Hersheypark was a sight for sore eyes. After visiting the ghetto train wreck known as Clementon, I got to Hershey right before 5 pm so I could take advantage of their twilight ticket. Going in, I was planning only to hit the two missing credits (Laugh Trakk and Cocoa Cruiser), the three big Intamins, Great Bear, and maybe the drop tower. However, as I walked towards the park gate and opened up the app, I noticed everything was just a 5 minute wait other than Laugh Trakk, which was at an hour. Immediately my plans changed, it was time to hit every coaster in the park despite having only 5 hours.
After Knoebels, Hershey is my favorite park in Pennsylvania. The park has a weird feel. Some areas feel corporate such as Midway America when you see the food offerings I'm accustomed to seeing at Cedar Fair parks. Other areas like Comet Hollow and Minetown still have a quaint feel to them despite the roars of Skyrush and Great Bear dominating the airwaves.
Skyrush was my first stop. How could it not? The giant yellow track drew me towards it like a moth into a flame. I had last ridden Skyrush back in 2014 and have yet to find a coaster that can match its intensity. The same has held true even with my coaster count doubling in that time period. This is the one coaster that truly feels like it wants to kill me and I love it. The way the restraints rest on your thighs as opposed to your lap makes the airtime feel ever scarier since you can feel your entire upper body trying to slide out of the restraint. This is the only coaster I can't keep my hands up for the whole ride. Those Stengel Dives, especially in the back wing seats, always make me grab for my restraints. I love how violent those dives are and need to hold on out of fear of wrecking my back.
The first drop is still one of my favorite out there. I love how the drop manages to provide two massive pops of ejector air- one as you crest the hill and a second halfway down. I still haven't found another coaster with a drop quite like it. Then the airtime on the 3 main airtime hills is sustained ejector that few coasters can match. I got 6 rides in. Most were in the back, but I got one in the front since it was only a 2 train wait as opposed to the usual 10+ train wait.
At the end of the night, the ops let me stay on so I was able to get 4 rides in a row. When people complain about Skyrush, it's always the restraints. For a single ride, I don't have much of a problem with them. However, after riding 4 times in a row, the restraints did start to hurt a bit but that's a small price to pay for this intense beast. On half my rides, the restraints did release on the brake run, but on other rides they remained tight. Not sure if there was a switch an op forgot to throw or something. There was one girl from Canada who had a goal to get 2000 rides on Skyrush in a week. She was on the ride when I got my first ride just after 5 and she was still there riding up until 10. I wonder how much pain her thighs were in after that week
. It's still a top 5 steel coaster for me. 10 out of 10
Sooperdooperlooper is usually one of my go-to coasters at Hershey since its always a walk-on. I only got one ride on it in this visit since everything was a walk-on, but I still enjoyed my ride on the classic Schwarzkopf. The vertical loop is still among the most forceful out there and the ride uses the terrain well. The middle section of the ride is pretty slow, but the final helix regains that speed. With the new trains Hershey added a few years back, thankfully it looks like this ride is here to stay for a while. 7 out of 10
Great Bear is an invert that is hardly ever talked about and I don't quite understand why. It's at a major park in Hershey, has a unique layout, and is quite forceful. I love how the ride dominates the midway when you walk through the Hollow and there's nothing quite like the roar of a B&M. The pre-drop helix is my favorite part of the ride and really pulls some good Gs. The first drop has an excellent whip in the back and all of the inversions are fantastic. My favorite, as always, is the zero-G roll. This one doesn't so much focus on hang-time as much as absolutely whipping you through it. 9 out of 10
Hershey's Triple Tower was a polarizing addition when announced. On one hand, it was great to see the park take a unique twist on the drop rides found at other parks. On the other hand, the differences between the towers (particularly the Kisses and Reese's towers) seemed minimal and anytime the tower isn't an Intamin that's bound to cause enthusiasts to whine. I was able to get on all 3 towers, but not without great difficulty. One interesting note is that S&S seems to have new restraints on their drop towers now. These ones were kind of difficult to release after the ride, but didn't feel too much different during the ride.Kisses Tower
- The smallest of the three provided the most violent and impressive airtime of the three. The first launch gave airtime stronger than that on any drop tower I've ever experienced. The was expecting more of the same on the second launch, but the second launch did nothing. It's like when you go to take a dump but you only have a tiny little fart squeak out. The second launch peters out halfway up. While technically a double shot, this felt more like a miniature Space Shot.Reese's Tower
- This one had a lot of issues and kept breaking down. It broke down as I was about to board twice, but I was finally able to get on it later in the day and I'm glad I did since it was the best of the three. While the air wasn't quite as strong as the Kisses Tower, it was only slightly worse and this one had two legitimate launches. It was also cool looking down on the ride's little brother during the launch.Hershey's Tower
- The big boy of the three may have been the worst. The launch felt pretty forceful (maybe because of the larger vehicles). While the two small towers had ejector air at the top, this one had some sustained floater instead. Fun but I prefer the ejector air on drop towers. The drop was pretty meh. I could feel the acceleration when the ride dropped but there was no air or stomach dropping. It's a fun combo tower, but it's not that intense.
Overall I'd say the Triple Tower is an 8.5 out of 10
. I did see some younger riders progressing their way up to Hershey's Tower, so the concept does seem to be a win for the park. I did like having the flexibility to select between the towers, but I do wish the big one was more impressive. The two smaller towers were amazing and had the best air of any shot tower I've been on.
Going into my visit, I remembered Storm Runner being the worst of the Intamin accelerators. It had the best layout, but the launch felt noticeably weaker than all the other ones I've been on. I'm proud to say I remembered wrong. Storm Runner's launch was shorter but felt almost as powerful as its big brothers and Xcelerator. Then Storm Runner absolutely kicks their butts in terms of the rest of the layout. The top hat gives great air, the funky Immelmann is forceful, and the inline twist/flying snake dive combo gives great hang time and is disorienting.
All of my rides were in the front, which is by far the best seat on any of these accelerator coasters. Usually I like to snag a back seat ride to experience some better air on the top hat, but Hershey blocked off the back two rows on Storm Runner. I don't think there was an issue with the train. I just think Hershey wanted to try and keep the trains filled consistently. Kind of frustrating, but even with the front having the longest wait, I never waited more than 10 minutes. I also liked how Hershey replaced the hard OSTRs with straps. Storm Runner was never rough, but it was possible to ding your neck on the part leading up to the brake run. That's gone now. 10 out of 10
Usually I end up waiting an hour in the blazing sun for Fahrenheit and only get one ride. Today even Fahrenheit was only a 5 minute wait. I took the opportunity to get a few rides in on the least talked about of Hershey's Intamins. Like Storm Runner, Fahrenheit got the strap restraints so its glad to see Hershey making small improvements like this on some of their older coasters.
Any beyond vertical drop (unless you're SFOG and trim it) gives insane air and Fahrenheit is no different. The rest of the layout has some forceful inversions, particularly the snappy two corkscrews, and a powerful ejector air hill near the end. There was some rattle around the cobra roll, but nothing painful. Other than the capacity, Fahrenehit is a nearly perfect coaster with a great flow and its an excellent compliment to Skyrush and Storm Runner. 9 out of 10
Hershey also has some smaller coasters. Their Wild Mouse is still one of the best out there. Very minimal braking and the final drops give a pop of air or two. 6 out of 10
Trailblazer is a pretty tame Arrow mine train, but it's smooth and has a nice setting. It's also cool to watch Storm Runner fly by. 4 out of 10
Sidewinder...like I rode that. I don't think I've been on that one in almost 10 years. And I'm aware the ride has the vest restraints. I can't justify riding a boomerang in a park with this many great coasters.
I could justify the kiddie credit though. When I planned this trip (or got sent down to PA for work depending how you looked at it), I realized I could possibly reach 400 credits. That meant making some sacrifices. At the expense of an extra ride on Storm Runner or Skyrush, I shamefully plopped myself down on the second best yellow and blue coaster in the park, Cocoa Cruiser. As far as these kiddie coasters go, this one looked nice and was smooth. 2 out of 10
I had been putting off Laff Trakk most of the day since the line was still hovering around 45-60 minutes while everything else was at 0-5 minutes. Around 8pm, I noticed the wait at 30 minutes in the app so I decided to bite the bullet and hop in line. I had a feeling the line may shrink closer to closing, but there was no way I'd waste valuable time for Skyrush night rides inside a box. The queue was pretty enjoyable with all the fun house mirrors and lighting. The queue did move, but I still find it disappointing Hershey installed a coaster with this small of a capacity.
Since it was enclosed, I figured it would be the best Maurer spinner. The effects were simple, but the glow-in-the-dark elements did add something to the ride. However, the ride itself was toned down due to the number of block brakes actively being used. I understand why they were on to help maximize capacity, but it really slowed the ride down during the second half and caused there to be almost no spinning. Compare that to Waldameer's which I rode later that week that had almost non-stop spinning. Laff Trakk was certainly fun, but I don't think I'd ever wait an hour for it. 7 out of 10
Hershey also has one of the most impressive collections of wooden coasters out there. Lightning Racer is widely considered the best of the bunch, but I honestly like Comet the best. It's hard to beat a classic wooden coaster for me. Comet has everything going for it- a great setting, buzz bars, a classic station, and a good layout. I took my favorite seat in the back and got a great ride as always. The second drop gives major airtime and the while only a few hills give pops of air, the ride maintains its speed the whole way and is glass smooth despite being 70 years old. 8 out of 10
Lightning Racer was a disappointment for me. The ride is bumpier than it used to be, but it's still overall very smooth. The racing is still fun, but I remembered the coaster section being more thrilling. The front had maybe 4-5 weak pops of air and the back had only half that. The ride also seemed to drag in a few places, particularly near the end. Also when did Lightning Racer get new trains? I was shocked to find the previously cushy upholstered seats replaced with hard foam seats. I wish the ride still had the old seats/trains like Wildcat, but they're still more comfortable than PTCs. 7 out of 10
Wildcat is the worst of Hershey's woodies, but I still do enjoy it. Thanks to the trains, the ride is still comfortable despite being rather bumpy. Wildcat is noticeably wilder than Lightning Racer with more pronounced air. If Lightning Racer didn't race, I honestly would prefer Wildcat. 7 out of 10
Coal Cracker is still one of the better flumes out there. Unconventional in almost every way, the ride's layout is elevated and interacts heavily with Sooperdooperlooper and Great Bear. Despite being elevated, the ride still feels close to the ground in some ways because its located adjacent to that hill. The huge final plunge is still one of the best on any flume and the jump afterwards is even better. Thankfully Hershey didn't aim a water jet right into my face like Six Flags Great America during that element since I had a flashback when the boat went airborne. 8 out of 10
While walking through, I noticed the Claw had a new paint scheme. I've only ridden the Claw once, but remember it being the best of the Chance frisbees I've been on. I skipped it due to time in this visit, but it did look eye-catching with its new appearance.
I didn't see any markers by Tidal Force when I passed by, but I also wasn't looking too closely. The ride is rumored to be on the chopping block since its older and adjacent to the landlocked water park. It'd be a shame to see Tidal Force go since it's one of the best shoot the chutes out there thanks to its added height, but I would understand why the park may remove it.
It had been 3 years since my last visit to Hershey, but I think my next visit will be sooner. Hershey has one of the strongest coaster collections around and is an overall very well-run park.