ACE’s East Coaster 2015 at Hersheypark Day #1

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!

-Chris

The first area we saw was the machine shop where if a part needs to be made, they can do that here.

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.

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.

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.

Fahrenheit wheel bogeys sitting in front of the stress testing area.

Sides to Lightning Racer's trains are here as well.

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.

Most of this work is done behind that wall. You can see Skyrush bogeys sitting there as well.

More Skyrush parts 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!

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!

Found Mini Train!

It may be a few years old, but this is a map of the park.

It may be a few years old, but this is a map of the park.

Cozy GCI upholstery.

Cozy GCI upholstery.

Time to move on to the ride vehicles. Lightning Racer's are just bare frames right now.

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.

Maintenance is hard at work to get things ready for the spring.

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These would be the cars for Comet from the underside.

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 trains are made mostly out of fire-protected wood. They seem to be slowly making progress on reassembling them, which is a good sign!

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The Whip getting some TLC.

The Whip getting some TLC.

Here is what you need to put together a Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster train.

Here is what you need to put together a Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster train.

Fresh new lapbars ready to be installed.

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.

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.

Trailblazer meanwhile still has quite a bit to go.

Found some Wild Mouse cars.

Found some Wild Mouse cars.

Found the SooperdooperLooper cars.

Found the SooperdooperLooper cars.

New pumps for Coal Cracker.

New pumps for Coal Cracker.

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Looper's frame is put together, but the wheel bogeys are sitting off to the side.

Looper’s frame is put together, but the wheel bogeys are sitting off to the side.

The ultimate NoLimits2 gaming chair.

The ultimate NoLimits2 gaming chair.

Turnstyles.

Turnstyles.

Fahrenheit seems to be making progress with quite a bit together with these cars.

Fahrenheit seems to be making progress with quite a bit together with these cars.

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Here's the underside of a Fahrenheit car. You can tell where the drive tires make contact on the car.

Here’s the underside of a Fahrenheit car. You can tell where the drive tires make contact on the car.

Found a mystery box...

Found a mystery box…

Inside is just packing peanuts... and one Laff Trakk test seat.!Tilt-A-Whirl car not included.

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.

Tons of Coal Cracker boats just chilling out.

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This one still needs some work done, according to the sheet on the nose of it.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

As always, the maintenance crew seem to have bit of character to them.

Same thing in the sign shop (I love the top one)!

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.

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!

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 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.

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!

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.

For example, this is a area flag from a directional sign from in the Boardwalk.

The Monorail sign is in for a touch-up.

The Monorail sign is in for a touch-up.

Roller Soaker

Roller Soaker

These signs look to be a work-in-progress.

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!

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.

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.

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.

You can start to see Laff Trakk heading down the hill to Tidal Force.

Almost can't tell its winter from this photo.

Almost can’t tell its winter from this photo.

You can really start to see it heading up the hill next to Wildcat.

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.

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.

This red-roofed section will be the indoor queue for Laff Trakk.

The Midway area looks pretty different compared to last year.

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.

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.

Since it was a hardhat area, we stayed up here.

It is pretty hard not to see the building.

It is pretty hard not to see the building.

The indoor queue will feature some fun house elements in it.

The indoor queue will feature some fun house elements in it.

Out front will be the overflow queue.

Out front will be the overflow queue.

The entrance to the ride will be found right about here.

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.

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.

It was also fun seeing this section of the park in the winter as well.

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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.

IMG_0116

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.

 

Hersheypark, Dutch Wonderland, and Knoebels: The Flood of 2011 (9/9/11)

We are not starting to paint a picture on what  it looks like at the parks in Central Pennsylvania. So far we know that Knoebels and Hersheypark have suffered segnifigant damage from the flooding that caused them to remain closed this weekend and that Dutch Wonderland, too suffered flooding, but may be able to be open tomorrow and sunday.

Note: (all linked photos are property of the pages that they are posted on).

From Dutch Wonderland’s facebook page, here is a link showing what it looks like:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2248550926784.128036.1038519439#!/media/set/?set=a.10150304854325999.357581.51673665998

For Knoebels, they have suffered a little bit more. The water covered most of the park in a short amount of time, lifted up concrete and threw dirt and muck everywhere. In their photo album, some of the striking ones are of the Ole Smokey train being covered in debris and sitting on it’s side, the M&G Carousel band organ and horses being moved about, Debris covering the Haunted Mansion and more. These photos are really hard to look at…

Finally, Hersheypark, which pretty much suffered just as much as Knoebels. The water rose just as fast as at Knoebels and claiming the life of one of ZooAmerica’s bison resulting in the other one having to be euthanized. I want to note that Keystone Thrills supports their decision and that any personal attack on them on the blog or forums will be removed. You can read the press release with the Q/A here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2248550926784.128036.1038519439#!/photo.php?fbid=10150307079324357&set=a.165822924356.118364.16994689356&type=1&theater

Since Keystone Thrills is centrally located in Hershey Pa. (we are not affiliated to the park, by the way), keeping track on what has been happening at the park and town has been easy. I stopped by on Wednesday (just before the major downpour) to check the Skyrush construction (you can see those photos in the last construction update). By the evening, video was posted taken from the bridge on Park Blvd. showing Spring Creek starting to lap over the top of it: (https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150282403981854)

By now, it is hard to imagine what it looked like inside the park, but the photos taken by Hersheypark on their facebook page and pretty much give you an idea on how bad it was, but one thing is for sure, the water was up to Great Bear’s track in the area before the Immelmann.

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s720x720/306889_10150310240767071_816747070_7831552_1597352231_n.jpg

Today (9/9/11) we were able to journey out to Park Ave. and Park Blvd. to see an extent on the damage and here is what was seen…

Remember to follow the Keystone Thrills facebook page to find out what’s happening at these parks. We wish them the best on the clean-up process and recovery.