Hershey / Elysburg / Allentown / Jackson
 August 19 - August 23rd 2013
Hershey / Knoebels / Dorney Park / Six Flags Great Adventure

Click each picture to make it bigger, then back to return here.

Robert flew into Philadelphia on Tuesday morning at midnight.      Robert wanted to ride 3 roller coasters found on the Golden Ticket Awards "The List". 

Day 1 - Tuesday August 20th.     After picking up a rental car, I drove from the airport to the "Rocky Steps" at 5am.   They are located in front of the museum.     There were a couple people running up and down the steps exercising.   No, there was no loud Rocky music playing (Feeling Stronger), and I didn't jump up and down at the top.    Instead, it was very quiet.     Why do people come here?    Because it's a destination.      From here I drove 2 hours to the Hershey Park area.    Giant grocery store had discounted tickets.  

Here I am at Hershey Park which opened at 10am.   


This is Fahrenheit, one of the coasters I checked off my list.    Great ride, it actually has the longest line in the park as the day goes on.    Not the tallest or fastest coaster, the height is 121 feet, and the speed is 58 mph.   But it's a smooth ride with some nice turns.    The lift is straight up, with some time at the top to look around before falling at a 97 degree angle.   Go here first and get a couple rides, because the line will get longer as the day goes on.   

Next up on the trip was Storm Runner.   0 -72 mph in 2 seconds, with a height of 150 feet.   

This was another coaster I came to check off my list, called Sky Rush.    200 feet tall, 75 mph.    Ride was down in the morning, but came up at lunch time.  Queue could use some shade, it was very hot waiting in the sun.   They need to install some over head tarps, or cover the queue area completely.     I'm sure they don't care about this because they want to sell lemonade, but it makes the guests suffer.    This is the most intense ride in the park, the restraints "staple" the riders causing the legs to hurt.  The signs in the queue say to hold on to the grab bars, and they are correct.   If you don't hold the grab bars, the restraint locks down on the legs until the ride ends and the restraints "pop" up an inch.    

After a great visit to Hershey Park, I headed to Neato Burrito.   This place has good reviews on Trip Advisor and you can make the burrito any way you want.   Shown above is a veggie burrito with rice and black beans.

Day 2 - Wednesday August 21st.   I checked out of the La Quinta Harrisburg hotel, and headed to Knoebels in Elysburg PA.    Took about 2 hours to get there.   Knoebels is a throw back to the old times.    Free admission, free parking.    Each ride is purchased with tickets.     A huge collection of family type rides meant for kids.    They do have 2 wooden coasters for the thrill.   

Here is a coaster called Twister.    101 feet tall, 51 mph.

Here is a coaster called The Phoenix.    78 feet tall, 45 mph, ranked 3rd in the world for all wooden coasters by the GTA in 2012.   Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed the ride on Twister more than Phoenix.   Twister had more of a "Ghost Rider" feel to it.    Meaning the coaster went through itself which was a lot of fun.   

After riding the 2 coasters at Knoebels, I drove back to the Philadelphia area, took 3 hours to get there.    Here I am at Whole Foods just north of Philadelphia, great salad bar.    If you want to fit on the coasters, this is the food to eat.  

After checking into the Holiday Inn Express in Bensalem, I headed to Dorney Park.   In this set of pictures is Talon, a B&M inverted coaster.   135 feet tall, 58 mph.  

This is Hydra, another coaster I checked off my list.    95 feet tall, 53 mph.  

Steel Force, 200 feet tall, 75 mph.  Also a picture of Possessed (shuttle coaster) and Dominator.   

Day 3 - Thursday August 22nd.    Here I am at Six Flags Great Adventure.     This is Kingda Ka, 456 feet tall, 0-128 in 3.5 seconds.    Tallest coaster in the world, fastest in the USA.  

Here's a picture of El Toro, the bottom of the lift, where the motor is missing.   I wanted to ride this coaster, but the motor had burned out.    This is the #1 wooden coaster in the world according the othe GTAs, yet they don't have a spare lift motor in stock.   

Nitro, 230 feet tall, 80 mph.   

Overall Impressions:  Mission accomplished regarding the 3 steel coasters I wanted to ride.    Bummer that El Toro was down, Six Flags needs to have an extra lift motor on hand, because I heard it burns out every year.   El Toro is the #1 wooden coaster on the planet according to the Golden Ticket Awards (GTAs).    If it's #1, then Six Flags needs to have spare parts to keep it running.   In my mind, if a coaster is down, then it needs to drop in the ranks.  

Let's move on to the over all experience at each park regarding wait times.    Hershey was crowded, but they do have an app for phones that shows wait times in the park.   Sky Rush was down for the morning, and so was Great Bear.    This meant everyone went to Storm Runner.    When Sky Rush finally came up, the wait was 45 minutes.     On most days, people end up at Fahrenheit later in the day and it has a long wait.     Hershey has a fast pass system if people want to pay an extra $50.    I found that the ride ops were dealing with the fast pass people causing the trains to dispatch slowly.   Why does this happen?   Because the fast pass lines go up the exit of each ride.   The fast pass system at Dorney Park and Six Flags allow people to skip the line by entering at a point just before the main queue area.    This means everyone is in the same line and the ride ops don't have to deal with any fast pass issues.    I saw ride ops at Hershey dealing with paper tickets, talking to people coming up elevators, and so on.   It really slowed down the dispatch of the rides.   

Hershey - Great Rides, great app showing wait times in the park, bad fast pass system.
Knoebels - Great for families, tough drive getting there.  
Dorney Park - Best over all experience on this trip, short lines (most less than 10 minutes), all rides operating.
Six Flags Great Adventure -   Kingda Ka operating, but only one side of station.    Great rides, bad parking prices ($22), bad rules with metal detector at entrance.  

What am I talking about here with the metal detector at Six Flags?   When you get to the gate, the guard will ask you to take off your belt.  Are you kidding me?    This isn't an airport.    Someone next to me was sighing just like me.   Not only that, if girls wear a bathing suit under a shirt, they are not allowed in.    This is why Six Flags has dropped off the charts in terms of attendance.  

Let's go back to Hershey, what can they do to make things better?   Make the fast pass people enter the main queue quicker, instead of going up the exit side.   The ride ops have to deal with people holding paper passes, which takes time.      The idea of blocking off the middle rows of each coaster is dumb and makes the dispatch of the rides slow.

I had no complaints about Dorney park.   I entered using the twilight rate after 5pm, all the rides had short lines, and the ops were moving people quickly.    The other parks need to visit Dorney Park and take a look at their ride ops.  

Regarding the food places, Whole Foods was the best meal on the trip.    I seek out green salads, and you should too if you want to fit on the rides.     


How to save approximately $50 when visiting Six Flags Great Adventure.
Ride the bus from Freehold. It's $2.90 each way and if you have a receipt, you can get a park ticket for $32. Print this page and take it with you.
Drive your car to the Freehold Bus Terminal located at
43 County Road 537
Freehold NJ 07728

The bus terminal is located next to the rail road tracks. Park your car in the shopping center across the street (to the west). Walk to the bus stop, go inside the store and buy your bus ticket from the counter. Round trip will cost $5.80, GET THE RECEIPT. The bus will drop you off next to the employee entrance. You walk through the parking lot under a sign that leads to the main parking lot. After passing through the metal detectors (taking off your belt), you go to the left to customer service. Push the piece of paper through the window and say you want a NJ Transit ticket. If they ask for the receipt, give them that as well. You will get a ticket for $32 dollars.

Check the bus schedule for the return trip. You are on route 307 from Freehold.
There is a C schedule, D Schedule, and F which is both. In my case, the bus came at 2pm (D Schedule). Call them to see what schedule the bus is running. The next time it was going to come was 6pm. There is a way to text a bus stop number and get the next return time. For the Six Flags stop at the park, text 26332 to the number 69287. You will get the next time the bus will show up to Six Flags, it's on the hour. This info is posted on the bus stop sign.

You will save $16.2 on parking (if by yourself), and you will get an entrance ticket for $32. There, I just saved you about $50.

The bus leaves Freehold at half past the hour. You want to take the bus that leaves at 08:30am or 09:30am so you can arrive the park early, get your ticket from customer service, and get in line. Park opens at 10:30am, most people go to Kingda Ka.

Then you can decide if you want to come back at 2pm, or 6pm. Walk out of the park at half past the hour, and the bus will arrive at the top of the hour. Be sure to call and check the schedule. I had to wait an hour because I walked out at 1pm, and the bus didn't come until 2pm. There is no return bus from 3pm to 5pm.


Another way to save money is to use Google Maps on your iPhone, and click the option to Avoid Tolls.    It will take you a little longer to reach your destination, but you won't pay any tolls.    You want to avoid the NJ Turnpike.

End of Report.   Thanks for reading. 

Email me at skiguy777@bellsouth.net.


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