This past weekend marked the start of Dorney Park's 129th season. That's a lot of years! The park is having an 'off year' with no big new attractions, but they're by no means resting on their laurels. There's plenty of special events, new entertainment and a nighttime celebration to look forward to this year.
One of the biggest changes this year Cedar Fair wide is the parks serving Coke products instead of Pepsi. That means that all the park's signage and vending machines had to be swapped over. That includes the turning logo at the top of Coasters Drive-In, seen above. And by the way, I'm not sure that there could have been any more beautiful weather this past weekend! Park management must have wished really, really hard!
With capital not going into a big attraction, there's numerous smaller changes around the park this year. For instance, the former souvenir photo stand on the main midway is now a custom artwork tee shirt shop. A new stand - matching the architecture of the entrance gates - has gone up right by the park's exit. This is now the main spot for obtaining souvenir photographs and is probably the smartest location I could think of!
The park's Wild Mouse, built in 2000, has receive a brand new paint job. Same colors as before, but the ride is now looking just like it did when it first opened!
The coaster has been a hit with families since it opened, and remains as popular today. The park's main midway looks great with Talon freshly painted on one side, and the Wild Mouse on the other. The trees that have been planted along the stretch are really filling in, too, making the area even better looking.
The former Red Garter Saloon, then more recently Game Day Grille, has been transformed into Chickie's & Pete's. The popular Philly based sports bar has been in the park for several years now, but just as a food stand. Now guests can enjoy the outlet as a full service restaurant.
The inside of the building has been heavily remodeled, and has a much more modern and visually appealing look. Chickie's & Pete's famous Crab Fries and other treats are well known in the area, and there were many groups dining when this photo was taken - especially in the booth section. I think this new location will prove very popular during the Summer.
Something new for Dorney Park, and I believe other Cedar Fair properties as well, is FastPay. As the sign says, this is a cashless wristband system that allows guests to remove the need to keep cash or their card in their pocket during the day. Especially useful in the water park, where it makes more sense to keep those valuable items in a locker. The system doesn't start until next weekend, so I wasn't able to see it in action at all today. I know similar systems are quite popular at other amusement parks, so hopefully it takes off for Cedar Fair as well.
There was one removal this year, the Thunder Creek Speedway. The park's go-karts are still there (seen from Steel Force), but it does not appear there is any plan to reopen them as they are off the park map and website, and the ticket booth and sign are long gone. Several other Cedar Fair parks have also removed their go-karts this year as well. The entrance to them was next to the Swan Boats which were removed previously, so now the entire area is blocked off by a fence (above).
Dorney Park continues to celebrate their big rides' birthdays, which is great in my opinion. This year marks Thunderhawk's 90th season, quite an accomplishment!
There's a lot of new wood on the structure again this year, but not a full re-track on any sections that I could tell, though I missed out on a ride today.
Speaking of rides, the park was doing a really great job with operations today, and I'm going to assume that is with minimal staff at this time of year. The coasters, aside from Thunderhawk and the two shuttle rides, had multiple trains on and the ops were keeping things moving at a quick clip. Nice to see, especially considering the park wasn't packed and it would have been easy to slack!
Later this Summer the park will open All Wheel Sports, their new extreme sports show inside the Good Time Theatre. I'm looking forward to this one, and I love that it will be in the nice, air-conditioned building. Without much research done, I believe that this show has been performed outdoor at other Cedar Fair parks, so it will be interesting to see it adapted to an indoor setting.
Just to check in on the gigantic, odd, circle pavement beyond Stinger - yep - it is still there. Personally I believe that a certain tall ride was planned for the spot but probably cancelled when they gave the chain a lot of trouble last year. Totally a guess though! If plans have changed I hope something can be figured out for the spot. I'll gladly suggest some Larson Flying Scooters!
With new entertainment and the Summer Nights of Celebration - with fireworks - still coming, there's plenty to look forward to this year. Plus, at the end of it all will be Haunt VI, already being advertised in the park in a couple spots. Don't get me wrong though, Haunt VI will be cool but I'm in no rush to get there, I'm looking forward to the Summer too much!