My 100th Roller-Coaster, Pt. 9


This report chronicles my unforgettable two week trip in June,
where I visited 12 parks and rode 42 roller-coasters, including my 100th.


Hersheypark
Photo courtesy of Kyle's Coaster Page



Hersheypark

"97,98,99..."


After an intense night of lovemaking, Susan and I awoke refreshed and ready to take on another day of coastering. No, I'm only joking, of course. I had broken ribs, for God's sake! But we did get a good night's sleep, thanks to Flexural and Allentown's Red Roof Inn, which was conveniently located just minutes from Dorney Park. We chose to make this day a leisurely one, so we woke up late and hit the road at 9:30. On our way to Hersheypark we stopped at the Midway Diner for breakfast. This was a great old-fashioned cafe complete with crusty old waitresses who knew how to balance 5 plates in one carry.

We entered the town of Hershey and found the Giant grocery store, where discounted tickets to Hersheypark are available. On our way though town I noticed the street lamps decorated like Hershey's Kisses. This looks like a charming little town, very quai........ OH MY GOD!!! LOOK AT THAT PARKING LOT!!!

The thing was overflowing. Cars were everywhere, on the lawn, under trees, dangling from rooftops, everywhere. I'd never seen an amusement park lot so filled to the brim like that. This did not bode well for us. I remembered Kip Ross' warning to avoid coming to Hersheypark on Saturdays. I kept saying "Oh, no" over and over, thinking we'd....no, *I'd* made another dreadful mistake in my meticulous, perfectly laid plans.

We followed the lead of every other law breaking guest that day and parked on the grass near a sign that specifically told us not to. We got out of the car and the first thing I saw was a tram, filled with passengers waiting to be carried who knows how far to the park's entrance.

This place is packed. It's hot, there's not a cloud in the sky, and the park is at overflow capacity. So much for our leisurely day. I wondered how many people are gonna elbow my ribs? It's gonna be a trying day.

We walked up to Chocolate World. Should we go in? It looked like a place where everybody goes to first, so we decided to wait until late that afternoon and go when it hopefully wouldn't be so crowded.


Photo courtesy of Brian Lammendola
But the entrance to the park looks equally daunting thanks to the hordes of people filing in. My God, the entire state of Pennsylvania must have collectively decided to visit Hersheypark today.

Geez, the entrance is awfully pretty. It's very Victorian looking, like something out of the Renaissance Festival. I love all of the flowers. This is what I imagine Busch Gardens Williamsburg to look like.

We enter the park and are greeted by Hershey mascots. They're dancing with little kids while a roving band plays next to them. I immediately realize this is a family friendly environment. Just ahead of us is an odd gazebo type thinggy with white woodwork and bricks with the names of the rich and famous engraved in them. I have no idea what that is for but it was all part of a grand scheme to completely disorient me. This park is nothing like what I expected.

I looked up and saw a ferris wheel in the distance that looked like it was on much higher ground. In fact the whole park seems hidden. I thought it would be flat. The parking lot is flat.

The park is not flat.

We found a sign that said Comet Hollow and the Great Bear roller-coaster. We followed the arrows for some distance. Quite some distance. After passing Neptune, we exited this galaxy and found ourselves travelling down, down, down. Is this the black hole? No, it's Comet Hollow! And looky, there's the Great Bear!!

My goodness, this is an eyeful! The Great Bear dominates every sightline in Comet Hollow. But strangely it does not seem like an intrusion. I can easily imagine what this area looked like without it, and I'm sure it was very pretty. Now it has an energy, an excitement, a vibrancy.. You simply *can't* avoid watching Great Bear. It careens in and out of all areas within the hollow, it flips here and dives there and turns around over there. It might be less effective if it weren't such an attractive coaster. The supports are the WIERDEST, most demented looking things ever to hold up a roller-coaster. And yet they look beautiful and add to the coaster's vibrancy. To say it dominates the area is an understatement. You look around and *everybody* is watching Great Bear do its thing.

I had to carefully plan the order I rode each coaster. I was now at 94. I knew I wanted my 100th to be special, a woodie, a good woodie.

The Wildcat was a perfect choice. Ever since I knew The Grizzly wouldn't be an option I tried to think which coaster I wanted for my 100th. Due to logistics there were only two I considered worthy of such of an honor: The Phoenix and The Wildcat. But I didn't want to put off going to Knoebels just to make Phoenix my 100th coaster.

So Wildcat it is. And in order to achieve this momentous occasion I have to save it for last.

So first up, seeing as how we're right here in the Hollow, is the Hersheypark Comet. It looks like a beautiful ride! The line was a pleasure to wait in thanks to the eye-candy provided by Great Bear. Susan and I talked non-stop while waiting to ride. When it was finally time to board we went for the front, thinking it would be the least painful.

I fell in love with the Hersheypark Comet that day. Why? Because it gave me the first pain-free ride of my trip. No jabs. No OOFs. No UGHs. No gasps for breath. No airtime whatsoever, but aaaah, what sweet relief. When we pulled into the station I said a little prayer of thanks, for God had truly blessed the Comet on this day, not with abundant airtime nor wicked laterals, but a smooth dog-legged out and back tailor made for a repentant sinner like me.


Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann

Christe absolvo, Raven.

Next we rode the Superdooperlooper, another fun Schwarzkopf creation. However the thrills have been diluted thanks to excessive braking. The poor thing just barely went through the motions. But the silver lining was another painless ride for old man Ribsy.


Photo courtesy of Brian Lammendola
Finally, we approached the Great Bear. First off, that was A HELL OF A TRIP we took just to get from the front of the park to here!!! There has got to be a quicker way to get here than that convoluted route we were led to follow. That said, I took one look at the overflow line and thought "2 hours." Our wait for The Comet took nearly an hour, but Superdooperlooper was only a five minute wait.

Let me say this about Hersheypark. I love the way they move their guests through the queues. The Great Bear line moved non-stop, and forty five minutes after getting in line we were getting in the backseat for our first ride on Great Bear. Color me impressed!

Wait, not so fast, hold that crayon. The Great Bear *looks* like an incredibly thrilling ride. It's not. It's not a *bad* ride, and it is indeed a thrill! It's just as thrilling as it looks. This is an inverted coaster built for families. None of the elements - the helix off the lift hill, the first drop - nothing is quite as thrilling as it looks. Still, chalk up another pain-free ride for me.
Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann

We walked down, down, down. My God, this park has more levels than Dorney! We crossed a bridge and entered a lovely area filled with lush vegetation and a brook. Nestled in the middle of this area was the Trailblazer. I had never even heard of this coaster before, but it was easily identified as a mine train. The wait again took just a few minutes - that's three coasters with under an hour wait. Shocking, considering the size of the crowd on this day.


Photo courtesy of Jeff Tolotti
Oh yeah, The Trailblazer. Well, to be honest, this is probably the shortest, least interesting, worst mine train I've ridden. If I were a kid I'd like it a lot. But I'm not a kid, I'm an adult. It's very short, basically consisting of a helix and a wierd, nasty HONK as you enter the tunnel - what is up with that? Anyway, that's about it. It's got to be the most forgettable coaster I've ridden on this trip, or this year for that matter.

We found our way to the Sidewinder, coaster number 99 and our very first Boomerang!!! We stopped for an Italian Ice to eat in line, and it's a good thing we did, because this line just CRAWLS. I am now in-the-know on the perils of Boomerang queues. The threat of rain did not help matters any. It was now 4:00 p.m. and I had one more coaster to ride. Please don't let it rain, please don't let

KA-BOOM!!!

Ride shut down due to rain. We waited. And waited. It wasn't a heavy rain, nor was it long-lasting, just a brief summer shower. The line resumed and HEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's Cindy Stout!!!!!

Cindy and her sister, Sherry, were standing just inside the Sidewinder station (say that real fast ten times). Cindy motioned for us to go for the backseat, and they would meet us at the exit ramp.

The wait took some time. Boomerangs have got to have the worst capacity stats of any coaster. It better be worth it.

It was! We loved it! The Boomerang is an awesome ride. I know, I know, you're all sick to death of them, there's one on every corner. Oh, shut up, will you? There aren't THAT many of them, at least not in the Midwest. And it's a fun little ride. Granted the low capacity is a nuisance and will definitely require an intense strategy session on my next trip. But it was a lot of fun. If Valleyfair! or Worlds of Fun had one of these it would go over BIG.


Photo courtesy of Brian Lammendola

We met up with Cindy and Sherry, and I told Cindy about my momentous coaster coming up next. The four of us walked into Midway America, a slightly bland area when compared to the detailed landscaping in other areas of the park, and there ahead of us, stood my 100th roller-coaster.


Photo courtesy of Brian Lammendola
The Hersheypark Wildcat.

The Wildcat's station is nothing short of magnificent. A throwback to the good ole days, Wildcat's station is massive, complete with red, white and blue bunting. And the coaster that surrounds it is massive as well. Wildcat covers an incredible amount of land. It spreads itself out and says "Looky here!" The curves are just beautiful, it's really a stunning piece of architecture. But how will it ride?

While waiting in line, I spied Jeff Tolotti just ahead of me in the queue. "Excuse me sir, I think I know you," I said, video camera rolling. Jeff looked up and for a moment I thought he might have been agitated, but he saw who I was and screamed "Oh my God, you're here!!!" Jeff is a pissant. He also had some friends and fellow RRCers with him - Taylor Jeffs, Mike Dutko and Janis Moore.

We waited about 30-40 minutes before it was time to ride. Our time was spent talking non-stop and watching this amazing coaster in front of us. Finally, it was time to ride. Susan and I took the front seat.

My 100th roller-coaster. It is a wild and crazy coaster. Make that Krazy with a K. It's chalk full of speed, turns and amazing airtime! Most importantly, it's FUN. This is the second most fun coaster I've ridden on this trip, right after The Phoenix. It tosses and turns its passengers this way and that, and it was the only coaster in the park with airtime violent enough to remind me of my injury. It has great pacing, wonderful camelbacks - it's an incredible, fast, fun ride, and a very worthy 100th roller-coaster it is!
Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann

Susan videotaped the event for posterity and I did my Wildcat 100th coaster dance for all to see. Jeff and I then proceeded to go off about how much we loved The Wildcat, and Susan and I cracked up over our photo, which showed Susan giving a loving tribute to me and my accomplishment. We then noticed who else but Robb and Sarah Alvey waiting in line and motioning for us to wait!

What happened next was great. We all gathered just outside the entrance to The Wildcat and had a little social hour. Jeff, Taylor, Mike, Janis and daughter Sarah, Cindy, Sherry, Robb and Sarah, Susan and I gathered around and talked about our experiences. Shortly after that Ted Ansley walked up and joined in. Several RRCers were roaming about the park on this day before the Coaster Con at Kennywood. It was wonderful getting this chance to relax and shoot the breeze with new friends.


Photo courtesy of Fred Biedermann
After one more ride on The Wildcat most everyone had left except for Ted, Janis and Sarah, Jeff, Susan and I. Ted told me he knew of a "secret" location in the park where I could get a good photo op of the Wildcat, which by now was glimmering with tracer lights running all over the coaster. We walked waaaaaay back to an uninhabited area of the park and sure enough, we were treated to a stunning view of The Wildcat in all it's glory.

We stood back there for a good half hour, me shooting video while the rest of the group engaged in the MOST BIZARRE conversation involving a Joe Schwartz post that included, what else, bathroom humor. So my beautiful video of Wildcat and it's tracer lights is now gracefully accompanied with voiceover about defecating on a control panel as a form of protest.

The park was about to close so we opted for one last ride on Great Bear. This time we all sat on or near the front. This time it was a completely different experience. Great Bear is definitely a front seat ride. It needs the visual factor to heighten the sense of thrill. Ted said the coaster was beginning to grow on him. Meanwhile Jeff proceeded to hug the support pole and "feel the vibration." Several Hersheypark employees looked on as we all joined in to feel the vibration.

This was a perfect follow-up to our day before at Knoebels and Dorney Park. Susan and I got to spend the most of the day together, just the two of us, enjoying each other's company and getting to act like teenagers in love for a change. Toward the end of the day we ran into some of our favorite new friends. So we got the best of both worlds on this day. And Hersheypark was the best possible park to have a day like this. I was expecting a huge thrill park. And while it is big, it's not too big. It's a very comfortable park, with an emphasis on families and fun. And they do an incredible job of moving people through lines. Of the four parks Susan got to visit while she was with me on this trip, she said she liked Hersheypark the best.

After we said our goodbyes and were on our way out, I began to count the coasters I'd ridden on this trip. I started with my 68th coaster, The Raven. There were four at Michigan's Adventure but I only got to ride three. Two at Idlewild, one at Blands, one at Lakemont. Three at Knoebels, five at Great Adventure, seven at Kings Dominion........ right?

Okay, wait a minute....... Raven was number 68. Then there's ST, WW, Corkscrew, Rollo Coaster, Wild Mouse, Zyklon, Skyliner, Pheonix, Whirlwind, HSTC..... that's ten, that makes 78. Then five at Great Adventure...... Robin, Batman, Skull Mtn, Mine Train, GASM, that's 83.......am I missing something? Viper was down, I know that. Then King's Dominion had seven...... Grizzly, Hurler, Rebel Yell, Scooby, Avalanche, Anaconda, Outer Limits....... right?

For some reason that just doesn't sound right. Then Dorney had four..... Thunderhawk, Hercules, Steel Force, Lazer.......

HEY JEFF!!!!

Jeff was going over some map directions with Janis next to her car.

HOW MANY COASTERS DOES GREAT ADVENTURE HAVE?

"Seven!"

Okay, right, Viper was down and I didn't get to ride Chiller's Batman. So five is correct.

"But I only count Chiller as one coaster."

huh?

"Chiller, Batman, Skull Mtn., Mine Train, Viper, Rotting Lumber, GASM."

Rolling Thunder!!!! I miscounted!!! Wait, how many does Kings Dominion have. Seven, right?

"Eight. Well it has nine, but you only rode eight. Grizzly, Hurler, Rebel Yell, Scooby, Shockwave, Anac...."

SHOCKWAVE!!!!! Oh my God, I miscounted! Two of them!!

"So what's your 100th coaster?"

.................

........................

.......... Oh. My. God.

........................

My 100th Coaster
Photo courtesy of Jeff Tolotti


TRAILBLAZER!!! OH NO!!!!

Jeff just smiled at first, then he broke into a laugh. Susan went "Oh no, is that bad?" And then I started to laugh. All that planning that went into this trip and look at everything that's happened. I got caught in two tornado warnings. I broke my ribs on the very first day. I stayed in some of the worst dives in America. I went through hell before I found these drugs, and now I'm gonna get hauled off to detox once I come down off these things. And to top everything off, I rode the Trailblazer for my 100th coaster.

Well, I'm glad. I think it's hilarious. I started riding roller-coasters on The Runaway Mine Train, so I guess it's fitting my 100th should be a mine train as well. The Trailblazer is probably the most insignificant roller-coaster I've ever ridden. But what if it were the only one? It'd be great and I'd be thrilled to be on it. It just goes to show, every coaster counts, in more ways than one.

Even the best laid plans.........


Up Next: Coaster Con at Kennywood


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10


Back

Back to The Trip Report


Email: MarkinArk@earthlink.net