Hersheypark 7/3/07-7/4/07 + Boardwalk (Long)

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 12:34 AM
This is my 4th trip to Hersheypark in the last 4 years, and every year they fail to disappoint. While there might be no “top 5” ride there, every coaster is fun and worth several rides (sans sidewinder maybe). They seem to have the most well rounded group of attractions for everyone that other park should take note of

Anyway, at first it was difficult to find a decent hotel for a decent price within a 10 minute drive from Hershey. Your better than average chains (Comfort inns, Holiday Inns, etc) were asking around $200 a night. Even Econo Lodge 10 minutes away which I frequented before had their rates jacked up to $80 a night. I think they finally realized how hot an attraction the Hershey area really is (or they are listening to Gonch ;)). I researched biddingfortravel.com and found on priceline people were bidding on 3* hotels in Harrisburg and always getting the Harrisburg/Hershey Sheraton, which was about a 10 minute drive from Hershey. I threw out a $50 per night bid and got it, which is a unbelievable deal considering the rack rate is $180 a night! Check in was a breeze and we got a nice pool view room on the 4th floor away from any elevators and vending. I’ve used priceline a few times and haven’t had any problems yet with so called “bad” rooms.

After a Power nap we headed to Hershey around 6PM for Hersheyparks preview, stopping at the Giant Store in Hershey about 5 minutes from the park. Hershey is such a great town as every part of it seems nice, even the people. On the way into the Giant store we ran into a lady who noticed my Cleveland Cavs hat and we had a nice little discussion about Cleveland. She even went out of her way to recommend places to stay/eat and told us about the preview at Hersheypark. Even though we had all this mapped it was refreshing to see and such a nice gesture. We grabbed some discounts tickets for $35 a piece, $10 off the regular price. If your going to Hershey, stop here it’s not far off form the park and for $10 totally worth it!

After a quick stop at Wendy’s we paid out $8 for parking (which is good the next day) and headed in. One of the more unique things about Hershey instead of the typical numerical height requirement, kids are assigned a candy type based on their height. It’s fun to watch kids running around seeing if they are tall enough to be a Hershey Bar. If they are it’s easy to see what rides they can go on since a Hershey bar will be at the entrance for the ride. I should note that Hershey has some of the most lenient height requirements around. Most of the non coaster attractions were very kid friendly. Some quick research shows that there are 56 rides for those over the 42” mark which is incredible. This showed as the crowd was the typical family of 4. Hardly any unsupervised kids as the park was dominated by families pushing strollers around.

Near the entrance were elderly folks greeting us who were entering and saying goodbye to those leaving. Then came another thing that makes Hershey Park special. Around the park they have various bands busking in random locations. By the carousel at this time was 5 piece brass band dressed up in goofy outfits covering various pop tunes. My friend couldn’t figure it out what song they were doing, and almost shamefully I recognized and blurted out it was Africa by Toto (it was a song in Vice City OK:)). After the song was done, they band asked the crowd if they knew what song they played, and my friend yelled out the name. The band celebrated and as we went to walk away the one member ran over and told her she couldn’t leave because she got the name right. The band surrounded and serenaded her to a Brass Version of the Four Tops I can’t help myself . Thankfully even though I was the one who recognize the song I didn’t say anything :).

On to our preview, we grabbed a quick ride on Comet followed by Great Bear. I’m a fan of great bear and I feel it’s pretty underrated. Even though it’s short the spiral drop/Loop/ immleman/Zero G combo is hard to beat. The terrain along with the river adds an great touch.

It was then onto the back of the park for some night rides on Lightning Racer. I don’t know how anyone could not enjoy themselves on this. Lightning Racers mix of speed, air, laterals along with dueling/racing aspects makes it an incredible ride. Also Hershey might be one of the best lit night parks I’ve ever been too, epically in the Midway America area. Something about Chaser lights on both Lightning Racer and Wildcat make the park shine.

It was then over to a last minute ride on Storm Runner, which was a walk on. Makes me even more happy to know have something similar in Maverick back home. The Zero G Roll into the snake dive is one of the coolest elements out there.

After getting nearly a days worth of riding done in a few hours we chowed down on some full price appetizers at Applebee’s and headed back to the hotel. I checked the weather which called for storms through the day. A large ugly line of storms was west of us, so we planned our day around hitting the new boardwalk first and going from there.


__________________***Boardwalk***_____________

WE had an oatmeal and fruit breakfast at Bob Evans we got into the park around 10:30. It would end up being a fairly crowded day as the main lot would be eventually near full. After quick spin on the mouse we grabbed one of the last remaining chairs at the Boardwalk. To say this is a popular attraction is an understatement. The weather was mild (in the mid 70’s I’d say) and overcast yet it was still rather packed and getting crowded by the minute.

The boardwalk area itself looks very nice. It’s fairly spread out and there is more room than I originally though there would be. There are several restrooms/change rooms located throughout. The theme is well done and the Nathans seems to fit right in. Watch out though lockers are a ridiculous $13-$15 a piece! They are probably banking on people not wanted to make the long trek back to the parking lot. I just left all the valuables back at the hotel, carried plastic in my swimsuit pocket, and left clothes and towels on the chair

We first did the tube slides which was a good idea considering a few hours later the lines stretched all the way down the concrete walkway. The slides themselves aren’t very long, which is probably a good thing because the lines on most of the slides move quickly.

We first did Whirlwind (ProSlide Tornado) which took only 10 minutes despite the line being down the stairs. There is no messing around here. A big quick drop and right into the funnel. Being a big guy gives a ton of momentum coming out of the chute and we went way up on the side, with some momentary weightlessness as our tube went vertical to the slide. Very nice! I don’t mind the shortness because the tornado is really what these slides are about.

Next was the Surge which is a gentle 2 person tube slide with water curtains throughout. There was no line for this and while it wasn’t very thrilling it was still fun.

Next was the Riptide, which is on the same pair of stairs as Vortex. The line was down the stair for Vortex but we able to walk right up and get on. This one surprised me as it has some nice quick drops and fast turns.

Finally was Vortex which (Proslide toilet Bowl). The lines moves very slow since it takes forever for people to exit the bowl, so we ended up waited 20+ minutes despite the line starting at the stairs.. They really should make this a mandatory “2” tube ride to speed the line up. I can’t imagine the wait for this thing when the line is all the way down the path; it has to be more than an hour. Anyway, while a cool idea I didn’t care much for this slide. While the drop is nice, but when I entered the bowl I was sprayed with water in the eyes when I so hard I spend half of my cycle blind :(O(. You slow to a gradual crawl and exit the bowl. I’d rather ride a fun tube slide then go around in circles.

Next we did Roller soaker which was a surprise walk on since most of the people seemed to be checking out the rest of the Boardwalk attractions. While not fast or intense the ride is pure fun. Having just a lap bar on an inverted coaster also makes it seam more vulnerable, even though there isn’t much going on. I always thought the blocking could be utilized better as the capacity sucks.

The Wave rider attraction looked fun but had a terrible capacity. I person went about every minute or so we skipped. The wave pool isn’t really much, as it’s mainly part of the player area for kids. With the 1 foot waves it Looked about as fun as swimming in Lake Erie :)

The East Coast Water Works is one of the larger “play areas” I’ve seen. With a double bucket, squirt guns, hoses, water cannons, and all sort of contraptions this attraction is pure wet. The taller slides looked like they had pretty big lines since it took forever for kids to get down. Some sections were “closed” which I didn’t quite get.

I have mixed impression of the boardwalk. While everything is good fun and great looking, they really need another high capacity attraction. The lines while not out of hand were long for just a cool day and we were there before the crowd really built up. I’m guessing they plan to build this up in stages. I wonder what they have in the works because they extended the “boardwalk” past Rollersoaker. If they can move things around and take out some things there is plenty of room over there for a decent sized waterpark. Should be fun to see what they have in store.
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After the boardwalk we ate some healthy fried veggies. We saw wildcat opened as it was down so we took a quick spin with the new trains. While it was defiantly smoother than before it seemed a tad slower and lost a little edge. This probably ended up being because it just opened and was running cold. Later I would change my mind on this.

changed and headed to chocolate world (AKA the biggest marketing tool for candy on the planet :)). I didn’t plan on buying much. After the fake factory tour though where they bombard your senses I ended up purchasing $20 in various chocolate goodies. stuff, whoops! The new Banana peanut butter resees cups was surprising good.

We reentered the park around 4 and hit SuperDooperLooper a few times. I joked it was named after Mark “Super Duper”; Miami Dolphins WR great and tecmo super bowl standout but got no takers. This is such a cool ride and is head and shoulders above any painful boring Arrow Corkscrew/Looping coaster form the same era. Shame there aren't more around.

I noted that it looked like rain as we got off, and sure enough we heard the sound (or lack of) rides stopping. It was about 4:30 and We headed over to midway America passing Freemans BBQ in minetown noting a huge chunk of meat smoking on a grill. Needless to say we were eating dinner there :). We rode Whip and Music (with a C) Express several times since we knew those were two covered rides. The Whip is now on a really short ride cycle, less than 10 or so full whips which is pretty lame. Music Express takes a while to build up speed but is nice.

Music Express shut down for weather (the whip kept going though which was strange) and it looked like a bigger storm was coming. We decided to make a B-Line for that meat at Freemans BBQ. Hershey has really good food and while pricey I don’t mind paying as it's all great and the portions are huge! We got a Huge BBQ brisket sandwich (which had to have had close to a half pound of meat on it), 5 medium sized Potatoes which were soaked in Butter and dusted with seasoning, and REAL iced tea that was very good, all for $13 a piece. That completely filled us up and was delicious. Also it was fun to eat something that was not your typical theme park fair. there are some healthy options around the park as well but that oatmeal in the morning made up for it ;).

As got our food and ate and the rain really came down and didn’t look like it was letting up. Periodically there were announcements about the weather, but we couldn’t make them out because the speaker kept cutting out. Finally we were able to catch “severe weather in the area-take shelter immediately” which didn’t bode well. We waited it out and watched some really nasty black clouds pass. About 7:30 the rain finally let up, and most people made a mad dash for the exits thinking it was their only opportunity. We decide to walk around to see what was up.

The park had almost completely cleared and it felt rather weird being some of the few left. There were still heavy clouds around and it looked pretty dreary. After a few minute though I noticed some activity on some rides and I looked over to see a Lightning Racer testing. We walked over there and soon as we got by the entrance they opened up. We walked on Lightning and were treated to re-rides galore in the front seat-Very Nice! We logged 10 or so re-rides between rides in 30 minutes thanks to there being no more than 8 people on a train. At one point we were on Thunder in the back seat and had a train to ourselves. It was interesting watching the train track in front with nobody in the seats.

After that we headed to wildcat for more re-rides. Wildcat was a beast with the slick tracks and New trains. The train just kept on picking up speed at the end and there was great pops of air and laterals all over the place. I think this is what GCI was aiming for as I think Wildcat is now is top 10 materials and one of the better if not the best twister/cyclone style rides out there. I think over time it can only get better with the new trains as they adjust.

We also took a spin on the mouse, which was out of control with the slick brakes and rails. WE went so fast the on ride photo caught just the back of our car. One of the best wild mouse rides ever.

AS we headed back towards the front of the park, some of the crowd was coming back in. The Hershey Flyers are pretty tame but still fun. After a quick lap on great bear, we hit the Coal Cracker Flume. I never rode this one at night and it offers some great views of the park. No amusement park should go without a flume, and I hope to see some new versions out there soon.

We took a final ride on comet Before Exiting. On the 2nd turn the train flew threw the slick skids which gave a nice ride. It would be great if they didn’t hit so hard on a normal basis. Also I find it odd that some parks have so much difficulty running multiple trains on skid brakes coasters when it’s wet out. While we flew into the brake run we stopped quickly on the covered run not even halfway around the turn with plenty of run to spare.

As we exited we grabed some delicious kettle Korn. It was $5 for a “medium” bag but it was huge. I still have some leftover and it’s been nearly a week!

The rain held off just long enough for the fireworks which had a great finale. As we headed back to the hotel the rain started again. When I checked the radar back at the hotel I saw how lucky we really were. Hershey was in the only window of non rain in Southeast Pennsylvania. There were tornado watches that just expired too, so we defiantly dodged a few bullets.

After the power ridding we ended up being hungry and kettle corn isn’t something you want to eat a ton of. There was a waffle house across the street from the Sheraton so we had a late night meal there. Waffle houses seem to attract the most interesting characters which in entertainment in itself.

Next morning I dropped my friend off at the Harrisburg Amtrak Station for her train back to NY. I plotted a route back to Cleveland avoid the PA turnpike. I’d rather drive on a free crappy road than pay to do so :) (though it looks like that might not be the case in a few years). I took state route 322 all the way up by state college, caught 144 which ran into I-80. It’s a much more direct route than the turnpike and 2 lane divided highway most of the way. I made it back to Cleveland in 5 hours which was about as fast if not faster than the PA turnpike.

Now if only PennDot could make the Roads in PA as nice as the parks! :)

. *** Edited 7/12/2007 4:37:21 AM UTC by Joe E.***

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 7:17 AM
Thanks for the report. Hersheypark always makes me happy. But it is a heavy tourism area in the summer. The good deal you always get from the park is offset by what everything around it costs. Most of those happy families you see in the park are on some very expensive vacations. And they all clear out and head home on Sundays, which is why Sunday afternoon and evening are often the best times there. Lots of locals.

I have heard that on the hottest, busiest days they've already had to close off admission to the Boardwalk, it gets too crowded. If this is Hersheypark's "experiment" to determine whether or not a waterpark would fly, I think they have their answer. The ideal plan to me: whatever that sloping lawn belongs to across Hersheypark Drive (call me ignorant for not knowing what it is - the Gardens, or the old Hershey Hotel? - whatever, surely they own it!), put the waterpark there, build a bridge over the Drive and put a second gate into the park at Midway America.

BTW, that's my standard route from southern NJ to northern OH - Turnpike to Harrisburg, I-83/81 to 322 to Potters Mill, 144 through Centre Hall, over the hill to Pleasant Gap, then 26/220 to I-80. It saves a great big 9 miles over staying on the Turnpikes but it gives a change of scenery and pace through the middle of the trip, cuts down on the tolls, and offers places to stop other than those crowded, high-priced captive Turnpike joints. It also adds about 30-45 minutes to the trip. I've been doing it for years.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 8:38 AM

Seahawk & the Wave said:


The ideal plan to me: whatever that sloping lawn belongs to across Hersheypark Drive (call me ignorant for not knowing what it is - the Gardens, or the old Hershey Hotel? - whatever, surely they own it!), put the waterpark there, build a bridge over the Drive and put a second gate into the park at Midway America.


I could be wrong, but I heard something that the park will NOT be expanding across Hersheypark Drive into what was the old air port. There was basically a "land swap" a year or two ago... the Park got the old golf course for expanded parking around GIANT Center and (yet another) new entrance and the Hotel got the land across Hersheypark drive for the new road to the Hotel. I don't know the exact details, but that was the general swap.

Also heard that much of the old golf course land is relatively "unusable" since it lays in the flood plain of the creek and is basically "unbuildable" according to Pennsylvania DER (or is it DEP) regulations.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:41 AM
oh.

well, like I said - call me ignorant. I seem to remember all this land-swap stuff happening around when the Giant Center was built. Still, if they want a full-scale waterpark, they'll find the space, and anything installed in the Boardwalk could probably be moved fairly easily. There's always the Disneyland way out: use the parking lot and replace that space with garages. Still, I'd love to somehow see a second gate into the park, seeing how it has expanded and pretty much wrapped around itself.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 10:55 AM
The nice concept there is that all the wet rides are together with the water park. You can ride everything in your bathing suit. The area they built the water park was really too small for a complete water park. I look for the two slides across from the rapids ride to eventually be removed and newer water park attractions put there. That would also let them expand into the parking lot some if needed.

$13 for a locker? Are you kidding? The lockers across from Tidal Force were only about $2 or so. Did they jack the prices up on those lockers also? Usually everything at Hershey is better priced than most theme parks.

This is my favorite ride park. Lots of rides and things to do. It is one park that actually expands and increases capacity. The parks in Ohio take something out everytime they put something in. The park has nice theming except for Music Box Way and Comet Hollow, which are pretty generic. It is just a nice park all around.

I agree there should be a gate in Midway America now. It is easy access to the parking, and on the opposite side of the park from the main gate. *** Edited 7/12/2007 2:56:44 PM UTC by super7****

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 1:36 PM
I should have noted they are all day lockers, not that it makes it any better :). They are along side one of the new bathhouses by roller soaker. I'm not sure if there are single use lockers other places, but I can't see myself using a locker more than once or twice.

I can see why they would need to close the boardwalk on a hot day. Water is certainly the hot attraction this decade. I think though if they add a few more water attractions they should be fine. Since the boardwalk is a new I think that really adds to the popularity. Roller Soaker, Tidal Wave, and the Raft ride (forgot the exact name) were all walk ons, and if they can build up water attractions around those it could really spread the crowd out.

Seahawk & the Wave, that’s actually the exact route I took and you described it perfectly. Speeding up and down those beautiful mountains made it not even feel like driving. I forget exactly where, but there is a mountain near pleasant gap which I had to have gone downhill for 2 miles on one of those extreme windy roads that you only see on car commercials, really fun!:)

Also I forgot to note that Hershey is now smoke free. They banish smokers well off the midways in tiny gazebo's which look to hold about 4 people if you’re lucky. I found that to be the most extreme case of "smoking areas" in parks yet. It must work pretty well because I didn’t see any smokers.

Anyway I'm glad they have the preview because with the boardwalk this is really turned into a two day park. *** Edited 7/12/2007 5:37:08 PM UTC by Joe E.***

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 1:48 PM

Joe E. said:


Roller Soaker, Tidal Wave, and the Raft ride (forgot the exact name) were all walk ons,


Roller Soaker, Tidal Force and Canyon River Rapids.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007 1:56 PM
Well 1.5 out of 3 aint bad ;)
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Thursday, July 12, 2007 7:47 PM
actually there are two big hills, one is on the 322 freeway maybe 10 minutes above Lewistown, and the one you're talking about is Nittany Mountain - it's on 144, it climbs north out of Centre Hall and does the steep zigzag down into Pleasant Gap, which of course dumps you into town at downhill speed where there is a 25 mph speed limit. Heading back south, you can stop at the top and get a beautiful view looking SW of the whole valley where Penn State is.

But back to Hersheypark . . . I remember we used the lockers last year to go on Roller Soaker, the ones at the restrooms near the tunnel turns on Lightning Racer. They may have been a few bucks, but they certainly were not $13. I would have remembered that. Ahh, captive pricing. I suppose no one is above it. Still, can't complain with how they run the place and what they charge for everything else, especially what's probably my favorite car lot in a big park - well-staffed, well-marked walkways, signs, benches, trees, fences, frequent trams, and always spotless - for what, ten bucks? *** Edited 7/12/2007 11:50:20 PM UTC by Seahawk & the Wave***

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Friday, July 13, 2007 12:24 AM
I follow the logistics of the land swap, but doesn't HERCO own both the park and the hotel? So wouldn't they already own all that land? Unless Hershey Foods or the school district got the land. They're the only other buildings I can think of on the opposite side of the road.
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Friday, July 13, 2007 8:25 AM
Only repeating what I read somewhere.

There is the new road to the hotel that runs from the light at the park exit up to the hotel... perhaps they want to keep the area around it clear and "pristine"... I don't know.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007 1:54 AM
^ That explanation makes more sense. I remember reading something before about someone objecting to development on the opposite side of HP Drive, just couldn't remember who it was.

It gets mighty confusing keeping Hershey Foods, Hershey Resorts & Entertainment (HERCO), and the Milton Hershey Trust all separated-- who owns what, who does what. Especially since they're still so intertwined.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007 2:05 AM

Joe E. said:


Also I forgot to note that Hershey is now smoke free. They banish smokers well off the midways in tiny gazebo's which look to hold about 4 people if you’re lucky. I found that to be the most extreme case of "smoking areas" in parks yet. It must work pretty well because I didn’t see any smokers.

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I am a smoker, and I really didn't feel that the smoking gazebos were off the beaten path or inconvienient, or seldom found. I kind of question the use of a WOODEN gazebo for a smoking area, though! (Especially since the one plastic "butt station" was overflowing with smoulering butts)..... not a good idea in my mind.

These limited smoking areas are sure helping me cut down on "park day"... I think I had 3 smokes all day in a 12 hour period. :)


*** Edited 7/15/2007 6:06:45 AM UTC by Chooch249***
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