News Column

Coming thrills at Pennsylvania amusement parks

August 17, 2014

By Kathy Lauer-Williams, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)



Aug. 17--It seems 2015 will be the year for some unique new roller coasters in Pennsylvania.

Hersheypark announced last week it will build a combination dark ride and roller coaster next year that will have elements of a fun house. That will boost the number of coasters at the park to 13.

Knoebel's amusement park, known for its wooden coasters, has said it will build a steel roller coaster with four inversions. That will be the park's sixth coaster.

So far, Dorney Park isn't giving hints about new rides for 2015. But roller coaster enthusiasts are speculating that the South Whitehall Township park could build another coaster next year or in 2016.

KNOEBELS

Knoebels amusement park in Elysburg, Northumberland County, consistently makes lists of parks with best wooden coasters especially for its lovingly restored coaster Phoenix. But it will change its skyline with a 98-foot-tall coaster called Impulse.

The 2,000-foot-long track will have a chain-driven lift hill, a big first drop and four inversions, including high-banked turns, a cobra roll, a vertical loop and an in-line twist. The coaster will travel 55 mph.

The ride, reportedly the most expensive attraction in the history of Knoebels, will be built on a spot now occupied by bumper boats near the park's 110-foot-tall Ferris wheel.

The last inverted steel coaster at Knoebels was Whirlwind, a corkscrew coaster with two inversions. It was removed in 2004.

Knoebels has built a reputation for restoring and replicating rides that have been given up on by other parks. Since 2011, it's added two unique coasters.

In October, Knoebels opened Flying Turns, a replica of a 1930s-era ride designed but never built by renowned coaster designer Herb Schmeck. The bobsled-style coaster was a labor of love and took seven years to build. It features a wooden chute, where a trackless train glides freely like an Olympic bobsled through a twisting course.

In 2011, Knoebels moved The Golden Nugget indoor steel coaster built by renowned ride builder John Allen from Morey's Piers in Wildwood, N.J. It opened it as the three-story Black Diamond dark ride and roller coaster.

The new rides join the park's two top-rated wood coasters.

Phoenix was originally built in 1947 as The Rocket at San Antonio's Playland, which closed in 1980. The ride was dismantled and rebuilt at Knoebels in 1985.

In 1999, Knoebels built its Twister wooden coaster, based on 1964 blueprints for a defunct ride called Mister Twister that also was designed by Allen.

HERSHEYPARK

Hersheypark's new Laff Trakk will be the country's first indoor, spinning glow-coaster.

Laff Trakk will be built inside a 130-foot-long by 75-foot-high red, white and blue building along Midway America.

Officials are calling the ride a 21st century fun house. It will re-create some of the iconic images from old Hersheypark fun houses, such as the 1938 fun house Whoops and 1940s Laugh Land. The new ride will feature Laffing Sal, a mechanical laughing woman that was above Laugh Land's entrance until the ride was dismantled in 1971.

Visitors will ride in four-person cars that spin around as the car travels along the 1,400-foot track through a dark building that will display glowing images from old fun houses, as well as a hall of mirrors and house of cards.

The coaster will reach speeds of 40 mph. The glowing designs will be created by Raven Sun Creative, a New York immersive entertainment design group.

The ride will last about 70 seconds, and handle about 850 riders per hour.

The new ride continues Hersheypark's commitment to coasters. The park opened SkyRush, the park's tallest, fastest and longest coaster, in 2012. The 212-foot-tall steel coaster features wing seating in which riders in the two outside seats dangle in the air as the coaster whizzes at 75 mph. Last year, the park debuted the Cocoa Cruiser, a steel coaster designed for families.

DORNEY PARK

Dorney Park is due to build a roller coaster -- at least that's what coaster enthusiasts are saying in online forums.

In 2015, it will be 10 years since Dorney last built a coaster -- Hydra, the steel floorless roller coaster with seven inversions.

Dorney has eight coasters, including the most recent additions, Stinger (added in 2012) and Possessed (2008). However both came from other parks.

The park bought nearly 7 acres from Lehigh County in 2011, saying it may use the property to add more rides. Since then the only coaster the park added was Stinger in 2012 on the site of the old Laser looping coaster.

Dorney officials did not respond to questions about their plans for 2015.

kathy.lauer@mcall.com

610-778-2235

___

(c)2014 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel



Source: Morning Call (Allentown, PA)


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters