Monday, February 20, 2023

Dorney Park's 2024 New Coaster Gets Planning Commission Approval

© NewsPlusNotes
On Thursday night Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom received approval from the South Whitehall Township Planning Commission for its proposed "steel roller coaster" for 2024.  A look at the best-guess layout from the footing plans released can be seen up top, as we speculate that the coaster will be one of B&M's smaller Dive Machine rides.

Standing 162 feet tall, the new ride won approval to take up the space formerly used by the Stinger coaster, plus a little bit more.  We did some analysis on the plans in an early post, so we'll reference them here.  The park's General Manager, Jessica Naderman, pointed out during the meeting that the park is "not growing or expanding in any way" with the addition of the ride, and they are working with a "reputable ride manufacturer" for the new coaster.  The park is using "noise mitigation" to help make the ride quieter, and do not expect increased traffic or attendance levels as a result of the ride.  In fact, the General Manager pointed out that they hope to get back to pre-pandemic attendance levels soon, and this ride might help them do it.

© Dorney Park
As with so many South Whitehall Township planning meetings over the year, there was some contention with the commissioners, this time in the form of speaking about sidewalks and the park.  The Township requires sidewalks now (not in the past) and wanted to tie the coaster's approval to the park adding sidewalks along Route 222.  The mess that is pedestrians the Route 222 is a long, sad (there have been deaths) story and it's been not dealt with for far, far too long for a sidewalk to suddenly make things safe.  

And that's not really the park's fault, at least in my opinion.  The park is more than willing to help and put in sidewalks but smartly pointed out that the road in front of the park, the public bus stop, people crossing to hotels - all of it needs to be figured out correctly and done properly and SAFELY.  And they did say they'll put in a side walk as seen above, but they don't even own the land needed to do it, the PA Department of Transportation does.  

In the end the request to add sidewalks was "decoupled" from the coaster's approval, and the park will be required to work with the Township, PennDOT and others to move toward a solution.  They did note that in the past a bridge over the road, a tunnel under the road and more were considered and all shot down - not by the park but by PennDOT.

I believe the coaster still need the approval of the Board of Commissioners, but typically the tough part is the Planning Commission, so fingers crossed on the project!  The ride will also head to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission this week.  Until we hear more, here's our animation of what we think the coaster will be like one more time!