Today I’d like to talk about one of my favorite amusement parks to visit. And no, it isn’t Cedar Point. This park is actually nearly tied with Cedar Point as my favorite ever. I am referring to a park a little closer to home—literally and figuratively—for me, Hershey Park. Yes, their tag line is “The Sweetest Place on Earth” but for what the park offers, that works.
I had the opportunity to visit Hershey twice this past summer. Once actually on Opening Day 2020. The second time was about a month later in August 2020. Anyway, today I am going to rank my favorite roller coaster in Hershey as of my last visit in August 2020.
As a disclaimer, SooperDooperLooper and Storm Runner were both closed all season so I unfortunately did not get the chance to ride two of my Top Five in the park. Storm Runner probably would have ranked in the Top Three. That ride, from what I recall, has an insane launch, great airtime (where you get thrown out of your seat) on the drop and inversions, and is really smooth. My only gripe with the ride is its length. It clocks in at around 30 seconds. SooperDooperLooper is a classic looping Schwarzkopf roller coaster. It was actually the first roller coaster to go upside down on the East Coast. This coaster, apart from the loop, doesn’t really do much. But for me, it is sentimental because it was the first roller coaster I ever rode that goes upside down. So yeah, this one holds a special place in my heart. Also I am not including Cocoa Cruiser since it is a coaster for kids.
Ok. Now onto the “real” countdown. In last place, (Number 11), is WildCat. This was the first wood coaster ever built by Great Coasters International (GCI). This roller coaster is fun, sure, but it is rough and bumpy. I do make a point to ride it every time I go to Hershey, but every time I get off it, I am tempted to call a chiropractor.
The Number Ten coaster is Wild Mouse. Wild Mouse is a cloned roller coaster. This model has been cloned God knows how many times at parks all around the world. It doesn’t really do much. It just goes around a bunch of tight turns and a few small drops. So fun, but not worth waiting for.
In the Ninth spot is Sidewinder. And I had an interesting time on this coaster. Why? Well I got a zen ride on this thing. So what does that mean? I was the ONLY ONE ON THE RIDE! On opening day! It was crazy! And as a bonus, the ride operators let me seat hop. So I got two rides on Sidewinder without even leaving the station! The first ride was in the front. They did let me film on the ride, but at my discretion. The ride, again, is a cloned Boomerang coaster model made by Vekoma. These things are not very well received by coaster enthusiasts like myself, but the restraints on Sidewinder are far from your head so there is very little roughness on this one. To prove my zen ride status, I have attached the video.
Coming in at Number Eight is Laff Trakk. Laff Trakk (yes, that is how Hershey spells it as a play on words) is a spinning coaster. What’s cool about this ride is, while it is “just” another spinning roller coaster (again there are TONS of spinning roller coasters around the world) it’s the theming that makes the ride for me. Again, this ride is indoors and is themed to a classic funhouse. The interior of the ride is probably my favorite queue to go through! Simply for how wonky it is. It’s a bunch of black lights and mirrors. And that’s not even the ride! The ride itself is kind of tame, but it is fun. Really my only complaint with this coaster is the line. It gets LONG! The shortest wait for Laff Trakk, with multiple cars running simultaneously, was about 45 minutes. Everything else was drastically less. Their NEWEST ride, Candymonium—which just opened in July 2020 might I add-had an hour wait at longest. Later in the day it was a 10 minute wait.
Number Seven is Trailblazer. And really it pains me that I put this ride so low. Yes, like Cocoa Cruiser, this is a family coaster and is a little rough at times. HOWEVER if it is a tame ride, why is it not in last place on my ranking? Well simply because, like SooperDooperLooper, this ride holds a special place in my heart. It was the first roller coaster I remember riding as a little kid. The ride is basically just a lift hill and one giant helix that goes in a circle. But, again, this ride has a TON of sentimental value to me.
In Sixth place, controversial as it is, for me, is Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit is an Intamin roller coaster. It is unique in that it has a vertical lift hill and a beyond vertical drop at 97 degrees. This is one of the steepest drops in the United States. Fahrenheit is a great ride that I love, but due to how many great rides there are at Hershey Park, this had to place somewhere in the list. It has six inversions and is actually really smooth. The only real downside to this ride is its capacity. The trains only have three cars and seat 12 people each. So yeah, it’s a low capacity ride with a consistently long line. It’s still a great ride, though! Do not miss this if you go to Hershey!
Now for my Top Five. At Number Five is Great Bear. Great Bear is probably my second favorite inverted coaster, behind Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa. Great Bear is a little unique for a roller coaster. It doesn’t really have a “first drop”. Instead, it has a helix and then you go down a drop. And the first drop is taller than the lift hill! That in and of itself, especially for an inverted roller coaster (where you hang under the track as opposed to on top of it) is a bit of a rarity. The top speed is 61 mph. So yeah…it’s pretty fast. Actually, to my knowledge, this is one of the fastest rides in the park. It has four inversions. A vertical loop, an Immelmann (it’s like a vertical loop but it twists out at the top), a Zero-G roll, which does make you feel like you’re floating, and a Corkscrew. It is a little short, at about 45 seconds after the lift hill, but it is a rush!
At Number Four we have the oldest coaster at Hershey Park, Comet. Comet is a classic Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC) wooden roller coaster that opened in 1946. So you might think the ride is tame, rough, and boring. Think again. It is true the ride is not the wildest coaster in the world—or even Hershey for that matter—but it’s the “fun” factor that puts this ride so high for me. Comet is just pure fun! It only has a lap bar…that does NOT touch your lap, by the way—and a VERY loose seatbelt. And here’s the crazy part about that seatbelt: YOU CAN MAKE IT AS LOOSE AS YOU WANT! And the employees DO NOT CARE! So as a result, especially in the very back row, you go FLYING! Airtime galore! And I LOVE it! And Comet is beloved by anyone who goes to Hershey. Aside from Laff Trakk, this easily had the longest line in the park all day when I visited both times. Part of that was due to Covid 19 social distancing policy, but also the popularity of the coaster. Comet always has some sort of line, and it is a testament to how great this classic coaster is.
Coming in the Bronze position is Lightning Racer. Lightning Racer is a racing wooden roller coaster, again made by GCI, but this ride is smoother than Wildcat. I love this ride! It does not have as much airtime as Comet, which is odd since it is taller, faster, longer, and newer. But like Comet, it is just fun! Unfortunately I only got one ride on Lightning Racer in my two visits. So why did I only get one ride if I love it enough to put it in my Top Three? It broke down. I was literally in the car, with only two other people in my car, and the ride broke down. But the racing aspect is awesome! Actually, one of my favorite things to do with Lightning Racer when I visit Hershey with a friend, is putting my friend(s) on the other train and racing them. It’s competitive, but it is all in good fun.
Making my Number Two spot might surprise people, especially the roller coaster enthusiasts. Keep in mind it was hard for me to rank all the coasters, let alone their operating Top Two in 2020. But here it is. At Number Two I am putting Skyrush. Skyrush is easily the most insane steel roller coaster I have ever ridden! It is probably the most well-known coaster at Hershey simply because of how crazy intense this thing is. First off, I want to talk about the lift hill. Most roller coasters use a chain to take you to the top. Skyrush has a cable lift, so you haul ass up that 200 foot hill! 200 feet in about 10 seconds? Yeah…it’s fast! My complaint with Skyrush? It is shaky. I gray out at the bottom of the first drop due to the sheer speed and intensity. Skyrush was made by Intamin and is actually, in my opinion, one of their rougher rides. Intamin usually makes fast but smooth coasters. Take Millennium Force or Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point for example. (Millennium Force goes 93 mph and is one of my favorite roller coasters ever, and Top Thrill Dragster rockets you 420 feet at a 120 mph launch in 3.5 seconds). Both of those are smooth, and are older than Skyrush. But apart from that, Skyrush is, well, a rush! Even going up that cable hill is an adrenaline rush, and you haven’t even really done anything yet! So merely based on intensity, Skyrush would be #1 at Hershey. Skyrush’s biggest downfall is its restraints. They suck! It’s a lap bar that comes over your head like a shoulder harness and pushes down on your thighs. There’s a real reason the coaster community has dubbed this coaster “Thycrush”. It’s painful! But I am willing to overlook that based on the sheer madness that is Skyrush.
But coming in at Number One—again based on my experiences and my opinion—is Candymonium. Candymonium is another “hyper coaster” (a roller coaster anywhere from 200-299 feet tall) and is a blast! Candymonium was built by my favorite steel roller coaster manufacturer, B&M. They have some great rides, and Candymonium is no exception! The ride is 210 feet tall and goes 76 mph. This makes it the tallest and fastest (by 1 mph faster that Skyrush) at Hershey. And it is smooth! It has more “floater” airtime than “ejector” airtime like Skyrush. (Floater airtime is where you levitate for a few seconds and ejector air is where you get launched out of your seat almost violently). Most enthusiasts prefer ejector airtime, myself among them, but it can be a little painful slamming into the bars. Candymonium is also the longest roller coaster at Hershey Park. So there is a lot of room for airtime. Despite the coaster being the tallest, fastest, and longest at Hershey, Candymonium is smooth and just pure fun! As I stated earlier, I rode Candymonium on its opening day on July 3, 2020. It is the first ride you see and come to at Hershey. But despite that, the longest I waited for it—with social distancing—was around 40 minutes. Not bad! It helped that the ride is high capacity. I actually think the Covid 19 pandemic is the reason it had such a short wait. You had to make a reservation online to get into the park. So what is it about Candymonium that makes it my #1 at Hershey? Its fun factor is legit. This ride, despite being over 200 feet tall and going 76 miles per hour, only has a lap bar and a loose seatbelt. The ride operators were not pulling the bars down all the way when I visited. Meaning all the hills (the ride doesn’t go upside-down) give insane floater airtime, even with the trim brakes. But what makes this ride so great is its aesthetic. It wraps around a fountain and makes for an awesome photo opportunity! Just watching this thing is mesmerizing, let alone riding it! So congrats to Candymonium for being my Number One coaster at Hershey Park!
Have you been to Hershey Park? What is your favorite coaster there? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!