When you harken back to the turn of the 20th century, amusement parks were very different places than they are today. Most were simply glorified carnivals, with a few flat rides, slides, and perhaps a classic wooden roller coaster. One type of attraction that was a staple of early amusement parks, but has been relegated to seaside parks and one-off attractions, is the funhouse. Hersheypark has always embraced the past of classic amusement parks while looking to the future in terms of technology and design. Laff Trakk, a Maurer Sohne indoor spinning coaster, attempts to conjure the feel of an old school funhouse as guests speed through the indoor structure at 40 miles per hour along a silky smooth twisted track.
The outside features imagery evoking carnivals of the past and the promise of "GLOW" and "WHIRL", and the coaster certainly delivers those aspects.
Riders enter the attraction past Laffin' Sal, an iconic character of funhouses past, and enter the main interior queue area, which is lined with various funhouse mirrors.
Everyone is sure to enjoy spending a few minutes walking past the bent and distorted images of themselves as they wait to enter the loading area.
In the loading area, the lighting switches over to mostly black-lighting with hand-painted murals.
Guests board trains in groups of four in a back to back arrangement (like Toy Story Midway Mania), and are secured with a lap bar. For those that need something to hold onto, the lap bar features a clever handle that riders can grip throughout the ride.
Once secure, it's off to the funhouse and up a 50-foot lift through Laffin' Sal's mouth. At the top of the structure, riders don't have to wait long before they're plunging down a banked turn accelerating the car to its top speed. This first drop is surprisingly intense for a relatively small coaster, and was even better when seated in the backwards facing position. The coaster then goes through a couple of tight left turns and into a circus tent where the car's spinning axle is unlocked. From that point on, the car is free to spin as riders negotiate a variety of turns, switchbacks, serpentines, and hills. The amount of spinning is completely dependent upon the weight distribution in the car, but from my experiences, the cars never spun violently like some spinning wild mouse coasters can. As the car spins, twists, and turns, riders race past set pieces from carnival standards like the snake charmer, gypsy, and the house of cards.
The ride finishes past a final set of funhouse mirrors as the car is locked back into a straight orientation (it is possible that if you started facing forwards that you may finish facing backwards). The 70-second rides ultimately traverses 1,400 feet of track, but may leave many riders wanting more. With a 42-inch height requirement, most guests should be able to ride, but for the little ones, Laff Trakk is conveniently located in the Midway America section of the park and proximal to a number of smaller rides that will entertain the little tykes while the bigger kids and parents are enjoying the newest coaster.
I did find it interesting that Laff Trakk is right across the way from Wild Mouse, which is a very similar style ride. However, strategically within the park, the funhouse theme works perfectly adjacent to Lightning Racer, The Whip, and Farris Wheel.
The spinning coaster experience was really good, but I was rather disappointed with how bright it was inside the building. The interior was lit almost exclusively with black lighting, but there is so much of it that it's very easy to see the track throughout the enclosure, and see many of the theme elements before you reach them. I'm not sure if it was a function of the attraction still going through testing before its Memorial Day weekend debut, but an indoor coaster should not be so brightly lit. Also, most of the set pieces were two dimensional paintings and not dynamic. The car goes past them rather quickly, so it's not critical that the props move, but I expected a bit more from a modern indoor coaster than flat paintings like what riders experience on the 16-year old Rock 'n Rollercoaster. Nonetheless, the ultra-smooth ride and random but not dizzying spinning experience makes Laff Trakk re-rideable makes Laff Trakk another solid addition to a very diverse coaster lineup.
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