Ah Hershey, Pennsylvania. The sweetest place on earth unless you’re Nabisco. While I don’t like candy one bit (thank god it’s just a myth the town smells like chocolate), I love Hersheypark. It’s arguably the Intamin capital of the United States.
2020 will forever change the complexion of the park- a big B&M hyper and a new entrance. The latter was immediate ramifications on those visiting in 2019. Gone is that quaint entry plaza with all the shops. In are a series of food truck, souvenir tents, and a pop-up entrance. It felt like a carnival.
The new set-up does have one benefit, new vantage points of Skyrush. You now have a completely unobstructed view of Skyrush’s far turn. Unfortunately that cool path beneath Skyrush was blocked off. I’m not sure if that was just an opening day thing or permanent for the rest of the year.
Speaking of Skyrush, that was my first stop. Where else would I go? It was only running one train, but that’s all Skyrush needed. It was never more than a 1-2 train wait all day. I think I got a total of 8 rides on this monster; all of them coming in the back two rows.
Skyrush is genuinely terrifying. I don’t think there’s a more intense coaster in the US. The whip on this ride is insane. I’ve tried and failed miserably to keep my hands up for the duration of the ride on past visits. I always end up holding on for dear life come those twists/Stengel dives.
It took a few rides though. The first drop is still one of the most confusing around. I have no clue how it manages to give two pops of airtime, but it does. You have an initial pop and while you’re still levitating above your seat, you are violently shot upwards even further.
You then have three of the most powerful airtime hills anywhere. Since my last rides on Skyrush, I’ve been on Steel Vengeance and Expedition GeForce. Those coasters have ridiculously strong airtime, but the strength pales in comparison to that of Skyrush. With the minimalistic restraints, I felt like a bird trying to fly away but I had a shackle on my thighs.
And then you have those aforementioned twists and Stengel dives. I can’t decide what’s crazier, the world’s most intense airtime hills or three of the world’s snappiest turns. These turns try to flip you into the creek like a pancake. This time I’m proud to say I went hands up the whole way.
Were my thighs sore by the end of the night? Yes. But was it worth it? Without a doubt! My legs felt like jelly. It felt like I had been a bit too harsh with a leg roller. I can see how Skyrush is too much for some. There are few coasters I prefer, but none have the aggression of Skyrush. 10 out of 10
Sooperdooperlooper was super-de-dooper. Unfortunately someone had an accident in line (wasn’t a protein spill either), but that did keep the front few rows clear for the few, the oblivious, and the stupid.
This is about as tame as a Schwarzkopf looper can get. Of course the loop still pulls strong Gs, but the rest of the ride is lacking in that department outside of a decent helix at the end. It does compensate with a lovely setting though and it’s glass smooth. 7 out of 10
Great Bear is an odd invert. The helix at the start is simply bizarre, but it pulls some really nice Gs. As do the vertical loop, Immelmann (rare for this element to do so), and zero-G roll. Then it feels like B&M hit the autocomplete button much like I do in Planet Coaster.
I understand why the finale is pretty tame. If you look at the coaster off-ride, it’s honestly impressive they could shoehorn the coaster in considering all the nearby rides and the restrictions about building supports in the creek. But it feels like you’re just going through the motions to return to the station outside of that final corkscrew. The whip on that thing is incredible.
If the Great Bear did anything else on that return run to the station, it would be great. Instead it’s just a Good Bear. It’s near the bottom of my invert list, but it’s still better than a majority of the floorless coasters out there. Plus there’s zero rattle whatsoever. 8 out of 10
Hersheypark was GCI’s original stomping ground with both Wildcat and Lightning Racer. I think most people universally prefer Lightning Racer, but for me, it’s close.
Wildcat is undeniably the wilder of the two. The airtime is stronger, particularly on the turnarounds. But it comes at a cost. It is considerably bumpier. Thankfully it still has the old Millennium Flyer padding so the bumpiness isn’t an issue. 7 out of 10
Thunder was obliterating Lightning on this day. Usually the victor wins only by a small margin. These were decisive victories. It was like when Usain Bolt came onto the sprinting scene. It’s still a treat to have a dueling coaster with such a twisted layout, but I do wish it had a bit more air. 7 out of 10
The Intamins in Pioneer Junction were cranky SOBs on this day. Fahrenheit sat idle all day. Storm Runner wasn’t feeling it either. Fortunately the latter opened with 4 hours left in the day. Storm Runner only opened with one train and tried its hardest to sport the longest queue, but it couldn’t surpass Laff Trakk.
I rode Storm Runner right around sunset. Ultimately I think I waited almost 45 minutes. I contemplated riding in the back row, but Hershey pulled a Hershey and blocked off the back row. Sadly that’s the norm for them. So instead I waited an extra 3-4 cycles for the front and remembered why I love this ride.
It’s among the slower of the Intamin accelerator coasters, but the launch is among the most forceful. I felt like I was blasted with an air cannon and my stomach dropped. The latter is the sign of a truly insane launch. This alone makes Storm Runner a winner, but it goes the extra mile unlike the other accelerators.
The top hat has some excellent airtime. Unlike the other accelerators, you fly over this top hat. The Immelmann is pretty forgettable, but the double inline twist is awesome. Not only does the entry have a surprise pop of air, but the two inversions have some killer hangtime. Storm Runner is short, but it feels long compared to a lot of other launch coasters and it’s a rush. 9 out of 10
Just a note for those with glasses; be very careful when the restraints unlock. The straps didn’t have enough clearance and tried to rip off my glasses. They would have been goners without an athletic strap.
On my way back towards the front of the park, I rode two smaller towers on Hershey Triple Tower. Honestly they should tell guests the tallest one is the one to start with. I’m not even kidding, that one is easily the tamest of the three.
The most aggressive of the three is perplexingly the Kisses Tower. The launch itself is slow, but I’m not sure what S&S did because the airtime at the top is downright violent. It’s not the happy floater they usually provide, it was shoulder busting pops of ejector. 8 out of 10
The Reese’s Tower has awesome airtime as well, but it’s different airtime. Where the Kisses Tower is violent, Reese’s Tower has copious amounts of sustained floater. I honestly don’t know which I prefer. I just know it isn’t the Hershey Tower. 8 out of 10
Before finishing the night with a Skyrush marathon, I had one other order of business. I needed to ride the Comet. Hershey’s two newer woodies get more attention, but Comet is my favorite of the three. It’s just a bummer the line is prohibitively long until the final hour or so of park operational.
I got two straight rides- one in front and one in the back. My front row ride was enjoyable. There were good pops of air on the first two turnarounds and good laterals on the last few turnarounds. Plus it was glass smooth, a testament to how well Hershey maintains this class.
But the back row is where you should ride the Comet. The first drop has decent airtime, but the second drop has incredible airtime. Oh and did I mention this ride has buzz bars? The middle part only has a few weak spots of air, but it does have strong laterals on any turn. And the Comet returns to dishing out airtime on the last 2-3 hills. 8 out of 10
I’m pretty sure it was mostly enthusiasts riding Skyrush for the last hour of operations. I saw the following t-shirts/sweatshirts- El Toro, Steel Vengeance, Helix, Lost Gravity, Cedar Point, Kentucky Kingdom, and ACE. I probably missed some too. Needless to say, we were all taking turns in the back rows.
I also made a quick detour over to Hershey’s Chocolate World. I know it’s technically not part of Hersheypark, but for all intents and purposes, it is. I decided to give the chocolate tour a whirl since I heard they updated it since my last ride. Unfortunately I wasn’t too impressed.
The tone still feels like one of those educational rides at Epcot. As expected, the ride shows you how the chocolate is made. They convey this through a series of screens and physical sets complete with projection mapping. It’s just too bad there aren’t any naughty kids like in Willy Wonka to liven things up. 5 out of 10
I cannot wait for Chocolatetown to open. For one, it’ll be nice that this park has a proper entrance once again. Hersheypark really is a beautiful park. That’s partially why that temporary entrance looks so out-of-place.
But I’m really looking forward to that B&M hyper. I think most enthusiasts will still prefer Skyrush to it, but if it rides anything like Shambhala, I may be marathoning it with everyone else at closing. Either way, it sure does look like Hershey is going to have an amazing top two next year.
I can wait for Cupfusion to open. Have they announced when it’s expected to open? The front of the building looks bare at the moment, but I know the biggest chances are occurring on the inside.
I’ll also note that none of the water rides were operational during Springtime in the Park, including Coal Cracker even though temperatures were in the 60s.