Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Hersheypark 1977

Welcome to Week 2 of my Hersheypark series! I struggled immensely with this week's selection. I really did. So much happened at Hersheypark during the 1970s, but it wouldn't be right to feature two brochures from the same decade when I have only four weeks to complete my Hershey brochure chronology. A choice had to be made. When in doubt, go for the roller coaster!

The sooperdooperLooper wasn't just any coaster. It was the first coaster in the eastern United States to turn riders upside down, and only the second modern-day vertical looping coaster to be built. That was huge! I'm shocked that they chose not to flaunt either of those juicy little tidbits in this brochure. If there is a "first" or an "est" to be found at any of our parks today, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be advertised to death.

In my humble opinion, building the Looper was the boldest move Hersheypark has ever made as far as thrill rides are concerned. While present-day Hersheypark is home to one of my favorite coaster collections, the Looper is really the only one that completely blew people's minds and--well, threw them for a loop--when it opened. Attendance shot through the figurative roof when this ride made its debut in 1977.

Speaking of the Looper, I do have a bone to pick with this brochure. Here we have this fabulously innovative, "Sooper Sensational", brand spanking new scream machine, and what does the brochure writer do? Capitalize the wrong letter of its name.

Now before you take exception to that statement and try to plead the case that RCDB and every industry publication known to mankind utilize the "capital S" spelling (though, for the record, some books I own do not), hear me out. The more traditional "capital L" spelling appears in every single Hersheypark brochure I own through about the mid-'00s (other than this one, of course), at which point trademarked names began appearing in all capital letters in Hershey's printed literature. So say what you will, but I stand by my mounds of paper history. (Never mind the fact that the park's own web site has now switched to the "capital S" spelling. Boy does that ever stick in my crawl!!)

I'm off my soapbox. Now everybody take a moment to appreciate how cute that goat is before we move on! He must have been part of Hershey's Animal Garden, a petting zoo which succeeded the park's original zoo but was ultimately closed shortly after ZooAmerica opened in 1978.

I'm going to try really hard to focus on the content of these panels and ignore the fact that the kid in the striped shirt is carrying an adorable stuffed giraffe. The way that creature is puckered up, he must be ready for a ride on the Kissing Tower! It's hard to believe that this signature ride, featured in two of the photos here, was only two years old in 1977. Tower Plaza, which includes both the Kissing Tower and the Twin Turnpike (half of which is pictured at center), was Hersheypark's newest themed area at the time.

This writer is killing me. Not only did he mis-capitalize sooperdooperLooper again, but his terse, choppy writing style simply does not do this park justice. Let's focus on the pictures instead, and reflect on how the Hersheypark you see in this brochure is very different from the "Hershey Park" you would have seen in a brochure from the previous decade.

It wasn't until 1971 that Hershey became a gated park and themed areas began to pop up. With these changes came a new name (sort of): "Hersheypark". It was all part of a massive redevelopment plan to transform Hershey into a full-fledged, state-of-the-art theme park. And let me tell you, they wasted no time! Virtually all of the rides, buildings, and entertainment venues pictured in this spread were no more than 5-6 years old at the time this brochure was published. The only pre-'70s veterans to be found are the Comet and the Carrousel, and even the Carrousel had been relocated to a brand new themed area dubbed "Carrousel Circle" in 1972.

So what's with the fuzzy creatures pictured in the bottom row? Why, they're the Furry Tales! Apparently Hershey Foods Corporation did not immediately warm up to the idea of having walking, talking candy bars greeting their park guests. (For shame! I heart my Reese's...) Consequently, Dutch the Bear, Chip the Chipmunk, and Violet the Skunk graced the "new" Hersheypark's midways with their presence for a number of years before today's park mascots took over.

Are you exhausted just thinking about all the changes that took place at Hersheypark during the '70s? Well I hope you have enough energy left to add Chocolate World to that list! Technically speaking, it's not part of the park. But it may as well be, because I'm pretty sure that visiting Hershey without hopping aboard one of those spacious vehicles and traveling through the bean roaster constitutes a crime. This attraction was a mere five years old in 1977.

This decade did see the end of one of the activities advertised here, though. Hershey's Pennsylvania Dutch Days festival, which celebrated the crafts, customs, and food of south central Pennsylvania's German settlers, came to an end in 1979 following a very successful 30-year run.

You better bust out your leg warmers and stonewashed jeans for next week, because we'll be heading full steam ahead into the outrageous '80s!