Park Review: Hersheypark (Hershey, PA) || Part 1: The Roller Coasters

Let's kick this blog off with my first trip report of the year, Springtime in the Park 2015 at the sweetest theme park on Earth, Hersheypark!

Hersheypark, before 2012, was widely known within the United States as a family thrill park: a theme park with solid and fairly strong lineup of roller coasters that cater to both family and thrill seekers, yet have nothing record-breaking or such. That drastically changed with the opening of Skyrush, an Intamin roller coaster that many described as the most intense roller coaster in the American continent, and one of the world's most intense.

Let's start with the morning of Saturday, April 11th, 2015...

Long line at the main entrance of Hersheypark at around 9:45am EDT
MAIN ENTRANCE

To my surprise, despite the chilly and windy morning, the crowd seems to be ecstatic about attending the Springtime in the Park event at Hersheypark. Huge crowd was waiting in front of the main entrance, winding down towards Hershey's Chocolate World, which was quite far away from the main entrance (perhaps around 3,000 feet away).

Given that it was a "Preview" day, the opening of the dark was not without its drawback, of course. Scheduled to open at 10:00am, the park delayed its opening by 7 minutes to 10:07am. For many theme park goers, this, of course, showed a bad sign. "Oh, perhaps a coaster is closed?" or, "Something is definitely happening inside the park!" But finally I went in the gate. Got my ticket scanned and...

Skyrush's twisty track

... I headed to the beast of the park right away, Skyrush! Going up and down, encircling the beautiful man-made lake, this Intamin beast has a sharp yellow track that would literally blind your eyes. I arrived at the roller coaster with a posted 10-minute wait so I hopped on right away.

Skyrush's 45-degree lift hill takes the riders to the top of the 200' first drop at 17 mph.
The excitement of the roller coaster starts right away as the train leaves the station. Never have I ever, in my life, experienced a lift hill as fast as that of Skyrush. At a jaw-dropping 17 mph, this might as well be the scariest lift hill I have ever had. It also does not help that the lift hill is measured at an extremely steep 45-degree angle. That is a lot for a lift hill!

From there, Skyrush, true to its name, is an ultimate rush! The drop will literally leave even the most hardcore thrill seekers hanging on their lap bars. As the train swooshes at a top speed of 75 mph, the train then goes through the first airtime hill... no, can I say EJECTOR HILL? This is why Skyrush has two airtime hills that give the riders extreme airtime. The 2nd hill actually gave the rider an extreme -2.0 G's. The feeling was completely surreal. I felt as if I was thrown away from the seat!

Airtime hills are not the only thing so crazy about this coaster. The extreme turns will also throw the riders from side to side. At one point, I even had my body almost thrown out of the seat. If it wasn't because of the tight restraints, I would've been dead somewhere by the lake...

Right after Skyrush's second airtime hill, the scariest part of the ride (in my opinion)
Nevertheless, Skyrush has a very uncomfortable restraint system. By the end of the ride, the restraints would be so tight on your thighs, you will probably feel a lot of pain. True to my expectation, I developed small bruises right away right by my knees.

Skyrush is an intense coaster that many thrill riders would praise for its extreme airtime and true intensity. Nevertheless, it is a somewhat painful experience that you have to be ready for before getting on it. For a much calmer ride, go towards the front and take the middle seat.


Right after the pain of Skyrush, I decided to get away from The Hollow and go towards another roller coaster that excites me: Storm Runner!

Storm Runner's top hat
Storm Runner was widely known as one of the few Intamin launch coaster of its kind to feature inversions, 3 to be exact. With a top speed of 72 mph, the coaster pales in comparison to Intamin's other launch coasters such as Kingda Ka (Six Flags Great Adventure) and Top Thrill Dragster. Nevertheless, Storm Runner still packs a lot of action in its entirety, starting with the 0-72mph launch in a flat two seconds!

One of Storm Runner's unique elements behind the trees
Storm Runner has a couple of unique elements that people don't generally find in other coasters. From the half-cobra-roll right after the first drop to the twisty-then-dive portion of the track, it is far beyond my imagination how creative the Intamin team was in creating this roller coaster. By the end of the ride, many people who rode the coaster for the first time said, "I did not expect that at all... what just happened to us? What did we all just go through? Let's do it again!"

Yep, it's THAT fun!

FAHRENHEIT

A couple of years ago, Hersheypark asked themselves, "Well, we had this small patch of empty land... what should we do about it?" They then planned to make a roller coaster with a compact layout, featuring a 90-degree lift hill, 97-degree first drop, and insert as many inversions as possible. The plan became reality, named Fahrenheit.

Fahrenheit by the sun
What is it that I like about Fahrenheit? It is smooth, it is just fun, and that first drop is just great! Not amazing, but great. And the inversions are so much fun too, especially the Norwegian Loop right after the first drop.

Fahrenheit's cobra roll
What is it that I don't like about Fahrenheit? Basically anything else. The ride has extremely low ride capacity (2 trains for a total of 24 rides each cycle), the ride is too short (less than a minute), and the waiting time is often more than 60 minutes on that day (keep in mind the line was not even that long). Can't imagine how it operates during peak times... that would be a huge nightmare!

WILDCAT

After conquering the big three Intamin, which are all smooth, I decided to proceed by conquering the three rough ones: the woodies. I started my progress by walking over towards the back of the park, and went on Wildcat right away.

Wildcats hello there
Not that much a photo that I can take around the ride, as the coaster is located towards the back of the park and is pretty shy of the public. The first 85-foot drop is a decent one, curving towards the right all the way to the bottom. Afterwards... I can't remember anything else other than being jerked around left-to-right, right-to-left, up-and-down, and I just said, "Ouch ouch ouch," throughout the whole ride without even knowing when the ride is gonna be over.

I think the good thing about this coaster is that it is long. Very long! When you think it's over, it just keeps going on and on and on.

The roller coaster, however, is too jerky, hence not a good idea to ride it early in the morning if you want to be headache-free for the whole day.


I then walked to the deepest corner of the park to ride Lightning Racer, which the park deemed as the nation's first racing roller coaster.

It's Finish Line time at Lightning Racer, and guess who won?
Let me just say this about this pair of coasters... Is it wrong that, despite all of the attention that the visitors have towards Skyrush, Lightning Racer is the best roller coaster in the park, hands down?

Lightning Racer, despite being jerky, is really smooth. After all, it's a traditional wooden coaster, and I was immensely surprised by how enjoyable my ride was. Lightning Racer also dispatched both of its sides together at all times, making it a true racing experience, down to the very last second. On my day of visit, the Thunder side seems to win all of the time, but those victories were literally by mere split seconds the whole time.

Lightning Racer has amazing turns, amazing drops, amazing airtime moments, and truly excellent chasing-cars moments: as you race through the track, the passengers keep looking at the other train, screaming, "Go! Go! Go!" as if they can make their train go faster.

Lightning Racer is just a pure fun to ride, and it is re-rideable, no matter what. Hersheypark places this coaster very strategically at the back of the park, and now I know why: because no matter what, this coaster will always have its fans that will be willing to run all the way to the back.


After being at the back of the park for some time, I decided that it is finally time for me to go back towards the front of the park, to the Skyrush area to be specific. Next to Skyrush lies a wooden classic that everyone seems to love, Comet.

Because it is located right next to Skyrush, Comet looks very small, family-friendly, and enjoyable... which is great because Comet never fails to surprise many riders with its intense drops and amazing airtime moments.

With a classic out-and-back layout, Comet focuses its thrill towards the airtime hills. The first two drops were just so much fun, especially if you ride at the very back. Things get wild and crazy once the train goes back out of the station for the second time and ventures towards the man-made lake that Skyrush also goes to. Bunch of small up-and-down hills provide some airtime ejector moments and surprising jerky thrill.

Comet is a great coaster for those who are not yet ready for Skyrush, but by no means Comet is as family-friendly as people expect. It is even, in my opinion, scarier than Lightning Racer, which many seem to think as scarier than Comet.


Ah, the Great Bear. Where should I start?

Rrrrrroooooooaaaaarrrr!!!
This is the coaster that makes the distinct roaring sound, living up to the name of the roller coaster itself, the Great Bear (roooaaaarrrrr!). Created by Bolliger & Mabillard, the Great Bear still pales to the statistics of, say, Alpengeist or Afterburn at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Carowinds respectively. Nevertheless, Great Bear is a unique inverted coaster that is unique on its own.

The first apparent thing that makes Great Bear unique is its helix right before the main drop. While other inverted coasters by B&M often just goes straight into the action, Great Bear naughtily teases the riders with a "preview" of the main drop, that is the helix. It is a forceful and fast helix, making the riders think, "Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?"

From there, Great Bear goes all full-action with its non-stop action element after element. The first drop is simply amazing, sending the riders to the top speed of 61 mph and straight into a vertical oval loop, which I thought was crazy!

What really makes Great Bear an amazing coaster, in my opinion, is its beautiful setting alongside the trail by the small river that passes through the park. As the track hugs the hills and the trees surrounding the river, there are times when I actually feel as if I am flying up and down the area just like a Great Bear, exploring every crooks and nooks of The Hollow.

There's a reason why Great Bar has many fans, and I think this photo shows you why
The Great Bear is a solid ride, amongst one of the best in the park for sure.

SOOPERDOOPERLOOPER

To say this coaster super intense is an overstatement because, well, the roller coaster only has one loop. What is so significant about this coaster is that this is the first looping coaster in the East Coast, done as a direct reply to Six Flags Magic Mountain's Revolution, the first looping coaster in the world at the time in the '70s.

While Sooperdooperlooper is not the most thrilling roller coaster in the park, nor the best, it is definitely the most family-friendly, in a context that the thrill-seekers will have something to love just as much as those who want to move from the small-league rides to the big-league coasters. There is just so much to admire from this little coaster, from its fun loop to the way it hugs the surrounding trails and hills, just like the Great Bear.

Favorite Coasters at Hersheypark
  1. Lightning Racer
  2. Storm Runner
  3. Great Bear
  4. Comet
  5. Skyrush
  6. Sooperdooperlooper
  7. Fahrenheit
  8. Wildcat
  9. Sidewinder
  10. Trailblazer
Well, okay guys. I think that is all from me for today. Hope you enjoy today's post. I'll submit more from this park tomorrow :-)

Cheers,
Adriel

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