Day 9: Hershey Park - Part 1
We were up and at the bus to leave the hotel by 8am for the full day at Hershey Park.
This was going to be another long day, since although we weren’t doing any filming at Hershey Park, we were getting early entry access (along with Hotel guests and Season Pass holders), and the ERT here was post 10pm at Skyrush. Similar to how the Kings Dominion day had been, there was an opportunity during the day to take the bus back to the Hotel for a few hours rest during the day.
Also similar to KD, I chose not to take advantage of that (something I probably *should* have done. . you’ll see).
Instead I planned to stay at the park – after all, although I wasn’t planning on doing any of the waterpark activities, I really wanted to check out Zoo America, as well as hit certain rides I had missed on my 1 prior visit (Laff Track, Fahrenheit, the new triple towers), and also a visit to Chocolate World for the revamped Dark Ride.
We pulled into the lot, and once settled in and thru the gates, most of the group I was hanging with wanted to head down to Skyrush (since the Hollow Section is open for early entry).
Since I hadn’t planned to ride Skyrush yet anyways, I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get down there – although I HAD planned to give it another shot since I has absolutely hated it the one prior time I had ridden it (it was a ride that had scared the crap out of me, and I really thought I might die – my one prior ride was on a back wing seat).
I instead stopped at the park’s absolutely stunning Carousel towards the front entry plaza. No putting it off for later this time, it’s pretty much among the first “rides” one comes to, and as noted, it’s stunning: PTC (Philadelphia Toboggan Company) #47, a 4-across with 3 rows galloping, and hand carved horses by Master Carver John Zalar. It was built in 1919 (so next year is it’s 100 year anniversary), and previously operated in parks in Maryland and New York before moving to Hershy Park in 1944 where it’s been ever since. This Carousel is not only intricately carved – not just the horses, but the eagles around the inside canopy and the reliefs along the outside - but is also brightly painted from top to bottom (even inside the roof) with some beautiful landscapes and animal imagery. And bulbs everywhere – this thing lights up at night so fantastic I could watch it for hours – withough an LED lighting package.
The Carousel has a space for an Organ, and attention is called to that area, but if I’m recalling there wasn’t an actual organ in that space. However, the Carousel did play wonderfully loud Carousel music, that filled the entire area. Wonderful to ride, and be around, especially for a carousel freak like me.
Several in the group did stop to ride with me, or at least waited for me to ride, and then we headed down to the Hallow for them to hit Skyrush. But not before I stopped to get a picture with Chocolate Syrup. Oh the characters are Hershey Park are insanely idiotic (the candy bars, chocolate syrup, the nightmare inducing Hershey Kiss)..but they are out in full force, especially near the front of the park. And I had a stellar time posing for pictures with them thruout the day : ) .
While the rest of the group got in line for Skyrush -- which didn’t have much of a line.. I, instead, went over to SuperDooperLooper, and got a walk on ride in the back row. You could tell the park had just opened, as SDL was running a bit “sluggish”, but that resulted in some great hangtime in the loop. I got off it, and looked for everyone, and saw they were still in the Skyrush line as they had waited for the front row. So I sat on a bench and waited for them, snapping a few pictures. . and then decided – what the hell? There’s no line, and I was going to try riding it again anyways. So I went ahead and climbed the steps and ended up in the row behind some of my group. Following advice I had heard, I was going to ride on an inside seat towards the front.
Row 2, inside seat. And the restraint came down pretty good - "helped" by the attendant who pushed quite securely. . not quite a “staple” but close to it. I thought nothing of it, and I braced my legs on the floor of the train and prepared myself for Skyrush.
The lift his was super fast, and zipped us over the drop. .and I was loving it. . slight discomfort from how tight the restraint was on my upper thigh, but not too bad. Then the airtime hill. .and . . .it was not painless.
It hurt.. like bad.
And then the 2nd airtime hill, as it dives under, and it hurt so much I actually started to tear up. By the time we hit the final airtime “bunny hop” on the way back towards the station, I had my fingers trying to dig under the restraint to keep it off my thigh as much as possible – which wasn’t much as tightly as it had been clicked down.
We pulled into the station, and when asked if I liked it this time, my response to my friends was “no. . no, not at all”. . my legs were a little wobbly, and I definitely had some additional pain in my upper right thigh that I hadn’t started the day out with. I told them then that I would not be participating in the ERT later that night, based on two bad experiences I had now had on Skyrush. (until then I had been saying I likely would only be doing one or two rides during the ERT, but this morning ride cinched it.. it had really hurt).
The guys, I think decided to get back in line and ride again (but not wait for front row?), so I waited on a bunch rubbing my upper thigh, and quickly enough they were done, and we headed to SDL, for my 2nd ride, their first. This time I sat more towards the front, and it seemed less sluggish than it had been a ½ hour earlier. . if I had gotten back on it later in the day, I’m sure it would have warmed up even more.
Since we were still in the Hollow and it was getting close to the end of early entry, we hopped in the short line for Comet, and got a pretty good ride on that classic woodie too (making sure sit near the front, and not in a wheel seat). .tho not a lot of airtime, which was surprising with all the bunny hops. Still, not a rough ride.
we then decided that since it was the very end of early entry, we should head to the Triple Towers (which we really didn’t need to, since for some reason they didn’t seem to be drawing much of a line). We decided we’d ride all three, starting with the biggest one, and it was this decision (coming so close after riding Skyrush) that I really believe caused me the biggest problem of the trip – the operator absolutely stapled me in on the big tower – that one has the launch up, as well as the drop. When we hit the top of the tower after the launch up? My right thigh hit the restraint brutally hard, and I actually saw stars.
It hurt bad, but I rubbed my thigh and after a few moments of putting weight on it (which I used the excuse of standing to take a picture of Russ getting on the next cycle), I seemed to be OK, and we went around and got in line for the medium, and the smaller tower - me making SURE that I had plenty of room under the restraint – although it turned out the other two towers don’t have that violent “launch up” that the big tower has. I enjoyed them, but based on how much the big tower hurt? I think the middle tower was my preference.
The park was now open, and we decided to head down to Coal Cracker – the flume ride with airtime at the bottom of the drop. It was as great as I remembered it, and we didn’t get too wet.
And just after headed over to the Great Bear, where we hit our 1st “real” line of the day, and I believe we used our 1st Fast Track voucher here, to skip some of the line. This is just a great suspended coaster. While I think Afterburn at Carowinds, and Alpengeist at BGW were more forceful, but the location of this one really is hard to beat, zooming in and out of the trees, and crossing over and under SDL, with great views of the other coasters in the Hollow. Just a really good ride, and while not my favorite (that would be Storm Runner), it would make the top 3 in the park for me (after SR, and Fahrenheit).
James had a missed credit he wanted to get, and it was operating, so we all headed down into Pioneer Frontier for a ride on Trailblazer. It’s a mine train, that’s basically a big long helix. .but it’s OK for what it is (even if it’s also a tease, since you get great views of a much better coaster right next to it if you get to see Storm Runner launch as you pass by it). Still, it’s a family coaster, and was perfectly fine. . and James got his ride.
I think after this we decided we needed to eat, since we had been given two food vouchers for our day at Hershey, and it was already past 11. So we didn’t want to wait too late to eat.
Note: I had apparently blocked this out, since I had to ask James to remind me where we ate for the 1st meal (LOL), but he reminded me that we went to the Pioneer Frontier Food Court: which had options of Moe’s, Chickie and Pete’s, and Friendly Flavorful Food (the “healthier” choice).
Moe’s and C&P both had longish lines, but some folks wanted those so went there. Phil and I (and I think maybe Christopher?) went over to the FFF place, which dind’t have much of a line, but where we were stuck behind one very confused woman trying to use a food voucher, and an even MORE confused counter guy who simply could *not* get the order entered into the register correctly. (oh, there was also an apparent manager standing behind him waiting to make the food, but did not want to interfere to help him ring it. . so she basically just stood there an waited until he figured it out. . which after about 8 minutes he did. But then it was my turn to order, and it was obvious within about 2 seconds that the woman in front of me had not been the real problem.
after about 5 minutes of back and forth – which was like a bad SNL skit – he’s ask me what I want, punch some buttons on the register, ask me to confirm what he had punched (which was not what I had ordered), clear the register, and repeat.. the Lady finally simply asked me over him “you have a voucher, what would you like” . .and she got me my (correct) food while he was trying to figure out the register. I think poor Phil had the same experience once I got my food and went to get us a table.
Shockingly, Jon and James hadn’t even made it to Ordering at Moe’s by the time we sat down. . so apparently the problem wasn’t just with the service at our food stand of choice. I will say the sandwich I got was decent (can’t remember what it was tho, and it came w/ a fruit cup side), just the ordering and actually getting the food portion was frustrating. Too funny that I really blocked this part out! I had completely forgotten.
We did get some entertainment while we ate tho, as one of the marching band entertainment groups came over and performed.. tho for some reason I either didn’t take any pictures of them, or the picture just didn’t come out. I do recall that the ice cream stand, advertising Cheesecake on a stick – of course, right NEXT to the Healthy place (LOL), wasn’t open when we first sat down to eat, but did open up and Jon, Phil, and James all wanted to get the treat. . only to be told it wasn’t ready yet. Yes, they had opened up the storefront, but weren’t able to serve yet. We were there so long tho (lunch easily took almost a full hour to order, and then eat), they eventually did get to order it and enjoy the frozen treat, before we moved on to the next rides for the day.
And what’s the best thing to do after eating? Why a launch coaster, of course. .so we headed to Storm Runner, which was a fantastic ride – so much air, tossing me into the shoulder restraints. I loved it. So, so good, and I recall this one too had quite the line, so we used Fast Track here too . . and on the following ride: Fahrenheit.
Which for some reason I hadn’t ridden on my prior trip. Was glad we had Fast Track, as it allowed us to skip most of the line and get on it fairly quickly.
Out of the 3 coasters we rode with Vertical lifts on this trip (DDD, Impulse, this one), Fahrenheit was far and away my favorite. I dunno if it’s because it’s more of a “coaster train” than an individual (or two car train) that was the case on the other two. . but I really liked this. It ended up being a 1-and-done just as the other two had been, unfortunately. . although if I had been able (more on that in part 2), I totally would have ridden this a couple more times before the day ended.
We headed towards the back end /boardwalk end of the park, and the guys wanted to ride Wildcat.
I knew better from my prior visit – I always describe Wildcat as being in a car with square wheels going down a road full of potholes. I also was starting to notice my right leg was stiffening up – from the back to back restraint upper thigh bruising earlier in the day. . so I figured I should get off my leg as much as possible.
I told them to go with G-d, and I sat on a bench and people watched while they got their spines knocked out of alignment.
we then continued around the back of the park, stopping at Laff Track (which we again used Fast Track for).. which I had thought was a spinning, indoor mouse. I had been expecting a mouse, so when it wasn’t, it greatly exceeded my expectations and I liked it a lot. We didn’t get a lot of spinning, which would have made it better. .but I did enjoy the quick dips and turns in the ride. The theming was just OK. . a bit too bright in there for the blacklight effects to work great, but as noted, I did like the ride. The queue is great fun too, tho it was a bit odd they were holding the line outside of the indoor queue for the most part (there was only one line rather than back and forth in the inside building, so really once you got in the building it was only about a 10 minute wait). I guess they are doing that so those waiting can enjoy the funhouse mirrors on both sides of the queue, but why set it up as a back and forth queue, if controlling the amount of people in there so it never fills up the switchbacks? Regardless, Fast Lane got us directly into the building, so was only a 10 minute or so wait.
Getting in and out of the coaster car, I noticed a slightly painful twinge in my right upper leg, when bending the knee. (uh oh). And I had started limping a little bit . .but it wasn’t too bad. I certainly noticed it tho.
Luckily I was carrying some of my prescription meds with me, so I took an Ibuprofen, and we moved on to Lightning Racer and rode both sides, getting excellent rides in. This coaster remains super smooth.
We also took advantage of being over here to ride the Ferris wheel (good views), and we took a spin on the Hershey Park Whip – a huge disappointment, in particular after riding the Knoebels whip the day before. It is a concrete floor and it rides really rough. A short cycle too, but with it being that rough, not really an issue.
For the most part, the HersheyPark employees, while pleasant for the most part while interacting with, didn't seem to be enjoying their jobs today. Super noticeable to me, since the day before at Knoebels everyone seemed to be having a great time while working.
So when I saw a happy operator at the Whip, I asked her if I could take a picture (a kind of gothy lady, who was all smiles) – she was the most cheerful operator we had seen all day actually. And when I shared her pic with the group, someone responded that she was smiling because she was operating, abut wasn’t riding, the worst whip in the world.
LOL. . in fact, someone (I think it was Zach) referred to the Hershey Park whip as: “Shopping Cart: the Ride
” -- and he’s absolutely correct, so I've been calling it that from that point on.
Although it was a tight squeeze, we also hopped onto the Wild Mouse while we were in this area of the park, and tho the line was “short’ it actually still moved pretty quickly (we didn’t even use our Fast Track, since the line would have dumped us past where it was reaching to anyways). They were running with very little breaking, making for a fun, if standard, Mouse ride.
we had seen the monorail running, so decided we’d take a ride on that, and after stopping to hydrate, took the short-ish ride – I think it’s just about 6 minutes - over the park, out over Hershey proper to see the original factory, and then back to the station. It’s not as great as the PeopleMover (but then again what is?), but it’s a very nice ride, and was nice and breezy. It had stayed overcast all day, but really no rain today while at Hershey Park.
After getting off the Monorail, it was time to shoot some kids!
Erm. .i mean, it was time for the Reese’s EXTREME cup challenge, a shooting ride where you shoot at targets, some of which look like kids. Hmmm. . yeah, it’s just a bizarre, F-ed up ride. It makes no sense, it’s kind of boring, and the Animatronics in it are pretty freaking frightening.
They don’t even give you a peanut butter cup at the end any more. I mean, I guess I’m glad we stopped to see the bizarreness of it. . especially since it’s closing down. .but really, I just don’t get the point.
At least it’s right across the walkway from one of the main stands selling the “Big Boy Shakes”. . yeah, they were ~$15, but man, were they so worth it! 3 flavors: Cookies and Cream (with an ice cream sandwich on top), Hershey (with a chocolate cupcake on top), and Reeses (with frozen Cheesecake slices on top). . all in giant mugs, rolled in chocolate frosting with sprinkles and chocolate (or Peanut Butter) chips, and with two chocolate covered pretzels in em. Oh wow they were so good.
James, Jon, and I each got one of the 3 flavors, while Phil went “low call” and just got an Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich (which was still pretty dang big). Worth every penny, tho I was feeling the sugar high for a while!
It was hard to move after drinking it down too as I was SO full, so we needed something “tame”. . and the choices were Kissing Tower (which involved going up a hill) or the Skyway which we were sitting right next to the station for : p . . . . . so we slowly waddled towards the skyway – something else I had missed on my prior visit (since we had really thought at the time it was for kids only).
The Skyway is actually fairly short, just going over the lake down in the Hollow, and then turning around. But it was a pleasant ride, and enabled me to get some nice pictures of the rides / coasters in that area.
I think around this time the bus was just about to leave to go back to the Hotel (or had just left), and we still had quite a bit of day left. So I noted that I really wanted to go to Zoo America, and everyone else was interested too, so we walked towards the triple towers, got our hand stamped, and headed onto the walkway that brings you across the road to Zoo America.
end part 1 of Hershey Park.