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Photo TR: Chuck & Larry Ride Pennsylvania Style


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Evenin' all,


After living in Virginia for well over 20 years and doing the local parks to death, I decided it was high time to head north and see what all those "friends" I've got in Pennsylvania have to offer. Yes, as cool as they are, you can only ride Volcano and Griffon so many times before they cease to amuse. Besides, I was itching to blow town for a few days. Larry (aka "larrygator") was up for a little Pennsylvania action, too.


I toyed with different parks and different plans all spring, and after consulting with a few of TPR's masters of park-fu, I decided that Dorney Park and Hersheypark would be perfect for a weekend getaway. Larry wanted to hit Dutch Wonderland, as well, because he hadn't been there since he was a kid. It wasn't far from Hershey, so I decided, what the hell--let's go for it!


Doin' It Dorney Style!--Saturday, June 9


If you're traveling eastbound on I-78 between Harrisburg and Alletntown, it's tough to miss Dorney Park--it just pops up right next to the interstate, a forest of steel track that butts up to a suburban neighborhood. I wouldn't call Dorney a "theme park" exactly. It's more of an old-time, urban amusement park with a cleaned up, corporate feel. The park is quite colorful and attractive, with a pretty good mix of coasters, plenty of flat rides, and a nice-looking water park.


Here's how I rank the coasters, from best to worst.


Steel Force--This was my first Morgan hyper, and although there's not quite as much airtime as I'd hoped, it's a pretty smooth, exciting ride with a 205-foot initial plunge and a fairly intense Helix of Death for a turnaround.


Talon: The Grip of Fear--B&M strikes with another fine inverted coaster. This was the longest wait of the day (20-25 minutes), but I love how the ride swoops over the queue.


Hydra: The Revenge--This is a pretty good B&M floorless, although not up to the level of Kraken at Sea World Orlando. The bizarre color scheme suggests "The Little Mermaid" more than the vicious beast of Greek mythology, though. The strange little zero-g roll out of the station before the lifthill is one of the strangest elements I've ever experienced.


Laser--Anton Schwarzkopf makes his presence known with this looper that does BGA's Scorpion one loop better. Fast, brief, and intense.


Wild Mouse--A fairly standard model, nothing you haven't seen before.


Thunderhawk--This is an average, somewhat disappointing woodie that looks better than it rides. There isn't much air, but it isn't too rough, at least.


Woodstock's Express--A standard Zamperla kiddie coaster for all you cheap credit whores out there (and you know who you are).


There's a powered Dragon coaster, too.


The most pleasant surprise of the day was Thunder Creek Mountain, the park's log ride. Instead of building a standard flume up on supports, Dorney's flume follows the terrain, which makes it seem more like a real river. The ride is short, but lots of fun, with some "whitewater" you don't usually see on a log ride (and you will get wet).


All in all, a very pleasant start to the weekend. Here are the pics.


. . . and back up and around. More Dorney pics to come.


. . . then round and round . . .


Frist he hurls you down . . .


The spirit of Schwarzkopf lives on in Laser.


See Larry whore! Whore, Larry, whore!


Because he knows it will boast the high standards of quality that are associated with the name "Zamperla."


And why is Larry so psyched to ride Woodstock's Express?


I got yer "Grip of Fear" right here, pal!


We had some time to kill while waiting, so Talon entertained us by harrassing the queue.


There will be no "Grips of Fear" in my queue, sir.


Are you ready for my "Grip of Fear"?


This ride is sponsored by Baron Von Rasche, Master of the Iron Claw!


But the remainder of its revenge is pretty standard issue B&M.


Hydra begins its vengeance by flipping you over before the lifthill!


Well, I'm not sure what I did to piss off Hydra so much that it would want "revenge."


First stop--the slow-loading Wild Mouse (which would have a fairly long line later in the day).


OK, ok--we can take a hint!


Only if you're properly attired, sir. (I wonder if they provide shorts for folks who show up in long pants?)


Hey, do we get to ride that? (And whatta you lookin' at, lady?)


Talon beckons me from behind the main entrance.

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Part Deux of "Doin' It Dorney Style!"


Thanks for a great day, Snoopy! Next stop--Hershey, the park built on chocolate. Tune in tomorrow.


Here's another shot of Talon because it's just so damn cool.


Yeah, I see what you mean.


I dunno--whatta you think?


Hey, Larry--think we'll get wet on this log ride?


Hey, have any nasty habits you just don't want to give up? Then Dorney has a button for you.


The Dominator demands that you know your place--or no drop for you!


It was time to bow to the will of the Dominator!


At least it doesn't beat you senseless.


Here's the beginning of Thunderhawk. It's actually the most interesting part of the ride.


I took my first ride of one these suckers. It was pretty intense, but I lived to tell the tale without puking.


. . . and back they go!


. . . and up . . .


Yes, all these poor souls are possessed! Down . . .


Such as taking a 205-foot Plunge of Doom!


I became possessed by the Steel Force demon! He compelled me to do many disturbing things!


Look inside your heart for the answer, Frog Hopper!


Master Larry, does one dare to count a powered Dragon coaster as a credit?

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^Yes, I couldn't resist a reference to the greatest of the old-school "Nazi" pro wrasslers. I'm hoping to have the Hersheypark pics up tonight.


I'll be really impressed if you can make a reference to the Iron Sheik and Nicolia Volkoff in your next TR.

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Night and Day at Hersheypark, June 9-10


Larry and I finished Dorney in mid-afternoon, so we hit the highway for the 90-minute drive to Hersheypark. Our plan was to buy our tickets for Sunday, do as many of the coasters as we could before the park closed at 10:00, then finish off and reride some stuff on Sunday. (Hershey will let you in the park at 7:15 or so if you buy a ticket that night. My thanks to Sensei Derek for cluing me into this little perk.)


Well, we got there a bit early, so we checked out Hershey's Chocolate World. This is essentially the "Word of Coke," only with chocolate (and admission is free). There is, of course, Hershey's chocolate out the yin-yang for sale, a rather Epcot-like dark ride about how chocolate is made, and the "Really Big 3D Show" (basically a 3D commercial for Hershey's that costs an extra $5.95).


Finally, our time came, and in we went. Hersheypark is one of the most beautiful parks I've ever visited (right up there with Euroburg). I particularly like how they've integrated the park's "Boardwalk" section with the water park--very cleverly done. And, unlike your average Cedar Fair park, Hershey's loves trees. There's a good selection for you flat-ride fans out there, and the Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge is a surprisingly addictive shooting dark ride (at least we got a kick out of it).


We were really covering the theme-park spectrum this weekend: Hersheypark, the "destination" that you could easily spend a few days exploring; Dorney Park, the nice "daytrip" or local park; and Dutch Wonderland, the "roadside attraction" (or "tourist trap," depending on how you look at it).


Here are the coasters from best to worst. Note that there's only one really bad one, at least to my mind.


Lightning Racer--This awesome dueling woodie is my third favorite behind Balder and El Toro. It's fast and twisty, yet surprisingly smooth, and the "dueling" trains really add a whole other dimension to the ride. Not to be missed. (We were 3-1 last weekend--2 wins on "Lightning," 1 on "Thunder.")


Storm Runner--This is definitely the best of the launchers I've ridden. (I haven't been on TTD or Xcelerator, so please don't ask. ) I like that it has a few more tricks up its sleeve beyond the standard "high-hat" beginning. I'd take this one over Kingda Ka any day.


Great Bear--An excellent B&M inverted, that flies through its course over the lake in Comet Hollow. It's intense, yet smooth and lots of fun.


Wildcat--Another good stack of wood, even if it is a bit blown away by Lightning Racer. I understand that this beast used to be on the rough side, but I guess those new trains helped, because I didn't find it to be too rough at all--just lots of fun.


Superdooperlooper--Anton, the master of the vertical loop, strikes again! Yes, this isn't the biggest coaster I've ever ridden, but it is a lot of fun (which is the whole idea, right?). I like how the lifthill starts out slowly, then shifts into to high gear to hurtle you over the top.


Comet--I've heard some complaints about this old woodie, but I liked it--good, old-school fun.


Wild Mouse--This is a better-than-average steel mouse for two reasons: 1) It's built on top of a hill, which also heightens the thrill, and 2) it isn't braked much at all. One of the best of its kind, I think.


Roller Soaker--Not a big thrill machine, but that's not the idea, is it? We hit this one early on Sunday morning to get the credit and minimize the level of wetness (which still went beyond "acceptable"). It's even more fun to cut loose on other riders with the water cannons.


Trailblazer--Yup! It's a standard-issue Arrow mine train. As family coasters go, it's OK (but I think Carowinds has a better one).


Sidewinder--I got two words for ya: Vekoma Boomerang. 'Nuff said on that.


On to the pics.


Choose your weapons, take ten paces, turn, and fire! The dueling action is great. More pics to come.


But not as much as I liked Lightning Racer!


I liked Wildcat quite a bit.


They're "Scary Guy with Spider Tattoos" approved, too!


These trains are just so comfy.


(We now return to our TR already in progress.) Here's Wildcat!


Oh, that's right. This ride is "Angus McNasty" approved.


Hmm--why does this sign look so familiar?


OK--time to experience "100 Years of Happy!"


Larry shows his udder Red Dawn Awesomeness. (Sorry--there had to be at least one "udder" joke in this TR.)


Yeah--there's also ice cream!


But there is more to life than just chocolate, you know.


God, you could eat yourself into a diabetic coma in no time in this place.


Larry and I were deeply mo-o-o-o-ved by the story of chocolate.


. . . delicious Kit Kat bars!


Well, Mr. Bull, somebody has to knock up all those cows, so that we can get enough milk to make . . .


Howdy! I'm a bull! Can you tell me what role I play in the making of chocolate, young feller?


What the hell is this? Living with the Land without boats?


. . . it's time to check out Chocolate World!


Hot damn tamale! Here's Hersheypark at last. But we're a bit early so . . .

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Paragraph a, subsection b of "Night and Day at Hersheypark."


Hey, thanks for the fireworks sendoff, Hershey--but we'll be back tomorrow. (But there will be more pics here tonight.)


Here's a look at the Boardwalk after dark--shore is purty, aint it?


. . . that craps all over this loser (Sidewinder).


Yep--Storm Runner is a winner . . .


Hmm--why does this picture remind me of some park in Arkansas?


Behold what Storm Runner can do, Kingda Ka, and despair!


Is it just me, or does the kid on the right look possessed?


Yet it discriminates against those of "unusual body proportions." If the restraints chafe your thighs, you're OK, I guess.


Sheesh! Even the riding position is PC.


Seems that lots of other people had the same idea. (It was about a 50-minute wait.)


Next stop--Storm Runner!


Hmm--the total absence of water would indicate that we are decidedly not in Rehobeth Beach.


Who cares? Long as I got a beach chair to kick back on, I'm good.


What gives? I thought we were in Hershey, Pa.

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Paragraph a, subsection b, sub-subsection d of "Night and Day at Hersheypark."


Hey, Emo Boy--this bowl's for you! Last set of Hershey pics to come next.


Well, punking Storm Runner on Trailblazer made us powerful hungry! Time for some BBQ!


Well, I'm a gonna cruise right over your queue, Storm Runner! And there's not a dadgum thing you can do about it! Yeehaw!


Dadburn Storm Runner thinks he's the best thing since hot sauce on a plate of frijoles, eh?


Hey, boss! I think the problem has to do with this doohickey, here!


Good sign.


Bad sign.


Bye-bye Boardwalk--we got other credits to get.


Yep--sure is!


Hey, isn't that Chuck's favorite ride here?


Eyeball to eyeball with Storm Runner (sort of).


The insane Wild Mouse towers over the water park.


Time to get a "Nicole's Eye View" of Hersheypark, her most favoritest place ever!


You'll be hanging on for dear life on Hershey's Wild Mouse!


Revenge! Sweet, sweet, cold revenge is mine! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!


Yes, we risked our fine wardrobes for this one.


Time to get one of the wettest credits ever--Roller Soaker.


Our first stop on Sunday was the Boardwalk.

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Paragraph a, subsection b, sub-subsection d, fn. 1 of "Night and Day at Hersheypark."


Thanks for a great day, Hersheypark! See you around, Stormrunner! Stay tuned for Dutch Wonderland.


Larry's ready to chew bubblegum and kick ass on Xtreme Cup Challenge--and he's all out of bubblegum!


Yeah, he's up there somewhere, spinning around.


Larry gets the bird on Flying Falcon.


Comet's trains are more "old school" than those of Wildcat and Ligntning Racer.


Larry, on the other hand . . .


See? Great Bear doesn't bother the ducks at all.


Note the bizarre, "Duck, Swan, and Goose" approved supports for Great Bear. (They had to keep them out of the lake.)


Grr! Me Great Bear! Loop you silly!


Here you can see Great Bear, Superdooperlooper, and Comet.


You know, it just doesn't look as whimsical as Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.


As a public service, Larry will demonstrate how not to sit on this attraction.


Well, time for a Kissing Tower eye's view of Nicole's favorite park.

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Chuck's PTRs always entertain. Plus we got a bonus shot of Angus McNasty!


Hersheypark is a great place, though I have to say I was very underwhelmed by the Reese's shooting ride. I think the thing had a budget of about $5.50 or so. I thought it was very "meh" compared to other Sally dark rides.



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Chuck's PTRs always entertain. Plus we got a bonus shot of Angus McNasty!


Hersheypark is a great place, though I have to say I was very underwhelmed by the Reese's shooting ride. I think the thing had a budget of about $5.50 or so. I thought it was very "meh" compared to other Sally dark rides.




I think we kind of enjoyed it because it was easy to rack up more points each time you rode. Having the option of shooting the animatronic sportscasters at the end and watching their heads explode would be a plus, though.

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You know, it just doesn't look as whimsical as Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

This is probably the best caption ever.


Very well done TR. I love Pennsylvania.


It's interesting that you didn't get much air on Thunderhawk. I remember a lot of very intense ejector air every time the antirollbacks came in.

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Geeze Chuck .. Thanks for making me want to go back to Hersheypark, you jerk!



Seriously, excellent report. Curiously I agree with your comments about pretty much all of the rides - including Great Bear, which surprised me with its intensity.


Thanks for sharing!



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