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.

DSC01418

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!

DSC01424

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.

DSC01437

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.

DSC01445 DSC01447

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.

DSC01452

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.

Advertisements

Laff Trakk Construction Update: 2-4-15

As January turns to February, much of the walls to Laff Trakk’s building have gone up allowing the construction workers to be able to close up the building to add heat. This will likely make it easier for the coaster itself to start to go up.

While out walking, I ran into Brandon and Kyle over at All American Thrills who were out with ALTAir to get their recent arial update. It was a pretty interesting experience in seeing what it takes to fly one of these drones and that it isn’t something like a toy that you just let go and fly around. Just a note, they do get park permission before flying, so don’t try it at home…or should I say, the park. lol

While on that note, let me just insert a little Public Service Announcement as there seems to have been a bit of this lately:

When I get construction updates for Laff Trakk, and this was the same for Skyrush, I always make sure I am taking my photos off private property. The photos that I take are from the side of Hersheypark Drive, which is a public road. While there is a small stone road that runs right next to the park fence that is outside, this road is likely owned by the park and for safety reasons, respect of the construction workers, and because I don’t have park permission, I stay off of this road.

This weekend is ACE’s (American Coaster Enthusiasts) East Coaster event at Hersheypark I will be going with a friend of mine, who is a member. Included will be a construction tour, a presentation from local parks, and a behind-the-scenes tour of Hershey’s Chocolate Tour Ride over at Chocolate World. It’s going to be a great weekend, so stay tuned for more!

You check out the ALTAir footage here!
-Chris

Half a month ago, only part of this wall was up.

Half a month ago, only part of this wall was up.

It stands pretty tall over the Whip building.

It stands pretty tall over the Whip building.

Many of the walls are now up (minus the ones for the storage area).

Many of the walls are now up (minus the ones for the storage area).

These pieces of blue siding or roofing still need to be installed.

These pieces of blue siding or roofing still need to be installed.

DSC01391

Canvas are now up  over all the entrances to the building, probably to start heating up the inside of the building.

Canvas are now up over all the entrances to the building, probably to start heating up the inside of the building.

Still needs some siding here. You can tell where the transfer track will be.

Still needs some siding here. You can tell where the transfer track will be.

Still quite a bit away until being done, but with the walls up, it is starting to give us a general idea on what the building will look like.

Still quite a bit away until being done, but with the walls up, it is starting to give us a general idea on what the building will look like.

I then watched Brandon and Kyle fly ALTAir for their aerial update. They are permitted to down here and received permission prior to their flight.

I then watched Brandon and Kyle fly ALTAir for their aerial update. They are permitted to down here and received permission prior to their flight.

Up it goes!

Up it goes!

Should be over the far end of the Midway Tent at this point.

Should be over the far end of the Midway Tent at this point.

Thanks to All-American Thrills for letting me watch with them!

Thanks to All-American Thrills for letting me watch with them!

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.

DSC01379

DSC01380

DSC01381

DSC01382

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.

DSC01386

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.

IMG_0489

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.

IMG_0491

IMG_0492

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.

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

Laff Trakk Construction Update: 11/24/14

It’s been a few weeks since the last Hersheypark Laff Trakk update and it seems that much of the base for the show building has been installed. From what it appears, part of the building next to the Midway Tent will be higher than the area when the ride will be. This means that the loading station may be situated at this end with the coaster going up the lift towards the Whip.

DSC01315

DSC01316

Still no track or ride pieces seen yet, but with much of the foundation for the building present, it probably won’t be long until it shows up. Individual footers aren’t required for this type of ride, so it might not take too long for it to go up.

DSC01317

DSC01318

DSC01320

DSC01321

Elsewhere in Midway America, the food trailers have been removed from the area and Ferris Wheel has been taken apart down to its basic frame.

DSC01319

Thanks for reading!

-Chris

 

Laff Trakk Construction Update 10-17-14

With Hersheypark’s Halloween event starting to set in, more work is occurring with Laff Trakk. Much of the foundation is going in and there seems to be a foundation going in near where the path to the Midway Tent was.

IMG_0093 IMG_0094 IMG_0095 IMG_0096 IMG_0097 IMG_0099 IMG_0100 IMG_0101It looks like there is no foundation inside the building yet, but it shouldn’t be too long until it is installed. So far there has been no track, supports, or building pieces spotted as of yet.

-Chris