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Photo TR: Andy's 2014 New Hotness / East Coast TPR Tour


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Always love your well written reviews and stories, Andy - combine them with your photos and that's an A+ trip report! The 2014 visit was unfortunately a foreshadow to every visit I had to SFGAm in 2015. It's now my home park and a struggle to have a decent trip without a Q-Bot. Hope to see you soon and read more of your reports in the mean time!

-Zach

Thanks Zach! Sorry your visits in 2015 weren't great either. Like I said earlier, I'm a little hesitant to push submit on a critical review when my source material is over a year old, but unfortunately it doesn't sound like 2015 was any better than 2014 for SFGAm. You aren't the first person I've heard that from, either.

 

Wonderful report as always Andy. You forgot one positive outcome out of that day for you guys - the operations and management at SFGadv heard about that experience and totally upped their game for those of us on the 2nd half of that trip

Shhhh!

 

You bring up a very interesting hypothetical, though.

 

The SFGAm experience led SFGAdv to, shall we say, pleasantly overcompensate. ERT, line skips, and incredible interaction with the staff.

 

Given the two parks, and the possibility to have an excellent, perk-filled day at one of the two-- would any enthusiast in their right minds really pick SFGAm?

 

Not that you can excuse the negative, but does it make it easier to appreciate the positive?

 

It was also a different PR person we were dealing with then. Shame they lost him. But on the flip side, the park that he's at now is most certainly benefiting from his talent!

 

Don't know if it's the same guy, but Brandon Bruce was quite good to us in 2013, his last season at SFGAm.

 

However how come the pics you've taken of the waterpark were completely deserted? (was it at the end of the day?) As for Goliath i'm quite surprised that the operations were in the okay to good range, as it is compulsory to let a ride op crush your lab by pressing the restraint far too tight .

 

Correct on the first one -- we rode the tower after 6PM, so I believe the water park had just closed. It was also not a particularly warm day, so I don't know how busy it was in the first place.

 

As for RMC's restraints, I've had good luck with them -- I find them among the most comfortable of any coaster trains in the business, but I know that may not be the case for everyone.

 

...it's nice to see the negative side of things now and again so that you can appreciate when other parks get it right.

 

Absolutely. Puts things into perspective -- how "spoiled" I was that the only two parks I ever visited as a child were Cedar Point and Disney World. How "spoiled" I was to have never even set foot in a Six Flags park until 2013! SFGAm was really the only negative "park experience" on the entire 2014 trip, and though we visited a couple other parks I wasn't hugely fond of, we were still treated well and had pleasant interactions with the staff.

 

SDC & a return visit to Dollywood just got bumped above our (once tentatively) planned Texas and Chicago trips based on what I have read. I would much rather visit parks that are actually serious with providing all guests with a fun filled, enjoyable day rather than park management that only cares about turning a profit.

 

...and there's two examples of parks that definitely have the whole attitude thing figured out. Two of the best in the business and exactly as you described.

 

As for SFOT, yes -- the 2013 trip didn't have a great day there (maybe not as bad as SFGAm) and I was one of several to publish honest trip reports about it. Still, and maybe it's because I like that park's coaster collection better, I am hoping to return to SFOT, which means...

 

We've actually had some really nice discussions with the folks at SFOT recently and we look forward to visiting the park again!

 

...that's some very encouraging news.

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^ & ^^ I am really glad to hear that things are changing for the better at SFOT! This is a park that I really want to get to (as well as SFFT) so I will be most curious to see & read the reviews from the next TPR gathering there.

 

SFGam still sounds like it needs a lot of work (and perhaps some new management), so maybe we'll bump that trip down to #4 after Branson, Pigeon Forge and Texas.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Day 6 (AM) -- Intermission

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

 

Might want to make sure your alarm is set correctly for a 4:15 AM CDT departure.

 

The first half of TPR's 2014 US tour (Mini New Hotness) came to an end early on a Wednesday morning in Chicago, but a small group -- about 12 people -- were continuing ahead to Harrisburg for the second half (Mini East Coast). Those connecting onward to Pennsylvania headed to O'Hare for a short flight east. We had to brave the ridiculous check-in lines -- United did not make a fan out of me -- and waited for our departure. Waited a little longer than we'd have preferred, actually. Somehow, without any pre-planning, the entire TPR group had a cohesive block of seats near the front of the plane. No idea how we managed that!

 

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Yes, the flight attendant was late. The ERJ-145 is a small plane, with about 50 seats. Thus, the ERJ-145 has a small crew. Thus, if you're late for work, that plane isn't taking off until you're clocked in. She did have quite the ridiculous grin on her face, after finally arriving nearly an hour late.

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TPR Takeover of United 3380! Put your tray tables up, straighten out the seat backs, and enjoy the flight with Michael (behind the camera), Laura, Ryan, Colin, Chuck, and myself.

 

(credit to Michael Goodwin for the picture -- thanks!)

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Good morning TPR.

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Goodbye, Chicago.

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Goodbye, and good riddance, O'Hare!

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Hello, Harrisburg!

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Hello, Susquehanna River and Three Mile Island -- or as I prefer to describe it, "if Six Flags ran a nuke plant."

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Nice view of the river while coming in to land from the south.

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A scene from a dystopian science fiction film, or Harrisburg International Airport? Your call.

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This may be a hint for our next park destination.

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The great seal of Harrisburg International Airport.

 

Wait a second -- international?

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Oh, there's an observation deck?

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Nice view, and the answer to the question: that little Air Canada Express prop plane en route to Toronto is why Harrisburg is an International Airport.

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A scene anyone on the trip will recognize -- our meeting spot!

On the big picture, what can I say about the switch from Mini New Hotness to Mini East Coast? The pace was much more relaxed. Discounting only the long Knoebels day, it was the easiest of the four weeks I'd spent with TPR. The shorter travel distances helped a lot with that, and some planned free evenings also provided a chance to catch a breath and settle down.

 

We arrived in Pennsylvania at around 9:30 AM (now back in Eastern time) and had a little bit of time to kill before the official start of the trip. We met the new trip participants, and left the airport just before 12:30 PM. Our first stop was a welcome lunch at Lancaster Brewing Company in Harrisburg, and our next stop was the great amusement park just 20-30 minutes away...

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Day 6 (PM) and Day 7 -- Hersheypark

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

 

Scorecard (Wednesday):

 

Lightning Racer [Thunder]

Lightning Racer [Lightning]

Wildcat

Cocoa Cruiser

Trailblazer

Flying Falcon

Comet

Skyrush

Superdooperlooper

Great Bear

Coal Cracker

-- Dinner --

Skyrush (x2)

Fahrenheit (x4) (ERT)

Storm Runner (x12) (ERT)

 

Scorecard (Thursday):

 

Skyrush (x4) (ERT)

Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge

Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour

-- Lunch --

Monorail

Storm Runner

Wild Mouse

Lightning Racer [Thunder]

Lightning Racer [Lightning]

Fahrenheit

Kissing Tower (x2)

Skyview

Skyrush

 

The Report:

 

Split between two days, the TPR Mini East Coast trip kicked off with about 16 and a half hours at Hersheypark -- 8 hours on Wednesday, and another 6 and a half hours on Thursday. This wasn't my first visit to the chocolate-themed park in Hershey, Pennsylvania, as I'd previously spent a day at the park in June of 2010. Fahrenheit was the new ride back then, and this would be my first visit since the opening of Skyrush. To note: this trip report is from the summer of 2014, so Laff Trakk had yet to be announced.

 

After our Mini East Coast welcome lunch at Lancaster Brewing Company, we arrived at Hersheypark just after 3 PM. We received our Fast Track passes and meal vouchers, and head out on our own until it was time for the park to close. Finding lines to be generally manageable, my group was able to get through a wide assortment of coasters and other rides before night began to fall. I was thrilled to get my first ride on Skyrush, as well as revisiting an old favorite in Lightning Racer. Flying Falcon, the park's Condor, was also a must-ride -- those aren't easy to find, and it was my first time ever trying one out.

 

We didn't stop for dinner until around 9 PM in the Pioneer Frontier area, where this Greek was disappointed to learn that the employees of Hersheypark don't know how to pronounce "gyro" correctly. I was much less disappointed by the meal, which was actually quite good. Right around then is when some good luck came my way -- though I'd planned one more ride on Skyrush, a random person leaving the park gave me a Fast Track pass for another ride on Skyrush. That enabled two quick rides before the park closed, and before I had to prepare to meet the group for our evening ERT session.

 

The whole TPR group met up at about 945 PM in the picnic area just west of Fahrenheit. We had been promised 30 minutes of ERT on Storm Runner, but those plans were changed for the better -- we were given a full hour on both Storm Runner and Fahrenheit! Once the queues cleared out, we enjoyed ERT from 1030 PM to 1130 PM, and made the absolute most of it. I had sixteen total rides between the two coasters, both of which are among my favorites. What an awesome end to a very long day! Leaving the park an hour and a half after closing time, we arrived at our hotel just past midnight.

 

In what was one of just a couple quick turnarounds on the Mini East Coast trip, we left the hotel on Thursday morning at about 815 AM, and got into Hersheypark in plenty of time for the 930 AM hotel guest ERT in The Hollow. That gave us the run of several coasters in the vicinity -- Skyrush / Superdooperlooper / Great Bear / Comet -- all with very short waits. I think most of the TPR group simply stuck to Skyrush, and I was able to get in four rides in just over a half hour.

 

After a couple other rides, my group exited the park to head to Hershey's Chocolate World at about 1045 AM. Chocolate World is not technically part of Hersheypark, which means that anyone can visit without park admission. If you're into chocolate, though, you'll probably spend about as much money as a Hersheypark ticket before you even realize it. While at Chocolate World, we all decided to stop for lunch. Lunch was ice cream and dessert. That's how you're supposed to do it in Hershey, right?

 

We re-entered Hersheypark at about 1215 PM, with a few coasters to revisit, and three scenic rides (the Monorail, the Kissing Tower, and the Skyview chair lift) still on the agenda. While the rest of my group went for a ride on Comet, I rode the Kissing Tower twice so I could get more pictures. I'm pretty sure you'd never find that sentence in another person's trip report.

 

After closing the visit with a final ride on Skyrush, we checked our watches and headed out of the park. My group, along with at least a dozen other TPR members, apparently underestimated the distance from the front gate to the bus. Our departure time of 4 PM was thankfully extended to 401 PM, as a whole bunch of us were about 200 feet away from being left behind. Hey, at least we could have pooled money for cab fares.

 

After leaving Hersheypark, our next stop was Funck's Restaurant in nearby Palmyra. After another great group dinner, we headed back to our hotel, ending the official activities for the day at 645 PM. I wasn't quite done for the night -- I discovered that the KOA campground across the street had a general store with an ice cream parlor, so I gladly gluttonized for the second or third time that day. Back in the hotel by 830 PM, it was time to rest up in anticipation of a very long day ahead on Friday.

 

Overall Impressions:

 

Hersheypark exceeded my expectations when I visited in 2010, and after adding Skyrush in the interim years, it did so again in 2014. Simply put, Hersheypark has one of the most astoundingly awesome top-heavy coaster collections in the country. I look at it this way: how many other parks have a third-best coaster as good as Fahrenheit? All three Intamins are easily in my top 20 for steel coasters, and maybe top 15. Step down from there and you've got a classic Schwarzkopf, a good B&M invert, and one of the most fun dueling GCI coasters around. I did say that the collection was top-heavy -- it's a steep drop off after those six, but what a top six it is.

 

How about the feel of the park? I'd put it on par with most of the good Cedar Fair parks -- Kings Island would be a good example. It's a little bit corporate, but there are enough unique elements that it doesn't feel like a theme-less cookie-cutter collection of rides, as some of the lower-end Cedar Fair (or most of the Six Flags chain) are like. I'll admit -- though it's not like there's anything they can do about it -- the park's layout is confusing. I've spent three days there now, and I still don't think I completely know my way around. A big part of that is the natural ravine, and I think it's a fair tradeoff -- the varied landscape around Spring Creek is worth the indirect paths and hilly hikes. Finally, I think that Hersheypark and Hershey have a remarkably interesting history -- among the most interesting of any park in the country.

 

Hersheypark is sometimes skewed for inconsistent operations. I can't remember having any issues -- in fact, many of the ride ops were quite cordial and efficient. I don't go into a park like Hersheypark expecting Cedar Point's speed, Herschend's friendliness, or Disney's mix of the two. That said, I was quite happy with the experience -- Hersheypark was far closer to the above examples than to, for instance, Six Flags Great America. For the middle of summer, the crowds were very manageable. Some of that simply has to be attributed to the operations, though our weekday visits and the very busy water park also had something to do with it. As for the Fast Track system? It's alright. It lacks the simplicity of a Cedar Fair Fast Lane, and it doesn't provide the all-day effectiveness of a Six Flags Flash Pass. It definitely helped us move through a few of the higher-demand coasters, but I can see some room for improvement.

 

I live within a day's drive of Hersheypark, so I'm hoping I'll be able to make a trip there every few years. Hersheypark is easily one of my top 10 favorite parks overall, and probably in my top 5 for standard amusement parks. I've traveled a lot in the past three or four years, so that's a pretty big statement. Just one question left to ask: when's the next big Intamin going to arrive?

 

One final mention -- was great to see Hershey employee Chris C, TPR member and veteran of the 2013 US trip. We had some good times on the Texas/Midwest tour, and shared a few more during ERT on Wednesday night.

 

The Attractions:

 

Skyrush: What a rush! This was one of my most anticipated coasters on the 2014 trip, and it did not disappoint at all. The layout is simple, but the setting is great, and the non-stop array of positive and negative forces make Skyrush one of the most exciting coasters I've ever been on. Yes, I'll mention the restraints -- they were uncomfortable, and only unlocked on the brake run if we were going to be sitting for a minute or so. It's a small negative on an outstanding ride, and it didn't really affect my enjoyment of the coaster at all. Skyrush is definitely a coaster, like Maverick, that you have to learn how to ride. Anticipating the turns and hills does make it more enjoyable. Some people have said that the lift runs slower than it did in the past, and that Skyrush was actually more intense after it had first opened. I never experienced the ride that way, so all I can say is that I thought it was just the right amount of fun and intensity. To note: I loved Skyrush -- it's in my top 10 steel for sure -- but I'm one of the few enthusiasts with a lukewarm reaction to I-305. Finally, let's give Skyrush credit for its capacity: that line moves fast.

 

Storm Runner: Despite my praise for Skyrush, Storm Runner remains one of my absolute favorite roller coasters -- a top 5 steel for certain, along with Millennium Force, Maverick, Kumba, and Medusa Steel Coaster. Storm Runner is such a fun combination of elements, kicking the whole thing off with an intense launch, and then doing several bizarre maneuvers that very few coasters attempt. Who doesn't love the Flying Snake Dive? I do think it's a little short, but it makes the most of its length. I was thrilled to ride it 12 times in about 40 minutes during our Wednesday night ERT.

 

Fahrenheit: Fahrenheit is my third favorite coaster at Hersheypark, but it would be at least #2 at just about any other park I've visited. The beyond-vertical drop is just as fun as Maverick's, and the compact array of elements make a nice complement to the very different layout of Storm Runner. Fahrenheit also has one of the only cobra rolls I actually enjoy.

 

Great Bear: Yeah, the layout is bizarre -- no question. The first half of the ride is a lot of fun, even if it slows down a bit in the second half. Don't go in expecting Batman intensity, and you'll probably have a good time. It's a mid-tier invert, but easily worth a ride or two on every visit. As of 2016, Great Bear is the sixth oldest of Hersheypark's 13 operating coasters. I can only imagine how big of a deal it was when it was installed!

 

Superdooperlooper: The classic Schwarzkopf with the hilarious name is not one of Anton's most intense creations. However, it's an outstanding upper-tier family coaster, especially for those ready to try their first inversion. It may not be one of my very favorites, but it's fun for one or two rides, and holds an important place in the park's history.

 

Lightning Racer: I admit that I hadn't been on many good wooden coasters until the 2014 TPR US trip, but before that trip, Lightning Racer was #2/#3 on my list -- right behind Outlaw Run. Now in early 2016, through no fault of its own, it's going to fall a few slots -- behind Phoenix, El Toro, Kentucky Rumbler, Thunderhead, Goliath, and maybe one or two others. That still places Lightning Racer comfortably in the top ten, and for good reason -- it's simply a ton of fun. It's not particularly intense, and the individual layouts aren't particularly unique. However, it's smooth, extremely re-ridable, and has the totally unfair advantage of a remarkably creative dueling layout. Full credit to the Hersheypark ops -- every single ride cycle was dispatched to duel, and the race between Thunder and Lightning was always exciting.

 

Wildcat: Well, Lightning Racer ends the run of the awesome top 6 (or 7) coasters at Hersheypark. It's all downhill from here. Wildcat remains my least favorite GCI coaster. It was the first coaster they ever built, and just hasn't aged as well as others. It's not unbearably rough, but it isn't exactly comfortable -- though the front row isn't too bad. More importantly, GCI clearly grew better at putting layouts together later on -- this one isn't as inspiring as its neighbor across the water park.

 

Wild Mouse: It's a mouse, so it's not going to be great. That's a given. I have to give Hersheypark some credit, though -- they run this one fast, with limited use of brakes, and high capacity. I have a picture (posted below) with four cars on the course at once. That's impressive, even if the ride isn't!

 

Trailblazer: The 2013 TPR tour visited some awesome Arrow mine trains. The 2014 TPR tour would not be so lucky. Trailblazer is one of the most bland and uneventful mine train rides I've been on. It's a once-for-the-credit ride only.

 

Comet: As far as classic wooden coasters go, Comet just isn't a favorite. I do like the layout (a modified double out-and-back with a turn on the second leg), but found the airtime underwhelming, and the tracking a little rough.

 

Cocoa Cruiser: On Page 1 of this thread, you may recall I nicknamed this trip the "awful Zamperla kiddie coaster" tour. This is a big part of the reason why -- the second of five such coasters I'd ride for the credit and curse on the brake run. I just don't understand how a small coaster like this can have such jarring transitions. It would help if the seats weren't flat, hard plastic. Just not a comfortable experience by any means.

 

Monorail: Hersheypark's monorail is an interesting ride -- the six-minute cycle actually goes well outside the park's boundaries, circling through a section of downtown Hershey near the company's new 19 East Chocolate Avenue offices, the Hershey theater, and just west of the location of the original Hershey plant (noted by the iconic smokestacks). Those views are interesting, but the remarkable angles of some of the park's coasters -- Storm Runner in particular -- are also well worth the ride.

 

Kissing Tower: Located at the south end of Hersheypark, the Kissing Tower offers views of the same downtown area as the monorail, but it's the sky-high views of the rest of the park that are of most interest. The Kissing Tower's greatest aesthetic asset -- the windows shaped like Hershey's Kisses -- are also its greatest challenge for photographers. Thankfully, there's a work-around -- request a seat near the flat sliding doors, and you'll be able to snap away without distortion.

 

Skyview: Admittedly, this chair lift isn't much of a "sky view" -- it traverses the lowest section of Hersheypark at low elevation. Nonetheless, there are some outstanding views of Great Bear and Skyrush, so it's definitely worth a ride.

 

Coal Cracker: Applause for another classic log flume that hasn't yet met the chopping block! There are two reasons why I rank Coal Cracker as an above-average flume. First, the ride spends a significant amount of time at a raised elevation. Second, the splash at the end isn't overwhelmingly wet. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.

 

Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge: First, evaluating this dark ride solely as an interactive shooter, I have to admit that it's pretty good. As for the story? Imagine you've got a bunch of mid-90s kids playing extreme sports -- surfing, rollerblading, and rock climbing. Next, dress them up in Hershey's corporate sponsorships, ten acid trips worth of spinning and glowing props, and two wannabe-ESPN talking head sportscasters. Finally, put targets all around them, and start shooting! Yeah, it's pretty crazy.

 

Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour: Want a 9-minute crash course in making chocolate? Located at Chocolate World, here's a near-Disney-quality dark ride that explains the process of confection manufacturing (perhaps in ways that are most agreeable to the Hershey company). Complete with singing animatronic cows and an earworm song you'll never get out of your head, no visit to Hersheypark is complete without a ride on the chocolate tour.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 6/7 -- The Pictures (Part 1)

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Welcome to Hersheypark -- established in 1907! This photo report will focus on the park's attractions, but I hope to share a little about the history of the area outside the park as well.

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The Fast Track Pass for Day 1: Comet, Skyrush, Superdooperlooper, Great Bear, and Storm Runner. I couldn't find my Day 2 pass, but I believe we had Fahrenheit, Storm Runner, Wild Mouse, and two others.

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Who is Milton Hershey? He's the namesake for the community, the Hershey chocolate company, the Milton Hershey School, and a whole lot of other things.

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The statue of Milton Hershey appears to be made entirely of chocolate.

 

Milton Snavely Hershey was born in 1857, and started making candy in the 1890s. In the early 1900s, he focused his efforts on chocolate, beginning construction on his first factory in Hershey in 1903. He later founded the Hershey Industrial School, now the Milton Hershey School, as a school for orphans. Hershey died in his namesake community in 1945.

 

From one angle, Hershey was a wildly successful businessman, known both for his chocolates and his philanthropy.

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From another angle, Hershey's legacy lives on in the thrill rides and family attractions at his namesake amusement park.

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Skyrush and Great Bear (pictured here) are two of the most prominent coasters near the Hersheypark entrance.

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Skyrush was one of my most anticipated rides of the trip.

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Two very different roller coasters share their location in The Hollow. Skyrush was built in 2012, and Comet was built in 1946.

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Comet isn't a bad ride, but it's not one of my favorite classic wooden coasters.

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Lightning Racer, on the other hand, is pretty spectacular.

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Posting this so I never have an excuse to forget which name corresponds to each train color.

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GCI Millennium Flyer trains are some of the most comfortable in the industry.

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Fahrenheit decided to drop in on this photo of Wildcat and the Kissing Tower.

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Wildcat crests a hill.

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Wildcat's name is stylized as "The Wildcat" on the train-front logo.

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Zach and Sean pick the front row on Wildcat, because they are smart people.

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I was incredibly excited to get ERT on Storm Runner, a ride that remains one of my top 5 steel coasters.

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Heading down the top hat. Sure hope you enjoy air time.

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Flying snake dive! Awesome element. Better name.

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Loose change (or glasses/phones/etc) might not be a good idea on Storm Runner.

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Time for a ride on the classic Flying Falcon.

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Condor rides aren't easy to find in the US. I thought it was fun!

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Back to The Hollow for a view over Spring Creek.

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Multi-train multi-coaster pictures are pretty easy here, with four coasters in close proximity.

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Great Bear completes the vertical loop...

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...and heads into the first of several straight parts.

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The big turnaround looks nice against a crisp blue sky.

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Inversions are fun.

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Ian and Scott (not Scott Ian, the guy from Anthrax) are excited for their upcoming ride on Great Bear.

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Night falls. Coaster pictures get blurrier.

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The lights come on and things start looking nice.

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Night rides on Skyrush? Awesome.

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Watch out for that first drop.

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Almost time for ERT on Fahrenheit!

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A few good views from the picnic area next to the ride.

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Last picture of the night before ERT started up!

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Good morning, Pennsylvania! Let's head back to Hershey for another day at the park.

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Most of TPR heads straight to Skyrush. The Simko family approves!

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Thumbs up from Dan because Skyrush is awesome.

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More approval from Charles and David in the front row!

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I refuse to make any Cocoa Cruiser jokes. Instead, I will laugh at the train full of TPR members riding Awful Zamperla Kiddie Coaster #2 of 5!

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This is intense.

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Well at least you're acting like you're having fun.

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Or, acting like you're disgusted.

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Credits granted for AJ, Nathan, Troy, and Zach. Why am I not in the picture? Because I got the credit the day before. I wasn't riding twice.

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Our scores on the "shooting 90s kids playing extreme sports" dark ride. I have no recollection of which one is mine, or if these values are any good.

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On our way out to Chocolate World, we passed the huge mass of people just entering the park for the morning. Glad to not be in that line!

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We have arrived at Hershey's Chocolate World! This was the first Chocolate World location, and originally opened in 1973.

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The building design takes inspiration from the original Hershey factory, and is even done up with a scaled-down decorative version of the famous Hershey smoke stacks.

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Here's what it looks like inside the building -- and this is probably less than half of the retail space! If you can't find the Hershey merchandise you're looking for, it probably doesn't exist.

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This is the real reason we're here -- the dark ride!

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Here's the story, for those unaware. For a long time, the actual Hershey factory offered tours, so that people could see how chocolate was made. Eventually, that became impractical, and a dark ride simulation of the chocolate-making process was created at Chocolate World instead. The ride has gone through several revisions since Chocolate World first opened.

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The entire ride setup is very Disney-esque. You'll be transported past several cows along the way.

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Also Disney-esque? The theme song that Gabby, Harmony, and Olympia will have burned into your brain by the time the 9 or 10 minutes are up.

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Time to enter the factory.

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First, we'll do some bean blending, whatever that is.

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Today, we have beans from Ecuador.

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We'll blend those with beans from West Africa, ensuring a multi-cultural chocolate experience.

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At some point in the production, these chocolate discs move down the line.

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Then, cows sing again, which is apparently a very crucial part of the manufacturing process.

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Add sugar and milk to taste.

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Mix it all up on closed-circuit TV.

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Roll and refine.

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The scoreboard! The amorous kisses are far in the lead. KitKat was too busy sponsoring Android v4.4 to show up for the big game.

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Want some chocolate syrup? It's part of the tour.

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The Kiss Depositor is the creepy guy in middle school your mom warned you about.

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Near the end of the tour is the "random cities" room. Imagine that -- we just came from Chicago. Your amusement park sucks.

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This is foreshadowing, is it not?

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Also Disney-esque? On-ride photo. Your photographer is a cow.

 

I'd buy one if they carved the picture out of chocolate.

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Immediately after exiting the ride, we were exiled into the jungle of the Amazon.

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This is too easy.

 

We're waiting, Hershey. When do we get ROLOcoaster?

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This is a novelty item, right? Nobody can actually eat 5 pounds of chocolate, right?

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Maybe this $195 paperweight is more your style.

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Or, maybe you just want a picture with a giant anthropomorphic Hershey's Kiss.

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Chocolate World actually has several good options for lunch, making it a nice alternative to eating in the park.

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I was rather drawn to the dessert showcase.

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But, let's face it, the mega-sized ice cream counter is the place to be.

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This is lunch. This is what eight days of walking around theme parks had earned me.

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Oh, and there's a pretty nice view of Skyrush from Chocolate World -- but not just Skyrush! That's a three-train shot with Comet and Superdooperlooper also representing.

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Heading back toward the park, and passing another piece of history. The Hershey Pool was a major attraction at Hersheypark for decades, before being closed in 1971.

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The Lighthouse from the original Hershey Pool has been re-installed near the park's entrance.

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A picture of Milton and Catherine (Kitty) Hershey near the front of the park. The text on the sign reads:

 

"Hershey Entertainment and Resorts is proud to help fulfill the dream of our mutual founder, Milton S. Hershey, by supporting Milton Hershey School, the largest home and school in the world, as it continues to provide opportunities for children in need."

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Heading up to the monorail, there's a nice view of the Skyrush lift hill, with a rather indistinctive apartment building behind it.

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Just about to the good part.

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I am the eye in the sky, looking at you.

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A wide view over The Hollow from the monorail.

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Well, that sure makes Comet look small.

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It's a quick glance through the trees, but a perfect straight-on view of the Skyrush lift hill.

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Great views of Storm Runner from the monorail.

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Then, suddenly, we're out of the park.

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Welcome to downtown Hershey! It was heavily under construction during our visit in 2014.

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This view to the east encompasses much of what was formerly the main Hershey factory, which has largely been removed. Local production was transferred to a new facility just a few miles to the west, with other facilities elsewhere in the US, Mexico, and Brazil.

 

Since the closure of the original factory, this area has been undergoing renovations. A new office building (19 East Chocolate Avenue) is in place, and a few of the old factory's historic elements (such as the smoke stacks) were preserved.

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You're all looking at Skyrush, but take a second glance at the foreground: the street lights are Hershey's Kisses.

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This large building is the Hershey Theater, home to a historic venue for concerts and plays. Milton Hershey originally conceived of the theater in the 1910s, and hired architect C. Emlen Urban for the design. The theater was eventually completed in 1933.

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Consider Your Appearance Pardoned, Hershey Company!

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This is part of the new Hershey office building at 19 East Chocolate Avenue. I like the design, so you're getting a close-up picture of it!

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The park looks so far away from here.

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Here are those famous smokestacks, which are no longer in use, but will remain standing as a local landmark.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 6/7 -- The Pictures (Part 2)

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I've gone this far in the report without even mentioning ZooAmerica!

 

ZooAmerica is a small wildlife park connected to Hersheypark. It's free with Hersheypark admission, but can also be entered from the south for a much lower price. In my three days at Hersheypark, I've yet to find the time to visit the zoo, so that will be a must-do whenever I return.

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The view at the east end of the Hersheypark property: three coasters on the left, and a completely random street scene on the right.

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Say it again: flying snake dive!

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This view is only available from the monorail, and it's a good one.

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Trailblazer is pretty forgettable, but the monorail is pretty much the only way to get any decent pictures of it.

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Back on the ground, let's head over toward Sidewinder. That's the only coaster I haven't even mentioned yet. Why? I got the credit in 2010, and had zero interest in riding a boomerang in 2014!

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Sidewinder is one of few boomerangs to use a new type of restraint -- vest-style, similar to recent B&M coasters. The lack of head-banging would definitely make for a more pleasant ride experience.

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Storm Runner! Storm Tracker! Crazy lightning cloud horse (on fire) runner!

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Hands up on the launch? You sure about that?

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Who's Kirk?

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Few better ways to start a coaster than with a high-powered Intamin launch.

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Want some roaming entertainment? The Piano Express has you covered.

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Singing while driving through a crowded theme park? Looks tricky.

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Actually, this would be pretty fun. Especially if you're not the one driving.

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Heaven smiled down and said "let there be Fahrenheit."

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Hope you enjoy Fahrenheit, because there are several more pictures to follow.

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The lift isn't overly tall -- 121 feet -- but it gets the job done!

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Plus, it's vertical, which is actually kind of relaxing -- though bright, if you're looking into the sun.

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Crest the top, and if you're in the back row...

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...prepare for the coaster to try to eject you from your seat.

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Here it is! One of the only cobra rolls on the planet I actually enjoy!

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Fahrenheit gets an airborne visitor. Where are we flying today?

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Over to the Boardwalk for a quick look at the water park.

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East Coast Water Works is still one of the largest water play structures I've seen.

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It definitely has a seaside park / Coney Island type of theme, which works well for a park not far from the east coast.

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I really like the way the Boardwalk is seamlessly integrated with the rest of Hersheypark. The only problem is the way it cuts Lightning Racer off from the rest of the park.

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Take a close look at this picture -- there are four cars going through the Wild Mouse circuit! The capacity they were hitting on this ride -- for a mouse -- was outstanding.

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Splash boats always make for good pictures...

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...and Tidal Force is one of the biggest!

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People in background: "arghrghrghrahehohowherewhorh."

 

People in foreground: "nope."

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Tidal Force is pretty tall for a water ride -- 100 feet.

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Get ready for the plunge.

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That's a big splash and a guaranteed soaker.

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Photographers on the main walkway might want to be careful with the mist.

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How about some zoomed shots under the bridge? Here's the moment just before impact.

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The splash hits full force...

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...and the photographer snaps one more and backs away quickly, nonetheless finding his camera a little damp.

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The Tidal Force area also offers some pretty good views of Fahrenheit, especially the back half of the ride.

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Next up is some aerial photography on the Kissing Tower.

 

Opened in 1975, the Kissing Tower is built on one of the highest points in the park -- only the area near the north end of Wildcat is higher. The cabin rises 250 feet above the ground, and it's a total of 330 feet to the top of the flagpole.

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Here's a look at the same area of downtown that the monorail ride passes through.

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A view over the Hershey Theater. Way off in the distance, the main campus of the Milton Hershey School can also be seen. The big domed structure is Founders Hall.

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A downtown parking garage, and a covered bridge across the array of train tracks. At the bottom-right of the shot...

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...is Coal Cracker, the awesome old-school log flume!

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It's not a big drop, and it's not a wet drop -- just a fun, classic ride.

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Here's a view to the west, with prominent appearances by Great Bear and Skyrush.

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Great Bear's drawn-out pre-drop sequence is one of its most notable elements.

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Superdooperlooper is down there also! Here's a train passing under the namesake loop.

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A wider view over The Hollow, with several of the park's major coasters.

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Skyrush picks up some airtime on the first hill after the drop.

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Now looking northwest. Off in the distance to the left is the Giant Center, home to the AHL Hershey Bears. To the right is Hersheypark Stadium, host to concerts and soccer games.

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In the middle is Hersheypark Arena, which was built in 1936. It's the original home of the Bears, and now home to a few local college teams.

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The east end of the park has two Intamins, two (or three) GCIs, and The Boardwalk.

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On the hill across Hersheypark Drive is the landmark "Welcome to Hershey" sign, standing in front of the Milton Hershey School's Catherine Hall.

 

Here's a lesser-known piece of Hershey history. The strip of pavement at the bottom of the hill is part of the runway from the old Hershey Airpark. Yes, there used to be a general aviation airport right across the street from Hersheypark! The Hershey company closed the airport in 1981, but most of the pavement from the runway is still there.

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Way off in the distance is the Hotel Hershey, which is a pretty big resort! Part of Milton Hershey's "Great Building Campaign" during the depression, the Hotel Hershey was finished in 1933, at around the same time as the Hershey Theater. Hersheypark Arena and Hersheypark Stadium were also constructed later in the same decade.

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Here are Fahrenheit and Wildcat...

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...and on the other side of the water park, Lightning Racer and Tidal Force.

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Park Avenue is all that separates Hersheypark from the residential area just to the east.

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Looking east, the hilly terrain of southern Pennsylvania is evident.

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There's those smokestacks again.

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Here's the new 19 East Chocolate Avenue facility that was under construction when we visited in 2014, located (at least partially) on the site of the original Hershey factory.

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Not every office building has a tourist monorail passing right next to the windows.

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A view out to the open Pennsylvania countryside.

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Some of the older homes just south of Chocolate Avenue in Hershey.

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See? Chocolate Ave. Says so right on the sign.

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"...and to your left is a fantastic parking lot..."

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A few more views on the way down.

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The Flying Falcon looks nice from about equal height.

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This weird element, whatever it's called, is a lot of fun.

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Finally, the key shot from the whole photo set. With that, we'll head back to ground level.

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Duck.

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The poorly-named Skyview chair lift -- which actually drops in elevation for the majority of its outbound circuit -- is our next destination.

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But first, here's a couple more pictures of Storm Runner, because it's my favorite coaster at the park.

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It's just so twisted, and looks almost awkward, but rides as smooth as can be.

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Welcome to The Hollow.

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Flying over the Comet station.

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Skyrush is just next door.

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One is as modern as they come, and the other is a classic. Somehow, they work alright together.

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POV shot from the chair lift. If you're looking for expansive views, stick to the Kissing Tower. If you want some unique angles of the nearby coasters, give it a ride!

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A big turn on Superdooperlooper is ahead to the left.

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One train shot!

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Two train shot!

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Three train shot! Ah ah ah ah ah.

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Nathan and Troy say hello.

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Now they get a portrait with a big B&M blazing by in the background.

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What else is Great Bear famous for? Its bizarre support structure.

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You can get pretty close to Great Bear on the chair lift, but it's moving fast, and tough to photograph!

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A look back at the Skyrush lift hill, with a train just getting ready to crest.

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A lucky rooftop reflection makes the shot.

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Coming back into the station.

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Time to leave the park. I took this picture of the stadium while I should have been at full sprint for the bus. Oops.

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Welcome to Hershey -- and now, goodbye to Hershey!

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The sweetest place on earth. Well, I can't eat all that much chocolate before checking out, but I'm sure I'll be back for the coasters.

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Day 7 post-script!

 

Was I the only one who found the ice cream shop across the street from our hotel?

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What to order?

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I'll just take something small -- pineapple and vanilla with a cherry on top, because everything deserves a cherry on top.

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The sun sets over the hotel, bringing an end to another fun TPR day.

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Thanks for reading, and stay tuned. The next part of the trip report may be the most fun of the entire tour!

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Fahrenheit has grown on me. I didn't care for it at first, but it was running very well during the Mini East Coast Trip.

 

Same here. My favorite part is the very nice pop of air just before the turn into the brakes. My only gripe is that it's low capacity.

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Loved this day!! I also have to say that Skyrush completely blew me away. The restraints were a tad uncomfortable, but took absolutely nothing away from the ride for me (which you can probably tell from the dumbfounded / dumb look on my face in that picture.)

 

As always, thanks Andy for such great pictures!!!!

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thumb_20140731_0185.jpg

 

I LOVE this pic!! Really shows the massive height difference of the two rides, and an interesting contrast of a wooden support structure versus the nearly non-existent Skyrush support structure. Really cool shot.

 

I really gotta get back out to Hershey next year to give Skyrush a second chance. I've been there 3x, the last being 2 weeks after Skyrush opened. Due to time constraints and 3 hour storm delay, I only got one ride on ir, and wasn't in the best mood to give it a fair shot. The restraints bothered me, and because I didn't anticipate the combo of forces plus the openess of the train, I was fighting to keep myself upright nearly half the ride. Now that I know how to ride it, I really wanna give it another go. It should be up there on my list with Toro/Wicked Cyclone/SFNE Superman/Voyage, but it might not even be in my top 10.

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Skyrush was completely insane! Intamin was really pushing the limits with that one.

 

I have to admit that you looked a little shell-shocked in that photo of you on Skyrush, Chuck! And that was probably also the same look that I had on my face after the first time that I rode Skyrush! Something like....WTF just happened....what just happened to me???

 

As far as the 5 lb Hershey bar, my partner bought that for his two grand-kids at the Hershey Highmeadow Campground....it took them close to one full year for them (and Mom and Dad) to eat it all. Obviously, it had to be store in the freezer the entire time, but they were able to eat it all!

 

Great photos as always, Andy...thanks for sharing!

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^ That is too funny that you and David both sound like you had a similar experience as I did...although I am sure that we are not the only ones!

 

No one in my group wanted to re-ride it the year it opened, so I had to wait for my 2nd trip to try it again. Knowing what I was in for that time made the ride less terrifying and more enjoyable, but I still found myself holding on for dear life throughout most of the ride!

 

Skyrush is easily the most intense coaster that I have ever experienced.

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Skyrush is easily the most intense coaster that I have ever experienced.

 

I have to agree, Skyrush is just a balls to the wall, crazy roller coaster experience. It's the only coaster I've ridden where I felt like I was actually going to get flung right off the track. Skyrush is the very definition of ejector airtime! Plus, if you go during the early entry (by staying at a Hershey property), it's like getting an hour of ERT on it. We spent three days at Hershey last summer and absolutely loved it. My kids and I all agreed that it was probably our favorite overall park that we've visited (or at least tied with Busch Gardens Williamsburg). The top 5-6 coasters at the park stack up well with any park in the country. Plus the new coaster, Laff Track, is a great family spinner that was just plain fun. If you've never been to Hershey, I'd highly recommend visiting as soon as you can.

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^ I 100% agree with your comments, but have to ask....how did your thighs feel the next day after an ERT session on Skyrush? I can't even imagine multiple re-rides on it as I remember mine were tender the next day after just one ride due to all of that crazy ejector air.

 

All I could think after riding this was, wow...this coaster actually makes El Toro seem a little tame!

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Skyrush kicks all sorts of ass, which is why it is my favorite rollercoaster .

 

The thing does not let up from start to finish. I've been on many "first rides" with my friends and seeing their reaction is always priceless. Looking over and seeing them just clinging on to the restraints for dear life.

 

Hershey is so blessed to have Skyrush and Stormrunner in the same park.

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