It may be the middle of winter, but the park season is slowly creeping up on us. During this time, the American Coaster Enthusiasts usually organize an event in several areas of the country for parks to discuss what they are adding for the season. In previous years one of these events called East Coaster was held at Dorney Park, but this year it is coming to the Sweetest Place on Earth: Hershey. My friend and co-worker has allowed me to come along and join in on the fun for the weekend.
For Friday (today), a tour of Hersheypark’s Service Center and a construction tour of Laff Trakk was on the schedule. The park’s Service Center was supposed to house space for the park to work on all the rides…when it was first built. Now that the park has pretty much doubled in size since the 1970’s, it now only has space for the park’s major attractions (coasters).
The Service Center houses several different areas from a parts inventory shop, machine shop, sign shop, non-deconstructive stress-testing area, wood shop, fiberglass area, to a car vehicle shop where work to the park’s trams, vehicles, and golf carts happen.
The shops are buzzing with activity this time of the year with maintenance employees everywhere working hard to get the attractions ready for the 2015 season.
Out in the park, we got to walk down to Laff Trakk and have a brief Q&A with Lisa Howard and Laura Woodburn, the park’s rides department managers on information about the ride.
- As of right now, there is nothing certain yet on if Laff Trakk will be running for Christmas Candylane as they are trying to aim to open the ride for Memorial Day Weekend.
- Upon entering the queue, which will be on or near where that path to the Midway Tent was, guests will enter into the indoor queue area (with the red roof) or to the right to the outdoor queue area in front of the building. There will be a few fun house elements in the indoor queue area and possibly Laughing Sal.
- The station will be something unique to the park as it will feature a separate unload area, a loading area as well as a second loading area specifically for ADA guests and it will be wheelchair accessible to the station.
- The ride will operate 5 to 6 cars at a time and feature only a lapbar (no seatbelts).
- The cars will be limited in how much they will spin (I think 30 rpm was said to be the max).
- The test seat and control system arrived just the other day. Cars may arrive later in February.
- The outside of the building will be painted, so don’t expect it to remain the current white color for long.
Be sure to check out some of the photos below for some behind-the-scenes photos of Hersheypark’s Service Center, Some new things being done in the park, and some Laff Trakk photos from inside the park. Be sure to share this update on Facebook and you may win an envelope of brochures/maps!
I want to thank my friend Will for letting me come along to the event, ACE, and Hersheypark for being great hosts.
Stay tuned for day two!
The first area we saw was the machine shop where if a part needs to be made, they can do that here.
The Waverider boards get some use in the winter time as well.
If they have the part already in-stock, maintenance only needs to just come here to get it.
Fahrenheit wheel bogeys sitting in front of the stress testing area.
Sides to Lightning Racer’s trains are here as well.
Most of this work is done behind that wall. You can see Skyrush bogeys sitting there as well.
More Skyrush parts as well.
One of the things displayed is the top piece to Wave Swinger, which now has a new LED lighting package. Don’t know if it will be like that on the rest of the ride, but if so, then it will be awesome!
Found Mini Train!
It may be a few years old, but this is a map of the park.
Cozy GCI upholstery.
Time to move on to the ride vehicles. Lightning Racer’s are just bare frames right now.
Maintenance is hard at work to get things ready for the spring.
These would be the cars for Comet from the underside.
The trains are made mostly out of fire-protected wood. They seem to be slowly making progress on reassembling them, which is a good sign!
The Whip getting some TLC.
Here is what you need to put together a Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster train.
Fresh new lapbars ready to be installed.
Over in Sidewinder’s area, it looks like things are good to go. You can also see more wheel bogeys for Skyrush too.
Trailblazer meanwhile still has quite a bit to go.
Found some Wild Mouse cars.
Found the SooperdooperLooper cars.
New pumps for Coal Cracker.
Looper’s frame is put together, but the wheel bogeys are sitting off to the side.
The ultimate NoLimits2 gaming chair.
Fahrenheit seems to be making progress with quite a bit together with these cars.
Here’s the underside of a Fahrenheit car. You can tell where the drive tires make contact on the car.
Found a mystery box…
Inside is just packing peanuts… and one Laff Trakk test seat.!Tilt-A-Whirl car not included.
Tons of Coal Cracker boats just chilling out.
This one still needs some work done, according to the sheet on the nose of it.
These containers are paint to touch-up the track and cars for Laff Trakk, once it starts being assembled.
Having been in the Service Center back in 2009, it felt great to be able to go through again and check out what’s changed.
The have kept Looper’s original entrance sign!
They plan on fixing it up again and possibly doing something with it again eventually.
The Carpenter shop also has some machinery to be able to bend the track rails for the park’s wooden coasters.
As always, the maintenance crew seem to have bit of character to them.
Same thing in the sign shop (I love the top one)!
The sign shop is where much of the signs for the park, hotels, and other venues are made.
Thanks to Gary for giving an awesome tour of the Service Center!
Much of the signage is designed using Adobe such as Photoshop, which is interesting.
Much of the crew in here is busy year-round in here and if they have to replace a sign, they can easily get a replacement.
It was fun just seeing these signs and recognizing where they are from in the park!
For example, this is a area flag from a directional sign from in the Boardwalk.
The Monorail sign is in for a touch-up.
These signs look to be a work-in-progress.
Now that we’re done with a tour of the Service Center, time to check out the park and Laff Trakk!
While it was cold, it was still a nice day.
Much of the shoveling is kept to a minimum just to allow access on the midways.
You can start to see Laff Trakk heading down the hill to Tidal Force.
Almost can’t tell its winter from this photo.
You can really start to see it heading up the hill next to Wildcat.
The Fun Slides will be coming back, but will have a new entrance.
This red-roofed section will be the indoor queue for Laff Trakk.
The Midway area looks pretty different compared to last year.
While down here, Laura, the director of rides, gave a pretty interesting Q&A session on information about the ride.
Since it was a hardhat area, we stayed up here.
It is pretty hard not to see the building.
The indoor queue will feature some fun house elements in it.
Out front will be the overflow queue.
The entrance to the ride will be found right about here.
Now that the building is up, they can start putting up the ride and painting the outside.
It was also fun seeing this section of the park in the winter as well.