Monday, May 30, 2005

Hershey Park

It being a long weekend and all, Amy and I decided to take a trip up to Pennsylvania to visit Hershey Park. We originally thought we might spend the night up there, but since it's only 2 hours drive from here, we made it back the same night.

I had never been the Hershey Park before, and neither had Amy so this would be a new experience for both of us. My expectations were low because it's just another theme park like King's Dominion or Six Flags, but Hershey Park doesn't even have any characters to go along with the park. A walking Hershey Kiss is their big star, I found out.

So we take the two hour drive, and arrive in Hershey, pay our $7 parking fee and walk to the tram stop for our ride to the main entrance. The sky is about as gray as the bark on our newly deceased maple tree, and I'm wondering if we just drove 2 hours through the middle of bum-fuck Maryland and PA to get soaked.

We stood in front of the main gate for about 10 minutes deciding whether we wanted to pony up the $80 it would cost us to get into the park when it looked like rain was coming. In the end, we said, "what the hell" and went for it. Of course, the minute we're inside and I'm in the process of putting my credit card back into my wallet, rain starts pouring down. chocolate.

Now this would be a very terrible story if it continued to rain for the rest of the afternoon, so luckily for you and for us, the rain let up by the time we ordered and ate a funnel cake in the dry confines of one of the many food places in the park.

While we were waiting for our funnel cakes, the true reason for visiting a theme park sprung back to my attention. The freak show. Yes, I'm sure there's plenty of exciting rides and shows to be seen, and there's even a zoo in Hershey, but the best part of any trip to a theme park is the wide assortment of weirdos that go there.

So, here I am, waiting in line, and there I see him. A six year old boy with his family, and his mohawk. Yes, a mohawk. Apparently, the mohawk is the new mullet (or the north of the Mason Dixon mullet) as on the day I saw three mohawks and only one mullet, and it was of the femullet variety.

If this is a new movement, I believe the mohawk needs its own catchy phrase to counteract the "business up front, party in the back" bullshit. Here are a couple that have come to my mind since first seeing the boy.

"Move the party up front and center"
"The anti-sideburns"
"Why not live every day like Mr. T"
"Not just for her pubes anymore"
"Holy shit, I have a mohawk"

But, I digress. On to the rides. Luckily the rain scared a good number of people away so there really wasn't more than a 20 minute wait for any ride. Hershey Park pretty much stuck to the basics of any theme park. The one wooden coaster with the big drop. The other wooden coaster that you think is gonna fall apart. The sit down roller coaster with the loop. And the feet dangling underneath roller coaster. Sadly missing was the stand up roller coaster, though the one at King's Dominion had a casuality a few years back, so I really don't know if they're too popular anymore.

There was also a crazy looking one that shot you out at 80 mph immediately into a straight up then straight down hill, but unfortunately Amy chickened out on wanting to go on that one, so I wasn't gonna stand in line by myself. Plus, I'm a bit afraid of heights to begin with.

Which brings me to the low-light of the entire trip. We just finished coming off the "falling apart wooden coaster" known as the Panther, and directly across from it is this small funny looking ride called the Wild Mouse. The Wild Mouse runs a bunch of small cars that only have four seats through what can only be called a maze that looks a lot like the old kids game, Mousetrap. I'm sure that's where they must have gotten the idea. Anyway, it doesn't look all that intimidating and we've actually been on a few crappy rides (the kid's roller coaster is really not well defined in advance), so we get in line but I have low expectations.

We've been on a bunch of rides, already bought our picture taken on one of the rollercoasters, I've made stupid faces when I know the picture is coming on others, and overall, I'm feeling pretty cocky as we rise up the hill. It's a quick rise, not like the standard rollercoasters, and Amy and I are in the front of the two rows in the car. Immediately upon reaching the 150-200 foot peak, the car takes a SHARP left. I'm on the right side of the car, which seems like it is designed for mice rather than a lanky 6'0" man, and immediately I realize where the "thrill" of this ride comes. THERE IS NO FUCKING EDGE OR ANYTHING! I'm looking out at the park, with absolutely nothing obstructing my view, and inertia is sending me in that direction. We travel about 20 feet, then another sharp 90 degree turn left.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. I think this seat is not designed for me. My right arm is flailing out to the right and the side of the seat barely comes up above my hip. High school physics tells me that if more of my weight is below the axis, I shouldn't be able to flip out, right? Well, I'm not so sure that more of my weight isn't above the damned axis. And we just pulled another quick 90 to the left in about a 5 foot section, making a full 180 in a matter of seconds. WITH NO FUCKING EDGE OR ANYTHING!!!! Now a quick right, right. Amy's side, I'm recovering, but you can see everything, no obstructions. This is sick. Shit, another 180 to the left. Screw this macho crap, I latched my arms around the grab rail and I am holding on for dear life. The rest of the ride, I'm not looking out to my side and I am holding on like this seat is a winning lottery ticket.

The ride ends, Amy is laughing to tears. I'm swearing and looking for the exit. And there's my picture up on the monitor for us to buy...fear in my eyes, my arms latched around the safety grips. It needed to be done, I don't give a shit.

So, we continued on, went on a few other rides...none of the water rides though (too cold) and Amy bought some overpriced chocolate before we headed home.

By the end of the day, I had seen Jevon Kearse, Brian Grant, Shaquille O'Neal (in both his throwback Laker and more current Heat uniforms), Brian Westbrook, Tracy McGrady, Tom Brady (though he looked different each time), and Len Bias (obviously this was not the real guy) and numerous others I've forgotten. A decent showing, but again less than expected, much like the mullet.

On the high side however, were the number of exceptionally fat people, perhaps given the theme of the park and all. Perhaps they thought there would be a river of chocolate they could drink from like Augustus Glube. Glad no fat person tried to get on that mouse ride with us, or I would have demanded they stop the excitement. Sadly for the fatties; however, the only free give away was a Hershey's miniature after you endure the 20 minute Chocolate Factory Tour ride.

On the whole, I think I finally have come to realize that theme parks like Hershey Park just don't have the allure they used to. Perhaps it's because I'm getting older, or perhaps I'm just no fun anymore. Oh well, soon I'll be like those dads I saw at the park, who look beaten by life, holding one kid in their arms while the others whine and make ridiculous demands at their sides in line. Now that's a scary ride, for sure.

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