"You have to do things in a large way," Milton Hershey's father once advised him after Hershey founded what is today known as Hersheypark. He took the advice, and Hersheypark has since grown into some of the best ninety acres of theme park that today's thrillseeker could ask for, offering parkgoers ten coaster tracks of wood and steel, and in 2004, Hershey is doing things in the largest way yet with the addition of the park's tallest, fastest, and arguably most unique coaster to date. The coaster, which will open as Storm Runner come May of 2004, will become Hersheypark's first launched coaster and the third ride in the world to use hydraulics to propell riders from the station, launching from 0 to 72 miles per hour in two seconds. After climbing and twisting vertically to a 150-foot pinnacle, the coaster will proceed to dive down a 180-foot plunge into a ravine while hitting a top velocity of 75 miles to the hour. Designed by Intamin AG, this thrillride's 2,600 feet of twisting red box track encompassing four and a half acres will also carry riders through the first inversions of any hydraulic coaster, featuring three in all after the initial Top Hat element: A 135-foot tall sidewinder, and an elevated Heartline Roll which is immediately followed up by a half-Heartline and half-corkscrew to the ground dubbed a 'Flying Snake Dive'. From there, it's two high-speed twisting hops into a sloping brake run.
Heading back into Hersheypark's Pioneer Frontier section, future riders hop on one of two yellow and red five-car trains in the station after cycling through the queue and must pull down over-the-shoulder restraints and lock a safety belt in place before being cleared for launch. Red track flys below as passengers accelerate from a standstill to seventy-two miles an hour in a thirtieth of a minute, blasting forward courtesy of the hydraulics to hit the first vertical transition and plow up towards the Pennsylvania sky. Halfway to the top, the train encounters a 90-degree twist to the right and then are whisked over the 150-foot peak only to plunge straight down again towards the track for Hershey's monorail. Pulling out of the dive in a ravine eighteen stories lower then where the drop started, screaming riders are sent back up, this time 180 degrees and over in the Rocket Coaster's 135-foot tall Sidewinder, then the train dives back to the ground. Climbing another hundred feet, the rails level again and the track twists through a Heartline Spin immediately followed up by a combination of a half-Heartline into a half-corkscrew to the ground again - a combo dubbed Flying Snake Dive. Whizzing under the monorail track, passengers are sent up into a slight steeply-banked curve to the right, then a climbing curve in the opposite direction feeding the course into the final downwards brake run, with one more left-hand turn bringing thrillseekers into the ride's unloading station.
If you like speed and inversions, get to Hersheypark in 2004, 'cause the Sweetest Place on Earth is about to get even sweeter!