Hersheypark 8/13

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007 1:12 AM
Monday was my girlfriend's company picnic at Hersheypark, so we got in for $23 each. This was also not just our first weekday trip to Hersheypark, but our first trip on a day when the public was paying the full admission price, so we were expecting smaller crowds than at Easter and Halloween, but from the length of the lines for the coasters it didn't seem like it. We certainly got our money's worth, but we're glad we didn't pay the full price. And now, the rides.

Stormrunner: line down the stairs shortly after opening, later in the day a 1-hour wait for the front seat and 30-40 minutes for other seats. Both trains running, but the next-to-last row on the left side of the station was blocked off. It seemed to be running faster than during the off-season, judging by the forcefullness of the inversions. We rode the front seat for the first time and it's a whole different ride, with nothing blocking the airflow it seems twice as fast at launch time. The back seat gave more airtime than I thought possible for a ride with tight restraints. The only flaw with this ride, as always, is that it's over too fast for the amount of time you wait.

Sidewinder: same snake, different day. Only rode it once even though it was only a station wait and sometimes even went out with half the train empty. Evidently its reputation is spreading. I actually didn't think it was as rough as before, but maybe I'm just getting used to it.

Wildcat: to our surprise, the line was only slightly down the path from the station, and moved well. Dispatches seemed a little faster than last year. This was our first time with the new trains. The first thing we noticed was that they chirped terribly on the brakes. I thought that maybe they never got the whole track regauged, since they had trouble completing the course the first time they were tested, until I noticed that there seemed to be quite a number of new bolts through the track in that area. Our front seat ride in the morning was a lot smoother than last year, but also seemed a lot slower. The whole character of the coaster seemed changed, and not for the better. (We like wood coasters to feel like they're out of control, as long as they're not actually painful.) We gave it another try in the afternoon in the hopes that it had warmed up, and this time we rode the back seat. The sense of speed was better, and it was rougher than the front seat but not as intense as last year -- maybe similar to the front seat of Twister. The padding helped a lot with smoothing out the shaking. I just can't get over having to go to the back seat of a wooden twister on purpose to get a more intense ride.

Lightning Racer: might be my new favorite of Hershey's wood coasters. Lots of laterals and airtime without being rough, the most bizarre and fun layout anywhere around here, and the best part, the line hardly gets out of the station due to running two trains per side. I noticed here, without the weird noises from the brakes, that they automatically pumped in very short bursts to bring the trains into the station very smoothly. Have they always done this, or did GCI reprogram them? One definite change from last year: the trains seemed evenly matched.

Wild Mouse: consistently the best around, having a reasonable line due to no seatbelts and giving a very forceful ride due to minimal braking. I noticed more brakes firing this time than before, but it seemed as intense as ever if not more so. (Maybe I'm just getting old.) New for this year: it gives a great view of the Boardwalk to those who don't mind looking down from the hairpin turns.

Comet: we had passed over it at opening to get a quick ride on Stormrunner, and by the time we worked our way back to the front of the park at lunchtime the entire queue area was full and multiple people were in the line selling drinks so it probably wasn't moving very well. So we passed over it again, and even at the end of the day half the queue area was still full. No Comet ride for us today.

Sooperdooperlooper: This time it had the longest line we had ever seen (usually there isn't one). We took one ride. The brake before the helix didn't slam on like it sometimes does, but it was still on.

Coal Cracker: This was our first time on Hershey's flume. It was a nice long meandering ride before the drop, and the jump at the bottom of the drop was fun, but then we were right back at the station. Like most flumes, too short for the amount of time you have to wait on a hot day, and it broke down once while we were in line too. But if this is the last Arrow flume with a jump, I'm glad I rode it.

Great Bear: The Great Bear broke down just before we got to the station, and it seemed like they were emptying out the (very long) queue. We decided to wait at the entrance, and when it got running again a few minutes later, we went in and found out that not everybody had left the inner queue. It was still the shortest wait for a Great Bear ride we would have all day. Later it got to at least 40 minutes for a front seat and almost 30 minutes for other seats. We decided to go for a front seat ride at night and I'm glad we did, because the darkness and coolness added to the intensity. It had been so long since we rode Great Bear that I had ranked Talon much higher, but in the front seat I now rank them about the same. Talon has nice helixes but Great Bear seems to have better rolls, with so many apparent obstacles. Great Bear also has that stupendous roar that other parks muffle with sand in the supports.

Trailblazer: we didn't even bother checking to see if the line was short enough to wait in. Sooperdooperlooper is like a mine train with a loop, so there's no reason to ride this.

Roller Soaker: we had never seen this in operation, so we walked over that way to check it out. It was late enough in the day by the time that we did that we decided not to get soaked that day.

There was one thing in the park that bothered me, other than the unexpected long lines. That was the condition of the men's bathrooms. I went in one as soon as I got into the park shortly after opening and it looked and smelled like it hadn't been cleaned from the day before. Others suffered from lesser degrees of odor, one from non-flushers and one from a big sweaty guy changing out of his water park clothes (I thought I saw locker rooms for that.) I don't know what happened -- Hershey used to have about the cleanest bathrooms I had ever seen in a public place. There are signs in all of them saying that if you're unhappy with the condition you should inform security, but there never seems to be security around when you want them. I could've stopped at the office on the way out, but I figured that I get to Hershey unfrequently enough that I'd just be wasting my time.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007 11:18 AM
^^Better watch what you say about the bathrooms....don't wanna turn into Intamin Fan here!! But sadly, Hersheypark this year has gone the way of CP in terms of ride wait times: intolerable!!!

Truly, I'm not over-exaggerating or misrepresenting the situation...what Hersheypark and CP have been doing to their guests this summer (without question, May and some of June excluded) has been outright time theft!!

I dunno about SF since I always do Flash Pass, but it hasn't seemed as bad. However, while the 45 seconds or whatever on Stormrunner is Heaven; Heaven can wait 'til next year when I can go at the beginning of the season...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007 4:44 PM

tigellinus said:Truly, I'm not over-exaggerating or misrepresenting the situation...what Hersheypark and CP have been doing to their guests this summer (without question, May and some of June excluded) has been outright time theft!!

I wouldn't go that far. If I had seen consistently and unnecessarily slow operator behavior, you can be sure I would've mentioned it. (I assume, however, that it was there for Comet, because it always has been when I've been there.) In fact, I did mention that the Wildcat ops seemed better than last year. Everything else was just huge crowds. The operators weren't pushing for record-breaking efficiency like they sometimes do on Phoenix, El Toro, or Steel Force (this last one was actually a bit scary the last time I was there, but that's a story for another time), but they weren't slacking off.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007 7:13 PM
^^I wasn't necessarily talking about slow ride operations per se...while some have been bad, it's mainly been poor management in not running the right amount or enough trains, absurd rain operation policies, and increased queue lengths...

Now some of that is due to the higher park attendance I've noticed this year (and read in TR's) at Hershey and CP, and good for the parks as the industry as a whole could use it!!

However...is it also possible that other things are contributing to longer lines this year such as bad ride operations for flats, and increased down time of other rides, etc.? Probably...but I am convinced improvements could be made in other areas maybe non-specific to coasters to improve queue times, and I won't even mention Flash Passes or Q-bots!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007 7:24 PM
I don't want Flash Passes or Q-bots. If you want no lines, pay for an ERT session or something, don't interfere with paying guests during normal operating times. *** Edited 8/15/2007 11:25:03 PM UTC by Jim S.***
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007 9:13 PM
Good TR I absolutely love Hershey. It's too bad that I cant get there to try out the new Wildcat train's this year. I've heard many negatives though. Oh yea I can't agree more about Great Bear it's a true gem. It's also a good thing you skipped Roller Soaker. I rode it opening day in 2002 and it's a low capacity nightmare that isn't even that fun. Those water cannons can cause head trauma.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007 11:55 PM

Jim S. said:
I don't want Flash Passes or Q-bots. If you want no lines, pay for an ERT session or something, don't interfere with paying guests during normal operating times.

I'm not saying I necessarily want Flash Passes either, however...there's a difference between my "home park" (Kings Island) which I go to 4-6 times each month and if the line for Son of Beast or Firehawk is long I say "I'll hit it next week..." vs. driving 4 hours to CP or maybe even flying to Hersheypark, which I'll only get to 1-2 times per year!!

Waiting 30-45 minutes for a coaster isn't outrageous, but when it gets to be an hour+ then you start losing time and ride opportunities, which are already limited. So in that case, paying for Flash Pass is nice, especially if you have a season pass (which I do for Six Flags).

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Thursday, August 16, 2007 1:39 AM
Comet's problem (IMO) is the extremely redundant restraint system-- seat dividers AND seat belts AND lap bars. For anyone who isn't Twiggy, and there are at least a few of us every ride, it's a major PITA to attach everything.

Someone inevitably sits on the seatbelts, so they end up opening up the lapbars again until everyone gets buckled in. The "buckle" end of the belts is pressed up against either the divider or right side of the car. It barely protrudes above the seat cushion, so you have to reach under your thigh with the belt to be able to latch it. It's time consuming. Usually the incoming trains sits in the brake run a good 2 minutes until the next one is dispatched.

The times Jim mentioned for waits sound about what I experienced last summer on a Sunday, so I don't think they're out of line. August is not the best month to visit Hershey, weekday or weekend.

Good report though. Reminds me I have to visit again before the summer's over.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007 9:39 AM
We went to Hershey last year in Sept. We were disappointed by the operations, which before that has been great. They took 2 trains off of Lightning Racer on a busy Saturday. The line that was just down the ramp out of the station immediately became a 30 mintue plus wait. That is poor customer service on a busy day.
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