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Nantimi, Donan Michael, Coaster Naps, and Hershey is Awesome


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Apologies in advance, I wrote a novel. If novels aren't your thing, scroll way down and check out the pictures!

 

I suppose I'm not what you'd call a TPR regular, but as this was the undisputed hotspot of activity surrounding Hershey's Nantimi viral marketing campaign/contest, I thought this would be a good place to post a little TR of my time at Hershey yesterday. If TR's aren't your thing, look at the pretty pictures and read this short version: Hershey was awesome, go. Fahrenheit was awesome, go ride it. Yay.

 

I arrived at the park a little before 9, after making the trip across the state from Pittsburgh with a few of my friends. Side note: I convinced two college age kids to wake up at 4:30. I should be a lawyer. Anyway, we arrived at the park right around 9, I collected the tickets I'd won as part of the Nantimi contest, and went off to meet up with the rest of the winners. It was awesome to meet all you guys and get to put faces with screennames, and then names with those faces. We also met up with Jason Brown, Hershey's Promotions Manager and one of the three main people behind the Nantimi Project. Jason was an extremely nice guy and as people arrived we all chatted about how Fahrenheit, the Nantimi campaign and how it played out vs. how it was intended to, and all kinds of things like that. As the time to enter the park approached, Jason disappeared to answer a phone call, we all chatted a bit, and a few minutes later, Jason returned with some... "interesting news". It seems that one of the Fahrenheit trains took a particular liking to the trough of the cobra roll, and decided that the best course of action would be to stop there and take a nap.

 

This, of course, effectively foiled our early morning ERT and first rides on Fahrenheit, but Jason was nice enough to line up a bit of ERT on Storm Runner, and a chance to speak with Hershey’s Director of Maintenance, Gary Chubb, and Marty (whose last name escapes me), who was another one of the people behind Nantimi. Both of them were extremely nice guys, and were kind enough to answer all of our questions about Fahrenheit, Nantimi, and even a few about what Hershey has lined up for the future. Hershey fans might want to make extra sure they hit all their favorite rides in the Pioneer Frontier area of the park. Speculate as you will, but it seems one or two of them might not hang around for the 2009 season. Also, Storm Runner is awesome. A bit on the short side, but the flying snake dive is just as cool as it looks in pictures.

 

After the Nantimi festivities, I went off and met up with my friends from home and a few more that we knew from school who’d driven in from York to meet us. We went and hit Wildcat, which I was pleasantly surprised by, and which the Hershey regulars among us commented that it was the first ride on Wildcat they’d had in years that they actually enjoyed. Credit Hershey for shelling out the dough for Millennium Flyers I guess, because I thought the ride was great! Not too smooth, not too rough, and generally just a very fun ride. Not necessarily a balls to the wall thriller, but hey, that’s what Storm Runner’s for. We moved on down the midway to Wild Mouse, which was running amazingly… if I remember right, no braking along the entire top section, and maybe one instance of it anywhere else in the ride. Crazy, fun, and the queue gave the distinct impression that all the riders were either sailors or had Tourette’s… perhaps even some sailors with Tourette’s, and all true calling cards of a great wild mouse.

 

After that we walked past the Boardwalk, which looked great, but unfortunately, we were unable to enjoy because we’d forgotten swimwear for the day, and the swimsuits that Hershey had for sale were $30 +. Oh well, all the more reason to visit again! We made our way over to Lightning Racer and took a spin near the front. What a great all around ride. While I found it a bit better in the back, later in the day, Lightning Racer is fast and just all around fun. Again, nothing that’s going to leave you going “OHMYGODWHAT!?!?” but just pure fun. Every park should have one. On a side note, for how photogenic both Lightning Racer and Wildcat are, it’s awfully hard to get a good shot.

 

Moving on, we caught another ride on Storm Runner, my 4th of the day, and began to notice that maybe hands-up wasn’t the best way to go. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t find Storm Runner to be rough, but repeated rides with your arms up seems to leave some nice bruises on your upper arms. By ride #5, I wised up and put my hands down. No pain, insane ride, I want one for my backyard.

 

Next up was a trip down to Great Bear, our longest wait of the day at about 45 minutes. I loved Great Bear. So much about it is just the way that inverted coasters should be, and it cemented my belief that B&M is at its best when faced with cramped or otherwise odd footprints on which to put a ride. Highlights include the touch of float on the first drop, the typically fantastic zero-g roll, the dive over the creek, and the final corkscrew. Yes, I realize that that’s almost the whole ride. Also, my friend lost his cell phone on the ride… more on that later.

 

While in the area we took a spin on Coal Cracker to cool off a bit. It’s a nice ride, and was all kinds of fun… mostly because we fit the five of us in one boat. We basically rolled, rather than floated through the course. I guess when they say 4-5 per boat, they assume that people won’t actually try to fit 5 adults in. Oopsies. Good fun, and a hilarious on ride picture resulted.

 

We stopped by and hit Sooperdooperlooper next, and with minimal waiting, got a nice ride on a classic Schwarzkopf. Sure, the ride doesn’t do much other than its one (sooperdooper) loop, but it’s still fun, and with hardly any wait, definitely worth the ride.

 

Continuing our walk around the park, we hit the Tilt-a-Whirl for nostalgia’s sake, and passed on Comet, as the locals spotted what they called a “ridiculously long line for Comet,” and convinced us it wasn’t worth it. Didn’t end up getting on Comet all day, and as I have a soft spot for classic wood coasters, that’ll definitely be on my list next time I’m there.

 

I wanted to ride Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge. The story line is… well… terrible, but it’s terrible to the point that we found it hilarious, so we’ll pretend that was the intention and smile our way through the ride. I loved it, as did the rest of the people on the Chocolate team, which fairly dominated the Peanut Butter car. Those on the Peanut Butter team were less impressed, but overall I enjoyed it, and again, the wait wasn’t bad at all.

 

Next we walked over to the Claw and while waiting in line, I found myself looking over at Fahrenheit. Now, we hadn’t been on that side of the park since we rode Storm Runner a few hours ago, so we hadn’t been able to watch any of the crane-and-winch action, and the last we’d seen it, it was still in cobra-nap mode. So imagine my surprise when I see the chain start moving... and then a test train wander up the lift. Instantly we abandoned ship from the Claw’s queue (we’d be back later, but we wanted to try and get on Storm Runner before the wait grew to the multiple hour mark) and bolted for Fahrenheit. A crowd had formed, and Hershey security was busy explaining to people that there would be no pushing, no line jumping, and basically trying their best to convince us that there would be no stampede. Chains dropped, and the crowd instantly forgot security’s pep talk. Or maybe that’s not fair, everyone was mostly orderly in their stampeding at least, and to Hershey’s credit, they did (loudly) enforce their line jumping rule, sending offenders to the back of the line. Luckily, we ended up making it the whole way to the station before our waiting started, so we opted for a front seat ride, figuring that this would be our only chance, perhaps ever, to get one without waiting for over an hour. 8 trains later, we boarded.

 

OH. MY. GOD.

 

Awesome. Just… awesome. The lift, the drop, the Norwegian loop, the cobra, the corks, the wonderful turn/air combo… the ride is just awesome. I would give you a blow by blow, but really, you can see the ride, and if you find yourself wondering how, say, the drop is, or just how the overbank-to-air-hill under the lift rides, or really if you’re curious about any particular element, my answers are categorically as good as you could imagine or better. I loved it. Go ride it.

 

We finished the day off with another spin on all the major roller coasters, a drier than usual but still fun rapids ride (the waterfalls were off… apparently someone thought it was going to be cold), a return trip to the Claw (excellent, minus the ear-splitting screaming from the girl in the car next to me), and a ride on the Howler (bar-none, the most intense ride in the park. No part of me is joking, I almost puked).

 

As it approached closing, we made a trip over to guest relations by the Claw so my friend could see about getting his cell phone back. We were pretty sure he’d lost it on the lift, and get this: Hershey sent someone up the lift, found his phone, and walked it halfway across the park to return it to him on the same day so they wouldn’t have to mail it back to Pittsburgh. Talk about customer service! As an extra bonus, staying past 10 to wait for his phone meant we were treated to a truly excellent and wholly unexpected fireworks display, which we all appreciated.

 

All things considered, it was an amazing day at Hershey, and for my first time in the park, I was completely blown away. The staff, the rides, the weather, the crowds… everything just came together and it was just about the most fun I’ve ever had at an amusement park. A huge thanks to JB, Marty, and Luke for creating Nantimi and giving me a reason to finally make the trip across the state, I now know what I’d been missing, and I'll definitely be back.

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

(also, if you actually made it through that whole thing, congratulations, I hereby award you one internets. now go outside.)

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Simon says go to Hershey.

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sooperdoopercorkscroo... nah, doesn't have quite the same ring to it

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And the train lets out a collective "HOLY S#!T"

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Do you know what's wrong with this picture? Neither do I.

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I heart Fahrenheit. And Panoramas.

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Early morning Fahrenheit station action.. err... inaction.

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Possibly my favorite corkscrew ever. Also, aren't panoramas neat?

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Zero G Perfection

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Twice as awesome as you think it is.

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Not an action shot. Doesn't it look cozy?

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Awesome pictures and report! Especially the panoramic one of Storm Runner..

 

Oh yeah, the Wildcat was running great! We rode in the front and this year was probably the smoothest ride on it I've ever had. The lapbars seemed to have more resistance this year so they didnt crush you... unless you're my g/f who I tell to not pull it down a lot and what does she do.. pulls it down.. ha. Women..

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This is a cool view, soon to be my background

 

Where do you see this from? Is it on full display. If so then well done Intamin/Hersey/luck for this being pulled off.

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This is a cool view, soon to be my background

 

Where do you see this from? Is it on full display. If so then well done Intamin/Hersey/luck for this being pulled off.

 

I believe I took that photo from what would be the far side of Tidal Force from Fahrenheit... sort of between Tidal Force and the Boardwalk. I think there's a restaurant there with outdoor seating, and between that and the path around Tidal Force, there're some good views to be had. Also let me know if you'd like a bigger version of that pic, and I can post it to imageshack or something.

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Awesome TR! It was nice to finally meet you and all the other Nantimi people. Finally we can put faces to the names, eh? Props to Hershey for getting Fahrenheit opened THAT DAY so we could at least get a ride. I'm still blown away by their speedy recovery time.

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For Fahrenheit not being a HUGE coaster in terms of height.. it definately makes its presence felt and looms over Pioneer Frontier area and even the Boardwalk and Midway America! So pretty..

 

Well.. because I jumped the gun and figured there's no way they would seriously get the coaster back up and running (Hershey maintainance/engineer people.. you ROCK by the way!) and left.. I have a question... which may have been answered here somewhere..

 

How is the station and queue line laid out?

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I have a question... which may have been answered here somewhere..

 

How is the station and queue line laid out?

 

I'm not sure this helps but from memory (which may not be the sharpest as I was only in the queue proper long enough to hurdle over the switchbacks in an effort to not get trampled by the rest of the crowd doing the same) the queue is all sort of behind the station, right in and around the finale and brakes. As you approach the station, you ascend a flight of stairs, with the main line on the right, single riders on the left. At the station it seemed like the lines just kind of merged (which really... sort of makes the single rider line a lot like a "just wait here if you don't want to wait as long" line) but maybe they fixed that later in the day. Other than that it's as you'd expect... board from the right, exit from the left, separate line for the front, not for the back.

 

Nice, I really like that shot of Great Bear's zero g-roll. I have to start contemplating if I should ride the front row or the last row of Fahrenheit.

 

Honestly, the train's so short that it'll hardly matter. I'll personally vouch for the awesomeness of the front, though I didn't get a chance to ride in the back. That said... why not both?

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First of all, this is superbly written. Kudos there. That's exactly the style I try (and usually fail) to use. On top of that, the photos are beautifully done.

Second, it's a pity you didn't get on Comet. That was a highlight of my day at Hershey when I was there. There's quite a bit of airtime that really sneaks up on you from nowhere.

But more importantly, I'm glad you enjoyed Fahrenheit. I do need to get back to Pennsylvania one of these years.

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How is the station and queue line laid out?

 

Enter... walk, walk, walk... turn right... walk, walk,walk... turn 180 to the left... walk, walk, walk... turn 180 to the right... repeat 112 times.

 

Actually... you enter the queue just downhill of the station, there are a few lines there we got to bypass, then you turn right like you're heading toward Wildcat catering into a series of queues. Here, it's like you're in the "infield" of the ride. Much of it is covered by netting, but there are some great views of the ride. Unfortunately, because of the netting the photo ops probably aren't so great. In some locations you could literally look up at trains coming down the first drop. Also great views in several places of the second corkscrew and first overbank turn.

 

Once you get out of there, there are a whole series of queues behind the station running perpendicular to the midway. The one good thing there is because the station and lift aren't parallel, each row gets progressively shorter. After the last queue, you make a left and go up the stairs to the platform.

 

The station is as BB described it, plus there are storage cubbies on the exit side just like at Storm Runner. Exit is via a stairway at the front of the station, and the ride pic screen is just beyond where the exit dumps you back on the midway (below the station). I didn't notice, but I suppose there's an elevator leading to the platform as well.

 

The single rider line enters just to the left of the regular line. It basically runs along the outside of the station to an L-shaped stairway that leads to the platform. Much shorter than the regular queue obviously.

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