Hersheypark has big plans – and some potential thrills - in store for 2020.
The park is proposing its largest expansion in recent memory on 23 acres west of the existing park.
In June, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts submitted a preliminary land development and final subdivision plan outlining the project to the Derry Township Planning Commission. Maps obtained by PennLive from Derry Township provide a few clues, including a possible ride. The plan also calls for reconfiguring the park's entrance gate and drop-off and pick-up areas, creating access roads, demolishing existing buildings and infrastructure, constructing several buildings and making plaza improvements.
Where is the land? The swath of land for the proposed expansion falls west of the park closer to Chocolate World. It is adjacent to the Skyrush roller coaster. The terrain is hilly and tree-filled. Spring Creek cuts through the property. The land takes over a portion of the former Parkview Golf Course, as well as a former ballroom and swimming pool, which Hershey Entertainment owns.
The 133-acre golf course closed in 2005. About 35 acres of the golf course was used to carve out parking for the Giant Center about 10 years ago. The maps show a major expansion, more than one-third the size of the current park. Currently, the park totals 121 acres, including the 11-acre ZooAmerica.
The biggest takeaway the maps is that plenty of land is available to accommodate growth in the coming years for attractions. There is no indication that all of the land will be developed by 2020. Most likely, Hershey will gradually add rides in the coming years.
First, they moved a road. Before Hershey Entertainment could forge ahead with its park proposal, a major barrier -- Park Boulevard -- had to be relocated. The road borders the park. The $9.7 million project shifted Park Boulevard south to run along the railroad tracks to the intersection with Park Avenue near ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park. Park Boulevard connects Hersheypark Drive to Ridge Road and Park Avenue. The project included additional improvements, including construction of a new, 126-foot bridge crossing over Spring Creek, signalized connections and a new, shared-use sidewalk. It was completed in 2016. Proving it was vested in the project, Hershey Entertainment donated about $9 million worth of land for the realignment.
Hershey submitted 100 maps to Derry Township. Like any land-development plan, the maps are extremely detailed. They provide some information but don't paint a complete picture. They outline utilities, stormwater runoff, erosion and lighting details, as well as details including planters, fences, flagpoles and landscaping. Several new buildings are part of the plan, but the structures are not labeled. We can guess they might be shops or food stops, storage or entrance/exits for rides. Two of the biggest elements on the maps include a reconfigured park entrance and potential new rides.
A new park entrance Today, visitors enter the park by walking past a Bavarian-style village with shops leading to the admission gates. Officials have said the land-development plan relocates the park's entrance and tram drop-off closer to Chocolate World. Maps show an open plan with stairs, a flagpole, fountains, planters and several buildings, including a circular building.
What about rides? This is the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, the maps do not name new rides. But there is plenty of speculation. Roller coaster enthusiasts have been exchanging ideas on social site Reddit, ranging from roller coasters to dive coasters and possibly more water rides. “Big drops are always great, but if they can’t go high, it would be cool to see a launch coaster like TTD or KK that just stays low to the ground the entire ride, turns, helixes, low to the ground corkscrews, maybe a loop, long underground/tunnel sections with second launch halfway through from inside a pitch black tunnel,” said one commenter. “If it is a wing coaster I hope it's similar to thunderbird,” said another.
Others, like Daniel Reinford have posted their vision for a new Hersheypark coaster on YouTube. The sophomore at Cumberland Valley High School and avid roller coaster enthusiast attended the Derry Township planning meeting in June and created the video above based on Hersheypark's plans. He said he thinks the park will add a hyper coaster about the same height as Skyrush but with a different design. It will be less intense than Skyrush and be designed to appeal more to a general audience, he said.
The maps only offer clues to a potential roller coaster. They show more than a dozen structural support elements leading up to a building, what could possibly be a building housing a ride entrance/exit. Unfortunately, Hershey Entertainment isn’t likely to reveal details soon. It typically makes new ride announcements on its own terms. Last year Hersheypark dropped clues on social media leading up to the announcement of new water rides, Breakers Edge Water Coaster and Whitecap Racer. "We really look forward to sharing those exciting plans at a future date after the approval process," said Garrett Gallia, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts spokesman after the June meeting.
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