Had a great day heading up from Philly bright and early this past Sunday morning with the missus and a couple buddies, stopping first at Tröegs Independent Brewing
for some beers and munchies, and then heading over to the park to arrive just after their noon opening. The park was busy but ride lines were never terrible, except Great Bear which was having a cranky morning then finally opened in the afternoon with one train, but I'll get to that.
We flew up to the park with no traffic on the PA turnpike, arriving almost a half hour prior to our scheduled ETA. Always a great drive though Pennsylvania in the fall with the autumn leaves changing. We had gorgeous weather with a crisp high of 60, all blue skies and fluffy clouds.
First off Troegs was pretty awesome. Very modern and clean. We headed right into the tasting room, skipping the tour. The missus and I only had some beers, my two buddies each had brews and a little bit of food (one had a grilled cheese+tomato soup, the other pickles eggs) that they both very much enjoyed.
I tried four different beers - yes it was before noon but relax people, it was one pint, and then a flight of the other three. All very good, but my favorite was the pint of cherry sour that I got. YUM!
At about noon we settled our bill to take the two minute drive down Hersheypark Drive to the park, so convenient. We were surprised that the parking lot was already packed but before long we got a spot fairly close to the entrance and headed over. I had downloaded the parks app a few days before this visit and on Saturday had been checking wait times out of curiosity and couldn't help but notice both Fahrenheit and Skyrush had been closed all day. Not good.
Upon stepping out of the car I was relieved to see both coasters cresting their respective lifts. Right in at the gate where we provided our ridiculously cheap tickets I managed to find online - we all got in for $30 a pop!
We hit Fahrenheit first to knock it out and only waited 15-20 for it. A member of our group was adamant about going to Skyrush first but I wouldn't give in - I wanted to save it for later and try the strategic angle of hitting Fahrenheit first since the lot seemed so crowded. They were actually cranking trains out and the line didn't really stop moving. Impressive. The missus and I got the back row. She skipped this last time but really wanted to ride it. Great first ride of the day. Its nothing mindblowing but its a solid little fun ride with a great first drop in the back seat, smooth through the course, and my favorite - the little airtime hump at the end. The missus loved it too. So glad I finally got her on.
From here we headed to the back, trying to see if Laff Trakk was already a sh*tshow, but stopping at a walk-on Wildcat. We sat towards the front, and again, I have no idea why everyone acts like this is the worst coaster ever. Yes its one of the few duds in the parks line-up but its just an older wooden coaster, not exceptionally rough at all. It's just nothing special, either. Maybe I am just getting it on good days? I certainly didn't mind riding it.
We saw Laff Trakk had 4+ switchbacks filled and noticed Wild Mouse was a walk-on with like 4 trains out on the course so I coerced the group into joining me for my 100th credit: Hershey's Wild Mouse.
Seriously, best Wild Mouse ever. No wait at all, no brakes on at all, the four of us crammed in there howling with laughter the entire ride from cresting the lift all the way back to the station. So much fun. Proof good rides don't have to be tall and fast.
Ignoring the stupid line for Laff Trakk we hit up Lightning Racer and split into pairs on each train. Only two trains in operation so we had a 3 train wait (10 minutes) since we had to wait for the train to run the entire course before the next people boarded. This was kinda dumb as it was surprisingly busy enough back here to have all four trains on. Ah well, no biggie.
I rode Lightning as last time I was @ Hershey I only rode Thunder. We won!
Ran as great as I remembered, considerably smooth for a 16 yr old wooden coaster, especially after having just ridden Wildcat.
I knew Coasterbill & Brit were headed down today and obviously we planned to meet up with them. While we were getting our first rides we were in touch via text and Bill informed me Brit the animal whisperer had insisted they check out the zoo (of course
) so at this point we headed back in that direction in search of beer but stopped at Storm Runner first after seeing a 5 minute wait on the app.
We arrived to an almost deserted station with the crew using both sides of the dual loading platform, and running two trains. We split up into pairs in the front rows, this was another one the missus wanted to ride and did not last time. I wanted her to do the front row on her first lap. While waiting, Bill & Brit appeared and hopped in row two behind us. My first time in the front row of Storm Runner, the last time I was here I rode it once somewhere in the middle/back. Just like Fahrenheit, the missus *almost* rode this with me two years ago but decided not to, but today she was all about it. I love that the first ride I got her on was in the front. And I absolutely love this ride. She did too. The launch is fantastic, and unlike the stratas, everything after the top hat is awesome. Sure, its a really short ride but it packs a ton of insanity into those 30 or so seconds. Both this and Fahrenheit were GREAT with the soft straps. When we boarded the station was deserted so upon hitting the brakes I said we should ask one of the crew if we could jump in empties, which he said was fine. We all had to move back a couple rows but around we went again. We went for lap #3 but had to walk around. This time we went for the back, which jostled the missus pretty good, she didn't like it as much, you just can't see whats coming.
We found the Overlook Food Court nearby, one of only two places in the park you can get adult beverages, and I have to admit they had a decent mix of your usual Miller/Budweiser with a bunch of craft brews thrown in. We all got some drinks, and some munchies like fries and tacos and grabbed a window seat overlooking Great Bear, and relaxed for a bit.
The food service was kind of a joke - to get an order of fries took about 20 minutes. It takes a lot for a park like Hershey to piss me off... I started to let it get me angry but once I got that beer in me I was good.
Our next mission was Great Bear. Bill had noticed it not running early in the day when they hit the zoo, but we had now seen it running with guests, so we took off in that direction when Bill convinced us that even though it was a mild 60 degrees the sun was out and Coal Cracker had no wait.
All 6 of us headed into the queue and walked right on, splitting into 3 pairs. My first ride on this flume and it was awesome. None of us got particularly wet on the flume which was nice, just some light splashes.
Love that little airtime pop at the bottom of the main drop and how like so many of Hershey's rides, it weaves around other rides. It's fascinating to consider the amount of planning that likely went into the placement of these rides.
Checking the app Great Bear had a 45 minute wait but in the spirit of digesting our recent food/beers we got in line and waited. The line was wrapped down the ramp and into the second set of switchbacks. We realized halfway through our wait the reason the line was so long and moving so slowly was that they only had one train on. Doh! We continued to wait and finally got into the station after 45 minutes. Ouch! Even though I don't rank this as higher as other B&M inverts, its still a B&M invert which means its basically good by default. I actually really like Great Bear. Love that funky pre-drop helix, good main drop and the following three inversions it really rips through, not to mention the zero-G has some serious snap. Yes the ending over the creek is kinda meh but still a totally solid coaster overall. Another one the missus wanted to do and that she really liked. We obviously all wanted the front but after getting spoiled with empty stations all day we weren't waiting extra for the front and just went to row 2.
By now it was almost 5pm, and the four of us who drove up from Philly wanted to pop out to the car where we had packed a cooler with a few more beers. On our way out we decided we couldn't resist Skyrush anymore and since we were walking right by it we would hop on. Station looked empty. The ladies of the group sat out our first lap, and we walked up to no wait at all - the four dudes (Bill joined us, reluctantly) jumping in the back row of the train that was loading as we walked up. I went for the death seat. Bill next to me in the left/middle seat. The ride is just ridiculous. Amazingly when we hit the brakes Bill turned to me and said "I actually liked that ride". Mind blown. I converted Bill to Team Skyrush!
Seeing the line for the front row was maybe two trains we all decided we were gonna hit it again up there. Walked around and on in a flash, and WHOA NOW this is an entirely different kind of insanity! I really, really liked riding in the front row. Thanks to that kink in the track down the drop, you get ejected from your seat even in the front. Instead of being yanked over the drops/hills like in the back seat, in the front you get such an intense sense of speed shooting up into those first two hills, and the airtime is just unreal. Gloriously terrifying. Like I said in the Hershey thread, I tried a few times to go hands up, folding my legs under the seat for some stability but it doesn't help much so I just stopped trying, instead just holding on to the grab bars for dear life on most of my rides from then on. After that second ride, Bill again said he liked it and we got off with him convincing Brit she needs to hop on for a front row ride in the center seats. She too was not a huge fan of this ride but what is this we have here? Another convert? Brit got off the ride saying she enjoyed it a lot more. This thing is amazing!
After our 3 laps, Bill and Brit headed to the back of the park as they wanted to hit Lightning Racer, and the rest of us went out to the lot. We planned to stop at Chocolate World while we were out there but after we tailgated for a bit we noticed the sun was setting and wanted to head back into the park. Earlier in the day when we entered we came in through Founders Way, so this time I took them down the path that runs along the creek underneath Skyrush, where we stopped to admire this marvel of modern engineering.
I think Storm Runner looks like it was designed by a 5 year old, but Skyrush is all graceful beauty. It is absolutely my favorite coaster to look at - the paint, the setting over the creek, and being able to stand right underneath it as it tears around above you.
Of course I wanted to ride it again, but upon exiting the path into The Hollow, we hit up Sooper Dooper Looper for a one train wait for the front row. As we walked through the queue I texted Bill where we were and just as we boarded, he and Brit showed up and jumped in behind us so they could do front row two trains behind us. By the time we got back he pointed out there were empty rows on that train so we asked the crew member and he told us we could surely play a game of musical chairs. With Bill and Brit in the front, the rest of us sat towards the middle/back. I just have to say I absolutely love this ride. I consider it a family/junior coaster and its by far my favorite of its type. Great forces in the loop, and I just love how smooth it is and how it weaves through the trees and other rides on that hillside. Very happy we got two back to back sunset laps on it.
All day we had wanted to do Comet, which I skipped during my visit two years ago, but of course we couldn't help stop at Skyrush for another lap first. I don't know what else to say besides incredible. Amazing sunset ride. We then made our way to Comet which had a line down the ramp but we got on in no time. I have to say how shocked I was at how great this old woodie rode. Really surprisingly smooth with a few pops of great airtime. A big surprise!
We still hadn't done any flats and all day I had been checking to see if the flyers were open but they stayed closed all day. The other flat I'd hoped to get on was The Claw, thanks to my newfound appreciation for these rides. To all of our surprise, they run a really great program on this.
Spins A LOT more than I anticipated but ran for a really long time with quite a few full swings providing some nice float upside-down airtime. I am definitely spoiled by Moreys "IT" with its lapbars, and the restraints on The Claw were certainly tight for me, but color me impressed. A good time was had.
By now it was close to dark and the group agreed we needed night rides on Storm Runner, Great Bear and Skyrush. I also still hoped to hit Trailblazer, so we headed to Storm Runner since it was the closest. We were able to get two laps by switching seats as the place was dead. Night rides on this thing are just amazing. Viva la Intamin!
We popped down the path under Storm Runners launch track, and hit a completely empty Trailblazer. New credit for me, I went in not expecting much even though I am a bit of an admitted mine train enthusiast. Definitely nothing spectacular but still a cool ride. Doing it in the dark made me enjoy it more I think and honestly while its just a bunch of turns, very smooth for an old Arrow, and love how they basically built Storm Runner over top of it, loved how we could hear the screams coming from that above us.
Earlier I had mentioned that while we went out for our car party (carty?), Bill and Brit went off to get their ride in on Lightning Racer, turns out they had actually just farted around, at one point stopping to whore Cocoa Cruiser!
Anyways, after the epic Trailblazer, we had a little over an hour left til park closing @ 9pm, and the app said Great Bear was now 15 minutes. Bill and Brit still hadn’t done Lightning Racer so they took off that way, and hoping for that coveted front row ride, the rest of us headed over that way through the maze of bridges and steep hills to Great Bear. As hilly as this park is I really can’t get enough of how everything is built on top of everything. It’s a confusing as hell layout and its super easy to get turned around and/or lost, but so cool to just look around at how everything is laid out. It’s amazing to me. I always say its my favorite park and this is a huge reason. It’s the polar opposite of a park like SFA where they cleared a bunch of trees and rides are just plopped into their respective areas and that’s that. It’s the same reason I love SFOG and Kennywood, too. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about Dollywood and Knoebels.
Upon approaching Great Bear we were happy to find the line just peaking out of the station and we decided the four of us should do the front row. We got in line and had about eight trains worth of people in front of us. Problem was they were still only running one train. We debated if we should head to another row as I personally did not want to spend the entire last hour waiting for this. To row 2 we went, and got on two trains later. I like this ride even better at night. The turn into the section over the creek caught me off guard as did the flatspin. Both rides today I sat on the left side and got the crap snapped out of me on that zero-G. So smooth these damn things are. Even a half “boring” B&M is still one of the better coasters out there.
With a half hour on the clock back down to the front of the park we headed to close it out with a few more now-totally-dark rides on the insanity train. Obviously.
Naturally, Bill was texting us pictures of him and Brit boarding the flume and we told him to come down when they were done. The missus sat out Skyrush all day as she would’ve go into full panic mode – you may remember me talking in my other reports about her fear of large steel coasters without OTSRs. Would have love for her to suddenly say “screw it, I’m doing it!” but she loathes Nitro and Phantoms Revenge due to the airtime/speed/minimal restraints, and I personally think Skyrush would be her own personal hell. So unfortunately she took a spin on Bench: The Ride.
We first went for the front row again and rode with a fellow TPR member Chris (I forget your screenname but it was awesome to meet you if you see this!) who was also waiting for the front. Just when you thought this thing was the most intense ride ever, you go and ride it with the sun down. Holy mother of Christ. I got night rides on it two years ago but after doing it a crapload already today it was cranked up to 11 for these last few rides.
Again, I really think I like riding it better in the front. Holy hell. I can’t describe it any other way than unreal. The wind blasting you in the face. The way you are pushed through the first turn and up the airtime hill, the sense of speed in that second turn and then again getting pushed up into that goddamn balls out second airtime hill. It’s just relentless and terrifying.
Every lap I felt like I truly was going to slip out of the restraint, and at this point, I wasn’t even trying to go hands up. If I could ride it with abandon like I could with Maverick and Toro it would be my favorite out of the three. Its closer to an endurance challenge like I305, equal in fun and intensity. We ran around to ride the back row and I took the death seat. Thigh crushingly delicious. Upon exiting we found Bill and Brit fresh off the flume who wanted to ride but the rest of my party was done. Just like I305 at the end of our night @ Kings Dominion, these two were twisting my arm with guilt trips and like a poorly engineered glass bridge I cracked under pressure and ran for the entrance. Of course we went again for the front row for our last ride of the night, now only a 3-4 train wait. It was after 9pm with us next to board when one of the ride ops came over to inform the remaining guests waiting (all for the front row) that everyone had to fill the next and last train of the night. But as were next to board, we got the front. Score!
What a way to end the day. I definitely could not ride this again as my thighs were on fire. Skyrush is an amazing coaster but not an amazing coaster to marathon. While I am still feeling it as a type this, I regret nothing. But Sky Rush is the perfect nickname for this ride. Id just once like to ride it in a regular Intamin sitdown train with soft straps to see how different the ride experience would be, but I also would never want to change anything about Skyrush because what’s great about it is that it is trying to kill you. Without the seats/restrains the way they are, I think you’d lose that vulnerability, and much of the thrill.
And with that, the park was closed. Yes, we skipped Laff Trakk and didn’t do any other flats and yet again didn’t eat any sweets at the park. I don’t know why, it just didn’t work out. Too busy having fun to worry about food. Laff Trakk they have apparently been running with the lights out for this event which made me not even want to bother since the glow stuff is the whole gimmick of the ride. Otherwise its just a spinner, which I hate, in the dark. Meh. But we’ll be back.
My first and only visit to Hershey was on a Friday night in October two years ago during Hersheypark In The Dark. Relatively low crowds on that visit, I ran around like a little kid hitting all the big dogs in about 4 hours falling in love with the park and have consistently considered it my favorite park (at least until I visited BGW earlier this month). I still think it has my favorite overall lineup of coasters. Yes, over Cedar Point, Great Adventure, and the other dozen parks I've managed to get to.
After Sunday I still think that. Hershey's collection is varied, balanced and quality almost all the way through. The highs are REALLY high at this park, imo. I want to make this a yearly trip. My only two visits to this park have been on non-Saturdays in October and the crowds and wait times were totally manageable. Without a decent skip-the-line program I’d ruin my favorable opinions of this magical place by visiting in the heat and crowds of summer. Also, the park is beautiful this time of year with the leaves changing.
Yet again, I had another great day at another freaking amazing park. I don't know how I have such good luck. 2016 has been good to me. Other than random Great Adventure HITP dispatches (yay for almost no off-season!!), this is likely my last report for the year. So I’m including some links of some of my other reports below. Hope you check them out. Thanks to Robb and TPR for giving me a place to blather on about nerdy sh*t I love. And thanks as always to everyone for reading!
Storm Runner 5x
Great Bear 2x
Sooper Dooper Looper 2x
Lightning Racer 1x
Coal Cracker 1x
Wild Mouse 1x
The Claw 1x
Overall not a bad day in the slightest. Not at all...MORE READING & PRETTY PICTURES! THE FUN NEVER ENDS!:Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports Land - 2016
(^ you should reply to this so he adds the other parks he's done this year to this hilarious report!!!Boldikus' Virgin Visit Kings Dominion & BGW - October 2016
!Summer 2016 Visit to DorneyBoldikus Visits SFOG - Spring 2016Pilgramage to Cedar Point Memorial Day 2015Boldikus does SFA - Fall 2014
For more, click the link to my blog in my signature.
(edited for spelling)