Hersheypark (Friday evening, 6/6/2003)

Associated parks:
None

Monday, June 9, 2003 6:37 AM
This past Friday evening I decided to try my HP season pass for the first time. My wife and her mother, sister and sister-in-law get together on the first Friday evening of every month to do craft things, so that meant that I was flying solo for this visit.

Before entering I drove around the perimeter of the park to see how crowded it was. It didn’t look too bad, but the parking lot did have a lot of busses, so I did not know what to expect. I figured that most of them would be leaving soon, and I was right because 1 1/2 hours later, at around 7:30pm, the park really started to empty out. I also noticed that the Flying Falcon was stopped about 20 feet off the ground. It seemed kind of odd to simply flash my park pass at the tool booth and be waved into the parking lot with out paying (never done that before). Not really sure of the parking changes (aside from the Giant Center lot for hockey), I kept driving as far as I could and got a good place near the south west corner of HP Stadium, a relatively short walk from the main entrance.

Passing through the gate after getting my pass scanned, walked through carrousel circle and almost missed the new statue of Milton S. Hershey. There is a fairly well known photo of Hershey holding one of the kids from the school and that is what I always envisioned the statue to look like, but instead it is simply Milton Hershey standing with his had in hand in the middle of the new fountain. I almost missed it because is life size (not larger than life) and blended into the crowd very well. In a way, it is kind of fitting that it not a “heroic” size statue (somewhere between 9 and 12 feet tall), but rather a life size statue… not looking down on the people as they enter, but simply standing there among the visitors.

Anyway, with tradition, the first ride at HP of the year has to be the Comet. After a 15 minute wait, I was climbing into the next to last seat (didn’t feel like waiting 2 extra trains for the very back). Could have been my imagination, but I think I noticed a little air on the first and second drops. Still my favorite ride in the park.

Climbing the hill, I passed by the new Kiddie Pirate and then on to the new Claw. I thought about this, but seeing the line I decided to move on and catch it on my way back later. The new Frontier Flyers were near by so I walked over to check them out. I was about 2 cycled back in the queue and it took the op for ever to load. Then came the announcement… seat belts, stay seated, etc etc etc and “Do not make any sudden movements of the sail or the flyer”. A flash back to Monday at PKD came to my mind and the “Don’t bounce the Birds” warning (and again a wish that great Knoebels Flyers were not a 2 hr drive from my door). I did a U turn and got out of line… I would hit this later when I hit the Claw.

Next up was something that I was not used to seeing… a near walk on for Wildcat. Climbing into the 2nd seat (a 1 train wait compared to a 3 train wait for first seat), I pulled the belt tight and forced that lap bar down as far as it could go (recent HW events in the back of my mind). Wildcat was still delivering a fast and wild ride.

Four rides on Lightning Racer followed; 2 back seat on Thunder, 1 front and 1 back on Lightning. I can’t make up my mind which seat I like better. Back gives a fast and out of control ride with some great air on the first three drops, but front gives great visuals (that drop looks nearly vertical even though it isn’t) and some pops of air on the top of the hills. Either way, you can’t loose.

I then started back tracking and grabbed 2 more rides on Wildcat… 3rd seat and front seat. I then returned to the Claw. Waiting in line for two cycles, I climbed aboard. And then it happened. The op went to close the OTSR and couldn’t. He tried again, and couldn’t. The Green light above my seat would not come on. He shook his head and opened the restraint. “Sorry,” he said. Disappointed, but not surprised (the op at the York Fair last year had to painfully staple me into the Wild Claw seat last September and I knew that I had gained a little wait over the winter) I exited and headed back to the Flyers. They were down with maintenance working on one of them. Oh well.

Passing Sidewinder, I noticed that it was down (it was running earlier). Down under the trestle bridge of the Dry Gulch, I made a quick look around Trail Blazer to try and spot those flag markings on the ground but found nothing. Up over the hill, I passed the Flying Falcon. I had noticed that it was running earlier and that it was descending now. Just as I passed, it stopped… 20 feet above the ground and full of riders. Then came the announcement. “We are experiencing some technical difficulties…” Just glad I wasn’t on it. Not that I would mind being stuck there… just would hate to waste that time.

On approaching Great Bear, I noticed that the “test seat” at the beginning of the queue had black OTSR’s . Unless my memory fails, didn’t it used to have yellow? I thought, “uh oh.. new restraints” with the Claw incident still fresh in my mind. But I got in line. Passing up a long wait for the front seat, I hopped on the back (still a 10 minute wait). The OTSR closed with no problem… still the standard B&M design and I breathed a sigh of relief. I know some complain because this coaster is short… and it is that… but I also hearing some say “forceless”. I have a hard time buying that one. In the last seat, when you come off the lift and go into the high helix, you are really pulled back against your seat, same as in the loop. Still a fast and fun ride.

Down over the hill and onto the old Looper. It was a walk on… I mean literally walked into the station and into an open seat. It was dark by this time and it was a fun ride… that loop is still fun and the old looper seemed to be running fast that night. The final helix in the “canyon” was just as much fun as it was back in 1977. With no one waiting in the station, the ops let people stay on for a second ride.

Two more jaunts on the Comet closed out the night… both with about 15 minute waits.. 1 back seat and 1 front seat. They might make coasters bigger, faster and wilder, but my favorite coaster moment is being in the front seat of the Comet, at night, and that first drop over Spring Creek. A third ride was ruled out since it was a few minutes past 10 and the line was closed for the night, so I headed for the exit and my car.

As always, the staff was pleasant and efficient and the park was clean. In the past, people have complained how there are few trees in Midway America section. This year things seemed to be a bit greener… not so much new trees, but existing trees growing. The odd thing was to see 3 rides down or malfunctioning… Sidewinder, Flyers and Flying Falcon.

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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"
*** This post was edited by SLFAKE 6/9/2003 10:40:36 AM ***

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