Hersheypark (yet again) 8/7/2002

Associated parks:

Having yet been to our old home park this season (with the exception of my solo visit to Springtime in the Park in April) we decided it was time to make a visit before the summer slips away.

Having to work until two pm, it was 4pm when we arrived. Using some discount tickets, we got in for around $14 under regular price. Since Midway America is closed during Hersheypark in the Dark, we decided to concentrate on this area this trip and save the rest of the park for October.

Journey back in time: Those familiar with Hersheypark know that one of the first rides you walk past is the Giant Wheel (the double armed “Ferris wheel”). We saw no line, so we thought “Why not.” This was the first time I was on this thing since 1988. Thrilling? No, not meant to be. But does give a good view of the front area of the park. Nice thing is that while the other arm is loading, you are aloft and turning… and you don’t have to pass through the “station” at ground level like on a conventional wheel.

Temperamental Feline: After putting our back pack in a locker near Tidal Force, we headed into Midway America proper. First up was WildCat. My wife, not liking rough wood, decided to sit this one out. I however stood in the 30 minute line for a next to last seat line. Okay, the Cat jarred me around a bit back there. Later in the day we returned and after a 15 minute wait I got a front seat ride. Much smoother, and this was the first time I noticed the air that this coaster can give. A later ride in front proved the same.

Flashes of Lightning, rumbling of Thunder: After grabbing a quick bite to eat (Bricker’s fried onion rings and mushrooms and some lemonade) we were off to Lightning Racer. My wife does ride this wooden coaster because of how smooth it is. Did a total of 4 rides in a row… a ride in the back and front seats of both trains. While I always said that the back seat gives wilder ride, I like the front seat better… pops of air on the crests of the hills.

“Funniest thing ever heard in a queue line…”: There were several bus groups there yesterday. One of them was from a Jewish Community Center from some place (could tell by all the matching T shirts with the logo on… didn’t read the location). While waiting in line for Lightning Racer there were several kids form here behind us, all wearing yarmulkes. Ahead of us a little kid, obviously NOT with their group, asked his mother “what are those?” She said, “They’re called Babushkas, dear.” Ooooookay.

Slowing things down before being whipped around.: Coming off of 4 in a row on Lightning Racer, we saw that the line for the Ferris Wheel was non existent so on we climbed. This was the first that I rode this one. Nothing out of the ordinary… it’s a Ferris Wheel. However it does give a good view of Midway America and the twisted tracks of Lightning Racer. Up next was a quick spin on the Whip.

Am I getting too old for this $%*!?: One of the things that we wanted to do was hit the water rides, including Roller Soaker… that is why we packed the backpack with dry clothes. By the time we headed toward this new coaster though, it was getting cooler as the sun set. We both looked at it, with the falls, water cannons, geysers, etc and decided that we were too comfortable to get wet. WOW! Turned down riding a new coaster (so much for one for the count, eh?) because it “was too cool”. Are we turning into a couple of elderly or what? We’re only in our 30’s! At this point is where I opted for my 3rd right on Wild Cat.

Old habits (and favorites) die hard: Last up was Herb Schmeck’s jewel of the park… the venerable old Comet. Even though we decided to hit Midway America hard this trip, couldn’t pass up at least one ride on my old favorite. Wound up getting in 3 rides (each around a 15 minute wait) to close out the night. One in 4th seat, one in back seat, last in front seat. I think I am starting to turn into a front seat rider… the illusion of speed is greater up there with the visuals along with some small hits of air on the crests of some of the hills. Even the trim on turn #2 was off, or at least on very light. Always a great ride. Also, for the first time ever I saw a stand selling Comet tee shirts (near the start of the queue by the creek). Of course I had to buy one between ride #1 and #2.

Things you take for granted: Many people comment how Hersheypark is themed around chocolate. I still contend that it is not. They have the WildCat… not the Wild Kit-Kat. They have Lightning Racer with Lightning and Thunder, not Reese’s Racer with Chocolate and Peanut Butter… etc. Granted, the height system for rides is based on Hershey products, as are the costumed characters and the windows of the Kissing Tower along with lots of souvenir tie ins around the park. However, the park is more connected to its own history and the history of Hershey, which of course is Chocolate. Walking past Chocolate world with its new façade we talked about the possible sale of Hershey Foods and Hershey Chocolate. Walking through the park we noticed all of the actual tie ins. Again, I still contend that the park is not specifically themed to Hershey’s Chocolate, but Hershey’s Chocolate does have a big presence there. We never noticed it before… we just took it for granted.

At one point, my wife was standing next to the Hershey Bar character while I took her pic. As we were there, a woman and a few kids walked past and she yelled , “Don’t let them sell you, Hershey Bar!” In response the Hershey Bar gave her a big, gloved ‘thumbs up.’

The bottom line: All in all, a good day. Great weather, moderate crowds, and (as always) great rides and good employees. With the weather and slower pace we went at, it was also a very relaxing day. Probably the only time I ever left a park that I was not “exhausted” (or even tired for that matter).

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 on 8/8/2002. ***

Nice TR! Reading that gets me even more excited for my next trip to the park in two weeks. This used to be my home park but now I only get to go when I head up North to visit my family. It's always nice to read such a detailed report about the park, as it's like reading about a little slice of my old home area. Especially when it is written by a fellow Bears fan! BTW, have you been to the Chocolate World 3-D show yet? We didn't get to hit last time we were there in June but wanted to try this time and were wondering if it was worth the money.
I really liked HersheyPark last season,and had a great time, and ur right it isent themed to Hersheys choclate but rather Milton Hershey ,the history of Hershey,and just an all American type theme to difrent things such as western times etc.

Hershey is great, and you probably made a good decision with the Soaker...

Little story of my own... I was there a few weeks back, and on the second of a two day excursion, I decided that I HAD to ride Roller Soaker, if for no other reason than to say that I did. I didn't bring a change of clothes, and it had just rained, so it wasn't hot.

My history with water rides isn't long at all... I never get soaked on any of them. Splash Mountain (both in the U.S.) a few raft rides here and there, a few other flumes. I expected the Soaker to get me a little wet, but nothing too drastic.

I got DRENCHED. I stood out in a thunderstorm waiting for Vertical Velocity last summer, and I didn't get as wet as I did on Roller Soaker. It was amazing to disengage the lift hill, and not 3 seconds later, eat geyser water.

But, it is a great ride, and great fun, if you have a swim suit on (I did not...)

Correct me if I'm wrong about the Wildcat, but I heard somewhere that there used to be a wooden coaster there called the Wildcat, they tore it down a while back, and named the new one in homage to the old one.

This is just something I heard somewhere, and I forget where, but I'm trying to get confirmation.

I didn't think it was themed to chocolate either. I love taking the monorail by the chocolate factory.



The original Wild Cat:

Hershey Park built its first rollercoaster in 1923. It was designed by Herb Schmeck of PTC and named The Joy Ride. It was not long until the name was changed to The Wild Cat.

Looking at old maps, old photos, current park maps and more recent aerial photos, I think the layout probably went something like this: The station somewhere near where the Dolphin Theater now stands. The tracks crossed Spring Creek and the lift hill probably went up the hill toward what is now Music Box Way. At the top of the hill it made very sharp turn to the right and the continued along the ridge where today’s Dry Gluch RR sits. The turn around looks like it was in the area that the Traliblazer’s lift hill now occupies. From here, its inbound tracks followed the outbound course back across the ridge and creek and back to the station. Not exactly sure of the exact location... the park has changed alot from the time of the old map (the Arena was not even there at that time). The turn around may have been further west than the current lift hill of Trailblazer... at the time of the old map there were properties along Park Avenue (rt 743). Wild Cat ran up to those properties and then turned around. Not sure just how deep they were.

Most stats show that the Wild Cat was around 2,300 to 2,330 feet in length. I could find no reference to size of drops or number of drops. The structure was entirely made of wood and, where it crossed Spring Creek, it was often damaged by flooding.

Two reasons are given for its removal after the 1945 season. Some say that Hershey Park simply wanted a bigger and better ride. The other story (the one that I happen to believe) is that, like most coasters of the era, the Wild Cat saw very little maintenance work done to it during WWII. With rationing and the like, lumber for coasters was just something that was not to be had. When the war ended, a survey of Wild Cat showed that it would probably cost nearly as much to repair the old coaster than it would be to build a new one.

The new coaster, The Comet, was again designed by Schmeck (PTC). It is said that he was never quite happy with his design for Joy Ride / Wild Cat, and this time he was determined to do a better job. Like the Wild Cat, the Comet’s layout took it across Spring Creek, but this time Schmeck used steel beams at the point of the crossing to protect against flooding. It ran for the first time in 1946.

For a very good history of Hersheypark, try Charles Jacque’s “Hersheypark: The Sweetness of Success” and also Jim Futell’s “Pennsylvania Amusement Parks”.

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 on 8/12/2002. ***

*** This post was edited by SLFAKE on 8/12/2002. ***

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