Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
Having found out only about two weeks ago that HersheyPark was open the weekend after Halloween, I decided to finish my season there, afforded the rare opportunity to ride coasters on the East Coast in November.
I headed out Friday afternoon, and what's normally about a 3 hour drive turned into more than 4 due to construction on Rt. 78..15 mile backup for a lane closure of less than 1/4 mile. I didn't go right to my motel near Harrisburg, opting to stop at the nearby Giant market on the chance they might still have discount park tickets. They did indeed, and I got my ticket for less than $30 ($34 at the gate.) After checking into Motel 6 and a quick meal at McDonald's, I headed over to the park, a distance of about 15 miles. Ran into a boatload of traffic and didn't get to the park until about 7:10 (preview opens at 7:30) forcing me to skip The Chocolate Factory Tour. As I was waiting outside the gate, an acquaintance found me, although we'd made no plans to meet. We talked a bit, then went in. That first hill at Hershey is breathtaking to me (literally) so I was already breathing hard before reaching level ground. I didn't hang with Jon..after waiting a couple minutes for Fahrenheit, we bailed..one train ops on that ride is a nightmare.
He headed to Storm Runner, but my plan going in was to maximize my night rides on Lightning Racer, since I expected to leave before dark Saturday. I did take one spin on Wildcat Friday, and it ran better than usual. Really rough only on the first drop and rise, and several really nice pops of air throughout the course.
I've made no secret of the fact that I love Lightning Racer. It's in my top ten, but is a different animal at night. It feels 10 times faster after dark to me,and I always try to finish my night on it with a marathon. My disappointment this night was palpable. The ride felt slow and sluggish. Thunder was winning most of the races and was running better overall, but that's damning with faint praise. The rides were walk-ons, and were going out with many empty seats..so that could have been a contributing factor. But my four rides Saturday were consistent with this performance, despite far more people on the trains, so that theory may be out the window. I didn't know this until Jon told me, but they shut all the lights off on the woodies at 9pm on Friday night during the Halloween period. So I was really looking forward to that as 9pm approached. I was on the first train out in "total" darkness. Why the quotes? Although the running lights are off, there's too much extraneous light from the station and surrounding area for the lack of lights to have much effect. Heck, even the lift hill remained lit.
I did interrupt my 14-ride marathon to take a ride on the Whip, which I'd never rode at Hershey.Nothing to speak of,a nd a VERY short cycle. I split at closing after a coupla bonus laps on LR due to people waiting only for the front seat.
After a semi-decent night's sleep and a Bob Evans breakfast, I headed over to the park late Saturday morning. I didn't hit traffic like Friday, and I like that you don't have to pay for parking again after doing the preview the night before. This time, of course, I made the de rigeur journey through the Chocolate Factory ride, and was rewarded with a small three-pack of Rolos at the end.
I had plans to meet my friend Ken and his kids Saturday. I ran into Jon again at the gate before entry, and saw Ken arrive at the back of the line. He needed to buy tickets, so I waited for them inside the gate. I can't keep up with Jon, and he headed to SkyRush without waiting for me and Ken. Ken's daughter Hayley greeted me with a present..she had crafted me a bracelet in the Mets' colors, blue and orange. I put it on, and we headed to SkyRush. I rode SkyRush last year and did not enjoy it. I was near the back in a wing seat. This first ride Saturday, I took an inside seat near the back. It was tolerable, although the bar still clamped down on my thighs. We took another, closer to front and inside, and it was about the same. again, I wouldn't say I LIKE the ride, but I don't DISLIKE it as much as I did. It certainly has the speed and elements to be thrilling, but I'll take I-305 over it any day and twice on Sunday (not today though..I'm home.)
We followed those two rides with one each on Sooper and Comet. SDL, as my first looping coaster, will always be special to me. It was actually a very pleasant ride. Comet followed with about a 20 minute wait. Ran very well, although the seat divider was seriously digging into my right side. Hayley thought she was gonna beat us all on the Reese's shoot-em-up ride, but she didn't even beat me..and I suck at shooting rides.
Our one ride on Wildcat was more like I expect..rough all the way through. Certainly not worth that long walk through the empty queue. We did two laps on Lightning Racer, and I ran into another acquaintance from another forum. We rode together, and chatted for a while afterwards. He'd never met Ken so we waited for them. Corey didn't stick with us, and we also never saw Jon again. He had mentioned Friday he planned to pretty much ride SkyRush all day Saturday, so I guess that's what he did.
Our group of four ate at Shakey's drive in, and had a lap each on Storm Runner and Sidewinder. Storm Runner would benefit for another 15-20 seconds and/or another element, but I like the ride. Back was roped off, although I got in there later on my second ride. Those new restraints on Sidewinder make it more fun than it has a right to be.
We hit Great Bear, a ride I consider under-rated. It feels like it has a lot more speed than it does, and although it would only rank as my #4 invert, I enjoy it a lot. I rode the back with strangers, since Ken needs the big seat...but I outweigh him, so go figure.
My legs were giving out, but I didn't want Great bear to be my last ride of the season. So we trudged all the way back to LR for my last two rides...the second of which it felt ALMOST right.
I left the park at 6:15. I came home a different way to avoid the problems on Rt. 78, which were eastbound as well. It was a stupid move, since the alternate route didn't save me more than a half-hour or so and was a pretty steep toll.
So my season's over. It was a pretty good one. Iwas happy to meet several people from CB for the first time and do some riding with them. But it ain't just the riding. They're good people, and I hope to hang with them again in the future. So props and a shout-out to bunky666 and her husband, Jeph, Ensign Smith, and especially RCMAC...you guys are awesome!Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Sunday, November 3, 2013 12:48 PM
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I was fully planning on going to Hershey yesterday, but my stomach was giving me problems again, so Jaya and I opted for some light shopping and puppy seeking instead.
I've never had a sluggish ride on LR, although I have noticed significantly rougher rides on Thunder than on Lightning.
Great Bear would be a world class inverted to me if the ending didn't peter out into a bunch of "meh". I still love that unique helix before the drop though.
Storm Runner was my first launcher, so I can't even look at it without smiling. So much fun, and usually some ridiculous airtime on the top of the hill.
I always skip Wildcat. It hurts too much.
I'd like to re-ride Skyrush with the different restraints. If it could smash just a little less, it would be amazing.
"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band
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