The Nantimi 11...er...7 hit up Hersheypark

Associated parks:
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Monday, May 26, 2008 3:31 PM
Apologies in advance, I wrote a novel.

If TR's aren't your thing, look at the pretty pictures and read this short version - Hershey was awesome, go. Fahrenheit was awesome, go ride it. Yay.

I arrived at the park a little before 9, after making the trip across the state from Pittsburgh with a few of my friends. Side note - I convinced two college age kids to wake up at 4 am. I should be a lawyer. Anyway, we arrived at the park right around 9, I collected the tickets I'd won as part of the Nantimi contest, and went off to meet up with the rest of the winners. It was awesome to meet all you guys and get to put faces with screennames, and then names with those faces. We also met up with Jason Brown, Hershey's Promotions Manager and one of the three main people behind the Nantimi Project. Jason was an extremely nice guy and as people arrived we all chatted about how Fahrenheit, the Nantimi campaign and how it played out vs. how it was intended to, and all kinds of things like that. As the time to enter the park approached, Jason disappeared to answer a phone call, we all chatted a bit, and a few minutes later, Jason returned with some... "interesting news". It seems that one of the Fahrenheit trains took a particular liking to the trough of the cobra roll, and decided that the best course of action would be to stop there and take a nap.

This, of course, effectively foiled our early morning ERT and first rides on Fahrenheit, but Jason was nice enough to line up a bit of ERT on Storm Runner, and a chance to speak with Hershey’s Director of Maintenance, Gary Chubb, and Marty (whose last name escapes me), who was another one of the people behind Nantimi. Both of them were extremely nice guys, and were kind enough to answer all of our questions about Fahrenheit, Nantimi, and even a few about what Hershey has lined up for the future. Hershey fans might want to make extra sure they hit all their favorite rides in the Pioneer Frontier area of the park. Speculate as you will, but it seems one or two of them might not hang around for the 2009 season. Also, Storm Runner is awesome. A bit on the short side, but the flying snake dive is just as cool as it looks in pictures.

After the Nantimi festivities, I went off and met up with my friends from home and a few more that we knew from school who’d driven in from York to meet us. We went and hit Wildcat, which I was pleasantly surprised by, and which the Hershey regulars among us commented that it was the first ride on Wildcat they’d had in years that they actually enjoyed. Credit Hershey for shelling out the dough for Millennium Flyers I guess, because I thought the ride was great! Not too smooth, not too rough, and generally just a very fun ride. Not necessarily a balls to the wall thriller, but hey, that’s what Storm Runner’s for. We moved on down the midway to Wild Mouse, which was running amazingly… if I remember right, no braking along the entire top section, and maybe one instance of it anywhere else in the ride. Crazy, fun, and the queue gave the distinct impression that all the riders were either sailors or had Tourette’s… perhaps even some sailors with Tourette’s, and all true calling cards of a great wild mouse.

After that we walked past the Boardwalk, which looked great, but unfortunately, we were unable to enjoy because we’d forgotten swimwear for the day, and the swimsuits that Hershey had for sale were $30 +. Oh well, all the more reason to visit again! We made our way over to Lightning Racer and took a spin near the front. What a great all around ride. While I found it a bit better in the back, later in the day, Lightning Racer is fast and just all around fun. Again, nothing that’s going to leave you going “OHMYGODWHAT!?!?” but just pure fun. Every park should have one. On a side note, for how photogenic both Lightning Racer and Wildcat are, it’s awfully hard to get a good shot.

Moving on, we caught another ride on Storm Runner, my 4th of the day, and began to notice that maybe hands-up wasn’t the best way to go. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t find Storm Runner to be rough, but repeated rides with your arms up seems to leave some nice bruises on your upper arms. By ride #5, I wised up and put my hands down. No pain, insane ride, I want one for my backyard.

Next up was a trip down to Great Bear, our longest wait of the day at about 45 minutes. I loved Great Bear. So much about it is just the way that inverted coasters should be, and it cemented my belief that B&M is at its best when faced with cramped or otherwise odd footprints on which to put a ride. Highlights include the touch of float on the first drop, the typically fantastic zero-g roll, the dive over the creek, and the final corkscrew. Yes, I realize that that’s almost the whole ride. Also, my friend lost his cell phone on the ride… more on that later.

While in the area we took a spin on Coal Cracker to cool off a bit. It’s a nice ride, and was all kinds of fun… mostly because we fit the five of us in one boat. We basically rolled, rather than floated through the course. I guess when they say 4-5 per boat, they assume that people won’t actually try to fit 5 adults in. Oopsies. Good fun, and a hilarious on ride picture resulted.

We stopped by and hit Sooperdooperlooper next, and with minimal waiting, got a nice ride on a classic Schwarzkopf. Sure, the ride doesn’t do much other than its one (sooperdooper) loop, but it’s still fun, and with hardly any wait, definitely worth the ride.

Continuing our walk around the park, we hit the Tilt-a-Whirl for nostalgia’s sake, and passed on Comet, as the locals spotted what they called a “ridiculously long line for Comet,” and convinced us it wasn’t worth it. Didn’t end up getting on Comet all day, and as I have a soft spot for classic wood coasters, that’ll definitely be on my list next time I’m there.

I wanted to ride Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge, as it'd been a while since I'd been on a dark ride in general, and I'd heard decent things about this one. The story line is… well… terrible, but it’s terrible to the point that we found it hilarious, so we’ll pretend that was the intention and smile our way through the ride. I loved it, as did the rest of the people on the Chocolate team, which fairly dominated the Peanut Butter car. Those on the Peanut Butter team were less impressed, but overall I enjoyed it, and again, the wait wasn’t bad at all.

Next we walked over to the Claw and while waiting in line, I found myself looking over at Fahrenheit. Now, we hadn’t been on that side of the park since we rode Storm Runner a few hours ago, so we hadn’t been able to watch any of the crane-and-winch action, and the last we’d seen it, it was still in cobra-nap mode. So imagine my surprise when I see the chain start moving... and then a test train wander up the lift. Instantly we abandoned ship from the Claw’s queue (we’d be back later, but we wanted to try and get on Fahrenheit before the wait grew to the multiple hour mark) and bolted for Fahrenheit. A crowd had formed, and Hershey security was busy explaining to people that there would be no pushing, no line jumping, and basically trying their best to convince us that there would be no stampede. Chains dropped, and the crowd instantly forgot security’s pep talk. Or maybe that’s not fair, everyone was mostly orderly in their stampeding at least, and to Hershey’s credit, they did (loudly) enforce their line jumping rule, sending offenders to the back of the line. Luckily, we ended up making it the whole way to the station before our waiting started, so we opted for a front seat ride, figuring that this would be our only chance, perhaps ever, to get one without waiting for over an hour. 8 trains later, we boarded.

OH. MY. GOD.

Awesome. Just… awesome. The lift, the drop, the Norwegian loop, the cobra, the corks, the wonderful turn/air combo… the ride is just awesome. I would give you a blow by blow, but really, you can see the ride, and if you find yourself wondering how, say, the drop is, or just how the overbank-to-air-hill under the lift rides, or really if you’re curious about any particular element, my answers are categorically as good as you could imagine or better. I loved it. Go ride it.

We finished the day off with another spin on all the major roller coasters, a drier than usual but still fun rapids ride (the waterfalls were off… apparently someone thought it was going to be cold), a return trip to the Claw (excellent, minus the ear-splitting screaming from the girl in the car next to me), and a ride on the Howler (bar-none, the most intense ride in the park. No part of me is joking, I almost puked).

As it approached closing, we made a trip over to guest relations by the Claw so my friend could see about getting his cell phone back. We were pretty sure he’d lost it on the lift, and get this - Hershey sent someone up the lift, found his phone, and walked it halfway across the park to return it to him on the same day so they wouldn’t have to mail it back to Pittsburgh. Talk about customer service! As an extra bonus, staying past 10 to wait for his phone meant we were treated to a truly excellent and wholly unexpected fireworks display, which we all appreciated.

All things considered, it was an amazing day at Hershey, and for my first time in the park, I was completely blown away. The staff, the rides, the weather, the crowds… everything just came together and it was just about the most fun I’ve ever had at an amusement park. A huge thanks to JB, Marty, and Luke for creating Nantimi and giving me a reason to finally make the trip across the state, I now know what I’d been missing, and I'll definitely be back.

Cheers,
Bill

[edit - photos]

http://img211.imageshack.us/img211/6947/notanactionshothw9.jpg

http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/7923/flyingsnakedivegl8.jpg

http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/8260/greatbearrollds8.jpg

http://img55.imageshack.us/img55/8959/greatbearstitchbigrd0.jpg

http://img239.imageshack.us/img239/1700/fahrenheitstationfz5.jpg

http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/474/fahrenheitbigpanct5.jpg

http://img296.imageshack.us/img296/5649/fahrenheitnorwegianactiwp7.jpg

http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/1850/fahrenheitdroplu3.jpg

http://img58.imageshack.us/img58/97/fahrenheitafternoonhw3.jpg *** Edited 5/27/2008 4:02:43 AM UTC by BBSpeed26***

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Monday, May 26, 2008 6:43 PM
^^Actually, all things considered, your TR length wasn't that bad at all.

But did you say you had pictures?? Because I can't find any links?!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008 12:03 AM
As promised, photos are up. *** Edited 5/27/2008 3:57:31 PM UTC by BBSpeed26***
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008 8:22 AM
^^Thanks!! That Norwegian loop looks awesome!! Can't wait for my trip in a few weeks now...

Btw, so how fast does the Fahrenheit line move and what do you think will be the average wait time for a non-Saturday this summer?

Also, any idea how extra crowded the park gets on a night of a concert?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008 11:41 AM
^. The line doesn't move. The people in the line move. 12 people at a time board and ride. When the crew hit the groove, they were able to dispatch a second train as the first was hitting the brake run. There is a third train, but I'm not sure they could run 3 at one time.

Today is the first day it will operate on a non-weekend or holiday. Who knows what the wait will be like?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008 11:43 AM
The line move reasonably quickly, I would say it sped up throughout the day as the ops got used to it. I've heard that with a full queue, the wait is around two hours, but not being a Hershey regular, I'm not sure how crowded it is or isn't on non-Saturdays or on concert nights.

[doh, too slow]
*** Edited 5/27/2008 3:58:23 PM UTC by BBSpeed26***

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