Thursday, November 19, 2020

Cedar Point 2020

I only visited Cedar Point for the first time in 2019, but I was grateful to return this year to what's one
of my favorite amusement parks. Opened in 1870, Cedar Point is the third-oldest amusement park in America and had its 150th anniversary in 2020. However, the 150th anniversary celebration - planned to include a parade, new boat ride, and updated park museum - was pushed off until next year. It's nice to see a park that has been notoriously ruthless in getting rid of the old paying some tribute to its history.
A positive about this bad year is that I got to ride Steel Vengeance again, my #1 steel coaster. Maverick, another awesome ride, is in the foreground.
Even though it's most known for its asphalt midways, Cedar Point has a nicely wooded Frontier Trail that leads to Frontier Town, the only themed area in the park.
One of the best parts of Cedar Point is Boneville, the skeleton-filled town you pass through on the train.
The structures in these scenes are from the late 60s, but Cedar Point does a great job at maintaining all of the animations and effects in them. 
I can't help but have a smile on my face when I see something like this...
There are real flames and water in the firefighting scene!
The main reason I wanted to visit Cedar Point again this year was to ride Top Thrill Dragster, which was closed on my 2019 visit. Traveling 400 feet high and reaching 120 miles per hour, Top Thrill Dragster is the second-tallest and third-fastest roller coaster in the world.
I have an embarrassing but memorable story from my first ever ride on this coaster. I'd only experienced launches of at most 70 mph, so I really had no clue what 120 was going to feel like. I was in line when the ride went down (as it often does), so I sat in the hot sun wishing I had something to drink for 30 minutes. By the time I was getting into the train, I was not my most alert self and wasn't really thinking about the speed I was going to reach. After all, Top Thrill Dragster is just one hill, so how intense can it really be? 
Well, as soon as we blasted off I realized that this was unlike any coaster I had ever been on before.  Of course, I was too thirsty to think about holding my mask - which wasn't tightened enough - to my face, so uh... yeah. Luckily, I had an extra in my pocket, so I left the ride without missing a beat. They probably deleted my photo for not following the rules, though. (Cedar Point was actually doing that!) A search around the launch area for my missing mask was not successful. :-)
Until the novelty wears off for me, Top Thrill Dragster is my second favorite ride in the park... but we can't forget about good old Corkscrew!
                    Cedar Point would've gotten rid of this ride years ago if it wasn't so iconic.
The park sold bricks over the winter for $100 that you could have engraved and placed here in the main midway. 
That does it for Cedar Point! I felt safer there than I have at the grocery store, even better, people actually followed the ground markings in the queue lines. ;-) My season pass is still valid, so I'm sure that I'll be back at least once next year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020


This post is in memory of the Bayern Kurve. RIP 2020

Hersheypark is the largest amusement park in Pennsylvania and was one of the parks I got to go to this year, although I had visited before. The building with the faux smokestacks on the right is separate from the park and is definitely not the Hershey factory, but we'll come back to that at the end of the post.                                         

Given that this is a park named after a world-famous candy company, a lot of people think that Hersheypark will be filled with chocolate-themed attractions, but the reality is that it is a pretty typical amusement park with roller coasters not related to chocolate (e.g. "Fahrenheit" and "Skyrush"); however, the new Chcolatetown expansion has made the chocolate theme your first impression of the park. The old main entrance, seen below, anchored the former "Tudor Square" area, which was among the remnants of a 1970s retheme that gated the park and gave it a Pennsylvania "cultural exposition" theme with areas based off of coal mining, the PA Dutch, and European heritage.                                                                                 

Being the highest attended non-chain park in the country, Hersheypark needed a larger entrance, so this year they added a large addition that also included a new, 210-foot tall roller coaster. I like the new entrance, but it clearly lacks the tree growth that the old one had.
...but they did throw a couple bricks from the old entrance in!
Here's the new "hypercoaster," which extends out into a former golf course adjoining the park. And yes, "Candymonium" is one of the most puzzling names ever.
The other attraction in Chocolatetown is the park's 1919 Philadelphia Toboggan Co. carousel, which was relocated from a different area in the park.
This is actually the second time the carousel has been relocated, as in the early 70s it became the center of "Carousel Circle," an area surrounded by family rides. Moving the carousel to the very front of the park looks good, but this isolates it from the park's other family attractions. The statue of Milton Hershey in the foreground honors the man who founded the park in 1906 as well as the surrounding town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Although Hershey retains only a few vintage rides, the setting of the park shows its age and reminds you that it was originally established by Milton Hershey to give his employees someplace to enjoy themselves in his company town.
Hershey has 14 roller coasters, and seen below is sooperdooperLooper (actual spelling) and Great Bear, an inverted coaster that has some wacky supports to clear Spring Creek.
This elk statue has been in the park since 1913. In the background, you can see "ZooAmerica," the old Hershey Zoo from 1910 that is now integrated with the theme park.
Storm Runner is a launched coaster, but given that it's built by Intamin, the coaster manufacturer most famous for their rides' downtime, it remained closed this year. In front of it, you can see the beam of the park's 1969 Monorail that uses parts from the trains of Six Flags Magic Mountain's old monorail. It operates as a roundtrip. Since I visited on one of the first days Hersheypark was open this year, they had not yet gotten it running.
Lightning Racer is a racing wooden coaster with two tracks. It's really a wonderful piece of coaster design, with the tracks crossing over and under each other at multiple points during the ride. There are even "dueling" moments where the trains run towards each other head-on.
Lightning Racer is part of the "Midway America" themed area of the park, which is home to attractions that pay tribute to turn-of-the-1900s amusement parks. Seen below is "Laff Trakk," an indoor, spinning roller coaster decorated with painted, blacklight flats to create a disorienting experience.
However, a visit to Hershey isn't complete without riding the Chocolate World Omnimover ride.
This ride is free, outside the gates of the theme park, and is part of a complex that includes several gift shops and other upcharge attractions. And you even get a piece of chocolate at the end. :-)
The tour ride is constantly refreshed to remain up-to-date (take these singing, animatronic cows), but there are some scenes that have stayed virtually the same for decades.
The fake chocolate factory you ride through was built in 1973 when demand for tours at the actual Hershey factory became so great that they were interfering with operations.
As you can see, Hershey has spared no expense with these scenes. ;-)
That does it for this visit to Hersheypark. I look forward to returning!