Temperatures rise at Hersheypark
Guests at Hersheypark have this summer been able to heat up their day with a ride on Fahrenheit, the Pennsylvania park’s 11th rollercoaster. Designed and built by Intamin subsidiary IntaRide LLC, Fahrenheit is a “vertical-lift, inverted-loop coaster.” But, asks Paul Ruben, just how good is the new ride?
The first clue came on opening day, with the first train out of the station. Riders were screaming going up the lift hill. It was music to the ears of Frank J O’Connell, general manager of the Hershey Entertainment Complex. “We have another winner here,” he smiled. “What makes the ride unique is the 97 degree drop coupled with six inversions and eight notable opportunities for airtime. When people are excited going up the lift, what more can you ask for?”
Hersheypark’s last coaster addition was Storm Runner, another Intamin project, which opened in 2004. IntaRide was one of several suppliers considered for Fahrenheit, reveals O’Connell: “We asked all the potential vendors for a vertical lift coaster with multiple elements and high throughput. We chose IntaRide for several reasons, including past experience, overall ride experience, capacity and price. The construction window was a little shorter then we would have liked, but all in all it was a very smooth installation with top notch support throughout.”
“Hersheypark asked for an exciting new coaster with a wide variety of unique elements,” recalls IntaRide president Sandor Kernacs. “The most challenging part was to design and fabricate the coaster to enhance the appearance of the selected part of the park, where it replaces a water ride alongside a catering area.”
Though O’Connell describes the ride as “a great fit for our broad age demographic,” he has yet to try it himself. He had some minor surgery early this year that has prevented him from being able to ride certain attractions. “But I can assure you,” he says, “the moment the doctor gives me the all clear, I will be straight on there. The public reaction has certainly been incredible. They absolute love the ride. It is not too high or too fast and it is smooth as silk. The consistently full queue lines are proof of that.”
Fahrenheit is located adjacent to The Boardwalk at Hersheypark, which opened last year, a tribute to the legendary beaches and boardwalks of the Northeast United States. Yet in keeping with the park’s philosophy of offering something for every family member, a second new ride has also been introduced.
The Howler, by Wisdom Industries, is a Tornado attraction that allows riders to spin their cars to create their own ride experience. It has eight four-passenger, sphere-shaped cars that rotate counter-clockwise from the centre. As the rotation reaches 10 rpm, the ride lifts 7ft into the air at a 20-degree angle. The ride is located adjacent to the Rodeo ride in Hersheypark’s Pioneer Frontier area.
“Fahrenheit and The Howler will obviously increase our overall capacity and further strengthen our mix of attractions,” observes O’Connell. “As with any major attraction, we are hoping they will generate an incremental attendance increase and build upon last year’s record-breaking performance during our centenary.”
‘Sixty seconds in the thrill zone’
In a move reminiscent of Gerstlauer’s Euro Fighter coasters, Fahrenheit positions riders on their backs as they climb the first hill and then offers them an adrenaline-pumping, 90-degree ascent to the summit of a 121ft lift hill. As the cars crest the hill, riders lean forward and see no track visible directly below before plummeting down a wild 97-degree first drop.
The ride boasts the steepest drop of any coaster in the United States. At the bottom of the first hill, the coaster travels at 58 mph as it begins another ascent to the top of a 107ft inverted loop and then drops them straight into another loop. Coming out of the inverted loop, the track twists though a cobra element and continues into two airborne inverted S-rolls. The action rounds off with two successive high-speed/high-banked curves and airtime humps before the brake section.
Riders on Fahrenheit travel over more than 2,700ft of steel track in 85 seconds. Because the lift is straight up, 60 seconds of that time is spent in “the thrill zone.” The coaster features three four-person vehicles per train and a capacity of about 850 people per hour. The lift, incidentally, uses a hydraulic powered dual chain system.