

Hersheypark sits on a hilly area. The only parts that bothered me a bit was the steep areas, marked as “STEEP!” on the map. I would hate to see people pushing Grandma in a wheelchair up the steep hill. It would be fun to push Grandma down the steep hill. What a ride!

I managed to spend the entire day at Hersheypark from opening to closing. I really needed every minute to do the park. I could have easily done two or three days at the park doing mostly everything there. I could have done more of Chocolate World and Zoo America during the extra days. My feet did hurt a bit at the end of the day, but I think I wasn’t used to wearing Tevas for a long period of time.

The park was the most crowded park of all the ones that I visited. The park got really crowded from 12 pm to 4 pm. I used those hours to watch shows and videotape rides. When I ate lunch at 1 pm, I watched the Great Bear line get longer and longer. I think it hit 45 minutes at one point! The Comet had an equally long line. The crowds dropped off after about 4 pm. The Great Bear and the Comet had a reasonable 15-minute wait.

I think Hersheypark is a world-class park and in league with the big boys of Disney, Universal, and Cedar Point. It’s a park I could visit year after year.

Tomorrow: Knoebel’s

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Friday, August 23, 2002 6:00 AM

Comet is notorious for having one of the longest lines in the park. Could be because of its location (first coaster you encounter if walking, or you see once you are in the gate), could be because it is perceved as a bit "tamer" than the others and more people will brave it to ride it, or could be because it is yet another example of a great Herb Schmeck coaster and everyone knows it (okay... so I am a bit biased).

The "oddity" is Lightning Racer. That line, no matter how crowded the park is, I have never seen long. Wildcat may be a 45 minute wait, but LR can be a near walk on. I think it has more to do with a very good crew and dispatch times and always running at full capacity (technically running 4 trains... I've never seen them run with only one on each track... always two).

I think this past sunday was the best time my wife ever had as far as lines are concerned. Walkons = LR, Wildcat, sooperdooperlooper, Sidewinder + various flat rides. Very short waits = Wild Mouse, Comet, Trail Blazer. Longest wait (but still pretty short) = Great Bear (Front seat, 15-20 min). I never saw those shrot lines except for in midweek with rain in the air.

Fullest Queue was Roller Soaker (beyond the entrance of the queue and the 1hr wait sign). We passed on this, deciding to let the novelty wear off.

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Kind of hard to take a post as objective if a park or coaster name is part of the "user name"

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Friday, August 23, 2002 8:03 AM

Glad you liked the park. Hershey is a beautiful park (With grat rides) and its only an hour or so from my house!

I find the whip at Hershey to be tamer than the whip at say, Dorney.

Roller Soaker is a capacity nightmare. My friend and I went the weekend right after it opened, and although you only had to wait for your row, it was about a 15 minute wait. And they werent even using water! I dont think Ill be waiting very long for it anytime soon.

Also, yes Comet does get a terribly long line. Usually I hit that first to avoid the long line.

Anyway, glad you had a great time!

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Friday, August 23, 2002 9:57 AM
Yeah, I was amazed at Comet's long lines when we hit the park last week. But it is a great coaster so it was definately worth the wait! We skipped Roller Soaker due to the continously long lines that day (it was in the upper 90's that day) but it looked like fun if ya don't mind getting completely soaked! They should put rides like this in the water parks.
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Friday, August 23, 2002 10:06 AM

Hey, no fair! I went to Chocolate World last month and we got dinky Hershey bars for free samples!

About Great Bear - I'd said it's definitely one of the more unique B&M rides, what with the weird helix before the drop, the flat track after the loop, the airtime hill before the flat spin, and the S-curve finale.

All B&M's have basically the same types of inversion elements; it's the in-between stuff that sets them apart.

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He let the contents of the bottle do the thinking; can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding.

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Friday, August 23, 2002 12:19 PM
If you only waited 15-20min for Roller Soaker, you, IMO, missed out. Yeah, you may in your credit whore diatribes claim that you "rode" RS, but you didnt really "experience" it. We waited every bit of two hours for the ride, but it was a playfull two hours. Kinda like jumping in a wave pool or something. The interactivity of the ride is the fun. Without the water I would think it BLEW!
lata,
jeremy
--who in 4 trips to HP has only gotten the dinky bars...
+0

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