Thursday, July 31, 2003

Hersheypark Announces New-for-2004 Attraction: Pony Ride

Following months, and perhaps even years, of speculation, Hersheypark appears ready to announce its new-for-2004 attraction. Although many felt that a new B&M Hypercoaster might be a possibility, later rumors and the proposed footprint seemed to indicate an Intamin Rocket Coaster. Still, no word was forthcoming until the park posted large banners indicating: “Get Ready To Start the Stampede, Something big’s coming to Hersheypark in 2004. Round up your 'pardners' - the secret’s out August 5th at High Noon.”

“That really had us excited,” said ACE member Geoff Baker, 25. “We thought a stampede theme would fit well in the existing area of the park, and the footers seemed to indicate a Rocket ride was likely. We’re just waiting for the official announcement, but we all know what the thing is, and we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Surprising Baker and pretty much every other person remotely interested in Hersheypark or roller coasters in general, it was learned today that the park would indeed not be receiving any Intamin products. Nor, for that matter, would any coaster at all be forthcoming. Instead, the park released a statement through Screamscape to this effect: “There’s a cloud of dust on the Horizon, and when it settles there’s gonna be 10 wild horses in the corral!”

At a press conference later in the day, former VP of Operations Franklin Shearer was trotted out to lend his excitement to the official announcement, and to explain the Screamscape blurb. “We’ve got a real thrill for all you cowboys and cowgirls next year,” he exclaimed. “Get ready to experience the extreme terror and thrills of a real live…Pony Ride!”

Confused enthusiasts initially thought Shearer meant to make a joke, but it turned out to be completely factual. According to the park, guests will wait in a “highly themed atmosphere” while in line, then individual riders will be led into the pony corral. From there, “the Rodeo Technicians will help the rider mount a pony, which will then be led around in a few circles inside the pen, achieving top speeds of over 4 miles per hour.” Guests will then have a wide variety of gift shop products available to commemorate their once-in-lifetime thrill experience: cowboy hats (“management not responsible for the loss of headgear not secured before riding”), T-shirts, onboard ride photos, and cruel leather whips.

Shearer noted that a big launched coaster would be out of place at a family-friendly ride environment such as Hershey’s, and that a fun attraction for the entire family made more sense for everyone involved. He also pointed out that “ponies break down a lot less than Top Thrill Dragster.”

ACE members are already complaining about capacity, with some wondering aloud at the press conference whether 10 of the animals would be enough to keep the potentially huge lines moving. One member pointedly asked Shearer whether there would be any Fifth-Row Ponies made available for “Guests of Larger Than Average Size,” to which Shearer replied that “someone would look into it at some point.”