I know I'm late but I was reading through some of the discussion about Skyrush on this thread and thought of some things to contribute. I rode it twice last season, definitely a great addition to a park I've been going to every year since I was a child.
1. The ride is great, but definitely painful. I rode it before and after they added padding to the restraints. It helped, but I agree with the idea that it's a combination of where the restraints are holding you in (too far down on your leg), the shape and angle of the restraints, and the fact that they grow tighter and tighter as the ride goes. Simply adding more padding isn't going to fix this. I didn't find El Toro to be painful at all so I know they can do better.
2. These are just my observations, but on both my visits I actually found the reaction to the ride among the general public to be pretty negative (complaints not just about thigh pain, but about whiplash from the lateral forces and overall intensity). I don't think people were expecting what they got, and the numerous signs added to the queue between my first and second visits warning about how intense the ride is would seem to support this. I doubt even Hershey knew what they were really getting when they built it. I'm very glad this ride exists, but I think it was marketed very poorly. Advertisements emphasized the new winged seats and the "great view" they offer, and nothing was mentioned about how intense the ride is (trust me, when you ride it, the winged seats are the last thing on your mind). Even the name "Skyrush" doesn't convey the ride's angry, aggressive nature. When a ride is that far beyond anything else in the park (and most other coasters period) in terms of forces, couldn't the advertising make that just a little bit clearer, that it may not be for everyone? Hershey did its guests a big disservice this season. I think a lot of people were expecting a ride like Nitro with gentle, rolling hills, not the kind of insane ejector "air-time" the ride offers. Some may disagree, but this is the only coaster I've ever ridden that felt like it was actively trying to kill me, so I simply think a darker, more "violent" brand carried by coasters like the Beast or Steel Force would've been warranted.
Adding to this problem is that from the ground, it doesn't look very intimidating. I thought it was funny reading arguments over whether or not the ride "looked" 200 feet tall, but it's true, the shape of the lift hill plus the lack of supports providing any kind of visual reference tricks the eye into thinking it's shorter than it is (and the train seems to make it to the top so quickly...). Then when you see the hills that come after it, they look very short and gentle as well. The height of those hills is the very reason the ride is so intense, but most people probably wouldn't think that. I think Hershey simply set itself up for a lot of complaints with this ride, and I'll be very interested to see how public opinion evolves over time, especially if they manage to actually fix the restraints (though I don't think any restraint will ever make the ride completely pain-free). There seems to be a lot more people on the internet saying it's one of the best rides ever, though I don't imagine a lot of the ones I saw complaining would tend to post about it on the internet, so who's to say.
3. I doubt Hershey will trim the speed any. The whole ride from the top of the first hill to the brake run is about 45 seconds long. If they neuter any of those insane forces, there will be practically no reason to ride it, and I think they know that. Already there's a sense of "what the hell just happened?" after it's done, and without the intensity it would just be "what the hell just happened, where was the coaster?" At the most I could see them slowing the lift down, but even that would be a mighty shame.
4. I've noticed a lot of seasoned coaster buffs here and elsewhere saying that they felt for a split second like they might actually come out of the train. Isn't that incredible? After riding some of the craziest coasters ever built, here's one that actually FEELS unsafe, even though we all know that it is. That's why I think Sky Rush gets better upon repeat rides, and also why so many people will either love it or hate it. There's something about it that's genuinely unsettling. Coasters are usually a bit like scary movies. You may feel scared, but in the back of your mind you know that sitting in the movie theater, you're safe. That axe-wielding madman isn't going to come through the screen and kill you. Atop a roller coaster you feel like you're plunging through the air towards certain death, but in the back of your mind you know you're all strapped in and the designers have taken every precaution to ensure your safety. But that first ride on Sky Rush, you could swear the designers slipped up. Your body is whipping around too freely, you're too exposed, this thing at your thighs isn't holding you in where you're used to being held, the forces are too strong. This can't possibly be safe. Nothing can prepare you for that first ride. Then you ride it again, and again, and you realize you ARE safe, you're simply riding one of the most incredible coasters ever built. But that intensity is bound to make it a polarizing experience.
Ok, now about things completely unrelated to Sky Rush:
1. I want to stick up for guest operations at Hershey! Sure there are a few rides, particularly Storm Runner and ESPECIALLY Fahrenheit whose lines move at a pace best described as sailing-stones-in-the-desert slow, but for every bad experience I've had two more where lines move lickety-split and the employees are friendly and caring. I mean come on, compare it to Six Flags Great Adventure and it's a veritable Disney World.
2. I'm very proud to say that I've never ridden the water coaster and I'm not sorry it's gone. In fact, if they were to nuke the whole water park from orbit I'd be ecstatic. I generally think water parks and theme parks shouldn't mix, and the way Hershey did it, all that exposed cellulite and jiggling midriffs marring the center of that whole half of the park, is incredibly obnoxious.
3. I love Wildcat. I don't understand how any coaster fan wouldn't love that crazy, out-of-control kind of experience. My last ride on it seemed to suggest they weren't maintaining it very well (I like my woodies rough, but there was definitely a sharp bump somewhere near the end that was simply uncalled for), but short lines or no lines mean lots of repeat rides, although the lack of popularity makes me fear for its future. I'm honestly surprised its lasted this long, I just really hope whatever guardian angel is watching over it doesn't die or get outvoted any time soon.
4. The Reese's Cup Challenge dark ride is an abomination, like every other "interactive" dark ride I've ever been on. The fact that they could use this space, spend LESS money, and make an old-fashioned dark ride a la Knoabel's Haunted Mansion eats away at my very soul, as does every ride of this nature across the nation. Even Disney couldn't make these stupid things fun.