As I walk up to the gates, the hockey fan in me takes over and I snap a quick photo of the Hersheypark Arena (long time home of the Hershey Bears). Then I make my way to the gates and notice that they are already letting people into Founders Circle because there is no one outside the Ticket Booths other than those purchasing tickets. Nice job here since last year this area was crowded on my August visit. I get my ticket with my discount coupon from CVS. I know I could have done better but it was an easy grab for me and I don’t mind paying 5 dollars more for a day at the park. I am not one to nickel and dime my visits. I just try to get my moneys worth in total entertainment when inside the park.
I get in and decide I am going to head right to Storm Runner. I need a good start to this day and nothing is a good start like the acceleration on an Intamin Rocket Coaster. As I head up the hill to the statue of Milton Hershey I notice that the rides in Founders Circle are running and are admitting riders. Hershey is really starting to get points for customer service in my book here. Then as I come around to where the new Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge is my plans are almost derailed as the ride is open. Well, I decided against it with the long line (found out later this was a mistake).
So I stand with the rest of the people waiting to be let into the rest of the park. At 10 AM they let the people go and as people are walk running (not running) back to the rides I heard a few security guards ask people to slow down. Another great thing about this park is the employees are so nice. The security guard wasn’t yelling just said it as though it was in normal conversation. Funny thing was everyone pretty much stopped and walked! This makes it seem like Bizzaro-land if you are used to Great Adventure, America or Dorney Park but it was a welcome sight.
I get to the entrance to Storm Runner and am greeted with the fact that I can walk right up to the platform and wait a 2 or 3 trains for any row except row 1. Well I decide I will start in my current favorite row the back row. I love the way you get whipped around in that row. Well as I line up someone in row 9 (the second to last row) says “Hey if you are alone come ride him.” This meant if the other people didn’t say they had a problem with it I would be on one of the first rides of the day. So I asked the rest of the people and no one had any issue with it. I get in buckle up and get asked about my glasses. I show the op the strap and they say “Thank You”. If you don’t have a strap they politely tell you that you have to take them off and secure them or they can store them in the cubes for you. Very nice staff on this ride and they do their jobs efficiently. This is where I should really have picked up a sign that this would be a great day. The train I loaded into was the first train of the day and Storm Runner didn’t fail to disappoint and keeps the “best rocket coaster I have ridden” award.
After this I wandered over to Midway America taking pictures as I went. Next ride for me would be the Wild Mouse. I love Hershey’s mouse. They don’t use the brakes on the top turn section so you get some crazy turn and speed into the first drop. Then the rest of the brakes are just taps so you really fly through the course. Number two, best I have ever ridden (doesn’t include spinning mice).By the way this ride will give you a nice view of the Boardwalk area next season.
Headed over to Wildcat and got my chiropractic adjustment for the day. This ride does not disappoint me since I don’t mind some abuse with wooden coasters. Lines were still being very manageable even with the crowd I saw at the gates.
As I walked past the Whip and the Music Express, I deciced today would be a low flat ride day for me and I would be hitting coasters and shows with a few needed flat rides tossed in. No Whip or Music Express for me today.
Next stop Lightning Racer. I board Thunder to find out that I am the only one in the train as they close the air gates. Oh man is this train going to get smoked by a full train on Lightning. Then the ride op at the back side of the station says he is going to open the gates and let the people walking up the ramp load this train. Nice touch to delay the dispatch for the approximately 10 or so people who walked up. Yes Lightning Racer was that dead at about 11 AM. After a recheck of restraints out we go. This is another great GCI ride. It seems to be showing a little age with a shuffle at some points but still a winner in my book even though Thunder lost that time. Quick walk around and get a lap on Lightning to lose again. I must have been a jinx.
This is where I am glad I didn’t have anyone with me since I could now go into park enthusiast mode and check out the construction area for the Boardwalk next season. Yes it will be a tight fit and I bet things will not look exactly as the drawings do. They do have the drawings posted on the fences so you can get an idea of the layout of the new rides. So here goes a best as I can describe it. Starting back near Roller Soaker and the high turns of Lightning Racer will be Bayside Pier. Waves will come from the turn area of Lightning Racer to the midway. Facing the wave pool to your left will be Sandcastle Cove the children’s play structure. Beside that to the left will be East Coast Waterworks and I tell you this will be big by the concrete slab that is in place. They are putting in footers as we speak for it. Across the midway from East Coast Waterworks and facing it will be Coastline Plunge and beside that will be the Waverider. It should all fit but will probably not be as big as the pictures look of course most of us know the size of a Tornado slide so that size is given but all else will probably be smaller. This is just my view on the new area for next season.
Having dressed to keep the sun off me it was a no water ride day so I wandered back over towards Founders Circle and got a quick spin on The Claw along the way. I love all these spin and swing rides whether you face in or out.
As I walked past the Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge I figured I could use some air conditioning so I walked up to the line and found the Single Rider line which I quickly used and was on in a few cycles instead of waiting about 40 minutes for the line. This is a fun ride with some up and down parts along with cars that turn so your facing the walls of targets. Cool ride with a nice idea behind it. Way to go Hershey on a great addition to the park. By the way they were giving out Caramel Reese’s Cups as you left the ride. YUM!
Hunger was setting in so I headed over to Berks for a hot dog and beverage. It was a good hot dog and the price was typical park prices. This is where I am going to defend Six Flags’ pricing on food. Most of the prices at Hershey were comparable to Great Adventure and America’s prices. So either the prices are ok or even Hershey is overcharging. Take your pick, I will say I will pay the prices at a park and leave it at that.
Knowing I wanted to take a break for a bit to let the food settle I decided to head for Great Bear which normally sports an hour plus line. After the hour wait I get in my seat in the back row. My favorite spot to sit on an invert is the back, since I like the forces as you pull through the elements. Views are overrated on some inverts, but not on Great Bear which swoops and loops and dives alongside a waterway. Along the course are some of the most interesting shaped supports you will see. Also this is a great time to mention the interaction of Hershey’s rides with each other. Bear interacts great with Sooperdooperlooper and the surrounding areas.
Some Anton appreciation was needed so it was time to head over to Sooperdooperlooper. As I was waiting in line some kids started to throw this blue goo at each other and generally misbehave. After I got a good look at their shirts I noticed they were from a military school. I had to make a comment that I could see why they were at a military school which drew laughs from the others around me. This is when rain started to fall. Hershey seems to keep their rides open in the rain as long as there is not any lightning. Sooperdooperlooper definitely needs some love from maintenance because it has some really rough spots and also they need to go easier on the brakes in the station cause getting tossed into the lap bar doesn’t do anyone’s body any good. To continue the classic roll I was on I headed over to Comet and enjoyed a nice lap on this classic woodie.
With rain still continuing to fall I decided I would now take in a show. I walked over to the Music Box Theater and caught the 50’s and 70’s pop music show. The show was pretty much your normal park show with 3 guys and 3 girls singing and dancing to some songs from each era. This show was enjoyable but I would question some of the stereotypes used at family amusement park. When I walked out of the show it must have done something weather wise because all rides were shut and the soaked midways were jam packed with people.
It wasn’t raining anymore so I headed right for Wildcat. I wanted to see if the wet track would change this ride any. When I got to the entrance I found a line outside the queue and the ride closed.. After about 15 minutes they started to test the ride and let people in the queue. I got on the second train out and must say the rain didn’t change the ride at all same ride as my first ride of the day. Blah! I wanted either a smoother ride or a total abuse me ride and got something in between with not much speed difference.
Lightning Racer was next, for a lap on each side again with the same feelings about changes due to the weather. Either these coasters don’t react to rain or they just were not reacting due to the humidity which was now down right oppressive. The jinx ended here as my train won both laps. So I went 2 – 4 winning on Lightning Racer this day.
On my way back to Storm Runner I took a lap on Sidewinder. It’s a boomerang so I was plotting how to minimize the head bang. To my surprise I didn’t get the bangs I was expecting until the cobra returning to the station then I got one major hit that made my ear have a slight ring for a few seconds. Back for another lap on Storm Runner this time I moved to row 2 as I was thinking I was going to try to get a ride in every row this day since the line wasn’t over an hour and I know it gets shorter as the night comes. Row two surprised me in that I got ejected from my seat as the front of the car started to navigate the curve of the top hat. This lap was a great lap that would be a sign of things to come later.
It was about 4:00 and I was getting lazy and wandering the park. I wandered over to Music Box Way and found a band playing 70’s horn based music (Earth Wind and Fire and Chicago for examples) Little did I know this was the character meet and greet for kids but a nice way to do it, fun music with dancing candy characters. Right after this show another show started on the stage beside where the band was playing. This show was straight theme park cheesy. 4 guys were singing and dancing about being milkmen. Ummmmmmmm, yeah, and I sat through it why? Because I am at a park and I know you have these shows but it was a good way to relax get some park atmosphere and drink some cool iced tea to cool down.
Next up was the Beat Brothers show in the Music Box Theater. This show intrigued me since I was kind of waiting for a train wreck if it was what I was expecting reading the entertainment guide. The guide led me to believe it would be a “Stomp!” type show. And this is what we got plumbers playing drums on everything from buckets to trash cans to pipes. Very good, high energy, entertaining show that the kids in the audience really ate up. This was my favorite show of the day.
After this it was cooling off but I wanted another shot at the Xtreme Cup Challenge. This time I proved I stink at these games by scoring 19000 after scoring 8500 earlier. Fun game and another free Reese Cup. YUM!
After that I wandered taking more pictures of the park. After I had taken enough daytime photos for my liking and thought I had everything to show a well rounded view of the park I headed back to Storm Runner to try to get every row covered except the front row since I had done that last year on a visit with friends. This ride I chose row 4. On this lap Storm Runner tried to be a bucking bronco for me. I was tossed a few times into the OTSR. I never knew air like that on a rocket coaster. The hangs in the inversions were insane. I probably spent as much time against the harness as I did against the seat. I now have a new appreciation for this beast and It will be my number one rocket until they come up with something with some more elements. Rocket coasters should not be launch, top hat, air hill, then brakes, they should be full ride experiences not one trick ponies!
After this lap I took 2 more laps on Storm Runner and then night had fallen so I did some quick photos at night and left for the ride home.
Overall a very fun day at a quality park that I think gets lost to the locals due to Great Adventure and Dorney Park being so close. But I will always make a stop or two here every year.
Sorry about the paragraphs. This was the first time I cut and pasted now I know to go back and redo the paragrapghs. *** Edited 7/17/2006 3:36:38 PM UTC by dragonoffrost***
Overall a very fun day at a quality park that I think gets lost to the locals due to Great Adventure and Dorney Park being so close.
I beg to differ on that.
Lost to which locals? NJ locals? Probably.
Allentown Locals? Maybe, but not completely lost.
South Central PA locals / Northern MD locals? Not hardly. I'd almost say that Dorney is the park that gets lost between Hershey (South Central PA) and SFGrAdv (Philly, NJ & NYC area).
Great TR, and looks like you had a great time dispite the rain. It used to cool things down when it rained, now it just makes it even more humid which gets uncomfortable sometimes. Didn't mean to sound like I was giving you a hard time about the paragraphs since I know it was un-intentional. MUCH better though now, thanks. I really want to get to hershey sometime soon, I don't really see it happening this year unfortunetely, but I wouldn't mind waiting for Boardwalk next year. *** Edited 7/17/2006 4:36:23 PM UTC by P18***
Nice TR! I really need to get back there, haven't been on StormRunner yet...maybe you guys can convince them to open for the weekend of PPP for once? ;)
I still find it unbelievable that with all the classic rides available, that Hershey bought THAT Whip...yikes!
Rocket coasters should not be launch, top hat, air hill, then brakes, they should be full ride experiences not one trick ponies!
Ummm, maybe I should have put that in BOLD when I quoted? ;)
CP is a more popular choice in Pittsburgh for parks outside the Pittsburgh area. The main reason in Pittsburgh for going to a park other than KW is to have a greater choice of coasters and both CP and HP fit this very well. CP, however, promotes itself much more heavily in the Pittsburgh area. It also has many big coasters like SFGAdv does. HP, on the other hand, lacks a hypercoaster, something that KW has.
CP is a more popular choice in Pittsburgh for parks outside the Pittsburgh area.
That's the understatement of the century. :)
My experience as a Western PA native? Easily 25-to-1 in terms of familiarity/visits in CP's favor. (probably even more)
Which seems really odd now that the subject is brought up and I'm thinking about it. Both parks are roughly the same distance and do offer similarly sized, but very different experiences. I wonder why more people from the area don't head east to Hershey for the park?
GL has been advertising with the slogan "The park that's closer doesn't even come close." This may be true if you are talking about total coaster count, looping coasters, and the presence of a waterpark inside the gate. KW however offers other things such as more family friendly rides, better appearance, it's historic image, atmosphere, and reasonably priced food.
I wonder, Does GL use this slogan on billboards in the vicinity of either Waldameer or Conneaut Lake?
Arthur Bahl said:
HP is the only eastern PA park that most people in the Pittsburgh area are aware of.
Even in NYC is aware of it (at least people wirint scripts for shows set in NYC). My wife and I were watching an episode of NBC's Third Watch from a few years ago.
Anyone familar with the show will recognize the character names. In one scene in the 55th's precinct house, when someone asked where Faith Yokas was, Bosco responded... "She and Fred are on on vacation in the Poconos and then taking the kids to someplace called Hersheypark." My wife and I were both surprised to hear this reference in a network show.
Off topic as far as Hershey is concerned, but on topic as far as promotion locations is concerned: We were shocked this weekend to see an add for Idlewild and Soakzone out side of Hallam PA. Granted, both Hallam is on the old Lincoln Highway as is Ligonier / Idlewild... but Hallam is about 180 miles EAST of Ligionier! Odd place for that billboard, considering the distance. *** Edited 7/17/2006 5:58:29 PM UTC by SLFAKE***
I am not one who needs a completely rain free day to enjoy a park since I do enjoy shows and other things at the parks.
Thanks for all the positive comments
Gator, I love the fact you bolded that line. It's my one gripe after riding Storm Runner. Can't a park in the states take Storm Runner and do something even more insane with this idea.
I am kind of glad I don't live near Pittsburgh because then I would not be doing trips to Hershey yearly, since I would have Kennywood right near me. I like that non-major chain park attitude that these two places have. They believe in customer service which is lacking in the chain parks now (CF and SF).
Knowing of and going to are two separate things. You ask a person on the street which amusement park within 2 hours they would go to if they had a choice without naming the parks. I would bet the poll would come out Great Adventure, Dorney Park, Hersheypark for those three. *** Edited 7/17/2006 5:57:49 PM UTC by dragonoffrost***
BTW, great report, dragon. I was there from about 7-10 the evening before, and it was no cooler then. The only good thing is that the coaster lines were short because everyone seemed to be in line for the water rides. You were far more observant than I was in checking out the Boardwalk construction.
I agree with your assessment of GB, and Comet I think is running faster than it has in years.
Comet I think is running faster than it has in years.
Is that trim on turn two still "off" (or at least set very light), as it was back in May?
Thanks for the TR.
I grew up in Erie and have lived in Pittsburgh for 6 years and have never been to Hershey.
For comparison how many times had you been to CP?
Your example seems totally normal for the area. I spent 23 of my first 28 years in western PA and never made it to Hersheypark until I moved to Allentown. In contrast, during that same time period I had spent at least 30 days at CP on various trips both single and multi-day.
I wonder if Hershey ever considered advertising in Pittsburgh and why they currently don't seem to? A couple of well placed TV spots would open up a lot of traffic I would think.
As for Idlewild, I can see them promoting the park to points in the east. I once saw an article in a Washington DC paper that mentioned this park favorably. This park could become a lot like Holiday World in the future but with different theming. Meanwhile, the Olde Idlewild section of this park shows some resemblence to Knoebels with its wooded surroundings, graveled pathways and vintage rides (many of them originally from KW).
If you can't get the Southwestern PA folks to go an hour or two north to CLP, they're just as unlikely to travel two hours east for similar offerings.
Hershey is in a different league in that aspect. They have a ton of angles for selling the park as worth the drive.
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