I had just finished writing up the Flying Aces review when it truly struck me how similar my whole fairytale experiences with Intamin Wing Coasters were. By the time I made it to Hersheypark I already knew it could happen this way and yet, for whatever reason, I didn’t expect everything to repeat itself in quite the same manner.
We spent so much time on this ride rather than underneath it and it was surrounded by Candymonium construction during the visit so apologies for the lack of quality pictures. All you need to know is it’s big, yellow and deceiving.
The morning laps began as soon as the ride opened and the first was more memorable to me due to the other guests in our row than from the onboard experience itself. Clearly local enthusiasts, they had managed to fit both Dorney Park and Knoebels into the first sentence uttered and as the train raced up the ridiculous fast lifthill, leaving me totally unprepared, there were loud hoots, hollers and screams of “Phoenix 1958!”
For whatever reason this had me in fits of laughter over the drop, which punished me for not paying attention by violently throwing me forward in my seat. I had forgotten the most commonly criticised aspect of this ride in that the sheer lack of substance on the lap bars is far less forgiving than what I was used to on the subsequent creation, perhaps even any ride ever.
The traditional hills were manageable, with the famliar dig into the thigh that can leave you bruised after a good coaster marathon, but when the train hit a couple of sharp transitions and the winged seat I had chosen flew up or down in response, I was taking all the weight directly to one leg and it was rather uncomfortable to say the least. There’s absolutely nothing to hold onto with this train design, no way to brace as you’re going along and that made it both exhilarating and excruciating.
I can see why this becomes a dealbreaker to some, and it’s very unfortunate if you do fall victim to this because, quite simply, you’ll be missing out on something spectacular. Personally, I attempted to rectify the situation on our second lap by sliding forward and taking the bar into the hip joint as opposed to bare leg bone. This fixed everything about it 100%. I was able to fully immerse myself in the remainder of the experience following this minor revelation.
And once again, for whatever reason, I liked Skyrush in the morning but thought it wasn’t all that. I came off thinking there’s some good airtime in there but nothing special. Over lunch I said it’s probably no better than something like Piraten’s airtime pound for pound and by 14:30 that day we were sat on a ferris wheel having completed the park, coming up with some stupid plans to leave and go elsewhere.
Yet again I could have left too soon and never really got to know the ride properly. I didn’t believe lightning could strike twice and that we’d be having the Flying Aces situation again but thankfully, THANKFULLY, the late opening of Storm Runner shot down our other plans.
So we returned to the lair of the beast with an hour left on the clock. Darkness shrouded the layout and there may well have been a full moon in effect causing this sudden change. How is it that different, why is it now creating all of these sensations that simply were not there earlier?
Alright, the first drop was probably the same. I always loved that bit, the wild momentum of the super fast cable lift just chucking you over the edge without a second thought and then the totally unique shaping of the track – with the tiniest of almost vertical kinks halfway down deciding to almost have you out of the train head over hills.
It really is a struggle to keep your hands (and legs) up throughout the whole layout, to not instinctively just reach out and try and grab hold of something, anything to stop you either feeling like you’re falling out or to reduce the numbing pain being inflicted on your body by a thin metal bar and nothing else.
But it wasn’t just the airtime hills, which are truly outstanding in their own right. It’s the unsuspecting moments that really make Skyrush stand out for me. The entrance to a corner, that should be boring right? Nope. The train decides it’s just going to try and lose a couple of riders out the side there with a vicious lateral snap. A slight change of direction? Nah, that won’t do mu-BAM, I’ve just been ragdolled vertically down 10ft before I can think. These moments don’t happen on any other ride type and for that reason alone it’s so gorgeously refreshing to experience these extremes.
It’s no exaggeration to say that we were struggling to walk as the night went on. The lure of another ride was so compelling that even though the body might be saying no, the mind just kept on plodding down the stairs, round the station, back up the other stairs, straight into the back row, no questions asked. Again, and again, and again.
If anything, that short walk provided some momentary relief and so, as if to top it all off, as the last train of the day pulled back into the station the staff decided to offer everyone a second consecutive lap just for the hell of it. The bars had just been lifted as this announcement was made and I had already instantly stood up, as we instinctively had to in order to stop our legs falling off. “No… I just can’t go round again… please, no…” The words came out, but there was no attempt to leave and the ride host was already there, we had fallen back in our seats, the bar was down. What have we done?
There’s a very exclusive club of rides that provide me with a truly magical moment, where the stars align and all you feel inside is pure joy at what you’re doing right here, right now. It happened again on Skyrush as we were sent round to our deaths one more time, against our will. A brief moment of contemplation looking out at the lights of the Pennsylvania night – this is perfection and there’s no place I’d rather be.
And then it kills you.