Saturday, July 24, 2010

HersheyPark, Part I

Once again, Jonathan's company got us a great deal to a themepark. This is the third time we've taken advantage of the opportunity (once in FL and once in CA), and this time the park was HersheyPark, which is about two hours away from us, given the fact it's mostly turnpike and that generally means traffic.
We took off as soon as we could on Friday (which ended up being close to 6pm), and stayed the night in Harrisburg, less than ten miles from the park. It was a Motel 6, which I haven't stayed in for a really long time. The front desk clerk spoke poor English (which doesn't bother me, but might be a point of interest to some), but the only hard thing to understand was how to best reach our room (stairs vs. elevator, etc.). It was small and visibly aged, but clean and with a decent view (which is hard when you're at an intersection in the middle of nowhere). We didn't end up actually booking a hotel until a day or two before, and since Hershey is near nothing (except the state capitol, but apparently people aren't digging Harrisburg), we may have gotten one of the last rooms left ANYWHERE AROUND (and we were about ten miles away from the park), since we know there were no vacancies when we went to check-in.

We had a "preview" pass, which allowed us access to the park starting at 6:30pm the night before our admission. Our plan was to go ahead and do the water rides (they have a rather large waterpark area within the theme park), but it turned out that they shutdown that at 8pm, and it was close to 9 when we got there (there are surprisingly few signs for parking and trams and such at HersheyPark). To make things crazier, three different areas share the same parking lots (ChocolateWorld and the concert-stadium-amphitheater), and Dave Matthews was playing. On the plus side, you can totally tailgate and completely hear the music, and even get a few views of the band (strange staging!).

Anyway, we decided to ride Fahrenheit, one of their bigger rollercoasters. I was kinda freaking out as we waited in the queue, since it's been over a year since I had been on a big ride, and the set-up of this one was quite unique. The initial launch is close to 90 degrees (meaning you are leaning STRAIGHT BACK in your seat), and once you go over the curve, you're beyond 90 degrees (97 degrees, making it the third steepest IN THE WORLD), which is pretty much insane. The rest of the ride is kinda crazy and fairly long (probably close to 90 seconds), considering. I was jaw-locked and white-knuckled at the end, but it was a darn good ride! That was all we had time for, since the park closed at 10, so we just leisurely made our way out, doing some light planning for the next day. (We had studied the map to some degree, but the actual size of the park is much larger than we anticipated. It beats out Universal or IoA, easy. I might even say it's larger than Magic Kingdom.)
The next day, Jonathan's parents met us at a diner for breakfast. I had tried a donut hole at the complimentary breakfast before we left, and it was super fresh. The Cocoa Diner/Grill (get it? cocoa like chocolate, LoL) was a nice little stand-alone that's open 24/7 except for Monday nights. We waited about ten minutes (maybe less), and had fairly prompt service, considering how busy they were. Breakfast was pretty standard in both pricing and quality, but that's about what is expected from any random diner. Jonathan and I would both recommend you NOT get the pancakes... they were pretty bad. Otherwise, everyone liked everything... eggs, toast, bacon, hashbrowns, etc.

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