This past weekend kicked off Dorney Park's 2012 season, which is also the park's 128th. I must admit, the place looks pretty good for being 128!
The presence of Dinosaurs Alive! can be felt all over the park - and even before you enter the gates. The big guy seen above is waiting for guests as they arrive at the entrance plaza. There's several other displays located in the park, all serving as advertisements for the exhibit.
Also at the main entrance are some new flag poles that I do not believe were there last year. There were plenty of little improvements like this to be found all over the park. Some, like this one, were obviously, others mostly behind the scenes - like the new point-of-sale system the park has in place to greatly improve their sales abilities.
This year the park's B&M inverted coaster, Talon, enters its 12th operating season. The ride's supports were repainted a couple years ago, but this past off season the ride's two tone track was totally redone, leaving the ride looking brand new! I've always been a big fan of Talon's colors, and was happy to see them repeated on Canada's Wonderland's Behemoth in 2008.
Something that has been rolled out at all Cedar Fair parks in 2012 is Fast Lane. The system was tried out last year at Kings Island, and allows guests to pay a premium price in order to have a much shorter wait at 10 of the park's rides.
Tickets for Fast Lane can be purchased immediately upon entering the park, as well as a second location along the Main Midway (and others around the park). The price varies depending on the day of the week, and also the number of passes you purchase.
Pretty much all the big coasters are a part of Fast Lane, along with other rides such as Dominator, Thunder Canyon, and White Water Landing. A limited number of these passes are available each day so that the balance between Fast Lane riders and those in the regular queue does not get too far out of balance.
Most years there are changes in the park's food and beverage offerings, but 2012 has quite a few of them. Sweet Temptations, located near the park entrance on the Main Midway, now features the Ice Cream Factory. You can choose from plenty of flavors and create your own treat. The hand made fudge has been moved to a new location inside Good Time Gifts.
Also on the main midway guests can now have a cup of freshly brewed Starbucks coffee. Yes, the famous coffee is now a part of the beverage selections at Dorney Park.
A new entertainment location has also been added for 2012. The Coasters Bandstand has been set up next door to the Coasters restaurant. I'm not sure what show will premier here, but it won't be until the Summer.
Thunderhawk has received a significant amount of new wood this year, but mostly on railings and support structures. It does not appear as though of heavy track work has been done. The park's General Manager has tweeted that the ride will not be repainted, but left to eventually have a natural look.
I'm not going to recover Dinosaurs Alive! since we just did a big story on it, but from what I could tell plenty of guests were checking it out today. This is an overview of the entrance and exit to the attraction, but most of it takes place in the woods seen in this photo.
I wanted to cover the area around Stinger since it has changed quite a bit, and not just because of the ride. Above is where the pathway for the area used to flow, along with the former home of several kiddie rides such as Steel First and the Dragon Coaster. Now it's a large green space, with some new trees having been planted along side of the older mature ones.
It's hard to get a shot that really shows this new area without being up in the air somewhere, but this is the large, circular plaza that's behind Stinger. It's technically a circle with a box on one side of it. I have to say it, it really looks like a place for a ride of some sort to go in, with the box being the queue area. Perhaps something seeking wind? That's just speculation on my part and I could (probably am) be wrong.
Speaking of Stinger, she wasn't running when I was at the park. Perhaps some opening day jitters on her part. The above view is from next to Possessed and behind the Rita's that is next to Stinger's entrance.
The lower section of the park is really coming to life after feeling a bit stagnant for a number of years. Stinger's presence has helped that a lot, filling a void that was left when Laser was removed. There's still more land available behind Stinger to work with in the future, so perhaps this area will be even busier in years to come.
One more food addition! The Philadelphia Pretzel Factory is another new option this year. If you're not from the area then the Philadelphia part probably doesn't mean much, but these stores are popping up around these parts like crazy.
Finally, I took this photo very paparazzi style on my way out, so excuse the quality please. This is one side of the park's billboard for 2012, showing off the new marketing style that Cedar Fair is using. I like it! The other side of the board features Dinosaurs Alive! with another simple yet witty phrase or two.
We'll be sure to stop by the park and see what else turns up for 2012 - I'm hearing that some pretty awesome new Haunt attractions are in the pipeline!