So, as planned, I was able to make it up to Hershey, PA this passed Friday evening for Hershey Park in the Dark
. Since my camera basically sucks at night, and I was busy riding during a short time frame, I didn't take too many photos. But I absolutely loved this park. So clean, quaint, wooded (trees and coasters!), and what a great line up of coasters it is.
I've lived about 2 hours from Hershey Park all of my life, and like Dorney, I have *almost* visited more than a few times, but plans have always fallen through. My fiance and I just bought and are now rehabbing our first home, which means long di$tance trips were out of the question for me in 2014. So, just like Dorney
I made it a point to get to this park before the end of the season.
Joining me was my fiance (who is 50/50 on coasters: sometimes she's in the mood, sometimes she's not), and my aunt, who is moving back to the West Coast soon and is enthused with my enthusiasm for coasters, so she offered to drive up. Our original plan was to drive up from Philly around noon, through Lancaster, maybe stop for lunch somewhere, and head to the park. We got off to a late start, and while we drove through Lancaster, we didn't stop due to lack of time. We did, however, stop and eat at a place called "The Mill" in Hershey, about 5 minutes from the park, which was a little stuffy (the other customers and staff, not the air quality) but the food was very good.
By the time we ate, found the park, parked and got through the main gate it was just about 6pm. A bit of a time crunch since the park closed at 10, but we kinda just took it easy and wandered around the park, with me hitting up coasters as we came upon them. We only managed to get my aunt on The Kissing Tower, shortly before our departure, and while my fiance joined me on a few of the flats, the only coaster she rode was Lightning Racer, after my explaining it was considered the "good" woodie of the bunch.
We basically started in Hollow, made our way into Pioneer Frontier, out to Midway America and back, and then up to where Great Bear and the Kissing Tower are (forget the name of the area) and then back down to Hollow before we left. I managed to do 3 flats and 7 of the 12 coasters in our 4 hours there. I wanted to do all of the coasters, but I got on the ones that were most important to me all one time each, except Skyrush, on which I got 4 total rides (spoiler alert: I loved it!!!), and I didn't think a single one of the coasters I rode were bad. I probably could have done more if I was with someone more interested in riding but we took our time strolling through the park and taking it all in. The weather was nice with a chill in the air (helping us to not break a sweat up and down all those damn hills!) and the crowds weren't too bad, the longest waits were for Fahrenheit and Lightning Racer, which were about 20 minutes each. Here's what I thought of the rides in the order we hit them:SKYRUSH
(4x) - We entered the park and based on recommendations from here, quickly cut to the right to wander down the path under Skyrush and snapped some photos while we watched a cycle or two. What a beautiful coaster and lovely setting on the pond. It looks great in pictures but actually standing under it as its running is an experience all in itself. Before this trip I was at 48 credits (yeah, I know, I'm a noob) and I wanted to make Skyrush my #50, so I planned to hit Comet to get that out of the way and then Skyrush, but it didn't work out that way. Comet had a very long line any time I passed it so I never even got a ride on it. I headed towards Skyrush for my first ride instead, from the looks of it the line was about 10-15 people deep but once I got to the stairs and the line split for the front row/all other rows, I was able to walk right on to the third row and I sat in a center left seat. On my first ride, it was great, but didn't blow me away. I'd heard about the back left being very intense, so I walked around and sat there (there was a grouper sending people to certain rows but I just asked nicely for the back and she said OK).
Anyways, HOLY F!@KING CRAP! The back left side wing seat is OUT OF CONTROL. I loved it though!!! It would be my #1 coaster, as El Toro is the only coaster I've ridden with this kind of ejector air, but I don't have to fight El Toro to stay in my seat in an upright position. The airtime on the drop, the first two airtime hills, and the last airtime hill before the turn into the brakes are all INSANE. There is no way I could have rode hands up, but not for lack of trying. The ejector airtime is so intense I had to ride with my legs tucked under the seat and hands on the grab bars holding on for dear life. I would try to go hands up and immediately get tossed around and grab back on. It's literally a work out! I absolutely loved it though. The drop is completely nuts in the back seat, and the setting over the lake is amazing. While I get the "Sky Rush" jokes now, and my legs were certainly wobbly after my rides on this, I didn't think it was un-rerideable (is that a word?). Anyways, what a great ride, praise be to Intamin!!! 10/10Sooper Dooper Looper
(1x) - I was so blown away after my 2nd ride on Skyrush I didn't even notice little old SDL right next door, but the missus pointed me in that direction, so this is technically my 50th credit. What a great little ride! It was a one cycle wait for the back row, and I was pleasantly surprised at how this rode. So smooth, and I loved that it was during sunset and all through the woods along that hill. I tried really hard to get the missus on this, even offering to ride it again, but she wasn't ready. Good tunnel on this one too! 7/10Pirate
(1x) - The missus loves pirate ship rides (as do I) and she spotted this and was ready to ride, so we did. What a forceless, dull installation of this ride. We even sat on the end, but this was lametown. It seems on each of my trips this year there is the one big dud of the day and this was it. Boooooooooooo 1/10Frontier Flyers
(1x) - I'd only just done the French Quarter Flyers @ SFA last month and have been raving about them ever since so I convinced the missus to join me for these, as she'd never done them before. We sat in separate seats and I was able to really get my flyer moving, snapping just enough to scare myself a few times but I was having a blast. Love these rides! Upon exiting the ride, she told me she was scared for her life but I have a feeling she liked it.
(1x) - BOOM! Probably my favorite after Skyrush. I love Intamin! The trains/restraints reminded me of Kingda Ka and the launch was awesome. Not too intense but just enough. Great top hat with that first drop. Also loved that I got a bit of sudden airtime as we went into the corkscrews. Really took me by surprise. The end section back to the station was positively wild. I sat third row from last, left side. Would like to have gotten more rides on this. One small complaint - they were only running one train so the wait was almost 15 minutes and that was just standing in the station. 8/10Fahrenheit
(1x) - Another great Intamin creation. Longer wait than most of the others but then again I was warned about that. Once I finally got on went for the back. This was my very first vertical lift and what a strange sensation. I feel like all my body weight fell onto the lapbar and shoulder harness. Pretty weird, but what a great drop! And an interesting course all around. I found it very smooth save for a rattle when exiting the cobra roll. And then that awesome airtime pop! Didn't expect that and loved it. The missus *almost* did this one, but said no at the last second. Great coaster, another I wanted to get some more rides on! 8/10Lightning Racer (Thunder)
(1x) - So once we got back here I explained to the missus I'd heard of the three woodies here this was the best of the bunch. She goes love a good wooden coaster so she finally said yes. Contrary to what I'd heard, the line for this was almost down the ramp from the station. Since we were already there, we waited and I'm glad we did. We sat in the middle of the train on the Thunder side, which we had picked at random. What a great ride!!! It was well past dark by this point, and going up the lift and just looking down to the right at the coaster with all of its twisting running lights was a highlight of the night. Gave me chills! We both loved this ride. Lots of twistiness with a very good amount of airtime thrown in as well. And our train won, which made it even more fun. Also our first ride on Millenium Flyer trains and how awesome are they! So comfy, like a little loveseat! While I'd heard this was good it delivered head and shoulders above what I expected. If the line was not long (they were only running one train on each side) I would have run around to try the 'Lightning' side but now I have a reason to go back next year. 8/10Wild Cat
(1x) This wasn't high on my list of to-do's and I barely noticed it as we strolled past but my fiance pointed it out. After I explained I'd heard it was rough she decided to sit this one out. This was a total walk on, and upon exiting the coaster the first thing I said was "coaster enthusiasts are pussies". Yeah, it was a little rough but I didn't think it was worse than other woodies I've been on. I jumped on somewhere in the middle/back with hands up the whole time, it had some nice laterals and a few nice pops of air. Not the greatest, but I'd definitely rank it way higher than Roar @ SFA, the other late 90s GCI I tried recently. It was before 9pm when I rode both this and LR, so we didn't get to do them in the dark. Oh well! 7/10Great Bear
(1x) I wanted to make sure to get on this so sometime after 9pm, we set off in this direction. Didn't have to wait very long for the back row on this. I love B&M inverts and while I didn't like this as much as Talon (so smooth and love the low-to-the-ground maneuvers) I liked it better than Batman. I found the pre-drop helix much more forceful than expected, the first drop was great, and I loved that most of the ride took place over and very close to the creek. I can see what people mean about how it just sort of meanders around during the last few seconds but it still impressed me enough in the first half for me to really appreciate it overall. Definitely need to get back and ride this one again. (8/10)Kissing Tower
(1x) This is great attraction. Since the park is in dire need of a drop ride, its nice that they have this observation tower. While I wish we got up there before the park turned off all the running lights on the woodies, it was still nice to see the park and surrounding area from this vantage point. The only thing that sucked was that we rode it with a bunch of screeching, pre-teen animals that obviously had too much chocolate... or something. (7/10)
When we got off the Kissing Tower it was 15 minutes til closing so I asked my aunt and fiance to meet me in front of Skyrush, so I could make a mad dash downhill to get one last lap on it before leaving, which turned into two since it was a walk-on once again. I attempted 3 final laps but they had closed the line off by that point. What an insane ride, especially at night. I sat back left again on both of these rides and loved them just as much as my back seat ride earlier in the day. What an intense experience. I LOVE this coaster.
Overall my biggest regret is that I didn't make it an entire day trip. There is so so much to do and see at this park, and their coaster line-up is top notch with most of them being very very re-rideable. My biggest complaint is that the park is very confusing for a first time visitor and their map sucks. More than once we wound up in a different area than we meant, going based off the park map we picked up at the gate. We wasted a good bit of time just trying to find certain rides.
It's a really cute, cozy, and clean little park. Employees were generally friendly, tho they seemed short staffed, as if all their full time summer employees are long gone. I wish I could have got on Trailblazer (couldn't find it!), Comet and the other side of Lightning Run, and would even have ridden Sidewinder had we had more time, but again, all reasons to come back. In fact, I think I'm going to make it a point to stay in Hershey at one of their hotels and do the park and other attractions (we didn't do Chocolate World, Zoo America, etc), over the course of a few days sometime next fall. It feels like a little chocolate/amusement empire, with tons of reasons to go back. (One reason NOT to go back: all the hills! I knew about this but I thought Dorney was bad, some of the hills at Hershey are STEEP! Its a workout just walking around) Now for some crappy pictures...