Laff Trakk Construction and Park Update: 3/26/15

With the building up and ride track installed, the next stage of theming being added to the building is starting to begin. The framework for what looks to be fake windows is starting to be added to the outside of Laff Trakk’s show building as well as some trim to the lower parts of the building. Catwalk and spiral stairwell pieces have shown up for the ride as well.

Elsewhere in the park, rides are slowly coming out of their winter slumber with Monorail, Skyrush, Storm Runner, Fahrenheit, Lightning Racer, Wildcat, Comet, and Trailblazer already testing. Wave Swinger and Ferris Wheel (it is missing it’s pinwheel lighting at the moment) look mostly put back together as well.

On a sidenote, it looks like Turnpike will be sharing their exit stairs as the Sportcars side seems to be missing with a railing going across from where it connected with the Antique side.

While searching around a little on the park’s website, it looks like there is some more info posted on the new menu items around the park. It is kind of hard to tell if the list is finished as Gourmet Grill, Country Grill, Pioneer Frontier Food Court, and just about all of Midway America is missing. There is a new location called Laff Trakk Beverage listed, which will sell  drinks, hot dogs, sausage sandwiches, and pretzels.

Overlook Food Court will be receiving a big change in food offerings it seems for this season with nine different concession locations within the building. The original items such as hot dogs, burgers, and pizza will be offered, but what is new is the addition of wings, three new types of mac & cheese, penne pasta (alfredo and marinara), soups, several types of salads and wraps!

Up in Craftbarn Kitchen in Founder’s Way, some similar changes are also being made at this venue as well with breaded mushrooms, zucchini, and pickle spears being added to the offerings. Classic mac and cheese was also added to the list for this location as well.

Nothing too major, but Decades looks like it will be offering waffle fries for this season.

The Outpost has been listed, but it is not really known where it will be in the Pioneer Frontier area. The menu for this new location will be buffalo chicken pizza, buffalo chicken sandwich, cheese pizza, chicken tenders, grilled veggie sandwich, salads, sesame-free hummus, soft pretzel bites, southwest chicken sandwich, and turkey burger.

Newly listed on the 2015 section of the park’s website, there will be two new entertainment shows coming to the park: Dance, Dance – Encore in the Music Box Theatre and Rollin’ Down the River in the Country Grill. Two in-park redemption areas for Season Passes will also be introduced as well at Fun in the Sun in the Boardwalk and the Hersheypark Business Center in Kissing Tower Hill.

Time for the photos:

The Ferris Wheel is back up in Midway America.

The Ferris Wheel is back up in Midway America.

Laff Trakk is starting to slowly blend in with Midway America.

Laff Trakk is starting to slowly blend in with Midway America.

Here is a close-up of some of the trim that was just added.

Here is a close-up of some of the trim that was just added.

I wonder if anything will be added on this side?

I wonder if anything will be added on this side?

Railings, stairs, and catwalks have arrived and are waiting to be added.

Railings, stairs, and catwalks have arrived and are waiting to be added.

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Looks like this will be a maintenance access road to replaced the one that was near the Midway Tent.

Looks like this will be a maintenance access road to replaced the one that was near the Midway Tent.

Spiral stairs.

Spiral stairs.

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Turnpike will be sharing a set of exit stairs this year.

Turnpike will be sharing a set of exit stairs this year.

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Work up at Chocolate World is progressing.

Work up at Chocolate World is progressing.

Chocolate House near the entrance received a new roof a few weeks ago.

Chocolate House near the entrance received a new roof a few weeks ago.

Thanks for reading!

-Chris C.

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The Hershey of the Future: A Look at Planned and Possible Building Projects for Hershey.

With the coming of the new year, it is times like these where we look upon what has occurred within the past year and what is to come. With several building projects around Hershey planned for 2015 and beyond, I think now is a great time to take a look at these. Just about all of these are planned to occur, but there are one or two that aren’t, but have the potential to be a project that could bring change to Hershey with more light shed on them in the future

Hersheypark: Laff Trakk Indoor Glow-Roller Coaster

Project Start Date: 9/2/14

Possible Completion Date: May 2015

Starting to go up in Hersheypark’s Midway America section is a building that will house Laff Trakk, the park’s 13th roller coaster. The ride will be the first indoor, spinning, glow roller coaster in the United States.

Laff Trakk, December 2014

Laff Trakk, December 2014

The framework for the building looks mostly erected at this point with the ride itself nowhere to be found as of late. Hersheypark hopes to have the ride open sometime in May 2015. The info page for the coaster lists it as having a 42″ (Reese’s) height requirement, max height requirement of 6′ 5″, and a ride rating of 5.

 

Park Boulevard Realignment Project

Project Start Date: 2016

Possible Completion Date: Unknown

Ever since Parkview Golf Course closed in 2005, there have been rumors on Hersheypark possibly being able to expand across Park Boulevard and into the 130-acre former golf course. You can read more about what CoasterBGW posted in his Hersheypark Over the Next Decade article that goes into more detail on its history, but as of late, the project has been funded and construction is scheduled to start as of early 2016.

The submitted plans appear to show a road heading straight from the Hersheypark parking entrance split and crossing a bridge over the creek. A portion of the existing road will stay to serve as an entrance to Chocolate World and will meet at the new road section as an intersection. Other features include a possible northbound entrance to the park’s parking lot, sidewalks, and the possible opening of public traffic to travel from the Ridge Rd. bridge to Park Ave. (Route 743).

It does seem like something has happened with this project as I have started to spot a series of construction/surveying stakes in between Chocolate World’s entrance and the Hersheypark parking lot split. These have recently showed up within the past few weeks so it could mean that it is still on-track. As someone who frequents this road and knows how busy it can get, I am really looking forward to this one as it could possibly improve traffic after the park or a Bears Hockey game lets out.

On a sidenote, the realignment would add around 30 acres to the area next to the park. Nothing has been said about the park expanding this way as of yet and probably won’t be anytime soon.

Downtown Beauty Enhancement Project

Project Start Date: Spring 2016 (for road re-paving) Beautification: Unknown

Possible Completion Date: Unknown

Within the last few years, the center of downtown Hershey went through a large amount of road improvements with re-routing Cocoa Ave, the construction of a new bridge on Park Ave. over the railroad tracks, the re-do of a portion of Chocolate Ave., and the construction of two underpasses. The aftermath has left a decent portion of open space next to the Hershey Theatre and a nice updated stretch of Chocolate Ave that sticks out from the rest of the town, which hasn’t been updated for years.

In early 2014, the Downtown Hershey Association was created to improve the appearance of downtown as well as the quality of life for its residents. After polling many of the town’s residents, a series of conceptual drawings were made to take a look at what people wanted. Many of these features include new plazas, shaded seating areas, decorative sidewalks, art, and much more.

Downtown Hershey Association Facebook Page

In a recent story posted several weeks ago, it seems that Chocolate Ave. will be re-paved and Derry Township is looking into conducting a study to figure out costs and funding for these beauty enhancements.

Hershey Downtown Center

Project Start Date: January 2015

Possible Completion Date: 2016

In early 2013, the Hershey Trust Co. announced that they were going to sell the property that the Hershey Post Office resides on. The ones who bought it, a group known as the 169 Chocolate Group, plan on renovating the building by changing the facade, bringing in several restaurants, retail businesses and offices. So far Appalachian Brewing Company will open a brewpub in the basement of the building, the retail store for the Post Office will be welcome to return, and the developers say that they have nine tenants that may move in.

Photo from ABC27’s Facebook Page

According to an August article, work is expected to begin this month and the renovation could take about a year to do. It is also mentioned that new buildings could be added for more space in a second phase that could begin within the next two years.

Chocolate Factory Site Redevelopment

Project Start Date: Unknown

Possible Completion Date: Unknown

In 2012, the Hershey Company moved its production to its West Hershey plant and vacated much of the building. After trying to find a buyer to re-use the former factory to no avail, the newer section of the building was torn down and much of the former section was renovated into office space for the company. According to the developer for the site, Tim Harrison, he is considering an area mixed of restaurants, retail, and entertainment for the area that was demolished. It was also mentioned that parking structures could be added to get parking under control as well. As of August 2014, there haven’t been anything official on what could happen with the site.

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Near the former factory, the cocoa bean silos that dominate much of the skyline are available for renovation. They were bought in 2012 for $100,000 by a group of four families who want to preserve the silos, seek a developer, and renovate them into condos, a hotel, or some other form of venue.

 

Laff Trakk Construction Update: 12-15-14

With much of the foundation complete for Laff Trakk, work has started moving skyward by adding the framework for the ride building. The new structure is clearly visible from Hersheypark Drive and in the local areas and is almost as tall as Wildcat and Lightning Racer (and probably the Ferris Wheel when it is re-added). From All-American Thrills, it has been said to stand close to 80 feet tall and with the ride being around 50 feet tall, this provides around 30 feet clearance from its tallest point.

The coaster itself hasn’t been spotted yet, but it probably shouldn’t be too far off.

From a distance, Laff Trakk's building looks about the same height as Lightning Racer's second hill.

From a distance, Laff Trakk’s building looks about the same height as Lightning Racer’s second hill.

Here is a closer view of the structure.

Here is a closer view of the structure.

It may not look it from this shot, but it is pretty tall and is easily visible peeking around Wildcat on Hersheypark Drive.

It may not look it from this shot, but it is pretty tall and is easily visible peeking around Wildcat on Hersheypark Drive.

I haven’t shared too much news on the Keystone Thrills website project recently, but I am really close to launching it as just about 90% of the pages have been developed. Featured will be sections filled with information and photos from many of Pennsylvania’s major theme parks, trip report sections, ride galleries, and information from select removed rides.  As for the blog, construction and special feature news will be featured here and will be conveniently linked to the website so it will be easy to find certain topics.

Here is a preview of what one of the ride info pages will look like. Only major rides will be covered, but each one will feature an information section on the year it was add, height, capacity, an approximate wait time on how long it would take to wait for the attraction when the queue line is full, and the number of riders it can hold. To the right will be the main photo for the attraction that provides the best view of it. The next feature below it will provide more in-depth information on the history of the attraction and of the ride experience. On some rides pages for Hersheypark’s rides, a box will be shown with a ride description that was used on a former version of the park’s website that was discovered through the Internet Archive. The final item on the page will be the photo gallery feature, which will include photos of the ride.

I don’t have a date yet on when the website will go online as I do not want to rush it.

Here is an example on what the ride pages will look like. The Ride Info box will be the quick go-to spot for ride info with anything from the ear built to the ride height requirement. To the right will be the main ride photo.

Here is an example on what the ride pages will look like. The Ride Info box will be the quick go-to spot for ride info with anything from the ear built to the ride height requirement. To the right will be the main ride photo.

Below the main photo will be a description box giving some interesting details about the ride's history and info on the ride experience. Featured on some of the Hersheypark rides, a box is featured with an old Hersheypark.com description. Finally is the photo gallery with photos of the attraction.

Below the main photo will be a description box giving some interesting details about the ride’s history and info on the ride experience. Featured on some of the Hersheypark rides, a box is featured with an old Hersheypark.com description. Finally is the photo gallery with photos of the attraction.

Thanks for reading!

-Chris

Knoebels Impulse Construction Update 9-24-14

While in the area on Wednesday, I managed to take a trip by Knoebels and check on the progress of Impulse. There really wasn’t much except for survey stakes, a construction fence, and a flat dirt lot. Word has it that ground will be broken on Monday for actual construction to start. I’ll be back up soon for another update before the end of the season.

It's hard to miss where Impulse is going to be.

It’s hard to miss where Impulse is going to be.

The pond for the Bumper Boats is long gone and leveled.

The pond for the Bumper Boats is long gone and leveled.

The only thing present are a bunch of these survey stakes.

The only thing present are a bunch of these survey stakes.

Boat Tag is long gone as well. Here's a history tidbit, it used to be at Dorney back in the early 90s near where Hydra is today.

Boat Tag is long gone as well. Here’s a history tidbit, it used to be at Dorney back in the early 90s near where Hydra is today.

Here's a panorama of the construction site.

Here’s a panorama of the construction site.

As much as it looks like the off-season at the park, there is still a month left. It must be the changing of the leaves on the trees.

As much as it looks like the off-season at the park, there is still a month left. It must be the changing of the leaves on the trees.

The Whip is receiving some TLC during it's week off (the park is closed this-coming weekend, by the way).

The Whip is receiving some TLC during it’s week off (the park is closed this-coming weekend, by the way).

I have a feeling that Impulse is really going to fit in nicely in this part of the park.

I have a feeling that Impulse is really going to fit in nicely in this part of the park.

Thanks for reading!
-Chris

Laff Trakk Construction Update 8-28-14 to 9-7-14

Well it’s time to cover the construction of a brand-new ride coming to Hersheypark. Laff Trakk will be a 50 foot-tall indoor spinning roller coaster with glow effects built by Maurer Söhne. The building housing the coaster will be 75 feet tall (almost as tall as Lightning Racer) and located where the Miniature Train, Granny Bugs, and Pony Parade are located.
Construction has started the day after Labor Day with the buildings and rides being removed, the paths being ripped up, and construction walls put up.

This small kiddie area was added in 1997 when the Ferris Wheel, and Whip  were added. Miniature Train has been a ride that has been used seasonally for Christmas Candylane. Ganny Bugs came from Music Box Way and Pony Parade came from the Pioneer Frontier area.

This small kiddie area was added in 1997 when the Ferris Wheel, and Whip were added. Miniature Train has been a ride that has been used seasonally for Christmas Candylane. Ganny Bugs came from Music Box Way and Pony Parade came from the Pioneer Frontier area.

The Midway Tent was added in 1999 as part of the Hersheypark Fair expansion.

The Midway Tent was added in 1999 as part of the Hersheypark Fair expansion.

Since then, it has been used as a catering area and entertainment venue through the years.

Since then, it has been used as a catering area and entertainment venue through the years.

The building was also home to Tiger's Tail and Crazy Climber; two inflatable attractions.

The building was also home to Tiger’s Tail and Crazy Climber; two inflatable attractions.

Construction immediately began right after Labor Day with land clearing.

The sides of the tent were removed and a job trailer were added inside.

The sides of the tent were removed and a job trailer were added inside.

A construction wall has gone up from the FunSlides to Whip.

A construction wall has gone up from the FunSlides to Whip.

The entrance to the FunSlides were moved to the former exit near Wildcat.

The entrance to the FunSlides were moved to the former exit near Wildcat.

Much of the area was bulldozed and jack-hammered.

Much of the area was bulldozed and jack-hammered.

The path to the Midway Tent is still there for now.

The path to the Midway Tent is still there for now.

Pony Parade's footprint is broken up and ready to shipped off.

Pony Parade’s footprint is broken up and ready to shipped off.

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The sign has been added to the gate.

The sign has been added to the gate.

Here's a panorama.

Here’s a panorama.

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The removal of the trees opens up the area a little bit more.

The removal of the trees opens up the area a little bit more.

The buildings have been relocated to Racer's former queue to possibly be reused again next year.

The buildings have been relocated to Racer’s former queue to possibly be reused again next year.

The railings have also been placed over here as well.

The railings have also been placed over here as well.

As a temporary filler, Tiny Tracks has been brought out of storage and Granny Bugs have been moved to inside the Boardwalk until the end of Hersheypark in the Dark.

Utilizing the tube queue, Tiny Tracks is back and will be calling Coastline Plunge home for a few weeks.

Utilizing the tube queue, Tiny Tracks is back and will be calling Coastline Plunge home for a few weeks.

It has a smaller layout than when it was in Founder's Circle, but it should be a decent filler to take the place of Miniature Train.

It has a smaller layout than when it was in Founder’s Circle, but it should be a decent filler to take the place of Miniature Train.

On the plus side, it opens up the hill-less shortcut to get to Lightning Racer through the Boardwalk.

On the plus side, it opens up the hill-less shortcut to get to Lightning Racer through the Boardwalk.

Granny Bugs is over between Sandcastle Cove and Bayside Pier set up like it would be for Christmas Candylane. The path is closed off here so walking over to Rita's is out of thee question.

Granny Bugs is over between Sandcastle Cove and Bayside Pier set up like it would be for Christmas Candylane. The path is closed off here so walking over to Rita’s is out of thee question.

Thanks for reading!

Hersheypark 1996 Brochure

Congrats, you made it through yet another snowy and cold off-season and it is now time to start thinking about summer! While I will be busy this weekend, I won’t be able to provide an opening day trip report for Hersheypark. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t have anything to share for this weekend. Switchback Saturday anyone?

Let’s travel back to the year 1996 when the Spice Girls were slowly starting to climb the music charts, everyone was doing the Macarena, and Hersheypark opened their fifth roller coaster called Wildcat. With a height of 90 feet and being the first coaster built by the now-famous Great Coasters International, visitors were urged to “Test Drive the Wildcat”.

1996 was also the park's 90th season (the following year was the 90th anniversary.

1996 was also the park’s 90th season (the following year was the 90th anniversary.

The photo of Comet and Sooperdooperlooper shows no Great Bear and the dolphins are still in the Aquatheatre.

The photo of Comet and Sooperdooperlooper shows no Great Bear and the dolphins are still in the Aquatheatre.

A website address is now listed in the brochures. The Wayback Machine does have an archive of this webpage, but the earliest entry is from 1999: http://web.archive.org/web/19990203205509/http://www.800hershey.com/index.html

A website address is now listed in the brochures. The Wayback Machine does have an archive of this webpage, but the earliest entry is from 1999: Here

The other half of the brochure talks about other attractions around town and Milton Hershey's legacy.

The other half of the brochure talks about other attractions around town and Milton Hershey’s legacy.

$26.45 for general admission. Also, instead of all the rides opening at park opening, back then, rides opened a half hour after the main gate opened.

$26.45 for general admission. Also, instead of all the rides opening at park opening, back then, rides opened a half hour after the main gate opened.

Looks like The Hershey Lodge wasn't expanded quite yet.

Looks like The Hershey Lodge wasn’t expanded quite yet.

Looking ahead to next week, I will be headed east to Six Flags Great Adventure to check out Zoomanjaro and the former location of Rolling Thunder. Then I will be going up north to Knoebels to experience Flying Turns and check out the park.

Thanks for reading!

-Chris

A Taste of Spring: Hersheypark, Zoo, and Chocolate World Off-Season Update 3/8/14

Been awhile since the last update, but to make up for it my friend Matt, who came up from Maryland, and I decided to check out Chocolate World, walk up to ZooAmerica, walk around the rest of the perimeter of the park back to Chocolate World. The warm weather offered a small taste of spring, but we still have a few weeks left in the off-season until the park opens. Here is a summary on what we saw:

Chocolate World:

-Much of the former queue line is torn up, but it looks like the new entrance and exit are starting to come together.

Hersheypark:

– The Ticketing building in Tram Circle is progressing. There are stacks of bricks sitting next to the construction area.

– Tudor Square’s restroom building is still being worked on.

– The older Hollow Games building is gone.

– Coal Cracker’s 2nd lift is the rehab section of the year.

– One of the Monorail’s trains is parked next to the ride’s storage building with a new paint job. No deals are visible on the exterior of the train.

– Parts of the old Six Flags Magic Mountain Metro trains are sitting in the area between Roller Soaker’s station and the fence.

ZooAmerica: (I haven’t been here for a few months so some of the improvements may not be recent, but they are more or less a year new).

– A cottonmouth snake is now on display in the Southern Swamps building.

– The prairie dogs are now out and had to contend to a squirrel trying to eat their food.

– A Black-billed magpie exhibit has been built near the elk and Watering Hole.

– Buddy, the pronghorn, who has arrived at the zoo a few months ago, is located in the former bison enclosure and seems to be pretty sociable.

Walls are starting to go up next to the entrance ramp.

Walls are starting to go up next to the entrance ramp.

The flooring tiles on the entrance stairs have been ripped up.

The flooring tiles on the entrance stairs have been ripped up.

As of right now, this room and the space at the top of the stairs to the ride form an L-shape.

As of right now, this room and the space at the top of the stairs to the ride form an L-shape.

The area at the top of the ride stairs now has walls.

The area at the top of the ride stairs now has walls.

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There is an opening at the top of the entrance stairs going to the top of the former exit.

There is an opening at the top of the entrance stairs going to the top of the former exit.

Looks like things are progressing nicely. I am betting that the new retail area is in the far background, the possible new entrance ramp fro the ride in the center, and the new exit in the foreground.

Looks like things are progressing nicely. I am betting that the new retail area is in the far background, the possible new entrance ramp from the ride in the center, and the new exit in the foreground.

Nothing really new to see here, moving on.

Nothing really new to see here, moving on.

Naked Intamin Skyrush  trains: we need a censor bar on this somewhere.

Naked Intamin Skyrush trains: we need a censor bar on this somewhere.

The Hollow Games building is gone and ready for concrete and the two new rides.

The Hollow Games building is gone and ready for concrete and the two new rides.

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Coal Cracker rehab is progressing nicely.

Coal Cracker rehab is progressing nicely.

Here is a close-up of the top of the Kissing Tower.

Here is a close-up of the top of the Kissing Tower.

The tunnel under Park Blvd. is open, but people still seem to want to cross the road instead of using it.

The tunnel under Park Blvd. is open, but people still seem to want to cross the road instead of using it.

The cottonmouth exhibit.

The cottonmouth exhibit.

The bobcats are tuckered out.

The bobcats are tuckered out.

Same with the otters.

Same with the otters.

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The prairie dogs are out and have to deal with a visitor.

The prairie dogs are out and have to deal with a visitor.

They aren't too thrilled with the squirrel.

They aren’t too thrilled with the squirrel.

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A black-billed magpie exhibit has shown up near the Elk.

A black-billed magpie exhibit has shown up near the Elk.

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There is Buddy, the pronghorn.

There is Buddy, the pronghorn.

The Monorail is looking bright in it's new paintjob.

The Monorail is looking bright in it’s new paintjob.

On our walk back to Chocolate World, we walked up Trinidad Ave.

On our walk back to Chocolate World, we walked up Trinidad Ave.

Looks nice and spiffy.

Looks nice and spiffy.

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Walking farther down Park Blvd. we could see the former Magic Mountain monorail trains sitting in front of Roller Soaker's station.

Walking farther down Park Blvd. we could see the former Magic Mountain monorail trains sitting in front of Roller Soaker’s station.

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The red and yellow trains were here, but I didn't see the blue train.

The red and yellow trains were here, but I didn’t see the blue train.

A few sections of Lightning Racer have been re-tracked.

A few sections of Lightning Racer have been re-tracked.

About one more month until it opens for it 14th season (it feels like it didn't open too long ago!).

About one more month until it opens for it 14th season (it feels like it didn’t open too long ago!).

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About one more month to go until the end of the off-season (hopefully we don't get anymore snow!).

About one more month to go until the end of the off-season (hopefully we don’t get anymore snow!).

From the former Hershey Museum patio, it looks like work in Tudor Square is progressing.

From the former Hershey Museum patio, it looks like work in Tudor Square is progressing.

Here's something we discovered walking back to Chocolate World: Did you know that there are a line of one-time-use lockers on the path leading to the Season Pass Office? They cost $2 and only take quarters.

Here’s something we discovered walking back to Chocolate World: Did you know that there are a line of one-time-use lockers on the path leading to the Season Pass Office? They cost $2 and only take quarters.

That’s it for the update. I’ll probably do one or two more before the season-opener trip report. As for the website, I am making some good progress on constructing it as I am already up to approximately 20 photo galleries for parks such as Hersheypark, Knoebels, and Dorney Park with more to come. The Skyrush construction updates will not be included at this point, but don’t worry, I have something special planned for them!

Thanks for reading!

-Chris