805Andrew wrote:That glow in the dark ERT was the best ERT I've ever done.
sspaz1000 wrote:The friends, the food, the Glow ERT, just everything. This was a perfect day, at an amazing park.
Totally in agreement with the both of you.
Next up -- well, some
park has to be next on the agenda, and that park is Dorney.Day 9 -- Dorney ParkSaturday, August 2, 2014Scorecard:
Talon (x3) (ERT)
Hydra the Revenge (x2)
Steel Force (x2)
Thunder Creek Mountain
Woodstock's Express-- Lunch --
Cedar Creek CannonballThe Report:
Admittedly, it's not easy for any
park to follow up a full-on awesome vintage TPR day at Knoebels. For the 2014 Mini East Coast tour, Dorney Park had that unenviable slot on the schedule. On my first visit to the Cedar Fair park in Allentown, my biggest question was this -- on a Saturday, would a half-day really be enough to get through a full-size amusement park? The answer -- a resounding yes
-- probably won't be a surprise to people who have visited before.
We left our hotel at 8 AM, and arrived at Dorney just an hour later, in plenty of time for our 930 AM ERT on Talon
. We shared the ERT session with passholders, but the TPR group outnumbered the locals by a healthy margin. After finishing a few rides on Talon, the credit run began -- starting, as is always wise to do, with the low-capacity Wild Mouse. Hydra was next
, followed by the slew of coasters at the west end of the park. We rode Possessed, Steel Force, and Thunderhawk. Stinger, however, was unavailable -- it remained inoperable for most of the 2014 season.
We spent the late morning riding some non-coaster attractions, but none were more important to me than Demon Drop
. In all my early years visiting Cedar Point, I was never brave enough for a go on the park's Intamin first generation freefall ride. I sure spent a lot of time watching it, though, thanks to its prominent location near the front of the park! Finally, I was able to experience the famous "kerchunk" -- and all the discomfort that comes along with it. After that, we completed the run of coasters on Woodstock's Express, and headed to lunch at 1215 PM with all available credits attained.
Many TPR members headed to Wildwater Kingdom, the attached water park, after lunch. My group decided to stay dry, completing another circuit through the park, and riding several flats along the way. The Ferris Wheel offered some nice views, and the park's two trains were also worth the ride. At 4 PM, TPR departed Dorney Park, heading to a nearby Carrabba's for dinner. We left there at 6 PM, doing our best George Washington impression
as we crossed the Delaware into New Jersey. We arrived at our hotel at 715 PM, with a nearby truck stop / convenience store providing some entertainment to close out the night.Overall Impressions:
My review of Dorney Park needs to start with one huge caveat -- I did not go to Wildwater Kingdom
. I do enjoy water parks, but after visiting two great ones just the week before (Kentucky Kingdom and Holiday World), I wasn't in the mood for another. TPR members who went to Wildwater Kingdom generally had very positive reviews of the place, and seemed to have a great time while they were there.
My review will only cover the dry side of the park, which -- even on a Saturday -- was a very sparsely populated place. Our Fast Lane wristbands were largely unnecessary, with only station waits for the coasters. We did use the wristbands to take a couple rides on the normally-upcharge Screamin' Swing. Other trip reports indicated that Fast Lane was very helpful in the water park, skipping past 30-60 minute waits on some of the better slides. Nonetheless, I can't say that I've ever seen a park this empty on a Saturday. Foot traffic picked up a bit during the afternoon, but queue sizes did not.
Dorney Park has a lot of history, with roots that trace back to the late 1800s. A detailed page
on the park's website helps explain the timeline of Dorney's development over the years, and there are numerous historical signs throughout the park -- a few of which will be shared in the pictures. It wasn't until 1980 that the park became a closed-gate admission-required park, after a road running through the park's center was finally closed off. Thunderhawk -- built in 1923 -- is among the world's oldest operating roller coasters. The Whip -- built in 1920 -- will be the park's first ride to reach a centennial anniversary.
So, what happened?
Somewhere along the way, perhaps after Cedar Fair took over in 1992, Dorney Park became very generic. It's obviously a far cry from Knoebels, but it's also a marked departure from the atmosphere at Hersheypark, which seems to have done a better job retaining its independent charm. Dorney's historic acumen takes a back seat to modern convenience, construction, and concrete. Of all the parks I've visited, the one Dorney reminds me of the most is Worlds of Fun in Kansas City -- another mid-tier corporate Cedar Fair park with few distinguishing features. Everything at Dorney feels familiar -- you've seen that style of ride sign before, you've seen that in-park restaurant before, and you've seen the paved paths that lead from one place to the next.
This would not be an unbeatable flaw in a park with a high-end, can't-miss attraction. Unfortunately, Dorney's coaster collection is decidedly average. Several rides are clones, and the three with longer layouts -- Steel Force, Talon, and Hydra -- are not among the better examples of their type. How much more interesting would this lineup be with Laser still in place? I won't go as far as to say that the park needs
a large new coaster to survive -- that would be coaster nerd hogwash. It's obvious that Dorney's main draw is the water park, so I would not be surprised at all if major investments continue to focus on the east side of the front gate.
I found it strange that Dorney Park uses magnetic gates on all the main rides -- gates that do not open automatically, but must be pushed open by guests waiting to board. I also want to note that Dorney Park was the only park on the trip in which I witnessed some significant problems with guest dress code violations, and no obvious attempt by park staff to handle the situation.
I would like to voice my appreciation for the dubstep/rap/techno song in the Wild Mouse queue. It was a legitimate highlight of the day, and by far the most creative (and bizarre) means by which I've ever heard safety instructions delivered to guests. Demon Drop had a similar song, but I have read that it has since been removed. Supposedly, Stinger also has a dub-rap-chno spiel of some sort.
I'm glad we visited Dorney, and it was a well-timed visit for our group on a Saturday. I hope I didn't give the impression that Dorney is a bad
park. That's a description I'd only use for somewhere like Mount Olympus or Six Flags Great America. My pictures will hopefully be a positive indication that our stop in Allentown was fun and worthwhile. I just wish Dorney had a little more to make it a unique, must-visit destination. I hope they continue to focus on exploiting their great history, bringing back some non-corporate charm, and -- coaster nerd hogwash or not -- I sure wouldn't complain if they put in something big in the next few years.The Attractions:Talon:
Talon had quite a bit of hype leading up to our visit. Is it because it's the best coaster at park without a lot of great rides? Talon will end up in my lowest tier of B&M inverts, and perhaps right at the bottom. Like the park it resides in, it doesn't have any unique or distinguishing features -- sans for the awesome paint job, which looks fantastic even against a washed-out, blue-grey sky. I definitely preferred Great Bear to Talon, and Great Bear isn't at the top of anyone's list either.Hydra:
This is the ride that finally put me on the "questioning the quality of modern B&M coasters" bandwagon. It's short in stature and short on forces -- it just wasn't that fun of an experience. Hydra's distinguishing feature is the jojo roll -- a heartline twist right out of the station, taken at excruciatingly slow speed. If you like hangtime, you'll love it. If you hate hangtime, you'll hate it. I hate hangtime. Guess which side that puts me on?Steel Force:
It's a near-clone of Mamba at Worlds of Fun, but on a hot summer night in 2011, I had several fantastic rides on Mamba -- complete with loads of airtime, and strong positive forces on the helix. Steel Force did not duplicate that experience, and simply left me wanting a little more. It wasn't as fun as Mamba, and wasn't nearly as fun as Magnum (though perhaps not as uncomfortable either) -- and doesn't have the setting to compete with either of those. Compared to modern B&M hypercoasters (even mid-tier examples) it's easy to look at Steel Force as an early generation of a coaster type that has been improved upon since.Thunderhawk:
I'm hoping the 2016 refurbishment gets Thunderhawk in good riding shape. Its history is well known -- coming up on 100 years next decade -- and it has a quirky old-school layout that could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, my ride in 2014 was pretty rough, which definitely had a negative impact on the experience. None of the ride's positives were strong enough to make me want to take a second spin.Possessed:
Far from my first Intamin impulse coaster, it was
my first to feature the holding brake on the back spike. I was not a fan. I'll stick with Wicked Twister as my favorite of the type.Wild Mouse:
Theme song aside, this was not a favorite either. It's a standard non-spinning Maurer design, with a few too many switchbacks for my liking, and some uncomfortable airtime in the second half of the ride.Woodstock's Express:
The "awful Zamperla kiddie coaster" tour continued at Dorney, with another example of a type of ride I'll gladly give up if I ever decide to stop counting! This was our third such credit out of five on the trip, which sadly meant that there were still two more to go.Demon Drop:
Kerchunk. Well, I'm glad I finally rode this, after all those years I spent disinterested at Cedar Point. The freefall part is fun. The rest of the process isn't quite as enjoyable.Zephyr:
This is one of the park's two train rides, and it's a bit of a tight fit. It provides some nice views of Possessed, Stinger, and some backstage and wooded areas at the west end of the park.Cedar Creek Cannonball:
The park's other train is a full-size ride, but it runs a fairly short circuit around the rapids ride. I had a negative experience here, as a ride operator rudely informed me I was not allowed to take pictures
. I didn't fight it (as I'd already taken some pictures of the rapids ride from elsewhere), but I thought that was remarkably strange. Chuck did get some pictures from this train, so perhaps I just went at the wrong time of day.Thunder Creek Mountain:
Thunder Creek Mountain made for three days in a row at parks with classic log flumes! This was one of my favorite rides at Dorney, in part because of its quirkiness. It uses the natural terrain for its lift and drop hills, the latter of which is very gentle
in slope compared to a normal flume. The segment at the top of the hill moves pretty quickly, and passes close to Steel Force's turnaround and Hydra's station. Be prepared if you ride -- this is among the wetter log flumes I've ever been on.