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TR: Hershey, Dorney, GAdv - 7/30+7/31

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Before I start, let me just say that, while I'm a big fan of coasters, I haven't been on nearly as many rides (or visited nearly as many parks) as most of you on this board have. My own list, before this trip, consisted only of "Six Flags: Great Adventure", "Six Flags: New England", and "Playland Park" (in Rye) in the last few years, as well "Six Flags: Over Georgia", "Paramount's Kings Dominion", "Dollywood", "Opryland", and "Walt Disney World" over the course of my entire life. But I digress...


My fiancee and I decided to do our first "coaster weekend" (more than one park at a time), as it was her birthday last week, and personal problems kept us from going anywhere on our vacation earlier this year.


We live all the way out on Long Island, and drove over to Hershey after work on Friday. There was almost no traffic, though with pit-stops and dinner, it was about a five-hour drive. We got to the hotel near Hersheypark around 10pm or so, and pretty much just collapsed.


I'm not big on detailed reviews, so I'll just give my/our quick thoughts on the rides we rode, as well as the parks themselves:


Storm Runner - Ten times better than KK, and quite possibly the best launch-coaster ever. I generally don't like short coasters, so I don't know if I'd say this is in my Top-5, but WOW was it an awesome ride. The ride-ops really banged-out the lines, too, as lines that would normally take an hour at GAdv took only about 15 minutes there. Top-quality ride, and I gotta say that if it were about 30 seconds longer, it'd probably be one of the best ever.


Great Bear - Really good B&M Invert, though it didn't quite pack the punch of "Batman: The Ride". The track was really spread-out, though, and offered beautiful views of everything.


Sooperdooperlooper - It's old and ugly, but I have a soft-spot for lapbar-loopers. Nice high-G ride with some odd yet still attractive views.


Wild Mouse - Generic carnival-esque Mouse with some nice pops of air.


Lightning Racer - Absolutely GORGEOUS to look at, and a great basis on which to compare more recent wooden coasters. I prefer rough woodies, but this was still a hell of a ride.


Wildcat - Now this is more my speed - a woodie that's nice and rough and bumpy and with lots of laterals.


The Whip - We love whips, and, while this wasn't as intense as others, it was still fun.


We didn't ride Sidewinder, Comet, Roller Soaker, or Trailblazer, though I really wanted to get on "Roller Soaker", but my fiancee didn't want to walk around in wet clothes. We also didn't ride any flats or water-rides, as she isn't big on them, and I've ridden enough of them to know what to expect from most of them.


The park was packed (as most parks are on Saturday), but the ride-ops just BANGED through the lines, and they deserve a LOT of credit for making a jam-packed park seem almost empty in terms of waits. "Great Bear" had what looked to be a two-hour line, and we got on in about 30 minutes. The place was virtually spotless, and had a really nice "old-time fair" feel to it, though I do prefer a little themeing. Neither of us had ever been there, and it was certainly an awesome, awesome trip, with "Storm Runner" being the real show-stealer, and the woodies and "Sooperdooperlooper" being a great "supporting cast".




Saturday night was horrible, as the hotel FORGOT to tell its patrons about its "annual fireworks extravaganza" or whatever - we were exhausted, but couldn't fall back asleep even after the show had stopped. It was so loud that several car-alarms went off during the festivities. Ugh.




Sunday, we hit Dorney on our way home, and it was definitely a pleasant surprise for me, as I hadn't been there, either.


Hydra: The Revenge - I went into this with pretty low expectations. I'm not a big fan of B&M floorless coasters, not so much because they're *bad* coasters (not at all), but I don't find them to be particularly mind-blowing either. I mean, I like "Medusa", but I wouldn't wait more than 20 minutes for it, even less for "Batman: The Dark Knight" at SFNE. Wow, did this ever blow me away, though. It's classified as a floorless because of the trains, though I think it'd be better served to call it a "hang-time" coaster, because that's what you get, tons and tons of hang-time. Every inversion was taken slowly and/or lasted a while, and half the ride was spent with our butts out of the seats (including insane air on the first drop). THIS was an awesome coaster, and is right up there with "Storm Runner" as a coaster that is worth making a trip for. Awesome. If this thing had a "Nitro"-sized lift-hill, it would probably be the greatest modern coaster around.


Talon: The Grip of Fear - Another big Invert, I liked this more than "Great Bear", though slightly less than "Batman: The Ride". Nice long ride-time, with plenty of positive-Gs.


Laser - Like I said above, I have a soft-spot for lapbar-loopers. Not a great ride, but really fun.


Steel Force - More or less the precursor to modern hypers, this was a good ride with nice air-time, though I've been spoiled by the B&M and Intamin hypers.


Thunderhawk - I love rough woodies, and this was pretty good, but not anything mind-blowing.


Air Jumper - I'm not sure of the park's name for the ride ("Meteor"?), but it was some variation of the Air Jumper. I love rides like this, as I keep my hands up at all times, and like the feeling of falling into the restraints when I'm upside-down. I actually came back from the weekend with deep bruises and welts all over my biceps from an entire weekend of not holding onto restraints while upside-down.


Screamin' Swing - This is my new favorite flat-ride. Seriously, if it wasn't an up-charge, I'd have stayed on this all day. That delicious feeling of weightless while being more or less upside-down with only a lapbar providing protection was simply awesome.


I actually think I liked this park more than Hershey - not sure what it was, both parks were clean and beautiful and had some great rides, but I think "Hydra" and the "Screamin' Swing" tilted it in Dorney's favor. Both parks were awesome, though, and should be visited.




Our original plan for the weekend was actually just to do two days at Hershey, but we decided to do Dorney when we noticed that it was actually right on our way. We left Dorney around 4pm or so, as we were absolutely exhausted from the complete lack of sleep the night before (not to mention the heat and all the walking, too). We basically said "that's it, no more, we give", and were ready to head home. After only a few minutes of driving, though, we got a second wind, and decided to hit GAdv on the way home, cuz, d*mn it, for all its faults (poor ride-maintenance, unfriendly patrons, etc.), it's still our favorite place, and after all these other coasters, it was only right to top it all off with a quick ride on "Nitro".


Or at least, "quick" in theory - traffic was INSANE, as it took us two hours to get to the park.


We got to the park around 6pm, and only hit our faves: "Nitro" (her fave), "Rolling Thunder" (my fave), and "Batman: The Ride". We then grabbed dinner at "Wok & Roll" and headed home. The traffic coming home was horrible, and we didn't get home until 2am Monday morning, but it didn't matter - we had just had the best weekend of our lives.




If you're like us, and you need a "reason" to make a long trip to a park (as in, you don't have a ton of money to spend on trips, so it better be worth the money), "Storm Runner" and "Hydra: The Revenge" were both worthy of being called "trip-makers", and every other ride we went on at Hershey and Dorney was at LEAST good, if not great, and we plan on doing this trip again.


And yet, even after going to two better-run, better-operated, better-maintained parks, GAdv is still #1 in our hearts.

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Ah, Storm Runner. Great ride. Far better than Xcelerator in my opinion. I am surprised you liked Hydra as much as you did. I thought it was fun, but not a ride to plan a trip around. The first drop was good, and the little bunny hill was ok, as long as you were in the back seat, but I thought the ride was just meh. We did get like 10 rides in on it the day we went (mothers day, the second day it was open to the public and the park was EMPTY! with NO line for ANYTHING except the wild mouse). But I am glad you had a good time.


As much as you complain about SFGadv, when I went there this spring, I thought that it was run so much better than SFNE. But maybe thats just because it wasnt my home park and I was happy about riding some new coasters. 8)



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Nice TR, you are the first person I have ever heard call Rotting Lumber their favorite ride.


BTW, do you cut yourself or enjoy S and M?


I really don't understand all the hate for "Rolling Thunder" - yeah, it's rough, and that high-pitched, nails-on-blackboard sound of the skid-breaks can make you cringe, but I don't find it as painfully rough as most people seem to think it is. It's gives INSANE ejector-air, and there are strong laterals, but I've never had a problem with, say, bruises on my thighs. Then again, I'm not exactly a big guy; about 5'4, 160 lbs, so my legs aren't ever really squashed against the sides. [Oh, btw, my favorite SPOT on RT is the back row of the left track... I have a lot of back problems - several damaged discs, and it's twisted like a spiral-staircase - and that spot works better than any chiropractor on the planet.]


Now, the "Wild Mouse" at Rye Playland, THAT'S a bruiser! THAT thing gives you bruises on your ribs, under your arms, and down your legs... and I love that, too. Unbanked turns at (relatively) high speeds - go figure.


I wish I had a digi-cam, you got see the deep purple-and-green bruises that are literally COVERING my biceps from the weekend; again, I'm short, so if a ride inverts you in a way that you fall "up" against the restraints, I end-up falling a few inches into it, and, like I said in the TR, I keep my hands up at all times during inversions, meaning that I don't brace the fall in any way.


And yet, for whatever reason, I can't handle Arrow loopers; I'm fine with Vekoma (I actually quite like Boomerangs and SLCs), and I have this weird sort of affinity for the only Togo I've ever ridden ("Viper" at SFGAdv), but Arrow loopers give me almost instantaneous migraines.


I'd write some more, but I have to run to the store before it closes; my new ball-gag is in...

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No worries, others don't understand my love for Magnum either, but out of well over 200 coasters I have ridden, Rotting Lumber is now my least favorite since Viper is now gone.


Magnum = airtime = OUCH!... ( I was all happy to go on it, but it just seemed a little rough to be a really famous coaster imo )

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