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The Journey To Find The Inner Terpy- silver2005's Pennsylvania & New Jersey Trip Planning and PTR


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So my hotel is....odd.  

First, I arrived at 2:30 pm, half an hour before their posted check in time at 3 pm, and they wanted to charge me $25 for getting their a tad early.  The 2nd lady told me they wouldn't but 'it depended on who was manning the desk'. 

Huh.

The first floor (the 100 level) is in the basement and you have to play Labyrinth: The Home Game to find the way down.  It's accessible from the back lot, but still, what is this I don't even. 

Hopefully the hotel is soundproofed enough to drown out the nearby airport. 

EDIT: Going to test the EZ Pass on the way to Philly. 

EDIT2: Dorney may be extremely dead tomorrow.  Rain in the forecast.

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So tuition wasn't as much as I thought, so I should be able to finance this trip a-okay, including being able to handle the pricier hotels.  

Inner Terpy?  Just stay home and troll everything on this site letting folks know you know everything going on at Kings Island, but can't say anything.  :-)

So this didn't turn out quite as planned as the ops weren't fond of taking photos of me on the train, so I went with plan B.  I wore a UC shirt to Knoebels as C is the Roman numeral for 100 and UC, ma

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Downtown Philly was fun.   I think by the time I'm done with this trip, Cincinnati commute drivers will seem like nothing to me.  Having to drive through this for a week and through Detroit last weekend is gonna have me prepared for the worst Cincinnati rage driver.  

Just out of curiosity, how's the traffic around Philly for morning rush hour and after Phillies games? (they have a homestand vs NYY M-W).  Need to plan out when I need to leave for NJFTP.

I do want to go back the morning I go to NJFTP as it was too dark and dreary to do the shenanigans plans with the Skyline shirt since I got to the thing in mind a bit too late in the evening.  It'll be cool, I promise. B)  

I'll be sleeping in tomorrow for what I expect will be a dead day at Dorney due to the rain in the forecast.  I won't arrive too late as I fear they may close early for low attendance due to said rain (highest chance in the evening).  
 

I also am doing a thing where I'm playing specific music when I go to each park to get me in the mood.  I did The Who for Waldameer, gonna do Genesis for Dorney, Awesome Mixes/Rubberband Man for Hershey,  ABBA for Knoebels, and Zeppelin for NJFTP.  

I just hope the sun comes out at all on this trip.  3 straight days of rain.  Its been stressful driving so long in it. 

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Traffic can be bad during rush hour. The Schyulkill Expressway is bad almost all the time. Normally I would say the Phillies wouldn't add too much traffic because attendance has been horrible (even though they have been playing great this year) but since it's against the Yankees, I expect a lot of people from NY to be making the drive to the stadium and it will make traffic worse.

Dorney rarely closes early because of bad weather, low crowds unlike Great Adventure that will close early if crowds are low because of weather. 

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7 hours ago, silver2005 said:

New hotel conundrum- the fire alarm in my room went off by itself.

As in just that one alarm, and not any of the others in the hotel? How did the staff handle it? Did they evacuate the entire hotel?

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@Oldiesmann- you owe me an explanation about this hotel. :ph34r:  Sure its a maze, but what's with the hidden charges?  

Charging $25 to check in a tad early, $25 to bring breakfast food back to the room.  Fire alarms going off randomly. The 100 floor is the basement and hidden. What hotel does this stuff?  

Good googly moogly. :wacko:

Now for something completely different....

Dorney Park TR

A longer day than at Waldameer, but not quite a full day.   It did have a bit more to do than Michigan's Adventure with some nice shows (including Cirque Imagine and their answer to Off the Charts), a roving band (with a killer alto sax and bari sax player), and some great landscaping and tribute to their history.   Its quite hilly too.  The park is basically a fish hook that drops down a hill.  It's kind of similar to Holiday World's layout but mirrored and a hair less steep.  The coasters are on the perimeter with pretty much everything else in the middle.  Most of the food and shows were up by the entrance.  Very nice park to walk through, especially down by Thunderhawk.  Not much shade anywhere else, though.  The rides actually use the terrain well, not just the tracked rides (coasters, water rides, trains, etc).  Flats were embedded into the hillside as well.  It gave the park a unique look that I thought to appreciate.   HP does the mix of new and old a bit better though as they don't have so much of a corporate aspect to them, at least on aesthetics.  A fairly good ride selection over all, but even MIA has better ride ops.  2 train ops on Talon and Hydra shouldn't result in 40 minute waits.  Then again, Thunderhawk's  were pretty good, Steel Force and Possessed had the best crews.  I'll give Hydra's a pass since it was finicky today.  Didn't open until after 2 pm and they were messing with one of the trains a lot.  It switched from 1 to 2 train operations a few times.   I also don't understand why Wild Mouse and Thunder Creek Mountain were stacking cars/boats.   Wild Mice are supposed to be continuous movement and for whatever reason, they really spread out the dispatches on the flume.  Zephyr took an eternity between unloads and dispatches.  Even bored Wildcat crews with 1 train at MIA did a better job.  Talon and Hydra were also a bit understaffed, IMO.   

The rest of the departments were satisfactory at least.   Very clean park, food service was good, staff was engaging and friendly, and they use recorded spiels for station rules, at least the major rides did (Steel Force, Talon, Dominator, etc).   Left early due to them suspending operations for some rain, though, it wasn't anything serious.  It felt reminiscent of Kennywood's policy though without closing the park.  Most of the crowds stayed near the front.  Talon, Wild Mouse and Hydra had decent waits while those further back like Possessed, Steel Force, and Thunderhawk were walk on or short station waits.  

Getting in was a chore.   The parking situation isn't ideal, only a 2 lane road into the entrance.  Took me about 40 minutes to get parked off of PA 222.  

Ride Reviews

Thunder Creek Mountain- A pretty decent flume.  Its wonderfully built into the hill, and while the main drop isn't steep as a result, its still pretty long.   I like how its built so well into the hill and you get a nice view of Hydra and Steel Force to boot. 

Zephyr- Aside from the smell of gas, a kind of unique train ride.  Uses a diesel looking engine and gives a nice history tour through the track with pictures and narration from the driver.  They keep it in good shape as well.  Cars are a bit cramped though and its got a nasty screech at times, especially rounding tight turns. 

Demon Drop- I never rode this at Cedar Point in past visits when it was present.  Not many rides scare me, but this did.  That cramped elevator kind of car,  the very simple restraints.  Its a bit claustrophobic in design and its unnerving how efficient it is getting to the top.   It was a pretty scary drop sequence for me.  Wasn't too rough on the level out despite it being relocated though.  At least they took care when moving it.  

Coaster Reviews Alphabetically

Hydra- This was my favorite coaster there.  Superb example of a floorless coaster.  This and Talon were incredibly smooth and quiet.  It was difficult getting shots as you couldn't use sound as a measure of how close they were.  They can surprise the anxious camera man out there. Being middle sized B&M's, they paced very evenly.  Once they left the chain, they kept momentum rather well.  Hydra's unique layout won out over Talon though.  The jojo roll was a nice way to start, and the laterals really played to the floorless design.  Even had a few pops of air as the cherry on top.  I still prefer Bizarro and Rougarou, but Hydra is definitely up there.  

Possessed- Not quite as good as Wicked Twister IMO.  The powerful launches are still there, but with only the forward tower twisted, only the front was of any real advantage.  Sad it doesn't have the holding brake in use anymore though.  

Steel Force- A solid hyper but not that overly good.  Probably my least favorite hyper as of this post (granted, I've only done 3 and Steel Vengeance, Skyrush and Nitro have good chances of being better than SF).  That doesn't mean its a bad ride at all.  Also super smooth and quiet, but only strong floater air at the most.  The the way the first drop is shaped makes for a rather unique set of airtime moments, particularly from the middle towards the back.  You have a pop going over the lift, then it nose dives further for a 2nd pop as it picks up speed.  Not sure if its intentional, but I took note.  The first drop is sensational in the back.  The next 2 hills are pretty tall and not very steep, so its only floater air from there to the station.  The helix is rather intense, probably a result of how bit it is.  Some mad positive and lateral G's as it scrapes around the ground.  Takes a page from Beast in that the helix contours to the hill.  The return run hills are where the better airtime is had, especially the double up at the end.    I do prefer the Morgan trains to the Arrow trains, but nothing tops the Intamin and B&M rolling stock.  If we could get Morgan hyper trains on Magnum, we'd have a winner.  

Talon- A really solid B&M inverted coaster.  Its a bit of a cookie cutter design as a few of B&M's inverts around that era are pretty similar including Great Bear, and though GB has a more unique layout and is a bit more re-rideable, I do prefer Talon.  Raptor and Banshee are still preferred IMO, though it gives Raptor a run for its money.  Banshee is a decent bit better IMO, but mostly due to stats and more intensity.  Talon and Hydra kind of feel a bit between the snappy, deliberate rolls of Raptor and the smooth, very flowing rolls of Banshee.  The bit after the Immelman really shines.  Does some fancy, high altitude turns, and then drops into a high banked turn (like 80 degree banked), a quick corkscrew, a helix that beats Raptor's IMO, and a sidewinder hill into the brakes.  A nice bang-bang ending. 

Thunderhawk- I didn't expect much out of this.  This is probably a lot to do with the new set of PTCs it got recently, but it was rather good.  The first stretch has some nice speed along that gradual hill.  The figure 8 section played out really well to me.  Some decent air, really intense head choppers, some trick track through the hills, and a bit of air mixed with speedy turns.  Wish it wasn't trimmed so much, though I think that has a lot to do with how it was re-profiled.  A pleasant surprise.  

Wild Mouse- This thing is ruined by its operations.  They stack trains in the station (as in, the cars aren't in continuous motion), and its braked way too much.  It meanders over hills, the turns are so-so, and has no sense of pacing whatsoever, at least in the style that a wild mouse should.  This had the longest waits all day as a result (towards 45-50 minutes).  I hope HP still runs their mouse as good as they did on my last 2 visits.    

The bestest day of my trip is tomorrow- a trip to the Sweetest Place on Earth!  

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On 6/19/2018 at 3:22 PM, silver2005 said:

Alright, new requests-

- A good Philly cheese steak place in Philly that's not Penn Station.

- Best parking in downtown Philly 

- Anything around or en route to Erie or Allentown.

- Lastly, any suggestions for a unique nicer restaurant (not too expensive, this is for my one day where I'm not going to a park).  

Chicken Holiday on NJ 537 right down the road from NJFTP had a decent cheesesteak when I visited in 2014.

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Great report. Operations have been worse at Dorney so far this year. Only 2 people checking restraints at Talon and Hydra compared to 4 in past years. On Thursday I was wearing a watch because there is no clock in the water park and was timing Talon's dispatches and they were averaging 4 minutes (the train I got was waiting on the brake run for 2 1/2 minutes). There have also been bad operations in the water park and Thunder Canyon. I would have not expected 40 minute waits for either of those coasters on a Sunday in June.

Wild Mouse is the slowest moving coaster line in the park. Usually 4 cars running, 2 adults per car maximum and the confusing loading systems make it a bad wait even on a slow day. I skip it much of the time even with Fast Lane because of how the cars slam into some of the brakes. Hershey's version is still running great with few brakes but less cars have been running this year. 

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4 hours ago, silver2005 said:

@Oldiesmann- you owe me an explanation about this hotel. :ph34r:  Sure its a maze, but what's with the hidden charges?  

Charging $25 to check in a tad early, $25 to bring breakfast food back to the room.  Fire alarms going off randomly. The 100 floor is the basement and hidden. What hotel does this stuff?

Please name this hotel so that I know not to stay there in the future.

$25 to bring breakfast food back to the room? What in the actual hell is that?

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A lot of Great Adventure's rides are even worse than Great Bear's exit and entrance setup. Zumanjaro, Superman and Green Lantern are the 3 really bad ones. I think they have 1 train running on each side of Lightning Racer all but 1 time I have been to Hershey this year. I hope they at least kept all rows open while you are there. There have been times they close the middle rows even with a full station and 1 train on each side.

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Holy O'Terpy in the Hartland, there's ANOTHER thing that happened with my hotel.  I entered through one of the back entrances which you need your room card, and not only was it jarred open with a wet floor sigh (it hasn't worked since I got here), but the stairwell it was in smelled like it was recently on fire.  Also heard a lot of running around as I went to the room, got ice, went back.  

This can't be a thing this trip.  I'm speechless.  This hotel has gone to plaid.  

Now for the good part.

Hersheypark TR

Got a late start as I didn't set my alarm quite on a radio station, so I ate a quick breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts and got to Hershey, PA around 11.  Was quite busy as I got there and for a Monday, those crowds would last.  There were a lot of people there today.  The minimum wait for things was probably 15 minutes.  A lot of the major rides, especially Laff Track, approached 30-40, and that's with Hershey's fine ride operators (they were kicking butt and taking names today).  Others fluctuated drastically.  Skyrush was anywhere between 5 minutes to 40 minutes.  Storm Runner had no longer than a station wait, Comet was long, Wildcat was all over the place.  I've never seen such drastic differences in ride waits ever.  

What to say.  This park is extraordinary.  First off, the entire park smells wonderful.  Whether its the smell of chocolate close to the tours, or from any of the restaurants or even that old wood smell from the older buildings, it teases the smell factory. 

Let's talk about the food, too. The portions are just what you think you get when you pay theme park prices.  Big, thick slices of pizza, monstrous ribs and mac and cheese (which I had by Trailblazer and Storm Runner), and amazing ice cream.  You would think a park owned by a company who specializes in food would make it good, and HP delivers in spades.   Hershey cups of water are bigger than Kinzel cups and even come with a lid and straw.  

The staff was very detailed, focused, to the point, professional, and great to interact with.  I think the GP responds to that in that they are more aware of themselves when it comes to dealing with park procedures and the gears just work together well.  Show your customers a little TLC and they'll return the favor by treating your park well.   From what I heard throughout the day, the GP love this park, too.  I also like how there's no dedicated kids area and that their rides are integrated throughout the park so they don't get bored away from their rides.  I've said my piece earlier in this thread when it comes to my viewpoints about HP and this visit just solidified those thoughts.  Still solidly my 2nd favorite park behind Dollywood (they kinda do theming, shows and other things a bit better than HP).  I also think HP should invest in a 2nd entrance by the GCI's somewhere. 

Ride Reviews

Coal Cracker- Well, this was the only non-coaster I did today.  I'm not fond of S&S Towers so I skipped those (I've also avoided them sans Waldameer because I'm getting the mother of all Drop Towers Wednesday), and Kissing Tower and the sky ride were down.  To be honest, their flat selection isn't the greatest for a park their size.  Coal Cracker is a nice flume as it meanders below Great Bear and Sooperdooper Looper.  Has a nice drop as well.  Didn't get too wet, but I wanted a bit more, but also not soaked like Tidal Force does.  The park certainly knows how to maximize space, that's for sure.

Coaster Reviews Alphabetically

Comet- This.  Coaster. Still. Has. Buzz-bars.  If that weren't enough, its still in tip top shape and the air really gets you airborne.  Still blows me away how well it runs.  

Fahrenheit- Not much has changed in my opinion.  A nice first drop with 6 inversions in a row.  Not quite stellar material.  I did notice some new pops of air on the Norwegian Loop (the first 2 inversions) and the hills towards the end are great in that department as well, but at that point, my body was still getting over the positive g's that it was more about keeping from graying out at that point for me.  It tries to Eurofight and, well, Gerstlauer gets the concept better.  

Great Bear- Its hard to put this back over Talon.  Its transitions on the 0g roll and corkscrew are snappy, and where Talon feels like a more consistent ride, GB has lapses in its intensity.  That does give it that more re-rideable approach, but inverts are a bit better when they're peeling your face off.  It does have the best B&M roar of any of the ones I've done to this point (hi Nitro!).    The first drop sequence is still awesome and the skim by the river and SDL are definitely unique moments. 

Laff Trakk- As stated, now my favorite spinner.  Has better theming than Steel Dragon and doesn't spin as ridiculously as Exterminator.  The black lights and the props were great and I really liked the queue and the circus/fun house theme.  

Lightning Racer- My favorite ride at the park and still one of my favorite GCI's/wooden coasters.  Its aged a bit, but not as much as Wildcat.  Everything you'd want from a GCI and doubled.  Great racing action to be had as well, especially sitting further back in the trains.   Still keepin' it above Timbers.  Too bad it was only running a train per side or else I would have been on it quite a bit.  

Sidewinder- The new Vekoma trains improved it drastically.  Much more comfortable and enjoyable for a Boomerang.  Not much else to say because it's a Boomerang.  

Skyrush- Came away a bit disappointed I have to say.  Looks like it had potential, but Intamin screwed the pooch on this.  The restraints dig into your thighs and the dumb idea of putting no hill above 80 ft after a 200 ft one at 80 degrees was a stupid move.  I felt the lap bar being so tight created a lot of forward movement on the crests of the hills and threw me forward too much.  At least Maverick is designed a bit better.  This thing is just underwhelming.  My least favorite hyper now (everyone applaud Steel Force for not having that title anymore).  

Sooperdooper Looper- The new G trains are simple yet effective and I love the orange paint scheme on them. I feel they are a bit more comfy than the original Schwarzkopf stock.  Its a fun ride through the woods with a nice forceful, circular loop.  The layout kind of reminds me of a smaller Arrow suspended coaster as it swoops through s-curves and hugs the terrain.  It keeps its speed up quite well, too, and even has some added pops of air here and there.   The G-trains feel heavier in that it accelerated quicker off the first drop and it kept up momentum better than the old trains as well.  Very fun ride.  Anton designed a winner. 

Storm Runner- Maverick may have some decent air, but this does its ejector air at 191 ft.  It flies over that top hat and the launch is incredible.   This and Fahrenheit also had the newer Intamin vest restraints like Maverick and I-305 have.  Nice to not jam your head into the hard rubber anymore.   Insane from start to finish.  My favorite steel coaster at HP.

Trailblazer- Even for a mine train, it's lack luster.  Very much a first-coaster kind of ride.  Not much in the way of forces, even in the final helix.  Has some nice scenery though.  I like the helix burying into the hill at the end. 

Wild Mouse- Better than Dorney's by a mile.  Way less brakes, a smoother run station, and does what a mousy coaster does best.   

Wildcat- This got WAY better.  The MF's have finally broken in and its running as good as its prime with the PTC's.  Its got some bite, but that's part of why its enjoyable to me.  The pacing REALLY picked up from my last visit and its got some gnarly air and laterals now.  Movin' up the ranks for sure.  I have to say now that top to bottom, HP has my favorite overall wooden collection of any park I've been to so far (hi Knoebels and El Toro!).  

 

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Now that I'm 3 parks in, I do feel I should have scheduled another off day with no traveling.  Its wearing on me a little bit.  I may not spend too long at Knoebels tomorrow with NJFTP looming Wednesday.  

I don't think I'll be scheduling another 5 park trip any time soon either. ;)  Still gonna try to enjoy myself these last few days as much as possible.  

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Sorry guys, no hotel shenanigans to report this time. :rolleyes:

Knoebels Review

I let myself take my time today with SFGAdv looming.  It did take me a while to get there as its not near an interstate highway and I got lost a few times getting there.  Got a pretty scenic route out of it though, lots of mountains, a few small-town-America type towns,  and a few coal mines.  Worth getting lost. The area around Elysburg is beautiful.

The park was quite different than I expected.  There's no parking gate or proper entrance.  You just park in a field and waltz in anywhere you want.  It amazed me to see where people could go throughout the park, even up close enough to touch some Giant Flume boats in the maintenance dock.   The ride ops were a bit overzealous, especially at Twister in that they dispatched trains without checking vacant seat restraints.  They were even better than HP, and today was pretty light on crowds.  Had a fish sandwich and fries for lunch which were very good.  I like the outdoorsy feel of the park.  The eating areas and even the restrooms had open air through them and with it being a pretty nice day, it made for a pleasant experience.   I didn't expect all the gravel paths or that there were active roads and residential housing in the park.  Certainly gives it its own flavor.  Its a quirky park and I love it.   I am now of the opinion that a trip to Knoebels is good for the soul.  I definitely want to return to get some night rides on things, particularly Twister.  

Ride Reviews

Giant Flume- A good flume through the woods.  A bit short but fun.  I like the interaction with the midway and that rides like this had observation areas.  

Flyer- Definitely was a good flying eagles ride.  I think I almost got it to snap a few times.  Not quite as well trained as other members here. :P 

Haunted Mansion- So we're going to relocate this to KI and give Knoebels Boo Blasters which they'll theme as well as the former.  Some decent sudden scares.  The strobe lighting did irritate me a bit, but otherwise a slick ride.  

Coaster Reviews

Black Diamond- A fun little dark coaster.  Good theming and some good drops.  I still give Blazing Fury an edge here. 

Impulse- Loved that it only had a lap bar, but the shin restraints were bothersome.  Pretty good pacing, very good acceleration.  Its got a pretty small radius at the top of the lift, so even going over slowly can get you out of your seat.  Had an annoying vibration though.  

Flying Turns- The smoothest woodie ever, but not quite as good as my favorite ones.  Got only one ride in the back, and it whips around pretty good.  Glad the ride worked out for them.  Also love the sign about building it while being told not to.  If you were around and followed it when they were building and developing it all those years, it should bring a smirk to your face.  A nice enthusiast troll sign. :lol: 

Phoenix- Now we're getting into the goooooood stuff.  It runs like a dream.  Also has buzz bars, no seat belts, and only one very slight trim section using anti-roll backs.  This thing cruises through turns and the air is phenomenal, especially on the last set of bunny hops.  You're almost standing up with how much the air launches you.  I can see how its ranked so high.  However....

Twister- My 100th credit, and I got a sweet one.   This sucker just doesn't let up.  Even the turn between the lifts has insane laterals.  The track switches between air pumping hills and side wall leaning laterals a lot with a great helix as the exception, and with its break neck pacing, its quite intense.  Its also head chopper heaven.  Its good enough to now sit as my 2nd favorite wooden coaster as of this post.   A certain Intamin may have a word about that.  

 

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So this didn't turn out quite as planned as the ops weren't fond of taking photos of me on the train, so I went with plan B.  I wore a UC shirt to Knoebels as C is the Roman numeral for 100 and UC, mainly the health department and band, has been a big part of why I can do what I can do after all I've been through medically that I wanted to integrate that into my hobby.  Went with 2 photos since the sign is up so high. P1090540.JPG

P1090541.JPG

 

 

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