When you mention the word Hershey to most people, the first thing that likely comes to mind is a Hershey's Chocolate Bar. When you mention the same word to a coaster enthusiast, the first thing to come to mind would likely be Hersheypark and their outstanding collection of roller coasters.
Continuing with the tradition of building outstanding roller coasters. Hersheypark proudly unveiled Great Bear, a state-of-the-art inverted roller coaster by popular Swiss designers Bolliger and Mabillard.
Enthusiasts welcomed the announcement, but some were unsure about what to expect. Labeling Great Bear "the family inverted coaster", based on what some thought was a tame layout.
Type of coaster:
Height: 124 feet
Max drop: 90 feet
Top speed: 58 mph
Length: 2,800 feet
Vertical loop, Immelman, Flat Roll, Corkscrew
Cost of Attraction:
Number of Trains:
2- 32 passenger trains
Bolliger & Mabillard
Despite the initial reaction, the actual ride turned out to be the opposite of what some expected. Instead Great Bear delivered a world class ride with some powerful g-forces, a combination of exciting elements and a unique encounter with one of the park's other roller coasters.
The layout of Great Bear has some unique characteristics that set it apart. After the accent up the lift hill, the train begins the initial decent into a fast sweeping helix turn. This quick turn high above the ground was a first for a B&M inverted coaster.
Following the turn, the train continues on its 125-foot decent, reaching a dizzying speed of 58 mph! Without leaving much time to catch your breath, riders soar up into the air through the first of four inversions, a vertical loop.
With your feet tingling from the g-forces of the vertical loop, the train returns to the ground for a moment and speeds through a short alley as it races for the next inversion.
The second inversion, the Immelmann, is a different sort of loop described by the park as "a loop that turns you out at the top and then drops you like a falling star." Dropping you is exactly what it does, before sending the train up and into the third inversion, the B&M signature flat roll.
A flat roll, is an exactly what it sounds like. A horizontal section of the track that is twisted all the way around in one direction. Sending the trains and passengers into a maneuver typically reserved for military jet fighters.
Great Bear has four inverting elements, one of them being the zero-G flat roll.
If you've lost your breath, don't worry your not alone. The pacing of the first three inversions is fast, and easily leaves a veteran coaster rider disoriented. If you were not expecting it, that is no surprise. The intense ride experience on Great Bear is often unexpected.
Flying out of the flat roll, the ride continues into the first of two S-turns. The final inversion comes after the first s-turn and is a quick corkscrew, which quickly flips the train over the track.
But the final section of track offers one of best experiences of the entire ride. Locals have appropriately named this element commonly called a foot chopper, "Kick the Sooperdooperlooper."
Riders lucky to be seated on the outside right seat will not want to miss the chance of having your right leg severed off by the neighboring coaster. It is the thrill of a lifetime, as the train comes perilously close. Never fear you won't loose your leg, but it is likely that you will pull it in towards the train as you have your close-encounter with the steel support.
Your ride aboard Great Bear ends as the train pulls into the station to pick up the next round of passengers. As the restraint unlocks, try not to run as you race around for a second ride.
The inverted roller coaster was first introduced in 1992. Since its introduction, it can be said that it is one of the most popular types of roller coasters of the decade. Great Bear is no exception, and is a fine addition to Hersheypark's outstanding roller coaster line up.
Photos by Eric Gieszl. Copyright © 1999 Ultimate Rollercoaster.
Great Bear artwork courtesy of Hersheypark. All rights reserved.