Previously on AJ's Epic Theme Park Summer: Knoebels Amusement Park
Part 10: Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom-August 2nd, 2014
While Knoebels was not the end of the tour, it was the climax of the trip. Though we still had two park days left, I knew that no matter what they would not live up to that day. Like I mentioned previously, I tend to pick one park on each trip as the throwaway park, and following Knoebels it was time for that park. We left the hotel at 8 A.M. and about an hour later pulled up to the gates of Dorney Park.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
If I were to describe Dorney Park in one word, I would say generic. There is nothing bad about the park, but at the same time there is really nothing about it that gives the park a unique identity. You take a picture anywhere inside the park and if the Dorney Park logo or one of the park's few unique attractions isn't visible, it might as well be any moderate or large sized park in America.
Since we were visiting on Saturday, Dorney Park was unable to give our group any ERT. However, we were permitted to join passholder ERT in the morning, which allowed for several rides on Talon before park opening and was little different than TPR ERT (I'd estimate TPR out-numbered the general public at least two to one during this period). After ERT ended, every TPR member who needed the credit immediately rode the Wild Mouse, then everyone split up. I decided to see just how quickly I could collect Dorney Park's credits, as while we had Fast Lane it was a Saturday. Well, Fast Lane turned into a skip the switchbacks pass as everything was a station wait, so I got on every coaster (plus re-rides on a few) in just under an hour. I spent the rest of my time before our group lunch doing a few random non-coasters.
Lunch was standard Cedar Fair food and was fairly unremarkable (probably the worst group meal of the trip). After lunch, I found a couple other trip participants to split a locker with and headed to Wildwater Kingdom for the afternoon. Wildwater Kingdom, Dorney Park's included waterpark, seems to be the main draw by far at this park as I never saw a wait longer than 3 trains in the ride park but several slides had waits as long as an hour. I'm really glad our Fast Lane was valid in the water park even if it was only for a handful of slides.
Dorney Park has what I would consider a satisfactory coaster collection. The park's seven coasters (I'm excluding Stinger since its future appears uncertain) form a decent collection, with a few good coasters in the bunch. However, while there is nothing really wrong with the collection, there is nothing specifically notable about it either. The coasters are mostly stock models, some of which are second-hand, but none of them are worth going out of the way for. In short, the collection is good for the park's typical audience but somewhat lousy from an enthusiast perspective.
I've heard people call Talon the last good B&M invert. Unfortunately, I found the ride to be more of a middle tier invert and about on par with Silver Bullet. I will give the ride credit for a good beginning, but after the immelmann the rest of the ride just seemed somewhat uninteresting. Now, I did only ride during morning ERT on a cloudy day so perhaps it wasn't running at full speed, but I just don't get the hype with this one. It's not a bad ride, just a bit underwhelming based on my expectations (from appearances I thought it would be better than Great Bear, but I was wrong). B+
Wild Mouse: "Welcome to the Wild Mouse, Welcome to the Wild Mouse..." Yeah, that rap song in the station (which serves as the safety spiel) is both one of the best things and one of the worst things about this ride. This is a Maurer Shone model, which are usually better than the Mack variety, but due to Dorney's excessive trims on the switchback and two adults per car rule (seriously, why?), this is the worst of the Maurer mice I've experienced. D+
Hydra the Revenge:
I actually preferred this to Talon, and if it wasn't so rough compared to other B&Ms it would be one of my favorite floorless coasters. As it stands, this is right in the middle somewhere. The initial heartline roll right out of the station is a really fun addition, and the rest of the ride is an interesting layout with some unconventional inversions and even a little bit of airtime. It's not a super intense coaster, if that's what you're looking for, but it is still a fun ride and reasonably smooth and somewhat less shaky in the back half of the train. B+
Thunderhawk: I want to like this ride since it has the most airtime of any coaster at the park, but it is just too rough and trimmed to death. The ride has two strong moments of airtime, but other than that it's just an old woodie that will shake you up. It's a shame that the ride is in such bad state, as it has potential. It isn't a good sign when you're glad the ride isn't longer. C
Fifteen years ago, this was a pretty big deal. Today, it is a good but not great ride. The coaster is still a really long ride with some decent drops and a gigantic helix, but airtime is minimal unless you ride in the front car since trims kill the speed on the return camelbacks. The ride felt somewhat like a watered down version of Magnum XL-200, but unlike the latter there is no scenic setting to improve the ride. B+
I was really excited to ride the first twisted impulse coaster, as well as my first with the holding brake. After receiving a pretty good punch on my first ride, the holding brake became something to dislike. I tried the ride a second time, bracing for the hold, and it was a bit better but still my least favorite impulse. I still find the standard layout less interesting than the SFDK V2 or Wicked Twister variants. B-
Woodstock's Express: Riding kiddie coasters has become little more than a formality for me. This is a standard Zamperla model, and possibly the worst of the type I've ridden. I'm glad I've got the credit so I don't have to ride again.
Dorney Park Coaster Ranking:
1. Hydra the Revenge
3. Steel Force
6. Wild Mouse
7. Woodstock's Express
Dorney Park appeared to have a decent collection of non-coaster rides, though nothing appeared specifically notable. Due to time constraints I didn't ride too many of the non-coaster attractions, but I did do the more unique attractions.
My favorite non-coaster in the park was probably the Screamin' Swing, which is included with Fast Lane (it is normally a $2 upcharge). Other than Screamin' Swing, my favorite flat was the Enterprise, as even though it's just a standard model I really like these rides.
Dominator was also a pretty good S&S tower with a choice between Space Shot and Turbo Drop, and Demon Drop was a fun reminder of the past with a better freefall than most modern drop towers (though the rest of the ride was somewhat unpleasant).
Lastly, I rode Thunder Creek Mountain, a pretty good log flume with a weird lift hill, an interesting terrain layout, and a long ramp instead of a drop at the end.
While not one of the greatest waterparks ever, Wildwater Kingdom is a pretty good waterpark that is large enough to be a full day adventure on its own. The park is filled with body and tube slides, along with the waterpark staples of a wave pool and a couple lazy rivers. Unfortunately, the park does lack a lot of modern waterslides (other than some brand new trapdoor slides, everything is of the serpentine variety), but it still has some fun attractions.
Lightning Falls: An old single tube slide with open and enclosed sections, this was one of my favorite slides at Wildwater Kingdom. The ride features several twists and turns before ending with a moderate drop to the pool below.
Snake Pit: The new for 2014 slide tower at Wildwater Kingdom, Snake Pit features three single tube slides and three body slides. Boa Blasters, a pair of half open/half enclosed tube slides are the best on this tower. They are short but both have a good drop at the end. Constrictor, the third tube slide, is enclosed the whole way down and is the least interesting slide on the Snake Pit tower (in fact, it was probably my least favorite slide at the waterpark). Finally, the three trapdoor slides, Python Plummet, were fun but not as good as the freefall trapdoor slides (Python Plummet is just serpentine slides with a trapdoor start).
Aqua Racer: A standard mat racer, and not one of the better ones. Fun for one ride with friends but it gets old really quickly.
Aquablast: Probably my favorite slide at Wildwater Kingdom, Aquablast is one of the best family raft rides I know of. The ride starts from a nine story tower so the ride is nice and long, and unlike some of these rides it is not overly braked and does get high on some of the walls. I'm really glad Fast Lane was available on this ride as the wait looked to be at least 60 minutes easily.
Patriot's Plunge: Three single tube slides with significantly different layouts, this was a pretty fun ride. Like Boa Blasters, the ride is enclosed until the final drop at the end. Both are really good, but I prefer Boa Blasters because there is a good chance Patriot's Plunge will end with a tube ejection (I ended up about fifteen feet from my tube when it hit the pool at the bottom).
Dorney Park can best be summed up as a decent park, but nothing special. The park has a good collection of coasters and a good collection of non-coaster attractions, along with a pretty good waterpark, but better can be found elsewhere. The park has no theme and feels pretty bland, but it does have pretty good employees that keep the (minimal) lines moving. There's nothing wrong with the park, but at the same time there's nothing remarkable about the park. While not my least favorite Cedar Fair park (despite Gold Striker, that dishonor still belongs to California's Great America), Dorney Park is a fairly forgettable park that is fun for locals but mostly a credit stop for enthusiasts. I am glad I got a chance to visit, but without a major new coaster I'm unlikely to return to the park on a future visit to the area.
Hydra the Revenge: 2
Steel Force: 2
Wild Mouse: 1
Woodstock's Express: 1
Demon Drop: 1
Screamin' Swing: 2
Thunder Creek Mountain: 1
Aqua Racer: 2
Lightning Falls: 1
Patriot's Plunge: 1
Snake Pit: 6 (Boa Blasters: 2, Constrictor: 1, Python Plummet: 3)
Total: 30 rides in 6 hours (5 rides per hour)
We departed Dorney Park at 4 P.M., and despite my initial worry it ended up being plenty of time for the park (I would have liked more for the waterpark, but I'm guessing 2/3 of the group doesn't care for those). This allowed plenty of time for a dinner at Carrabba's, which was quite good and possibly the best group meal of the trip (definitely my favorite on the Mini East Coast portion). Once everyone was done with dinner, we headed off to our hotel a couple hours away. With an 8 P.M. arrival and a 9 A.M. departure the next morning, this meant plenty of rest for the final day of the tour (for those not doing the New York add-on). I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that it was a 2000% better Six Flags day than our previous experience.
Next Time: Six Flags Great Adventure
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