By Nickie Hayes
Hersheypark has recently opened for their 2021 season as of April 2, 2021. Crowds of people flock to the amusement park to smell the chocolate in the air and experience some of the most intense rides in the United States. In light of the park ramping up for its 113th summer season, let’s take a look at some of the attractions that have kept Hershey Park relevant for so many years.
Considering the pandemic, Hersheypark has taken measures to ensure safety for those who visit the park. Last summer, the summer of 2020, I actually visited the park and was happily surprised to see all of the precautions taken regarding COVID-19.
According to the Hersheypark website:
“Our team has implemented a variety of new safety initiatives to welcome our guests back to a fun and safe environment. These initiatives include enhancing our already stringent cleaning and sanitization protocols, supporting social distancing, managing capacity through a reservation system, requiring the use of face coverings, conducting temperature screenings and increasing team member training.”
Personally, I have gone to Hersheypark almost every year of my life. Some of my fondest childhood memories came from vacations to the park with my family. Especially when I grew tall enough to ride all of the roller coasters, that trip definitely took me for some emotional turns. I was so excited to ride the coasters I had never been able to before, but I ended up getting panicked, waiting in line, fearing the unknown. Although, that angst quickly faded away.
My favorite rides in Hersheypark might not be what is expected. I do love the sizable and exhilarating rides. Yet, some of the rides at the amusement park have something special about them that you cannot always find in the mammoth roller coasters. Nonetheless, I will be starting off my list of favorite rides with one of my favorite roller coasters for the big kids, but these are in no particular order.
1) Great Bear
The name alone helps to explain why this ride is so great. This ride was originally opened May 23, 1998, and has been a staple in Hersheypark ever since. According to the Hersheypark website, the Great Bear is an aggressive thrill ride, but out of all the adult coasters, this is probably one of the smoothest rides you will find in the park. The rider must be at least in the Twizzler height category of 54 inches or above. The top speed of the ride is 61 mph, the ride height is 124 feet and the total ride time is two minutes and 15 seconds.
The ride gets its name from the roaring sound it makes throughout the Kissing Tower Hill and The Hollow areas of the park. In my experience, if this is your first time going to the park, this is a delightfully intoxicating ride to start your Hersheypark adventure. A unique feature of this coaster is that it leaves your feet dangling as you fly over the park.
One of my favorite rides in the amusement park is Candymonium, the newest ride added to the park as of July 3, 2020. The Hersheypark website says Candymonium is the tallest, fastest and longest ride at Hershey, coming in at 210 feet, 76 mph, and having a ride time of 2 minutes and 26 seconds. The rider must also be at least in the Twizzler height category of 54 inches or above.
The 15th coaster added to the park is a complete joy ride for a roller coaster junky. The ride is just as smooth as the Great Bear or arguably even smoother. There are seven camelback hills, a panoramic banked curve around the Kisses Fountain and a 123-degree hammerhead curve. It is the first ride you see as you walk into the park, but it may not be the best ride to go on for first-time goers. It surely looks intimidating walking up to it.
3) Coal Cracker
Another fun named to ride, this is the first coaster I have shared that almost anyone of all ages can ride. This is a water ride and a family ride, and possibly one of the best rides in the park. As stated by the Hersheypark website, the Coal Cracker is a high thrill ride, where the riders float through a series of canals. On the ride, there is a great view of the park and it is especially beautiful at sunset.
One of the older rides in the park, this coaster opened in 1973. Children starting at the height of 36 inches can ride this with the supervision of an adult. Those at 48 inches in height or above, the Hershey’s height category, can ride the Coal Cracker on their own.
The reason why I believe this is one of the best rides in the park is because it is the perfect ride to take a break on. It is not high intensity. The entirety of the ride wait is in a shaded area, and it is the perfect way to cool off. The one plunge at the end of the ride splashes the riders with water and is lovely in the middle of a hot summer day. Some may say it is not a special ride, but to me, I have been going on it since I was little, and it never gets old.
4) Lighting Racer
The Lighting Racer is one of the wooden roller coasters at Hersheypark. According to the Hersheypark website, the Lighting Racer has a maximum speed of 50 mph, which feels much faster when on the ride. The ride height is 90 feet and the total ride time is one minute and 20 seconds. This coaster was originally added to the Midway America section of the park on May 13, 2000.
This ride has found a spot on my list because it is also an experience. There are two twin wooden coasters side-by-side that race each other. One is the Thunder side, and the other is the Lighting side. The added competitive aspect engages the rider and really makes you feel like you are in another world. For that minute and 20 seconds, nothing else matters besides enjoying the ride and winning the roller coaster race.
5) Storm Runner
My all-time favorite ride at Hersheypark is Storm Runner. The website states that Storm Runner is located in the Pioneer Frontier area of the park, has a maximum speed of 72 mph, is 180 feet tall and the total ride time is one minute. What makes this roller coaster unique is that it shoots the riders from zero to 72 mph in under two seconds. This ride provides a thrill like no other. To ride this, the individual must be in at least the Twizzler height category and be at least 54 inches in height.
However, this ride has been closed since July 2020. There is an active lawsuit in progress in which a man claims his son had a near death experience on the ride. His son was not actually injured, but the alleged trauma and emotional stress his son has faced pushed him to sue the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company. The reason for the lawsuit is that the father claimed the son’s harness was not properly secured or checked by a Hersheypark attendant.
There is a risk when it comes to going on these types of rides, but in my experience, I have never had a problem while on the ride. I have been on Storm Runner more times than I can count and have never had an issue. I hope in the future, I and others will be able to feel the thrill of this coaster again.
I would highly recommend choosing to go to Hersheypark for your next vacation. I have been going for my entire life and the memories I have made in the park and on the rides is unforgettable. There is something for everyone of all ages, and in my eyes, Hersheypark truly is the sweetest place on Earth.