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Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation

drachen drachen Profile

Posted:
4/16/12 at
11:09:54 AM

Two things got me in the car on Saturday to make the trek over to Hersheypark. One, I wanted to ride some roller coasters, and Hersheypark was the one of two parks that were open within a "short" drive. Two, I wanted to see first hand what they did to my favorite area of the park, Comet Hollow - which is now called "The Hollow".

Time was a factor, and I only spent about two hours in the park. The park was pretty busy for a spring day, but I imagine there's a lot of cabin fever this time of year. So, people were out. I think the park did pretty well for Springtime in the Park this year.

Here are some things that I noticed...

The Comet and Comet Hollow

First of all, I'm going to refuse to call it "The Hollow". I understand that Comet might not be the draw to that area anymore, and that there is much more going on down there today than 30 years ago, but for me Hersheypark is not Hersheypark without the Comet.

The area actually looks great. Hersheypark did a great job with the hardscaping, as usual. The area still needs its final layer of pavement, so it didn't look finished yet. There are new games buildings on the Great Bear side, and they removed the staircase that led up to the Skyview skyride.

Comet's station got a very nice face-lift. They removed the old exit ramp completely, and painted the whole thing light brown with dark blue trim. The incline to the loading area lost it's claustrophobia-inducing wall for a nice black rail.


Image from Keystone Thrills (link below)

They added some nice flower beds near the ride, that people seem to love to walk through. I don't understand people sometimes. There is a flower bed with some bushes in the Comet's new queue (photo below). It's a nice touch, but has already become a catch-all for people's trash.


Image from Keystone Thrills

I don't know if this is a new thing or if they just had an extra employee that day, but there was an attendant in the queue area of the station directing people and filling the stalls. I like it, and I hope that's a change for most of the roller coasters this summer - especially on Skyrush.

Comet's ride feels the same. It's visuals are certainly different. You can't help but notice Skyrush's monster lift hill as you crest Comet's.

Skyrush's station provides a nice side-chopper on Comet's speed hill after the second drop. Skyrush's track as it heads into the brakes provides a nice head-chopper as Comet heads out into its dog-leg.

Though those effects are fun, I don't think Skyrush has done Comet any favors. Aside from its lift hill, the new ride looks out of place and ugly to me sitting on top of Comet like it does.

On another note, sooperdooperLooper looks really sharp with it's new blue and black paint. They didn't paint the actual track, and you can really notice it. They probably should have, and they still may. No sign of the new trains.

Skyrush

Skyrush itself looks pretty good though, and it looks longer than it will probably ride. There is water in the creek again, so the ride looks really sharp.


Images from Keystone Thrills

It looks to me that they are working on hooking up the lift cable at this point. There is a train in the storage bay. They may be ready to let it rip soon.

The station looks very nice, to be honest, though I'm not sure about the queue. There is a large concrete pad for the line, but it doesn't look nearly large enough.

There are three sets of stairs in one that lead to the station. The left set is for the exit, as riders will exit from the same side from which they loaded. The other two stairs look to be for the front and then the rest of the train respectively.


Image from Keystone Thrills

The problem I see here, if that is the case, is that the line for the front of the train will be painfully long if it really goes to the bottom of those stairs. Not a good set-up at all.


Skyrush's lift from the ride's soon-to-be entrance.

Other Observations

I also rode Great Bear, the Kissing Tower, and Wildcat. Here's a view of Skyrush from the tower.

Great Bear is running just fine, as I got a back seat ride on it. Wildcat was running just fine too. I waited for a front-seat ride on it, but in so-doing, I ran out of time to ride Lightning Racer.

I willingly skipped Storm Runner because it only had one train ready and operating. I skipped Fahrenheit too, as it only had two trains in operation. I didn't have the time or want to wait in their lines, which were long.

Fast Track

Speaking of long lines, Wildcat is were I first saw Hersheypark's new Fast Track system in action. There were two rows chained off, but Hershey has been known to do that on slower days (and it was a slow day on Wildcat). But those two rows were where they were adding the "VIP" riders that came up the exit ramp.

I'm glad they didn't give them our front seat, and it looked like they didn't have a choice as to where they were able to sit. Like I've said before, if they have to have a system, I'm glad that this is the way that they'll manage it.

Each time a rider came up the ramp, they had a card or pamphlet that got punched. I'm not sure how many times these riders get to skip the line, but I hope it's only once per ride.

I have to say that it did slow the ride down, as the fast track riders were loaded first. You could see that it bothered the people waiting.

As I left Wildcat's station, one VIP rider and his daughter just burst through the exit gate before the rest of us could exit, bumping into me in the process. I already don't like the sense of entitlement that this program will give some people.

Follow the link below to see a number of pictures from the weekend.

Keystone Thrills Update 4-14-12

* This post was modified at 4/16/12 2:12:31 PM *

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by Eric_Gieszl Eric_Gieszl Profile at 4/16/12 1:20:03 PM
That's a bad implementation of a front of the line system. Loading those guests first inconveniences the rest. They should merge the lines before the loading station.
Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by drachen drachen Profile at 4/16/12 2:09:39 PM
Eric_Gieszl said:

That's a bad implementation of a front of the line system. Loading those guests first inconveniences the rest. They should merge the lines before the loading station.

I'm not sure we're seeing the true implementation at this point, as it is very early in the season.

But, like I said in the other thread, a lot of these parks that add such a system to existing rides don't have the space or ability to add a separate line to merge with the old, or the current queue is not set up to do it. Hersheypark is full of coasters that fit this category. They have to use the exit ramps.

Take Wildcat for example. There is room to add another queue, but the merge point would have to be at the base of the ramp up to the station, which is a point that the regular line rarely reaches anyway. Plus, if that was the merge point, the line-skippers would still wait over 30 minutes, and not see the value of their purchase.

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by Eric_Gieszl Eric_Gieszl Profile at 4/16/12 2:32:55 PM
Yes, and they shouldn't do it unless they can properly implement it.

I'm waiting for a park to offer a system that is free like Disney. Add the free system and then charge full price at the gate instead of half price and double your season pass prices too.

Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 4/16/12 2:57:19 PM
I agree about charging full price at the gate of all parks. At the same time they should also lower the price of food in the park. Sure if the price to enter is too high for some, they'd be priced out, but that's a small price to pay for other benefits. Also if not so many people can afford to go, maybe the park won't be so crowded and there wouldn't be such a demand/need for such fast pass options.

Nice pics Drachen!

* This post was modified at 4/16/12 2:59:58 PM *

Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by drachen drachen Profile at 4/16/12 9:08:53 PM
Eric_Gieszl said:

Yes, and they shouldn't do it unless they can properly implement it.

No argument there.

Eric_Gieszl said:

I'm waiting for a park to offer a system that is free like Disney. Add the free system and then charge full price at the gate instead of half price and double your season pass prices too.

I guess I'm not familiar with Disney's program. How does it work? Free fast pass? I don't get it...

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by Absimilliard Absimilliard Profile at 4/16/12 9:32:51 PM
Drachen, how Fast Pass at Disney works is that some rides have fast pass distribution machines around them. You go there, insert your park ticket and a paper ticket with a 30 or 60 minutes window come out. Its included with park admission and you return at the listed time for a much shorter wait. Some rides merge you with the regular line before the loading areas, others in the waiting line itself. You're allowed to hold one fast pass at a time, unless your current fast pass is for more than 2 hours later. In that case, you can get another fast pass for a different 2 hours after getting your first one.

How many paper tickets are distributed? Its based on ride capacity. Some rides will give out 50% of its total daily capacity in fast pass. At the attraction I worked, it was around 60-70%. When I worked at Disneyland Paris on Space Mountain, if we had 4 trains running (1800 guests an hour capacity), we'd give out like 100 tickets per 5 minutes period. 100 tickets for 10:00-11:00, 100 tickets for 10:05-11:05, etc. If demand is very high (EVERYONE is rushing to get fast pass for that one ride), you'll give more than 100 tickets in that 5 minutes period, so once 100 are given, it will jump to the next and so on until all the fast pass are distributed for that ride for the day. We'd also adjust the number of tickets per the number of trains running. When we had the 5 trains going (for a scary fast 2400 guests an hour!), we'd give out 132 fast pass per 5 minutes.

Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by GoYanks34 GoYanks34 Profile at 4/16/12 9:45:40 PM
Great TR! LOVE the pics - Sky Rush is actually looking quite nice. I was afraid of what it was going to do to Comet but I think it came along nicely. LOVE that first drop! At least it has a decent hill.

As far as the Fast Pass system - Did Hershey and Cedar Fair get together and come up with this bone head plan at the same time? At least it looks like Hershey limits the amount of times you can ride. They have to merge before the loading station - even if it's only a psychological ploy, it is not the same as someone jumping in your seat when you're the next rider. Disney got it right but there is no way the other parks will follow when there's money to be made. And I would GLADLY pay more for my season pass for a free fast pass system any day of the week and twice on Sunday! ;~)

Jen

Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by drachen drachen Profile at 4/16/12 9:54:37 PM
Absimilliard said:

Drachen, how Fast Pass at Disney works is...

Thanks for the detailed explanation. That makes a lot of sense, and it sounds like a very well-thought out program and a well-oiled machine.

Obviously though, such a program would be very hard (and expensive)to implement at other parks. The industry may evolve that way in the coming years, but for now, I can also understand why they don't go that direction.

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by drachen drachen Profile at 4/16/12 10:14:36 PM
GoYanks34 said:

Great TR! LOVE the pics - Sky Rush is actually looking quite nice.

Thanks, but those aren't my photos. I'm not affiliated with Keystone Thrills, but I've been following the site to keep an eye on Skyrush. He does a good job.

GoYanks34 said:

As far as the Fast Pass system - Did Hershey and Cedar Fair get together and come up with this bone head plan at the same time?

At least since Cedar Point had their previous system, which I thought was good. They had a merging queue for a number of their roller coasters, which, if they are still there, can be used again.

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by looper77 at 4/16/12 10:40:27 PM
Thanks for the insight Drachen.

A few questions...

1) The Looper is now black and blue. If they didn't paint the track, then what part is painted black?

2) How does Skyrush's brake run fit in the area. I don't like the way the Skyrush brake run footers just sit there exposed. It's looks ugly, like they should have put some hedges in front of them. I'm thinking maybe they will put retail/food carts in those empty spots.

3) Does's Comet's station really look good? It looks like a really odd color combination?

4) Does the Hollow really look good as a whole? I see that they put a lot of work into the area, but it seems like a hodge podge of architectural styles. The Looper, Skyrush, and Comet being the major structures all have a different style, not to mention the new pizza place (old bumper car bldg).

It just seems like there wasn't a conscious effort to give the area a cohesive feel. In the pictures, the area just doesn't look visually appealing. IMO

On a side note, I never liked the name Comet Hollow. I prefer the original Spring Creek Hollow name, only because I always felt calling it Comet Hollow made the Looper look like Jan Brady, getting slighted by it's big sister.

Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by drachen drachen Profile at 4/17/12 3:19:32 PM
looper77 said:

1) The Looper is now black and blue. If they didn't paint the track, then what part is painted black?

The main supports are blue. The pieces that connect the track to those supports got a fresh coat of black. The track itself is still the worn orange. Maybe they should paint those orange again. That would be sharp.

looper77 said:

2) How does Skyrush's brake run fit in the area. I don't like the way the Skyrush brake run footers just sit there exposed. It's looks ugly, like they should have put some hedges in front of them. I'm thinking maybe they will put retail/food carts in those empty spots.

The brake run sticks out like a sore thumb, in my opinion. I don't know what else they could have done though, maybe some concession carts. I would have liked them to build the games buildings back underneath them, but I don't know how practical that really is. You can see it in this photo, again from Keystone Thrills.

looper77 said:

3) Does's Comet's station really look good? It looks like a really odd color combination?

I do like it. It looks better in person. There is a lot less blue, and it has more of a classic feel to it.

looper77 said:

4) Does the Hollow really look good as a whole? I see that they put a lot of work into the area, but it seems like a hodge podge of architectural styles. The Looper, Skyrush, and Comet being the major structures all have a different style, not to mention the new pizza place (old bumper car bldg).

It just seems like there wasn't a conscious effort to give the area a cohesive feel. In the pictures, the area just doesn't look visually appealing. IMO

I see what you're saying. You can tell that the stations were all built in different time periods. Skyrush's station looks nice, and it tries to have an old design to it. But I don't think they really pulled it off. It still looks modern to me.

The pizza building is a horrible idea. The red just doesn't belong, let alone replacing a sandwich shop for some bad pizza just makes no sense.

When I said that Comet Hollow looks great, I was referring to the new hardscaping and landscaping that's been done. Plus, it was really torn up a few months ago. They did some good, quick work putting it all back together for springtime.

I actually don't like the new games buildings. They make the area feel very tight as you enter. But it widens as you approach Skyrush. You can't see the creek anymore though. Between the new games buildings, the Wave Swinger, and the pizza shop, it's visually not a part of the Hollow anymore.

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by Absimilliard Absimilliard Profile at 4/17/12 9:55:06 PM
I really don't like the look of Skyrush brake run and station building. What's up with those tall footers? It make it look like a cheap relocated coaster or a clone where they use cement footers to compensate with the ground.
Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by drachen drachen Profile at 4/17/12 10:20:37 PM
Absimilliard said:

I really don't like the look of Skyrush brake run and station building. What's up with those tall footers? It make it look like a cheap relocated coaster or a clone where they use cement footers to compensate with the ground.

My best guess is that since that area can flood pretty heavily, as we saw in 2011, they wanted to keep this thing up off the ground. That's probably why the concrete is so tall.

If it's my decision, I'd rather the concrete get submerged than steel supports. It might even have been required.

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Short Hersheypark Trip Report and a Fast Track Observation by JetMech JetMech Profile at 4/17/12 10:28:09 PM
Absimilliard said:

I really don't like the look of Skyrush brake run and station building. What's up with those tall footers? It make it look like a cheap relocated coaster or a clone where they use cement footers to compensate with the ground.

You're right. After you said that I looked at other photos and all the footers are tall. Looks like either somebody screwed up or the park changed its mind and wanted the entire coaster elevated. Just looking at the support lengths and a typical footer hight the coaster would clear the foot print. Kind of ruins the valleys above the water not being closer to water.