austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Come now we will arm ourselves with paper hats and pleasure

I'm not sure when bunny_hugger realized she hated the layout of Lancaster's street; possibly it was when she tried to find the train station. Certainly it happened by the time we found the new hotel, the one the college was putting her up in, as they combine interlined triangles with spontaneous shifts of the road a few feet to the left after an intersection and a prominent war memorial statue in the middle of an intersection we couldn't now avoid.

We went to the new hotel hoping we could check in way early, or at least check our baggage so we didn't need to worry about it while at Hersheypark. It was way too early to check in, understandably, but they'd check our luggage ... almost. The clerk asked if one of bunny_hugger's bags was a laptop and she admitted it was; they said they couldn't check that. In fact, they wouldn't; since I didn't mention my laptop or my iPad they checked both. Her laptop would be in the car trunk.

Hersheypark is only about 45 minutes from Lancaster, so to me with the 30-minute home-to-Great-Adventure-agh-the-traffic-it-so-hurty ride it felt slightly far for an amusement park; for bunny_hugger, thinking of the three-hour Lansing-to-Cedar-Point ride as the default amusement park trip, it seemed fast. We saw such modestly famous streets as Chocolate Avenue and Cocoa Avenue, and the Hershey Kiss-modelled street lights, and were mildly baffled when her satellite navigator told us the next turn was ``go off-road''.

I should mention, my father remembers taking all us kids to Hersheypark when we were mere kids. I remember going to the Hershey factory, or at least the simulated factory, but not to the park. I do not dispute having gone to the park with him because we instead dispute whether I went along a trip out to Indiana to see his sister back when he and his sister still talked (I didn't, but I've heard enough about that trip I may as well have gone). Anyway, now when he talks about having taken us all to Hersheypark (admittedly not something that comes up much) I can refer to things I've seen which are wholly different from what it was like when he was there.

Our big goal was riding roller coasters, as many as possible. Our immediate lesser goal was eating something. bunny_hugger particularly wanted to find an actual sit-down restaurant she'd visited last time with enormous Hershey Product-based desserts, but for now we'd be satisfied with any solid food. Where to find it? And what to do about these enormous crowds?

We headed into the park and moved left on this logic-defying bit of logic: you've heard how masses of people move to the right, surely? Do they actually? I don't know, but I know marketing departments assume they do. And therefore the park would be laid out on that assumption, with attractions off to the right. Therefore the masses of people would be guided to the right, and if we went left, we'd get to thinner masses. Thus, to the left. This absurd conclusion worked out. We got out of the mobs and found stands selling pierogies and fried vegetables. Haven't thought of fried zuccini as amusement park food? Me neither but boy is it good.

Roller coasters were the next priority. And they kept turning up not just engaging roller coasters --- Wildcat is a great example, a wooden roller coaster with a delightfully playful layout --- but giving them these extra little bits that lift them above average. It can be as simple as speed: the Wild Mouse isn't just positioned so as to suggest the car will drop into a swimming pool, but practically races through its course, more exciting and sharper than you might guess. (Also, you're expected to get into a moving car, although they'll stop if you really want it.)

The Wild Mouse coaster also has its own T-shirt, which frustrated bunny_hugger last time by not having sizes large enough for her. This time, they didn't have sizes small enough for her, except for those with a new logo design that's not nearly so appealing or wild.

Another grand wooden roller coaster is the Lightning Racer, a dueling coasters with similar but not identical paths and the declaration of a winning coaster --- Thunder or Lightning --- after each ride. Thunder was coming out way ahead as we waited in line, and we got on that one and won another time. And here started another odd little tradition for the day: the people in line ahead of us asked if we'd want to take their place as they were trying to stick together with friends or family. We could find our way to ride sooner than we might expect. And this happened five times over the day. I know we're a cute couple, but why should that make people like us so?

Our rough idea was walking around the park clockwise and getting to all the roller coasters with extra rides picked up as we liked, and we were happy to find it wasn't as packed inside the park as the front gates made us fear. Then we plunged through the water park portion, which is where everybody was hiding. Not just were there packs of families with flocks of kids running around, and wet, but there were even more packs behind them, as well as signs proclaiming one being welcome to Atlantic City, or Ocean City, or Rehoboth Beach. This also helped make the decision to skip Roller Soaker, a suspended coaster with pretty slow motion that makes up for it by letting the riders drop water on people waiting in line for the ride. It would need a little more.

One non-coaster attraction brought several surprises. One was that it was a Whip, a full-size, grown-up-size ride of the sort we'd seen at Dutch Wonderland the previous day. (The children's Whip there was a Hersheypark retiree.) bunny_hugger indulged me in going for a ride on it, although our first attempt was foiled by being just too late to get a car. And then came another shock: one of the cars was occupied by my niece and her parents' non-union Mexican equivalents. They looked enough like my brother and sister-in-law to be distracting, particularly since he was wearing just the shirt my brother would have at a park. I didn't expect to see them at Hersheypark, but I usually find out they were planning to go somewhere from their Flickr account and it's not like I mentioned my plans to them.

But, it wasn't them, and an amusing coincidence was thus averted. The Whip meanwhile is a grand ride and I'm glad we got on it. The little surprise there was that after whipping around the 180-degree turn the car doesn't straighten out right away, but rather keeps tipping to the left, and then straightens out, so you get jolted to the right and then the left, settling in time to be jolted again. bunny_hugger describes the action as a first draft of the Tilt-A-Whirl, without the up-and-down motion, and speculated that's why the Whip has gone by the wayside. And, yes, the Tilt-A-Whirl does capture the shifting rotations aspect of the Whip, but I still think the rides are different in feel.

Off in the far corner of the park is a statue of an elk, dating to the earliest days of Hershey, with an explanatory label mentions the cost and that Milton Hershey bought the elk for the enjoyment of his workers. The phrasing struck me as peculiar, as though he figured all his workers really wanted to be happy was a statue of an elk. But ...

We were near the entrance to ZooAmerica, and could just overhear a guide showing off an animal. She talked about its long snout, used to dig into the dirt and look for food, and how it was found in the southwest of the United States. ... Surely, if they had coatis, bunny_hugger would have seen them when she visited several years ago. And it would be an astounding coincidence if they were showing one off. And yet ... could it be? There wasn't any need to share our thoughts; we rushed toward the demonstration.

Trivia: As a prank one day, apparently, Milton Hershey created a batch of vanilla ice cream with chopped onion and set it up in a Hershey amusement park booth to sell as a ``new and exciting delicacy''. Customers fooling themselves into tolerating it ultimately bought the whole stock. Source: Hershey: Milton S Hershey's Extraordinary Life Of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams, Michael D'Antonio.

Currently Reading: The Reefs Of Space, Frederik Pohl, Jack Williamson.

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