It felt like Lakemont was another park we came close to losing over the years we had been planning the trip, so even though it was closed the very day we drove straight past it, we figured it was worth the effort of doubling back yet again in order to try and catch those dips.
Day 16 – Lakemont Park
Except it wasn’t, because Leap the Dips was closed. Apparently it was particularly unfortunate timing as the ride had been operating within the last few days but was now currently awaiting some ‘new wood’, which was on order, so at least it wasn’t another Flying Turns situation. Sadly there was nothing we could do to make it work this time around, might as well mop up the other creds though.
Things didn’t look too promising for #1 Skyliner either initially, as by opening time no one had shown up to run the ride. Eventually some saviours arrived to fire up the old beast.
Wait, this opened in 1960? I could have sworn it was more like 1860, and it looks it too, in a fun kind of way. Shake, rattle and roll happened. A +1 was obtained.
Perhaps as compensation for Leap the Dips we had also been granted permission to ride the only recently abbreviated #2 Lil’ Dipper, which comes up with one of those fun warnings on Coaster Count – are you suuure you rode this?
Allan Herschell doing us proud once again, with a ride on which every lap feels like it could be its last.
With that lil’ victory under our belt it was time to pop up the road for more cheap creds.
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park
It’s rare that you’ll find me going out of my way for such insignificance in the States, for now, but this place is a mere 5 minutes up the road, so it would be rude not to.
By the very specific number of ride tickets requested, or perhaps our accent and attire, the ticket office knew exactly why we were here, and the Wacky Worm was up first. Felt like we’ve been apart for too long.
Already had one of these, though no breakdowns this time.
The highlight of the park was the pizza, which was fabled to be even better than Knoebels. Sure enough it was popular enough to attract as big a crowd as the rides, was good value and tasted even better, for American pizza anyway. Should expect nothing less from a park that’s owned by a sauce company.
Places to be.
A revisit to Hersheypark had always been on the cards since we last visited, more specifically whilst having a conversation with a local man, mid-lap on Skyrush.
“Are you guys coming back for the hyper?”
Between screams of joy and terror, “yes”.
True to our word we had returned, and the new entrance area looked so much better than it had as mud and wood. Finally we were able to take some decent photos of Skyrush and, though we had several new things to ride, we couldn’t resist starting the visit on an old pal.
Or is it a pal? I’d almost dared to forget how brutal and insane this contraption is, it’s not here to make friends, it’s out to utterly destroy you. The giddy contemplation of what was to come hit me hard and fast as we were wrenched up that cable lift hard and fast once more, now professionals in our golden winged seats of choice. God damn Skyrush, you’re still better than anything on the trip so far. And that was only the taster.
Fear of repeat Intamin spite took us to #5 Fahrenheit next, which was another solid factor in our returning.
2019, Hershey, it had been ‘too cold’ to run this while we stood outside a broken Storm Runner getting sunburnt.
Today it literally was ‘97° and falling fast’, as the tag line proclaims, so there was no excuse. It was also looking rather vibrant in a new paint job.
I liked it a lot more than I had expected to. Just another Intamin with clunky old trains I had thought, but they ride more like a Maverick than a Kanonen, allowing some powerful forces to come into play. It’s reasonably standard multi-looper affair after the Norwegian Loop, an element I’ll always love (set complete). I could give or take the Cobra but the double corkscrew is quite hard hitting, then they managed to squeeze in one good pop of air for good luck before the brakes. Soild.
Took a courtesy lap on Storm Runner from there, which I believe remains my favourite hydraulic/accelerator. The stuff it does with it is so cool, even if it’s almost as short as the rest of them, though on this particular occasion it wasn’t quite delivering that lung-crushing quality I had previously admired from it. As a slight bonus it was running dual stations this time, which was fun to watch.
Sadly this was a thing that needed to happen. The ride previously known as Spitewinder had become #6 Jolly Rancher Remix, which made it more of a laugh at least, I guess. The rectangular headed mascot, although never seen, was laying down some tunes in the station, complete with random flashing light selector package. There was some fresh smoke in the tunnel, it rode in an acceptable fashion and that was that.
One more slightly more important coaster to pick up though, big #7 Candymonium was running far too many trains for its general lack of queue and causing some immense stacking. S’alright.
Mako brought some new hope to this genre for me, but I found that this newest installation pales in comparison. It had the makings of the same genius in that first drop and first hill, which are rather sublime, though the first trimmed hill was just a bit too sappy, beyond the point of regular amusement. Corners happen, it attempts that sideways moment which looks far funkier than it actually is and then it kills the speed even more into the visual turnaround and ends on the Shambhala double brake run. I just got the feeling it’s all about aesthetic over ride experience.
Probably doesn’t help that you can literally see Skyrush while riding it, either, thinking why am I on this?
After personal recommendation from the project manager himself, we of course had to check out Reese’s Cupfusion this time. I don’t even remember it existing during the previous visit. At best it didn’t have any of the frontage that it does now and was just a mystery metal shed, or it was still undergoing the retheme.
The wonky elevation changes in the track as you go round and shoot sweets are a little distracting but it appears to be a significant upgrade over what they had before in terms of theming, interactivity and media. Shenanigans happen, we got an embarrassingly low score for some reason and in our minds at least that was now park complete, again.
Which meant it was time for only one thing. Another evening Skyrush marathon, though shorter than we were hoping for. This reminded me exactly what the majority of my top ten rides are all about, a combination of physical abuse and things you don’t get anywhere else. I had spent our last visit honing the technique as to how not to get your thighs crushed (scoot forward and get it in that hip joint, if possible). This time I decided to use the time testing the waters around how much I actually wanted to get bruised. It hadn’t been happening enough on this trip.
There’s a fine line, the silly shape of the first drop always gives that terrifying shunt forwards that tries to pitch you out and over the bar, adjusting the position slightly anyway if there’s any room for it and then any duration of straight airtime feels like the more the better. The real pain comes in those exclusive wing seat moments when extreme ejection combines with lateral forces and you fly up 10ft by means of a single leg. Yikes. I think my favourite part of the whole thing, and why I’m a back left man, remains the third turnaround in which I get entirely folded in half, sideways, around a 2 inch diameter piece of metal, in a wild attempt to fully leave the train. You just don’t get that anywhere else in the world.
And that’s why I love it.
We spent our moments leaving the park in relative frustation at the lack of purchasable merch on offer. They’ve got some strange new designer shops that have nothing to do with the place at all, which obviously didn’t contain anything related to one of the all time greats. In the big new main shop the story was no better, where nearly all of the other attractions were represented. If only my favourite ride was the Sooper Dooper Looper…