Made it to Hershey yesterday for the first time in probably 14 years, so a lot has changed from the way I last remember it. The only ride I had been on before was the SDL, and again that was as a kid so I hardly remembered how the ride would go before yesterday. The lines weren't too bad but still a tad long for a Wednesday, I thought. I talked to another guy from Philly who felt the lines were considerably worse than Great Adventure during the week and he was disappointed with his experience. Unfortunately I haven't been to GAdv in about four years so I cannot compare myself, but I think the problem lies in the ride efficiency--both operator and design.
The longest wait was Fahrenheit around noon, and of course it broke down temporarily while we were in line so that added an extra 30 minutes+ to the wait, but even without that it was still close to an hour. Since these were my first rides on all of the coasters, I'll detail my "virgin" experiences below (front seat for all rides, for reference):
Lightning Racer - First ride of the day and before 11 AM it was a walk-on as most patrons had not made it to this section of the park yet. Rode the Thunder train only and I have to say I really enjoyed it. The track was fast and smooth, definitely one of the best woodies I have ridden. The plan was to come back later and ride Lightning but we really ran out of time. El Toro is still the best woodie I've ridden but this one takes #2 for now.
Wildcat - Oh boy...hit this one second on the way back toward the main part of the park. It was rough, to say the least. Equal to, if not worse than, Hercules in its heyday, but I still enjoyed Hercules much more. I honestly can't say I enjoyed any part of this ride and would probably not ride it again. And people say the MF trains helped...I would hate to have ridden it before.
Fahrenheit - Probably my second favorite ride of the day. Going up in the vertical position is rather intimidating, and just like Maverick at CP, I love that greater-than-vertical first drop. While I do find Maverick to be the better ride still, Fahrenheit is not at all far behind. The first element off the drop and the double corkscrews are my favorite parts. Unfortunately the longest wait of the day, as I previously mentioned, and it broke down temporarily (not sure of the issue).
*After lunch at Subway we hit Coal Cracker, which is a pretty standard flume ride equivalent, I'd say, to any other. The only water ride we got on despite the heat. I wish they had a raft ride at the park but after doing research I see they removed it to allow for expansion of the small waterpark which sort of segregates Midway America from the rest of the park. It is unfortunate because the other closest park to my "home" address (GAdv) has a pretty awful raft ride.
Great Bear - This was my favorite ride of the day. Ended up getting a second ride at night, as well, which felt even faster. Out of all the B&M inverts I'd say this is definitely right up near the top, but it does lose some points for being too short (a point about the park in whole I'll expand on later). I really like the last barrel roll where you start to turn one way but the element flips you in the opposite direction.
SooperDooperLooper - The only ride I had ridden before and it was definitely more intense when I was a kid. Honestly it was very tame, I thought, with not much going on once you're through the loop. I felt like there should have been more after the tunnel to surprise you, but there isn't.
Skyrush - Hershey's newest Intamin toy was undoubtedly my most anticipated ride of the day. The unfortunate part is I don't know how to rate it. I sat in the front-left wing seat. The ride up the hill is FAST, to say the least, and you get some air just cresting the drop hill. The curve at the bottom of the drop was necessary to avoid running into local roads, and it really throws you in your seat. The rest of the ride is basically just the ejector sensation over and over. This does everything it can to throw you off the ride. On one of the last turns I definitely thought I was going to fall out, but of course the restraint saved me.
"Aggressive" is surely the perfect adjective for this ride. Luckily I didn't have the thigh problems like others have--honestly no pain at all. Still, I really felt awful immediately afterwards, and that is why I don't know how to rate it. It was fun and probably the most intense coaster experience I've had, but not all that intensity was good, I thought. I never walked away from a coaster feeling like I had been through a meat grinder before--perhaps I just wasn't prepared for the mix of strong positive and negative Gs, I don't know. After some more rides I'd know how to rate it, but for now I am undecided.
Comet - A classic old woodie which I found pleasantly surprising. It was smooth, in fact I experienced very little rattling, and I like the good mix of drops on the ride. It wasn't anything extreme but for it being nearly 70 years old, I think it has aged very well. I consider this one better than Wildcat.
*Another break here for dinner and healing from some lingering Skyrush effects.
Trailblazer - A very mild mine-train ride, excellent for kids getting on their first coaster. It gains some good speed around the final helix, but the biggest drop is probably 10 ft. Very calm and smooth.
Storm Runner - I was really looking forward to this ride, largely because I knew very little about it. It is an older Intamin launcher (being the first ever with inversions) and I'm not so sure it shows its age all that well. The loading is very slow despite the duel station design (it would work better with four trains, but there is nowhere to put them). Still the line was pretty short when we got on. The launch was certainly the best part and it caught me a bit by surprise. For whatever reason I found the restraints pretty uncomfortable around some of the inversions, and I have marks on my shoulders where they rubbed my skin painfully so. The last element was extremely painful for me and banged me around a good bit. Since I've been on both TTD and Kingda Ka, this ride felt like a miniature version of those with some added elements like a Fahrenheit or Maverick--an odd hybrid launch ride that doesn't really have an identity.
Sidewinder - Somehow I had never been on a boomerang coaster until this ride. Minus the couple of times my head got banged backed into the headrest, this was a decent ride for what it was. Getting pulled up backward staring down was one of the highlights for me, and going backward through the inversions is very disorienting. Overall not bad considering what it was, and the restraints were very comfortable.
There were a couple other flat rides in there and some arcade time, but at least we hit 95% of our goal for the day. I had wished the lines would be a tad shorter, especially later in the day, but it is what it is.
My overall satisfaction and rating of the park is a mixed bag, I'd say. I felt like there was a theme in terms of the coasters in the park, both good and bad. On the positive side, the rides do a very good job of mixing in with each other and interacting with other rides and the midways, which allow for ample viewing areas. There is also a nice collection of coasters here to keep you busy, and the flat collection is diverse, but I don't find they have a marquee flat and they are missing some of the staples (which were previously removed).
On the negative side, I felt just about every coaster was short and underwhelmingly so. With some rides I know what I'm getting into, like a Kingda Ka or the like, but to me it seemed the rides here should have (and could have) been longer to make them more satisfying. Outside of Intamin launchers, Skyrush is easily the shortest hyper-coaster I've ever been on (although I do understand why). The short ride problem leads to efficiency problems, meaning trains have to run the full circuit before another train can be sent off, and it also means only two trains per ride is possible (except for Fahrenheit which I did see running three trains before one was removed).
Overall I was pleased with my day at Hershey. I think the odd collection of Intamin's is unique, but to me it could be a lot better. My guess is 2016 will be the next addition. I'd like to see a river rapids return (unlikely), and some more marquee flats added (like a giant frisbee). Honestly I think Wildcat can go and be replaced with an El Toro-esque woodie (which is, of course, an Intamin creation). Perhaps a hyper-woodie in 2016? Other than that I'm not sure what other coaster style they could use other than more B&M designs. Maybe a floorless coaster style of some sort, or even a giga coaster, but I do realize space seems to be at a premium for the park preventing a good bit of outward expansion (although that robust parking lot could serve as much-needed room).
My final ride ratings are:
Great Bear - 8.8
Fahrenheit - 8.6
Lightning Racer - 8.0
Storm Runner - 7.4
Sidewinder - 7.2
Comet - 6.0
SDL - 5.0
Trailblazer - 4.0
Wildcat - 3.0
Skyrush - ???
Last edited by jwil
on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:56 am.