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Hercules

Hercules Specs
Operating Since:
1989
Closed September 1, 2003
Manufacturer:
Designer: Curtis D. Summers
Builder: Dinn Corporation
Trains: Philadelphia Toboggan Co.
Cost:
$6,000,000
Wooden Terrain
Length:
4000 ft
Height:
95 ft
Largest Drop:
151 ft
Speed:
65 mph
Inversions:
0
Trains:
2 trains
6 cars per train
4 riders per car
(2 rows of 2 seats)
Ride Duration:
2:15
Rollercoasters are known for their rapid drops and sudden plummets. These characteristics, however, are supposed to describe the flow of the ride, not the quality of the coaster. Hercules is a case of a great coaster gone bad.

Hercules opened as a rather impressive ride, full of speed and synergy. A quick twisted run from the boarding station brought trains to the hidden lift hill. At the top of the hill, a 90 degree turn to the left revealed the first drop, over the edge of an embankment and heading toward a small lake below. Even from the top, the tight, highly banked turn over the surface of the lake looked impressive. The first drop was fast and furious, funneling right into that turn, seemingly skimming the water, with great speed and high G-forces. After rising to the top of the second hill, the train then would weave its way through the structure, through a few more incredible turns, and a great combination of large and small hills. A final screeching halt into the brake run was particularly exhilarating. Watching closely, riders would spy a sign near the brake run reading "prepare for sudden stop." Almost a touch of humor, since the stop was so fast it occurred before anyone would have a chance to read the sign.

Waiting on the loading station to board had its share of thrills. The lift and first drop were invisible from this vantage point (and from most of the park, as well) but trains weaving back and forth past the station increased the thrill of anticipation. Finally the train would appear to be approaching the boarding area, only traveling way to fast to be safe. After a brief sense of panic, the approaching train took a quick dive directly under the loading platform. After its next lap it would be properly aligned for the brake run and loading proper. From the front seat of the train, watching for this element and diving under the station was just as exhilarating as watching it from the station.


Unfortunately, Hercules was altered after its initial year, as sometimes occurs with coasters. Apparently as a response to complaints that the speed around the tight curve over the lake was too stressful and was causing soreness in some riders, brakes were added to the first drop to slow the overall speed of the train. Whenever a coaster is modified in this way, these downhill brake become very activate when they lock to slow the train. In the case of Hercules, however, these brakes brought the train almost to a standstill before letting go and allowing the drop to proceed. Even so, the speed of the train and the turn at the bottom were still impressive elements.

In order to accommodate the slower speed of the train, a portion of the ride had to be rebuilt. Specifically, the second hill had to be lowered and reconstructed to allow the trains enough speed at the top to finish the remainder of the course. The reduction of the hill and speed had dramatic consequences for the elements that followed. Gone were the screeching sense of speed through the hills, the airtime no longer existed, and even the brake at the station lost its thrilling appeal and sudden deceleration The dive under the station lost its thrill and its ability to instill even the slightest fear.

Hercules was crippled; what began as a great ride full of synergy from the moment of the first drop, was now a "one hit wonder" with only the first drop and turn of any real interest for thrillseekers. Dexter actually found the remainder of the ride rather boring after the "fixes." A sad loss.


In 2003 ridership on Hercules had dropped, and maintenance costs had risen to the point where Dorney Park announced that the ride would no longer be kept at the park. It was demolished at the end of the 2003 season, leaving room for a new attraction in the future, and leaving ThunderHawk as the sole remaining wood coaster in the park. As Dorney Park continues to add new and exciting rides, like Steel Force and Talon, to its collection, one can only hope and expect great things for this newly available land within the next year or two.


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