Knoebels Impulse Opening Weekend Ride Review 4-26-15

It was a tight envelope, but I managed to make it up to opening weekend at Knoebels and get a lap on Knoebels’ newest and first steel coaster in over a decade: Impulse. It didn’t disappoint and was a very enjoyable ride! If you want to be surprised, skip over the next few paragraphs and go right to the photos!

After entering under the brake run, you walk behind the machine room for the ride as it towers all around you. While it still needs a little work, you enter the main queue area, that is set up similar to Fahrenheit (ride area off to the right, station on the left with two sets of stairs leading to the station (future single rider line?), and base of the lift straight ahead. While it may seem familiar to that Intamin coaster 50-some miles to the south, that is where it ends.

Once in the station, an employee groups you into your rows for the car. Once the gates open, you just hand your loose items to the attendant, take your seat, and pull back on your lap restraint, which is pretty beefy and comes with shin bars. Think of it as a souped-up Skyrush lapbar that covers your entire lap.

Once your car is all-clear, you are dispatched to the front of the station where you wait for the other one in front of you to enter the final helix. Once ready, the car creeps slowly around the first turn to the base of the lift. Unlike Fahrenheit, your car automatically engages the lift and pulls you straight up to 98-feet.

That view of the blue sky within seconds turns to ground as the car starts to rocket down the vertical drop. You are suddenly town out of your seat with some airtime. Upon reaching the top-speed of over 55 mph, you curve into the cobra roll inversion, which is a little looser than others and you experience your first section of positive g-forces and hang time at the top of the inversion sections.

Next, you enter a brief straight section of track that transports you to the vertical loop element, where you experience more positive g-forces at the base and hang time at the peak. Next is a banked turn over the queue line and a helix that circles the lift. Following up is one of my favorite parts of the ride: the heartline roll.

Think of it as a faster version of Hydra’s mojo-roll at Dorney Park and you get this twist that threads right through the vertical loop. You are literally out of your seat the entire time! To conclude your thrilling experience, you enter the helix finale where there is one last dose of positive g-forces waiting for you and into the magnetic brakes that bring you to a sudden, but gentile stop.

In conclusion, Impulse is a great addition to the Knoebels coaster line-up. While it might not have the airtime of Phoenix, the lateral forces of Twister, or the nostalgia of Flying Turns, it does have hang time, positive g-forces and inversions on today’s modern scream machines. It is a coaster that will make you ride it again and again!

Welcome back to Knoebels. 2015 is a big year for the park as it recently opened it's 6th coaster.

Welcome back to Knoebels. 2015 is a big year for the park as it recently opened it’s 6th coaster.

For three dollars, you can enjoy their new ride. It is included in the Basic wristband plan. Riders 48" to 52" inches tall need to ride in a special booster seat that attaches to the seat in the vehicle.

For three dollars, you can enjoy their new ride. It is included in the Basic wristband plan. Riders 48″ to 52″ inches tall need to ride in a special booster seat that attaches to the seat in the vehicle.

The queue line is the best place to witness what will unfold on your ride.

The queue line is the best place to witness what will unfold on your ride.

You can get some shots such as this one.

You can get some shots such as this one.

Since the ride was made by a German company (Zierer), the flag of Germany was hung on the transfer track.

Since the ride was made by a German company (Zierer), the flag of Germany was hung on the transfer track.

While the ride is open, a lot of work still needs to be done such as landscaping in the ride area and queue rows for the line.

While the ride is open, a lot of work still needs to be done such as landscaping in the ride area and queue rows for the line.

There are two stairs leading to the station. Only one was being used so far. Single rider line maybe for the second one (hoping).

There are two stairs leading to the station. Only one was being used so far. Single rider line maybe for the second one (hoping).

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It does crawl around this turn to the lift.

It does crawl around this turn to the lift.

Riders 48" to 52" need this booster seat that goes right on to the seats on the cars.

Riders 48″ to 52″ need this booster seat that goes right on to the seats on the cars.

As you can see, the lap restraints are pretty big.

As you can see, the lap restraints are pretty big.

Waiting to unload.

Waiting to unload.

Once ready, the car moves to the front of the station to wait for the rest of the ride to be clear of cars.

Once ready, the car moves to the front of the station to wait for the rest of the ride to be clear of cars.

The ride fences do allow you to get under the tower helix in the back near the road.

The ride fences do allow you to get under the tower helix in the back near the road.

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Be sure to get out there and ride it!

Be sure to get out there and ride it!

Thanks for reading!

-Chris

Laff Trakk Construction Update 4-16-15

Well Springtime in the Park has come and gone, now just less than two weeks until the start of the main summer season for Hersheypark. We’ve already got our first looks at the entrance and view of Laff Trakk from inside of the park. The first few photos were from the first Saturday of the Springtime event.

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Fast foreward to today and the artwork for the fake windows is starting to go in. So far the ones on the side facing the park are up and one is up on the side facing the Whip. Curbing is also going in next the Midway Tent and since the maintenance door was installed and open, I was able to get my camera to zoom in from the roadway to see what it looks like inside.

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The curbing in front of the Midway Tent is in.

The curbing in front of the Midway Tent is in.

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Final turn into the brakes?

Final turn into the brakes?

I spy the bottom of the first drop!

I spy the bottom of the first drop!

It helps to have a good camera in this case.

It helps to have a good camera in this case.

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The pinwheel is back on the Ferris Wheel.

The pinwheel is back on the Ferris Wheel.

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Artwork is going up.

Artwork is going up.

The park has also announced that Laff Trakk will officially be opening Memorial Day Weekend, so get ready to take it for a “spin” in a little more than a month!

Thanks for reading,

Chris C.

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.

Laff Trakk Construction Update: 1-16-15

Progress seems to be moving along at a steady pace for Laff Trakk at Hersheypark. Within the last few days, track and supports have arrived for the ride and walls are starting to go up on the Whip-side of the building. Much of the roof for the building has gone up as well.

On a sidenote, according to the Hersheypark website, Tiny Tracks seems to be still listed on their rides page. During Halloween, the map listed it as a Boardwalk attraction, but this time it is listed for Midway America. If this is not a website mistake, the space in Lightning Racer’s former overflow queue would be a perfect spot for it.

Hersheypark is currently running a contest to give people the chance to be one of the first riders on Laff Trakk. You can only enter to win on February 13th, March 13th, April 13th, and May 13th. Be sure to check their Facebook page for more rules and information.

Thanks for reading!

Chris

With the walls going up and a roof over the building, it should make building the actual ride a little easier.

With the walls going up and a roof over the building, it should make building the actual ride a little easier.

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Laff Trakk's track has arrived.

Laff Trakk’s track has arrived.

Quite a bit of track curves laid out.

Quite a bit of track curves laid out.

It wouldn't shock me if most or all of the ride is here.

It wouldn’t shock me if most or all of the ride is here.

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Laff Trakk and Hershey Downtown Center Construction Update: 1-5-14

Happy 2015: the year of Laff Trakk at Hersheypark. None of the ride has shown up yet, but more of the building is starting to take shape. More framework for the walls are starting to go up, the station area looks like it is starting to gain a roof, and the framework for the transfer area seems to be going up. Hard to tell what is happening in front of the building, but it looks like a covered queue will be erected out front next to the path that headed to the Midway Tent (you can actually see construction crews moving a building support into place near one already installed).

Elsewhere in Hershey, construction signs have gone up showing renderings of a building called the Hershey Downtown Center. The Post Office looked to be still open, but there weren’t mail delivery vehicles to be seen like there used to be. Construction should begin soon and the end product will be a building with a more attractive appearance, new food, retail, and business offerings. An Appalachian Brewing Company will be added with a view of the neighboring park.

A new Hershey Company sign has gone up at the former factory. The sign looks like it is in front of the Monorail so it looks like there is a potential for a pretty cool picture of it whizzing past come Spring.

A new Hershey Company sign has gone up at the former factory. The sign looks like it is in front of the Monorail so it looks like there is a potential for a pretty cool picture of it whizzing past come Spring.

No track pieces yet. Shouldn't be long now.

No track pieces yet, but it probably shouldn’t be long now.

I'm guessing what's laying out front in boxes might be siding for the building.

I’m guessing what’s laying out front in boxes might be siding for the building.

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Looks like construction crews might be starting to go vertical with a queue building. You can see a lone beam sticking out in front of Wild Mouse and the crane bringing over a beam on the right.

Looks like construction crews might be starting to go vertical with a queue building. You can see a lone beam sticking out in front of Wild Mouse and the crane bringing over a beam on the right.

I am wondering what the think beams on the side of the building will be? Decorative windows perhaps? That'd look cool.

I am wondering what the think beams on the side of the building will be? Decorative windows perhaps? That’d look cool.

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Looks like the Downtown Center Building will fit in pretty well and give people more to visit in the town.

Looks like the Downtown Center Building will fit in pretty well and give people more to visit in the town.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my Hershey of the Future post for more about the Downtown Center Building and other possible happenings around town.

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