Trip East (Kennywood, Hershey, Great Adventure)

Associated parks:
None

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 5:51 PM
My wife and I just returned from our summer vacation which included three theme parks. I will skip the other things we saw and separate the theme parks into individual posts to keep it from being way too long.

Kennywood was very well run and the best bargain on earth at $18 per person from visitkennywood.com. We got there early on Sunday, June 10 and rode all 5 roller coasters before any real lines formed. We were able to relax the rest of the day, cool off on the water rides (nothing spectacular, but fun), enjoy the other rides, and re-ride the roller coasters in different seats.

The Jack Rabbit is amazing for it's age (86). I liked the use of terrain and two drops before the lift hill. After the lift hill comes the double dip, which provides better air time than 90% of the coasters built since. You can't pick your seat unless you just miss getting on the previous train, but the line was short enough that we could get back in it until we had ridden in all 3 cars. Having a seatbelt you are in control of and a fixed grab bar allows you to control your air time. Right before the double dip on one ride I went to loosen the seatbelt for maximum air, but I accidentially undid it. I quickly got it back together before we were thrown into it and it kept us in the train. 8/10 based on the ride experience, but 10/10 considering it's age and how it revolutionized roller coasters.

The Kennywood Racer was a very pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting much more than a good race, but I got a lot of air time, and got fooled as to where the track led. It looked like we were going one way because the track matched up with the track we were on, but our track dove out of sight down and to the left missing the assumed track. This ride was a lot of fun, especially confusing my wife by returning on the opposite side. 8/10 based on the ride experience, but 10/10 considering the age and uniqueness.

The Exterminator was wierd. I love indoor dark rides because of the surprises, but I hate spinning rides because I get dizzy easily. This ride was fun until the spinning, then all sensory emotions kicked in. It was exciting not knowing where we were or where we were going, but I was worried the spinning would make me sick. I survived the first ride, and tried it again, but the second time our car spun out of control and didn't stop at the end of the ride. A worker had to stop the spinning in the station and I staggered out of the car begging my wife for another ride on Phantom, which she agreed to. I give Exterminator a 6/10, but I would rate it higher if I could handle spinning better.

Phantom's Revenge. I liked this ride, but it could have been so much better, especially since they had the opportunity during it's recent remodeling. The lift hill is scary because it is so slow, and it hesitated severely several times on our third and final ride. The front few cars hang over the spiral drop before excellerating and get popped out of their seats at the top of the next hill, but get no air on the big drop because it starts slow and is not steep enough. The back car does get some nice air on the 228' drop after being pulled over the edge by the rest of the train. The hill leading to the big drop should have been converted to a quick up and down without the brake and turn. After the tunnel the train has great momentum for a drop, but it turns and slows instead. The ride experience is still an 8/10 but I'm tempted to give it a 6 for it's missed opportunity at a 10.

The Thunderbolt has nothing on the Jack Rabbit or Racer. It is a little more run down and rickety, but is lacking in thrills comparitavely. It is still above average, so I give it a 6/10.

Pitt Fall was also a lot of fun. The weight guesser missed my weight by 20 pounds (174 vs 194) but the wacky scale was 18 pounds light. He still gave me the prize, and my dog likes her new toy.

I give Kennywood an 8/10 as a park because they have just as many fun rides as most parks, no big lines (except for fries) and no boring coasters, but they would need a ride above an 8 to get above an 8. This is a must visit park for anyone passing through Pittsburgh, and it's incredibly cheap with free parking, $18 admission, and reasonably priced everything else.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 6:37 PM
I HIGHLY disagree with you about Thunderbolt, Exterminator, and ESPECIALLY the Phantom. The Thunderbolt is an amazing ride with awsome laterals, some nice air, and no seat dividers. And lets not forget that its longest drop is its last drop, how many coasters can say that? Exterminator is the best wild mouse anywhere, but I guess I can see why you rated it low if you dont like spinning rides. And the Phantom, dont even get me started. You completley failed to mention the absolutley SICK ejector air on the 2nd half of the ride. That double down is something from heaven...IMO, Phantom Revenge beats any other Hypercoaster out there, Magnum included. The ONLY and I mean ONLY gripe I have is that its slightly short.

Otherwise though, Nice trip report.

Oh and Dave, I see your from Bloomington. Im from Peoria. Strange coincidence that we have both been to Kennywood huh? *** Edited 6/19/2007 10:39:45 PM UTC by stljason1***

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 6:50 PM
I can't disagree more either I rode all of the coasters at KW in 2002 and was very impressed. I've ridden several hyper coasters and Phantom is right up there with the elite. Thunderbolt was also one of the most fun wooden coasters I have ever ridden and didn't find it rickity back then at all. Lastly by itself Exterminator may not be much but with the theming it was a blast. We rode that one a few times.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 6:58 PM

And lets not forget that its longest drop is its last drop


Top Thrill Dragster. ;)

. *** Edited 6/19/2007 10:59:48 PM UTC by Coasterkid200***

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:08 PM
Did you get to check out SwingShot or Cosmic Chaos? Also Does the Phantom Have Trims? I've been hearing about this and I haven't been to the park yet to see.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:26 PM
Hershey Park was full of surprises. The atmosphere and management are unbeatable. We got there for their preview deal on Monday night, June 11, where we bought tickets for the next day with our Wendy's discount and got in free at 7:30 that night after paying $8 to park. My wife loved the dancing candy bars and chocolate theme, and I loved the rides.

Our first ride was the Comet, nearly a walk on, and it was so much fun near the front we got right back on it in the back. The back was even better, getting yanked over the lift hill and floating to the bottom, then doing it all again over the next drop. The first half of the ride I spent more time out of my seat than in it. I didn't think it was possible for a ride under 100' to score over an 8 until I rode Comet in the back seat. It is definately a 9/10 in the back, and would be a 10 if the second half of the ride compared to the first half. This was the oldest and best ride in the park, built in 1946.

The Superdooperlooper was as advertised the original generation of metal coasters with a loop. The surprise was the lap bar restraint, which made the ride a 5/10, instead of lower since it didn't do much else.

After a log ride, we got on the Great Bear. They were running two trains so that everyone could sit where they wanted, even though every train went out unfull. Inverted coasters have lost their thrill for me, but this one was still kind of fun. 7/10

The Trailblazer was unfortunately a pathetic attempt at a mine trian. It did nothing. The highlight was a helix. 1/10

Storm Runner was the first line we waited in at Hershey Park, and it was only because we wanted the front seat for our first ride. The launch was fun, but the most intense part of the ride was the roll into the snake dive. I came up out of my seat as the track leveled at the top of the hill and was caught by the shoulder restrain. I then rode on my shoulders through the roll and didn't get planted back in my seat until the bottom of the snake dive. We rode again in the back and I stayed in my seat for that part, but the first drop was more fun because of the increased airtime. Storm Runner is a completely misleading name because the next day it didn't run right before, during, or anytime after the storm. I still give it an 8.5. A shorter first hill like Powder Keg in Branson would make it more intense, another airtime hill would help, and the brakes at the end come too soon, but the ride experience is very fun even without all the would be improvements.

The Sidewinder was the scariest ride in the park for me because I had never ridden a boomerang or gone upside down backwards before. The lift backwards up the hill made my palms so sweaty I couldn't hold onto the bars infront of me. I know it was only about 100 feet where I was sitting, but it seemed like it would never stop taking us higher looking down with only the shoulder restraint that I couldn't hold onto preventing death. I was so relieved when the ride finally dropped that the roughness was nothing. The way up the other side was a chance to catch my breath before becoming disoriented by the backward inverted mess, but the ride mercifully ended with no casualties, and a 7/10 for being one of very few rides that can still scare me.

The Wild Mouse scared my wife so bad she closed her eyes, held onto my arm, and wouldn't let go or open her eyes until the ride stopped. It really did give the illusion we were going to fall off the edge. It would have been a great ride if they had removed the break and banked the turn after it instead. It might actually have fallen off the track without the break, but a banked turn would fix that and allow momentum into the drops. It was still a 6/10 for thrills.

The Wildcat was a massive dissappointment. I was looking forward to this ride, but all it did was turn fast. I give it a 2/10. The out of control feeling at times kept it from being a zero.

The Lightning Racer was twice as good as the Wildcat, but that only makes it a 4. Nothing special.

The amazing thing about Hershey Park is that we got on all of these rides in 2 and a half hours before close. They ran two trains on every ride except Sidewinder (which doesn't accomodate two trains) even when there were no lines and empty seats were going out repeatedly. We didn't even have to wait for a train to return to the station to get on most rides.

The next day the Roller Soaker had issues and only allowed two riders per car. After an hour wait, I got blinded by a blast of water into my contacts and missed most of the ride with my eyes closed to keep from losing a contact. Since my experience was not typical, I will still give it a 5/10.

Hershey's splashdown boat ride beats all I have ridden except Cedar Point's. It is very tall, and it's only problem is the drop is not steep enough and levels out early. The rest of the water park looked fun, but threatening skies shut it down before we got to the biggest slides, then we got rained out of the park after waiting hours for a let up that barely lasted long enough for a few re-rides, and Storm Runner never got re-started.

I give Hershey Park a 9 because it is so well run, so much fun just to be at, and has two awesome coasters. My wife loved it and it turned her from being against this roller coaster trip into being for it.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:59 PM
You though wildcat was only a 2 and Lightning Racer only a 4 and put Wild Mouse as a 6. Sounds like you had a good time.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 8:00 PM
Re Kennywood:

I don't want to be misunderstood. I liked every roller coaster in Kennywood. A 10 on my rating scale is reserved for rides like Top Thrill, Millennium, and El Toro. Nines come close. Eights are better than 80% of the roller coasters I've ridden, and sixes are still better than most. I really liked Thunderbolt, but didn't think it was as good as Jack Rabbit or their Racer. I still thought every coaster in the park was better than most coasters I have ridden.

Phantom had a brake at the top of the hill before the big drop, and it seemed like it had one somewhere after the tunnel and before the final hills, but I can't be sure. The final hills don't really stand out in my memory after multiple rides on a couple dozen other coasters last week. *** Edited 6/20/2007 12:09:04 AM UTC by Dave05***

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 8:03 PM
I'm really surprised about your ratings on Wildcat and Lightning Racer. I don't really like wooden coasters and all and I absolutely ADORED Lightning Racer and thought Wildcat was still really fun.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 8:08 PM

halltd said:
I'm really surprised about your ratings on Wildcat and Lightning Racer. I don't really like wooden coasters and all and I absolutely ADORED Lightning Racer and thought Wildcat was still really fun.

I may have been spoiled by the wooden coasters at Kennywood and the Comet, but the Wildcat and Lightening Racer didn't come close to being as much fun.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007 10:00 PM
There is no brake at the top of the big hill of the Phantom. That's just gravity doing its job.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007 12:54 AM
"It would have been a great ride if they had removed the break and banked the turn after it instead. It might actually have fallen off the track without the break, but a banked turn would fix that and allow momentum into the drops."

Dude, that's the thing about wild mouse coasters--the turns are NOT banked. To bank the turns would make it more like an Anton Wildcat. BTW, Hershey's Wild Mouse is one of the most UNbraked wild mouse coasters around.

*** Edited 6/20/2007 4:55:38 AM UTC by rablat5***

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007 2:32 AM
I was never overly impressed by the Exterminator. It seems more of a spinning Wild Mouse than an actual coaster (had more fun on Waldameer's spinning coaster where I could see). Plus Waldameer's gives you the option of riding backwards. Too cool!

I don't think Exterminator is worth the long line it always has, unless you have never done it before. Once in a day is enough for me.

My trip to KW on 5/26 the T-Bolt was down for the first part of the day, but it certainly didn't appear rickety to me. It was the first time in a good 15 years I got to ride it, as my son finally made the height requirement this year. No way I'd rate the Racer ahead of the T-Bolt (unless they made the first hill on the racer deeper). Even then.. naaaah. But, thats just me. Jack Rabbit? I still don't have the stones to not hold on during the double dip. :)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:57 AM

Chooch249 said:

I don't think Exterminator is worth the long line it always has, unless you have never done it before. Once in a day is enough for me.

My trip to KW on 5/26 the T-Bolt was down for the first part of the day, but it certainly didn't appear rickety to me. It was the first time in a good 15 years I got to ride it, as my son finally made the height requirement this year. No way I'd rate the Racer ahead of the T-Bolt (unless they made the first hill on the racer deeper). Even then.. naaaah. But, thats just me. Jack Rabbit? I still don't have the stones to not hold on during the double dip.


Luckily the Exterminator had no line either time I rode it.

The Thunderbolt track was missing a piece of railing in one part, which was clearly not a safety issue, and I really liked how each drop got bigger, but I got much more air on the other two wooden coasters there. Thunderbolt was a really good ride, but so are many other coasters and I try to make my average rating of all coasters a 5. I was not comparing Thunderbolt to the wacky worm at the carnival when I gave it a 6, I was comparing it to other great coasters. Still, maybe I should have given it a 7. Ratings are all subjective anyway and I only do it for fun.

My last ride in the Jack Rabitt I sat in the front row of the back car and loosened my seatbelt before the double dip. I threw my hands up and was lifted clear out of my seat to a near standing position before coming down. It was a rush and a great way to end a great day at Kennywood. *** Edited 6/20/2007 2:03:57 PM UTC by Dave05*** *** Edited 6/20/2007 2:06:09 PM UTC by Dave05***

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Thursday, June 21, 2007 12:11 PM

rcd said:
Did you get to check out SwingShot or Cosmic Chaos? Also Does the Phantom Have Trims? I've been hearing about this and I haven't been to the park yet to see.

We did not ride SwingShot. My wife didn't want to ride it, and making her wait while I did would only have made her madder that I chose this trip over the beach in Mexico. She did ride Cosmic Chaos and loved it, but I was done with spinning rides after the second ride on Exterminator, so I sat it out. In hindsight, I wish I had ridden both.

There is a piece of metal that looks like a third tube of track in the middle of the track on Phantom at the top of the way up the hill leading to the big drop. I assumed it was a brake because the train slows at that point more than it seems gravity would make it. Not being a coaster engineer, I could be wrong.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007 2:32 PM
We visited Six Flags Great Adventure last Thursday and Friday. The park is set up nicely and run far better than I expected. The overcast and cool weather helped keep the crowds down. The Batman side of the Chiller and the Runaway Mine Train were closed all of both days, but I didn't notice any other rides close except when Batman got stuck at the top of the lift hill for 15 minutes. I heard it was because someone unfastened their seatbelt from their shoulder restraint.

Skull Mountain was fun because we couldn't see where we were going. A second ride the next day seemed brighter and less exciting because we knew all it did was turn circles after the drop, but the drop in the back car made it worth the time it took to walk through the que path and wait for a one train line. 5/10.

Great American Scream Machine was nearly identical to the first real roller coaster I rode, Shockwave at Six Flags in Gurnee, IL. GASM seemed smoother than Shockwave, but not smooth, and not as fun after riding bigger and better coasters. 4/10.

Batman was a Batman. 6/10

Rolling Thunder was kind of fun and kind of rough, but not excessively either. 4/10.

Robin The Chiller gave a surprisingly intense ride. The ride ops had fun with the launch system. Sometimes they would launch on a countdown, sometimes they would countdown, hesitate, then launch, once they just said "bye" and hit the button, and my last ride they said "heads back," waited, then gave a silent launch. The initial acceleration of the launch is as intense as anything in the park, and the rest of the ride is fun too. 8/10.

The track layout of Nitro is unbeatable, but I hate the restraints because they restrict coming out of your seat while still not feeling secure. I like to come out of my seat and still feel safe, or at least have one or the other. The track made this an incredible ride over the hills and through the turns until the brakes, which prevented what would have been massive airtime on the return trip over the big bunny hills. I would give Nitro a 10 for the track, but it loses it's perfect rating for the restraints and brakes, and gets a 9. I could ride this one all day.

Medusa was the only let down of the park, but I didn't get to ride in the front, so I missed the floorless effect and can't rate it.

Superman was fun. The concept, cars, and restraints were perfect, but the track was too small and didn't do enough after the first inversion to make it worth many re-rides. 7/10.

Kingda Ka is the only coaster in the world that tops TTD on stats, but it couldn't quite top it as the best coaster in my book. I loved the three speed launch and the spiral drop over the animal parking lot, but the restraints on TTD were better and TTD was much smoother. The front seat takes both rides to a whole new level. I noticed taking my head off the headrest at the top of the hill made Kingda Ka pain-free the rest of the way, but I do not recommend this before reaching the top. As a nice touch to scare riders, there is duck tape where the shoulder restraint and backrest meet on some cars, but not all. It appears to replace rubber padding that fell off, but just seeing duck tape on the restraint system of the tallest coaster in the world makes things more interesting. While we were there, my wife heard Kingda Ka was named after a tiger in the park. They could have made the ride even better with a tiger them such as a tiger head eating the train on launch. Even without that, this ride gets a 9.5 for being an incredible experience.

El Toro gets a perfect 10. I now know what people mean by stappling, but I wouldn't feel safe on this ride with typical wooden coaster restraints because this is far from a typical wooden coaster. The entire ride is exciting, and the ejector air is the most intense I have experienced. After a ride in cars 2 and 9(back) the first day, we rode six times the next day, once in the front car (not seat), and 5 in the back. The front had a more forcefull ejection over the second and third hills, but the back was just insane on the first and last hills. Getting yanked over the first drop by the rest of the train and not being able to see the bottom is an experience that never gets old. Before the last drop the train is cruising along the track and the bottom falls out. Our upper bodies were thrown forward, but we weren't going anywhere thanks to the restraint.

The tiger demonstration was the only worthwile show I have ever sat through in a theme park. It was interesting and only took 15 minutes.

The drive-through animal park was cool, but watch out if you have an expensive car. Nothing separates most of the animals from the road. The first day a giraffe chewed on my windshield wiper and licked my windshield. We went back the second day with a camera, but he wasn't as interested in my car as the other cars that day.

We got theme park + animal park admission from our Days Inn for $40 per person, and got the bounceback passes for day two admission to both parks for $15. I had heard horror stories online about how long the lines get at SFGA, so I bought a Gold Flash Pass online for day two. It worked smoothely and would have been a lifesaver if better weather had brought out bigger crowds. As it was we were able to sleep in on day two, see the animals again, wonder the park without a rush, check out Houdini and the 3D show, and still get our fill of re-rides on the best coasters because our longest flash pass wait time was 16 minutes, which becomes 11 due to 5 minute early entry to the station.

Great Adventure has more different things to offer than any park I have visited, and it falls just short of Cedar Point for coasters by not having as many or running all of the ones they do have. I still give SFGA a 10 because it was so much fun.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007 4:58 PM

Chooch249 said:
I was never overly impressed by the Exterminator. It seems more of a spinning Wild Mouse than an actual coaster (had more fun on Waldameer's spinning coaster where I could see).

A spinning wild mouse is exactly what it it. Under the decorations, it's a stock Reverchon Crazy Mouse. You can ride one outdoors for $2 at DelGrosso's if you want to see what the track looks like.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007 8:28 PM
I did a 10 day outlook on the weather forecast for the days I will be doing Hershey and Knoebels next week.....

91, 95, and 96 degrees for highs! Eep! (Mon-Tue-Wed)

Just FYI for anyone thinking of doing the same. Partly cloudy on Wed but no scattered T-Storms predected till Thursday... but we all know how that can change.

Those temps should at least help our bodies absorb all that we drink, so restroom reports probably be prevalent on the trip report. :)) Yuk

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Friday, June 22, 2007 12:50 AM
If it's any consolation, Chooch, it will be slightly cooler at Knoebels than at Hershey. And even a little better under the trees. Oh yeah, and the crowds will mostly be at The Boardwalk at Hershey.
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Friday, June 22, 2007 4:43 PM
A lot of the reason I choose to travel to other parks on weekdays as opposed to weekends is to avoid the crowds. In this case it is also to take advantage of Knoebel's ride all day option.

Hershey trip reports tend to mention tons of peeps but small cheque lines so I will cross my fingers....

I always hit Kennywood on my son's school picnic, which is always on a Saturday, which would explain my always hitting long lines for Exterminator. (Phantoms revenge, too, but that one I think is worth the wait). *** Edited 6/22/2007 8:47:33 PM UTC by Chooch249***

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