April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

By Zachary Greenberg

One of the highlights of Sukkot for many Jews is their yearly pilgrimage to Hershey, Pennsylvania to visit Hersheypark. Hersheypark is the de facto capital of the candy world, notably the home of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. The park is a great place to visit for families with small children, candy enthusiasts and roller coaster seekers. Approximately 3 million people visit the park annually, making it one of the 20 most visited theme parks in America.

The park was created in 1903 by the founder of Hershey Chocolate Company, Milton S. Hershey, as a recreational park for his employees at the Hershey factory. A few months later, baseball diamonds, a track surrounding the field and grandstands were added to the park. The park was officially opened to the public as a tourist attraction on May 30, 1906, and was called Hershey Park.

Two years later in 1908, the first ride was added to the park—a carousel often referred to as the “Merry-Go-Round.” The park also opened a pool that year with a toboggan slide. To celebrate the park’s 20th anniversary, in 1923, Hershey built a wooden roller coaster called The Joy Ride, which was soon renamed Wild Cat. The project cost $50,000 to build—adjusted for inflation, over $800,000 today. The ride was replaced in 1946 by the wooden coaster Comet, which is still operational to this day. In 1970, the park’s name changed to Hersheypark.

Over the next 50 years, six roller coasters were added to Hersheypark, including the 1977 famous SooperdooperLooper, which is still around today. This attraction was the first complete-circuit, looping coaster on the East Coast. Since 1996, Hersheypark has opened a slew of nine additional roller coasters. This past July, however, the wooden coaster Wildcat (named after the original Wild Cat), which had been running since May 1996, closed permanently.

In 2007, a neighboring water park called The Boardwalk opened next to the main theme park. The park has numerous water slides: Coastline Plunge, Whitecap Racer and Breakers Edge Water Coaster. There is also a lazy river, a wave pool and a kiddie pool. The water park is only open between Labor Day and Memorial weekend.

My Top 10 Favorite Rides at the Park

#10: SooperDooperLooper. Park section—The Hollow

For many people, SooperDooperLooper will be their first experience on an upside-down roller coaster. That’s because unlike most roller coasters in the world, which require a minimum height of 48 inches (Hershey’s height on the candy-themed height chart that Hersheypark uses for all of their rides), and many more that require 54 inches (Twizzlers height), SuperDooperLooper allows individuals 42 inches tall (Reese’s height) to ride. Those six inches are a big difference in height for a kid, enabling a much larger percentage of children to ride the attraction. The coaster opened in 1977 as the park’s first upside-down ride, reaching speeds of 45 miles per hour. Although the ride is bumpy and shakes you up, it still provides an enjoyable time for thrill seekers. The line is never that long, so it offers a good way for you to space out your day.

#9: Jolly Rancher Remix. Park section—Pioneer Frontier

Don’t be fooled. While Jolly Rancher Remix might be labeled as the park’s newest ride, it is basically the exact same thing as its predecessor, Sidewinder. It is a boomerang roller coaster that first does the entire ride in one direction with three awesome loops … and then it does the exact same ride BACKWARDS. The updated ride features a more-advanced ride system, a tunnel, and added sensory effects such as flashing lights and sound effects. It reaches speeds of up to 47 miles an hour.

#8: Hershey Kissing Tower—Kissing Tower Hill

One of the park’s older attractions, which opened in 1975, Hershey’s Kissing Tower offers panoramic views of the entire park from 250 feet in the air. While not thrilling, it is a lot of fun and a great ride while taking a break from roller coasters. My favorite part is that the windows are shaped like a Hershey’s Kiss. Everyone in the family is sure to remember and love this attraction.

#7: Lightning Racer, Park section—Midway America

Lightning Racer consists of two wooden coasters racing side by side. One cart is Team Lightning (red), and the other is Team Thunder (green). The entire ride is one giant competition for bragging rights on who rode the fastest cart. It reaches speeds of 51 miles per hour, with a lot of sharp turns and steep drops. It also has a long ride duration of two minutes and 20 seconds. Best of all, it is hidden away at the back of the park in Midway America so the lines are usually extremely short, many times even with no wait.

#6: Skyrush—The Hollow

For my eighth-grade graduation trip in June 2012, my grade went to Hersheypark. Skyrush was literally brand new, having opened less than three weeks prior. Over the next seven years, this ride stood as the park’s newest coaster, until Candamonium opened in 2020. Skyrush is unique because in each row, the two-edge seats hang off the track, giving an added illusion that one is actually flying. While it is really cool to ride in the edge seats, as opposed to the two middle seats on the track, those seats hurt. A LOT. For some reason, the bar is extremely tight, crushing your thighs whenever there is a drop. Realizing this, Hershey has added extra padding to the bar (which I was not fortunate to have experienced in 2012), but it still remains pretty painful to this day. If you can get past the pain or sit in the middle seats, which are less irritating, the coaster is a lot of fun. It has a 212-foot drop and reaches speeds of 75 miles per hour.

#5: Hershey’s Chocolate World Ride. Park section—Outside the park

There is an old saying that the best things in life are free. That applies to this attraction, which comes at no cost! It is a slow-paced dark ride going through a simulation of Hershey’s chocolate-making process. A highlight of the ride is the singing robotic cows that harmonize beautifully. Perhaps best of all (and the reason many people go on it), is after the ride, you get a free candy bar. In 2016, the ride was updated, giving it a more modern feel and including some virtual Hershey product candy characters. This is a great ride to either start or finish your day on a sweet note.

#4: The Great Bear. Park section—Kissing Tower Hill

Opening in 1998, a few months before I was born, this is the only roller coaster at Hersheypark that leaves your feet dangling as you soar through the air. It reaches speeds of 58 miles per hour, but it feels much faster due to the flying sensation caused by the inverted track. Despite its several loops (which I love), it is a very smooth ride. It does not have many big drops, so if you are scared of heights, it’s not too bad!

#3: Candymonium. Park section—Hershey’s Chocolatetown

Dubbed “The World’s Sweetest Coaster,” Candymonium is the park’s newest coaster. The steel coaster holds the distinct record of being both the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Hersheypark. It has a 216-foot drop, 4,636 feet of track allowing for a two-minute and 26-second ride duration, and reaches a top speed of 76 miles per hour. The ride has three separate trains representing three Hershey’s candies: Reese’s, Kisses and Twizzlers. Candymonium is so good that in 2021, it was ranked as the fifth best steel roller coaster in the world by Amusement Today magazine. It’s basically a more fun, less painful version of Skyrush.

#2: Fahrenheit. Park section—Pioneer Frontier

Whenever I think of big, scary roller coasters, Fahrenheit is always one of the first that comes to my mind. As a kid going to Hersheypark for Sukkot, I knew that the line for Fahrenheit was always the longest, often well over a three-hour wait. Perhaps due to the cognitive dissonance of waiting for so long, I now think of Fahrenheit as an all-time great ride. But the ride speaks for itself. The 97° incline up its 121-foot chain lift is absolutely epic. Following a steep first drop, the ride has airtime hills, cobra rolls and a total of six inversions! The ride is relatively not so fast, only reaching speeds of 58 miles per hour, but its dizzying loops and turns make up for it.

#1: Storm Runner. Park section—Pioneer Frontier

Storm Runner is a launch coaster like no other. My favorite part of this coaster occurs before the ride even begins. First, you hear the pulse of a racehorse as the track gets lowered, getting the cart ready for launch. Then right before takeoff, you hear the ride’s iconic intro: “Now get ready, here we go!” Then you are blasted at 75 miles per hour in two seconds upwards 150 feet in the air. The ride then has an awesome drop followed by a lot of fun twists and turns. As a bonus, with Hershey having so many roller coasters, the ride has become somewhat underrated and the lines are usually never so long. For even more thrills, make sure to get the front row on this one. It is a very smooth ride and always brings a humongous smile to my face.

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