Hersheypark (8-14-02 & 8-15-02) and Maize Maze

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Saturday, August 17, 2002 1:11 PM


8-14-02 & 8-15-02

Wednesday night, we arrived at Hersheypark shortly after 7:30 to buy our preview tickets for Thursday, and we headed right into the park for some quick rides on whatever we could find.

So, we headed off to Midway America, as Christina, my traveling partner, hadn’t ridden Lightning Racer nor Wild Mouse yet. Neither of us had been on Roller Soaker, either.

WILDCAT was up first. This coaster has gotten considerably rougher in the years since it first opened, although it felt as if it were giving a smoother ride than when I last visited the park 2 years ago. Maybe my horizons have widened, but I recall Wildcat having so much more airtime than what it delivered on our first ride. Instead, it was rough; though, the sensation of speed was still there.

6.5 of 10 on Wednesday night, near front, ‘cause it’s still fast, but it’s not what it used to be.

LIGHTNING RACER was next up. We rode once for each side. Again, there was less airtime here than I remembered, but the ride was smooth and fast. I really like how this coaster manages to maintain its speed through the siphon turns at the far end. It makes for an awesome turnaround. The weakest part of these coasters, I think, are the two ‘dueling’ helices. The dueling aspect is weak, and the helices really upset the pacing.

7 of 10, if not a tad higher. I want more airtime, though, and less downtime in the helices.

WILD MOUSE had no brakes on the switchbacks at all. Woo! This is the best mouse I’ve seen, and I prefer it over spinning mice one hundred fold. I love how there’s an on-ride photo, too. They load it with the cars continuously moving, too, which is nice. I suppose most places do this, as it’d be a capacity headache if they didn’t.

7 of 10 for having no brakes, for being on a hill, and for being family fun-like and stuff.

GREAT BEAR is an odd invert in that it’s just so unique. It’s a little short, though, and the last half seems a bit boring; especially in daylight. I’ve found that it offers a nice bit of air on the first drop, however, in the first car, left seat. That’s where we rode this the first time. This was, also, the first time I’d ridden a B&M invert in the front seat in a long, long time – since Talon on June 5th of last year, I think. It was a refreshing reminder to see how much that really enhances the whole experience.

6.5 of 10 for an awesome first drop and otherwise great first half. I love how unique the immelman is here, too. The way it drops back onto itself is amazing.

SOOPERDOOPERLOOPER is a guilty pleasure of mine. It seems like it’s always overlooked by park guests, and certainly overshadowed by it’s larger neighbors. But, the positive forces going into the loop are great, there’s a pop of airtime passing back through the loop (in the front seat, anyway), and the back half with its s-curves through the woods is smooth and fun. It ends with a fast helix.

7.5 of 10 for being nifty. It also helps that there was no line. Being able to walk onto the first car is beautiful.

COMET was our last ride of the evening, sadly, but we didn’t do too terribly for 2.5 hours at the park. We knew, at least, that it’d make the following day a bit more leisurely, and that was great, since it was predicted to be awfully hot. Comet is fun, I suppose, but we only snagged one ride, toward the front, and airtime was near negligible. I suspect it’d be better toward the back.

5.5 of 10, as its bigger cousins across the park are just more fun. In this case, something newer is something better, I think.

The next morning, my traveling partner slept in, a lot, and we got a late, late start to the day – noon, or so, really. Luckily, though, since we’d managed to get a lot done the night before, the late start was okay.

Before going into the park, we headed in Chocolate World for a bit. We took in HERSHEY’S REALLY BIG 3D SHOW, which was fun, and a refreshing change of pace from some other 3D movies. I really liked how they had a live actor interact with the onscreen characters, and I hope that’s something that doesn’t degrade over time. Altogether it was fun, if a bit pointless.

6 of 10 or so. The in-theatre effects were neat, the movie mildly amusing, and the 3D effects were top-notch.

Next, we took the chocolate making tour, just so I could hear the jingle at the end of the ride. “Hershey’s chocolate, Hershey’s chocolate, Hershey’s chocolate world….”

We headed into the park at 1:30 or so with the intent of finding food. Since it was oppressively hot, we opted to try to find a indoor, table-service restaurant. We realized quickly that Pippin’s, just outside the gates, was the only one “in” the park. That was a bit unnecessary, and they ought to add at least one such restaurant somewhere inside the gates. Instead, we wound eating at the Texas BBQ stand and finding a table beneath a canopy nearby.

TRAILBLAZER was one of the two coasters at the park we hadn’t ridden the night before. As we sat in the queue, the ride ops announced that the ride was temporarily closed due to a protein spill (yes, those were their actual words) and it’d be a 20 minute delay. Seeing as how that would make this an unnecessarily long wait, we opted to leave the line and return later on.

SIDEWINDER followed after trekking up a huge hill. Standard Boomerang fare, I guess. Exciting, some, and maybe a bit more forceful than the rest.

5 of 10, because mediocre should be in the middle, right?

Now, as we got into the middle of the afternoon and the temperatures continued climbing, we opted to see exactly ‘how’ wet we’d get on ROLLER SOAKER. It was the only coaster in the park I didn’t yet have a credit for, but I’m not a big fan of getting drenched, either. It was an internal battle to see which was most important; riding a coaster, or staying dry.

The wait was over an hour, but we decided we’d give it a go anyway. The ride, from the ground, looked dreadfully short and boring, with a few simple curves and nothing more. We’d eventually learn that while the coaster itself was dull, the rest of the ride made for fantastic fun.

There’s a sign at the entrance that suggests staying between two yellow lines painted along the ground if you want to stay dry. Well, unfortunately, very early on, the queue strayed quite far from those lines. We got hit by one or two nice drops of water from the cars circling above, but it wasn’t anything too terrible. It was refreshing, even. There’s a perennial mist, too, from the water guns people on the ground can use to spray at the coaster. As the queue winds around, near the end, it comes very close to the last turn and brake run. Here, things took a turn for the worst. Cars coming around that last bend, who hadn’t yet let loose their load of water, had a prime target group of people waiting before them. After 3 cars cycled by, letting their water go, I was drenched to the bone. The queue then moves up into the station, and by the time we’d boarded, I had actually dried off considerably.

I sat facing backwards, while Christina and her friend D.J. faced forward. They filled our car up with (20?) gallons of water and away we went. Knowing how drenched we’d gotten at that one point on the queue, we made a pact before hand that we wouldn’t dump our water until the very end. The ride itself is dull, but I wasn’t paying much attention to it, honestly, because I was too busy dodging geysers and squirt guns and waterfalls to care. The ride, because of that, was fantastic.

Coming around that final turn, however, was priceless, and probably the best moment of our whole trip. All at once, we screamed, and we dumped the entire car load of water on the people waiting in the queue. As we hit the brakes (hard!) we could hear them all scream very loudly. I took the time I had while sitting there and facing them to celebrate our victory and taunt them some more. We got soaked by getting hit with one load of water. Getting hit with 4 must’ve been something else entirely.

We did good.

Hersheypark did good, too. This ride is great fun for everyone, so long as you can stand getting wet.

8.5 of 10 because it’s a ton of fun, it cools off everyone in the area, and the satisfaction you get from doing your part to soak unsuspecting guests is priceless. The only downsides, I think, are the rides location and landscaping. It’s located right alongside a road, which destroys some of the atmosphere. It’s large steel structure and light color scheme don’t mesh well with the rest of Midway America at all. The landscaping is concrete. I realize this if for drainage, but there must be some way to dress it all up.

Afterwards, we opted to dry off by riding some flat rides. The Conestoga and Rodeo both fit our needs nicely. Just as our ride cycle on Rodeo (A Chance Wipeout?) came to an end, there were several flashes of lightning, and we decided that it’d be a really great time to go back to Pippin’s for an indoor, sit-down meal.

Service there was mediocre, really. Our waitress got my whole entire order completely wrong, and the people at the table next to us seemed to be waiting a long, long time for their food. In the end, though, it served its purpose, and when we got into the park, we noted how many people had left.

Another ride on WILDCAT followed. This time, we hopped into the back seat. This was more like the ride I remember, with good speed, more air, and just a tiny bit of roughness. Definitely an improvement over yesterday.

7 of 10.

Two more rides on LIGHTNING RACER were in the cards, and decided to endure the excruciating 3 train wait for the front seat. These, too, were running than yesterday, delivering more air, and just being fun. Thanks, rain!

8 of 10.

TRAILBLAZER finally was open and without any unnecessary bodily fluids as passengers. We took one spin, real quick-like, and were on our way. This Arrow mine train is quiet, short, and really dull.

5 of 10 because they took a train off the circuit due to aforementioned vomit.

Somewhere between that last coaster ride and our next, we spent about $10 and 30 minutes playing some DDR wannabe, embarrassing ourselves horribly in the process.

SOOPERDOOPERLOOPER followed, except this time we sat toward the rear of the train. The forces here are even more extreme in the loop, making it hard for me to keep my hands up! There was no pop of airtime, though.

7.75 of 10.

GREAT BEAR was our last ride before leaving. We managed two cycles, both in the middle of the train.

Wow. Umm, it left me wondering how, since last night, they’d replaced their mediocre B&M invert with a Batman: The Ride clone!

These rides were astounding. The helix off the lift was fast, with intense positive g’s, making my feet tingle, the first drop still delivered great floater air, and the loop-immelman combo was very forceful. The zero-g roll followed, and I don’t know how I missed this the day before, but it was also amazing. You started the turn over, and you just kept going and going and going. That alone was worth waiting in line again and again (Shame on the park for closing!). The hop over the SooperDooperLooper’s brake run offered air, too! Then, it was a fast run along Spring Creek, up into the corkscrew, and into the brakes.

If it weren’t for the slow S-curve at the end of this ride, it’d have given Batman: The Ride a real run for its money as one of the best inverts in the world. At least, on this night. Wow.

The downside? Both of the ride's trims were noticeably hitting. I didn’t even know this ride had trims until that night. Despite that, it did nothing at all to diminish the experience. Wow. Did I say that yet?

9.25 of 10, because, holy cow, the Bear started out on a rampage. I am very impressed.

Hersheypark, overall, is a very nice park, and I really like it here. Crowds were light, the food is good, and the rides are excellent. There aren’t really any truly stand-out rides here, in my opinion, but there is also nothing that I’d really consider weak. Everything is solid, entertaining, and offers something unique. I like that in a park.

As an aside – yesterday, we stopped in Lancaster, Pa., and we ran through the Amazing Maize Maze (www.amazingmaze.com). They’ve taken a 5 acre cornfield and turned it into a Wizard of Oz themed maze. It’s a whole lot of fun, if a tad dirty, and we managed to complete it in 2 ½ hours or so. Not bad, we’re told.

~~~ Maddy ~~~

*** This post was edited by Chernabog on 8/17/2002. ***

*** This post was edited by Chernabog on 8/17/2002. ***

Saturday, August 17, 2002 5:06 PM
I love Great Bear, the farther back in the train you are the better it is. That Zero g roll is amazing and those footchoopers on the creek run are second to none. The G's are huge in the helix and in the pullout after the corkscrew. If it didn't limp home at the end I woudl rate it my number one Invert. Right now it is behind Raptor and ahead of TG:TJC.

The Beast and Night, They go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly

Saturday, August 17, 2002 6:41 PM

Hey Chernabog, thanks for the detailed trip report. My family and I were also at Hersheypark this week (August 13, 14, and 15). Regarding your comments about the food, I think Hersheypark's food selection and quality is above average for a park, but for better food you should try Chocolate World's full service restaurant or their food court. The food court actually has excellent food at reasonable prices. You can eat in air-conditioned comfort in a very pleasant setting at either restaurant.

I also enjoyed the new 3D movie. I thought it was a Disney-quality attraction, and it adds to Chocolate World in a way that makes it a more complete year-round destination in itself.

Sunday, August 18, 2002 2:32 PM

I believe that Roller Soaker fills each car with 16 gallons of water, 4 for each of the four passengers. (If you're lucky enough to ride by youself, you really have the power to drop 8 though... :) )

But I agree about Roller Soaker's location and relative ugliness. If you want to see some examples of what I'm talking about, check these pictures out. I thought it was odder that most of the advertising that I saw depicted the track as a yellow or greenish hue.

And about Great Bear, I couldn't really agree more... Well, I don't like to compare it to B:TR (I'm not a big fan of that ride), but I compare it to Raptor, pretty much because Great Bear and Raptor are the only two inverted coasters I've ridden that have a drop that provides a nice little weightless experience.

Also, I believe GB to be one of the smoothest inverted coasters I've ever ridden (B:TR, needless to say, isn't.)

The only flaw the ride really has is the shortness, which is apparent by the way it slams into the brake run (not with too much force, just a lot of speed.) I also didn't know it had trims before I read this, because all of my rides were taken without them. I didn't really miss a midcourse on this ride, though I'm sure it would have been a bit longer if a midcourse were necessary.


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