Dorney Park - Photo Journal
Allentown, Pennsylvania – Sunday, July 15th, 2012
Dorney Park basically made it into my travel plans by virtue of the fact that I had a Cedar Fair Platinum Pass which gave me free admission, free parking, and a half hour of exclusive ride time on Talon this Sunday morning. Even still I was a bit ambivalent about including it, but the addition of a new coaster for 2012 meant I really had no good reason to not go.
I have a theory about Dorney Park: during the 1990's when Cedar Fair first acquired the park they had ambitious plans to transform it into the Cedar Point of the east coast. Close to both Philadelphia and New York with a not insignificant local population, there was clearly a lot of growth potential here, and thus they went about copying many of Cedar Point's biggest and most popular attractions to eastern Pennsylvania, most notably the Magnum/Steel Force twins, as well as Snake River Falls/White Water Landing, Power Tower/Dominator, etc.
By the time the 2000's arrived, however, it became apparent that Hersheypark and Six Flags, among others, had already staked claim to much of the market in the region, and Cedar Fair already began scaling back ambitions, such as their undersized Raptor-clone, Talon, which was shrunk down a train and 600 feet of track. Since Hydra was installed Cedar Fair seems more content to feed it leftovers from other parks (Voodoo, Demon Drop, Stinger, etc), in the hopes that the park will hang on to whatever customer base it has while their competitors continue to dominate the area.
When I arrived this morning I asked if the Sunday early ride time for passholders on Talon was still in effect. At first they seemed unsure, but after checking they decided, yes, I could go to Talon.
Turned out I was the only person that day to use the early ride time benefit.
Now, I've seen exclusive ride time before, but this may have been the first time in my life in which I had a major roller coaster exclusively to myself for an entire half hour.
Of course being a Cedar Fair park they couldn't let me just stay on even though there was literally no one else there, so I still had to get out and walk around back to the entrance; a waste of energy for all involved.
Talon on an overcast July day... expect rains later...
If there's one thing I appreciate about Talon it's that the entrance in particular is more photogenic than Raptor's.
Although shorter in length than Raptor, the initial inversions are just as if not more impressive than its green midwestern sibling.
Like Raptor, Talon has a similar progression sequence that starts with the big, bold elements, goes into a gentle and playful middle section, then finishes with a rapidly paced and forceful corkscrew/helix combo.
The first time I rode Talon in 2003 I noticed that it had several surprise pops of airtime scattered throughout the layout, flavoring it with a bit more variety than the typical inverted coaster.
I'm not sure if it's the coaster that's changed or me, but this time I failed to notice much in the way of negative G-forces. If I could get over myself I'd probably like it more than I actually do, but like nearly everything else at Dorney Park it's all just a generic remix of better ideas from other parks.
Talon's helix finale
All told it's a successful ride, if only for the way it mixes successful features of so many other better B&M inverted coasters.
Saw this Coaster Dynamix model in a nearby gift shop.
Hang Time, Dorney Park's Huss Top Spin, not open yet.
Dorney Park is probably the Platonic ideal of a Cedar Fair park... clean, attractive, decent rides, even a bit of history, but utterly lacking in originality. Every other park in the chain has its particular quirks, but Dorney more than anywhere else keeps these to a minimum.
White Water Landing, or Snake River Falls as I know it back home. It's no Cedar Point White Water Landing (how I miss it) but at least it's not Shoot The Rapids.
Dorney's Wild Mouse, not doing its thing. I would not ride this one today.
Meteor, a competent looping flat ride by Zamperla that I'm usually not in the mood to ride since I've most likely done Kennywood's much cooler Aero 360 recently. Also, the simple complementary color schemes here and on Talon needs to stop.
One of Dorney's "Big Three", Hydra: The Revenge.
Hydra is possibly the biggest "quirk" you'll find in Dorney Park. Not only is there not another ride like it at a Cedar Fair park, but there's nothing really close anywhere in the world, at least as far as a B&M Floorless coaster can be considered "different". For seasoned coaster travelers this makes Hydra a top draw at Dorney.
If Hydra's station looks familiar, it's basically modeled off of Top Thrill Dragster's which opened two years previous.
As a floorless coaster, Hydra doesn't offer much in way of experience that you couldn't already get with Talon, except clearer views.
Compared to Talon, Hydra is longer and weirder with its layout, but also gentler and slower with its pacing.
The ride begins with this "Jojo roll", aka a heartline roll straight out of the station. I doubt this would even exist if marketing couldn't call it something strange.
Jojo roll, pt. 1
Jojo roll, pt. 2
Jojo roll profile