Pulling into the station after being slowed by the magnetic brakes. I just took my first ride on Hersheypark's Storm Runner. I'm sitting in the first row of the second car and I have no clue what just happened.
You see there are launched roller coasters that focus solely on the launch like Hypersonic and Top Thrill Dragster. There are also launch coasters that let you "do it twice", as in the shuttle launchers- they give you a chance to recall the ride in reverse in case you missed anything. Then there are launch coasters where the launch is but a small part of the whole ride experience like California Screamin', Rock N' Roller Coaster and Revenge of the Mummy.
Type of Coaster:
Multielement Rocket Coaster
Height: 150 feet
Max drop: 180 feet
Descent angle: 90°
Top speed: 75 mph
Length: 2,600 feet
Hydraulic 0 - 72 mph in 2 seconds
Number of Vehicles:
2 - 20 passenger
May 8, 2004
Storm Runner simply cannot be compared to any roller coaster. It is a true freak show of a ride, with a lot of action packed into a 2,600-foot long course. The ride duration is in the 30-second range launch to brakes; but throw duration out the window. Train after train of cheering riders seemed not to care about the short ride.
The set up for Storm Runner is a double loading station with side-by-side tracks. Guests board one of the ride's two yellow, five-car, two bench trains from inside of the two tracks and then advance out onto the launch track. "Here We Go" means you're gone... zero to 72 mph in a little over 2 seconds is far from mind blowing in today's world, but it works.
There is a lot to love about Intamin's hydraulic launch from a ride experience standpoint. In hockey terms, it's a wrist shot, compared to a slap shot that is a LIM (Linear Induction Motor) launch. Gracefully, peacefully, you're romping down the track at 72 mph.
Before you can even come to grips with what just happened (launch), you're cresting the top hat. Airtime is aplenty near the front of the train as you crest, and awesome yanking air is present near the back of the train as you dive at an 85-degree angle, 180-ft down towards Spring Creek. Ride in the middle of the train for a good mix of both.
The Immelman is as freaky to ride, as it is to look at. Support columns whiz by you in every direction as you invert, and dive down to the right. A rapid-fire rise towards the inline roll gives another dose of amazing air near the front of the train. The barrel roll may look similar to Volcano, but you're moving at a much greater velocity. There is some hang time, but not enough to really appreciate it. The snake dive follows the barrel roll and this may be the best element on Storm Runner.
The snake dive is essentially 3/4 of another inline roll, but instead of continuing straight ahead, the bottom drops out, and the train dramatically dives back down towards Spring Creek with support columns once again providing for some nice head chopping effects.
Suddenly, there's the monorail track straight ahead. If we don't do something real quick, only the short riders will come back to the station with their heads attached. Here is Stengal to save us. You tilt almost 90 degrees to the right as the track dives "under" the monorail track. Then, you're turned upright, only to whip through the S-turn and over one final airtime bunny hill to roll down into the strip of magnetic brakes.
That's a lot of writing to describe 30-seconds of coasting, and believe me it required the ten rides I managed this weekend to put that into words.
Storm Runner's a great ride. Not earth shattering, and far from Intamin's best work, but certainly an improvement over Knott's Xcelerator.
What Storm Runner does do is fill a void in Hersheypark's roster- a marquee sit down steel coaster. The ride has attributes of mega coasters, rocket coasters and multi-element loopers in one. Hersheypark had none of these genres, so a cool $12-million just bought them all three coasters types.
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Review and photos by Mark Rosenzweig.
Storm Runner logo courtesy of Hersheypark. All rights reserved.