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Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
DPNewLogo.JPG
Location Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States
Website http://www.dorneypark.com/
Owner Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
Opened 1884
Previous names Dorney Park
Area 200 acres (0.81 km2)
Rides 59 total
  • 9 roller coasters
  • 18 water rides
Slogan Two Great Parks for the Price of One!
Dorney Park's Steel Force and Thunderhawk first drops

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is an American amusement and water park located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The park features nine roller coasters, other adult and children's rides, and a large waterpark, Wildwater Kingdom.

Dorney Park is one of the most popular amusement parks on the East Coast of the United States. It is an especially popular recreational destination for residents of Philadelphia and New York City, both of which are less than 90 miles (140 km) from the park.

The park is accessible from Interstate 78, U.S. Route 222 (Hamilton Blvd.) and Cedar Crest Boulevard. The region is served by Lehigh Valley International Airport, approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of Dorney Park. Bieber Tourways has a nearby bus terminal at the former Charcoal Drive-In (at junction of U.S. Route 222 and Hamilton Boulevard), with daily service to and from New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal and Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal.

Contents

History

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Ownership

Dorney Park traces its history to 1860, when Solomon Dorney built a trout hatchery and summer resort on his estate outside of Allentown. In 1870, Dorney decided to convert the estate into a public attraction. Initially, the facility featured games, playground-style rides, refreshment stands, picnic groves and a hotel and restaurant. By the 1880s, Dorney had added a small zoo, gardens and a number of mechanical rides, marking the enterprise's beginning as an amusement park.[1]

When the Allentown-Kutztown Traction Company completed its trolley line from Allentown to Kutztown in 1899, the company added a stop at Dorney's park. Two years later, the traction company purchased the park, operating it until 1923, when the park was sold to Robert Plarr and two partners. Plarr soon bought out his partners and ran Dorney Park until his death in 1966. Ownership then passed to Plarr's son Stephen, who died within a year. Robert Ott, Plarr's son-in-law, took over as owner in 1967. In 1985, Ott sold Dorney Park to Harris Weinstein. Weinstein owned it until 1992, when he sold the park to Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.[1]

Rides history

Early years

Night photo of main entrance to Dorney Park and Roller Coaster, about 1950.

Rides have come and gone at Dorney Park, such as the Philadelphia Toboggan Company's Grande Carousel which debuted at Dorney in 1932 from Shellpot Park in Wilmington, Delaware, but was destroyed in a September 1983 fire. The Bucket O' Blood (once known as Pirates Cove) dark ride burned in the same fire. Luckily, the incident occurred after the park was closed for the season. Another early ride was the Whip, in which riders spun on a small track in a pavilion. The Whip is still in operation today and is the park's oldest ride.

Dorney Park also had a swimming pool from the early 1900s until 1963. Filters were damaged beyond economic repair at that point, and the pool was closed to swimmers but was repurposed. One side of the former pool had live seals and fish, while the other side was used for the Whale Boats, motorized boats seating two people each. Near the lower entrance to the park was the dark ride called Tunnel Of Love which later was rethemed as The Journey to the Center of the Earth. The ride was a Bill Tracy dark ride. It was a boat ride through a dark tunnel with scary scenes behind glass, and a lift and drop at the end. It was razed following the 1992 season, after Cedar Fair, LP acquired the park. Journey To The Center Of The Earth was located near the park's first roller coaster, which opened in 1923. It was simply known as the Coaster or "the yellow rollercoaster" until 1989 when it was renamed Thunderhawk. It still operates today.

Also near the pool was the Mill Chute, built in 1927 but closed in 1960 to become Journey to the Center of the Earth as described previously. The Iceberg was a cuddle-up ride which was cold inside and had strobe lights and loud music. It was painted black and retitled Meteorite at the end of the 1980s and removed after the 1993 season. The Gold Mine was a scary walk-through under the Solomon Dorney Mansion in the middle of the park near the Iceberg and PTC Carousel. The Gold Mine closed in the mid-1980s. The Flying Dutchman was a Pinfari compact steel coaster located where the Ferris Wheel is currently located. It was the largest of its kind. It was removed following the 1988 season due to mechanical problems.

1980s

In 1980, Dorney Park Road, a former two-lane state highway which cut through the park, was closed to traffic and converted to a midway. The road's closing led to the enclosure of the park by fence and the introduction of a single-price admission fee, which eliminated individual ride tickets. The park previously maintained groves for family picnics. While the groves remained outside the park a while longer, patrons were no longer allowed to bring food inside.

The parked opened its log flume ride, Thunder Creek Mountain, in 1982, which still owns the record for longest drop on a log flume ride. In the fall of the next year, a major fire destroyed a large section of the park, including the Carousel, Bucket O' Blood, Flying Bobs, Skeeball and several food stands. The park replaced the rides in 1984, its 100th anniversary, with the addition of Enterprise, Musik Express, Ranger, and Apollo 2000. New skeeball alleys, gift shops and food stands were added as well.

With the addition of the rides as well as the improvements to the park, the park's value was high enough to sell. It was sold mid-season to Harris Weinstein in 1985. He also bought the neighboring automobile racetrack which had been used once a year for NASCAR racing. At that point the racetrack was razed. It was determined that there was a need for swimming to be brought back to Dorney Park. With the pool being razed 20 years before, the void was finally filled by a waterpark called Wildwater Kingdom in 1985. It had separate admission and included a wave pool, family water raft ride, several body slides, several tube slides, and a children's water play area. That year season passes began to be offered.

That year it was also determined that the park needed a looping roller coaster, so in 1986, Laser, a Schwarzkopf designed coaster with two loops was built, giving the park three adult coasters. The coaster was named in a commercial tie-in with a local radio station, Laser 104.1. Two years later, a kiddie coaster was added across from Laser called Little Laser. This kiddie coaster originally operated as a junior coaster (children and adults were at that time able to ride) from the early 1960s to 1981 near the coaster now called Thunderhawk. It was in storage from 1982 to 1988, and in 1989 it was moved next to and painted the same colors as the Laser and was renamed. As a kiddie coaster, adults cannot ride the Little Laser unless accompanied by a child.

The park further grew with debut of Hercules, a wooden terrain coaster in 1989. It was built on the top of the hill lining what was then the back of the park, near what was at that time Wildwater Kingdom's parking lot. This coaster was the tallest wooden roller coaster in the world until Cedar Point's Mean Streak debuted in 1991, which boasted a first drop only 4 feet (1.2 m) taller than Hercules. Hercules was initially a big hit for Dorney Park in the new coaster's first four seasons, but unfortunately was soon known for its rough, often jarringly shaky ride, due in large part to significant modifications made to Hercules after the park was purchased by Cedar Fair in 1992.

1990s

In 1991, Dorney Park added a few more flat rides and improved landscaping, preparing to once again sell it. Cedar Fair would buy the park in 1992. In 1993, the park added a flume ride that plunges riders in 20-passenger boats down an 80-foot (24 m) drop, creating a giant wave that not only soaks riders, but onlookers as well. It was known as the Pepsi Chute and today as White Water Landing. It was built next to Hercules and the Wildwater Kingdom parking lot.

In 1994, a new midway was built on the top of the hill near Hercules and Whitewater Landing. The parking lot for Wildwater Kingdom was doubled in size and converted to serve both Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom. A new entrance was also built to Dorney Park. Some concession stands and a carousel was also added at this new midway. The old lot and entrance also continued to be used. Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom were separately gated until the end of that season. The park now charged guests a then-small charge for parking.

In 1995, admission to both Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom was offered at a single price for the first time. The change was promoted under the slogan "Two Parks for The Price Of One." That year also saw the addition of Thunder Canyon, a river rapids ride consisting of eight-passenger rafts that plunge and rock along a 16,400-foot (5,000 m) path through an authentic looking canyon, propelled by approximately one million gallons of water. The new ride was designed by Intamin.

In 1996, construction began on a steel hypercoaster slightly over 200 feet (61 m) tall. It was designed by D.H. Morgan, a former employee of Arrow. Morgan helped design Magnum XL 200 at Cedar Point in 1988. This coaster would have a similar out and back layout but would have a smoother braking system and be a more pleasant ride than Magnum. It opened in an area that was previously considered the front of the park taking up that entire stretch of land. This coaster is known as Steel Force and opened in the spring of 1997. This brought the park up to four adult coasters and a kiddie coaster. At that point the former front entrance was restricted to employees and was now considered the back entrance. Over the years, the waterpark added some newer waterslides as well as a second lazy river.

In 1998, some flat rides were added to the newer area of the park as well as a kiddie coaster called Dragon Coaster bringing the coaster count to six. In 1999, The Wild Mouse junior/family spinning coaster was added to the newer area of the park bringing the coaster count to seven.

2000s

The year 2000 saw the debut of Camp Snoopy, a themed children's play area. A junior coaster (managed like a kiddie coaster in that adults without children cannot ride) called Woodstock Express was added that year, bringing the coaster count to eight, including four adult coasters, a junior coaster, and three kiddie coasters. A 200-foot (61 m) tower called Dominator, featuring two gravity-defying rides, was also added. One tower blasts riders straight up 15 stories before dropping them back to earth, while another tower slowly lifts riders to a staggering 170 feet (52 m), then thrusts them downward at faster-than-free-fall speeds.

In 2001, a Bolliger & Mabillard designed roller coaster called Talon was added near the now-front entrance of park. The ride was a steel inverted looping coaster with ski lift type seats, and approximately the size of the Raptor coaster at Cedar Point. The addition of the new adult coaster brought the park's roller coaster count to nine. In 2002, the waterpark modified a few waterslides, but no other changes occurred.

In 2003, Wildwater Kingdom was overhauled. Several older body slides were removed and replaced with four modern colored bodyslides, two of which were open and two of which were enclosed tube slides. Three inflated tube slides were also added. One of the slides is mostly open and straight down, another is winding and completely enclosed, and the third slide also winds but is partially open. A new children's water play area was also added.

Hercules closed after Labor Day weekend in 2003 as a result of high maintenance costs and low ridership. Soon after, it was demolished, reducing the coaster count to eight. The park announced that Hercules would be replaced by Hydra: the Revenge, a $13 million, steel floorless Bolliger & Mabillard coaster. Construction began during the 2004 season, and Hydra opened on May 7, 2005. The coaster is a half-mile in length and features a 105-foot (32 m) drop. The addition made the park home once again to nine adult and children's coasters.

On September 22, 2007, Dorney Park announced it would be opening its sixth adult roller coaster, a shuttle twisted impulse U-shaped coaster built by Intamin. The coaster, located at Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio, from 2000 to 2006, was originally known as Superman: Ultimate Escape, but was renamed Steel Venom when the park was bought by Cedar Fair from Six Flags in 2004. Steel Venom was removed from Geauga Lake in 2006 and unofficially opened as Voodoo at Dorney Park on May 17, 2008. Its grand opening was held six days later. The ride was renamed Possessed after the 2008 season to resolve a conflict with Six Flags, which held the rights to the name Voodoo. In 2010, the park will add the Demon Drop from Cedar Point.

Dorney Park roller coasters

Current

Name Manufacturer Type Design Opened
Hydra: the Revenge Bolliger & Mabillard Steel Floorless 2005
Possessed Intamin AG Steel Inverted/Shuttle/Twisted Impulse 2008
Steel Force Chance Morgan Steel (hypercoaster) Sit Down 1997
Talon Bolliger & Mabillard Steel Inverted 2001
Thunderhawk Philadelphia Toboggan Company Wooden Sit Down 1923
Wild Mouse Maurer Söhne Steel Sit Down 2000

Past

Name Manufacturer Type Design In operation
Scenic Railway Frederick Ingersoll Wooden Sit Down 1903-1920
Wild Mouse Schiff Steel Sit Down 1964-1965
Flying Dutchman Pinfari Steel Sit Down 1972-1988
Hercules Dinn Corporation Wooden Sit Down 1989-2003
Laser Anton Schwarzkopf Steel Sit Down 1986-2008

Admission

  • Single Day Regular: $39.99
  • Single Day Junior/Senior: $19.99
  • Early Season Day Regular: $27.99
  • 2009 Season Pass: $96.00
  • 2009 Season Pass Junior/Senior: $60.00
  • 2009 Platinum Pass: $160.00
  • 2009 Platinum Pass Junior/Senior: $89.95

Wildwater Kingdom

Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom, located on the park grounds, is one of the largest water parks located within an amusement park (as opposed to stand-alone or separately gated waterparks) in the country , with over a dozen water rides and pools. It opened in 1985. It has become a major summer attraction and is especially popular with residents from the local Lehigh Valley, as well as Allentown's two closest major cities, New York City and Philadelphia.

Wildwater Kingdom has 22 water slides, three aquatic playlands for children, a water funhouse, two tubing rivers, two wave pools and other water rides. In the 2006 season, Wildwater Kingdom introduced an additional wave pool (called Wildwater Cove) to accommodate the immense popularity of the park's existing wave pool. The season pass lot was eliminated and now season pass holders must park in the regular lot at no additional cost. In 2007, a six-lane mat racing water slide called the Aqua Racer was added, sponsored by Capital BlueCross. Two enclosed tube slides ( Torpedo Tubes) were dismantled at the end of 2006

Dorney Park in popular culture

Dorney Park is featured as the park backdrop in the 1988 John Waters' film Hairspray. In the film, the character Franklin Von Tussle, played by Sonny Bono, owns an amusement park.

Also, the 1968 film, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows features scenes of Dorney Park including the old Alfundo entrance over the coaster, the Pirate's Cove (Bucket O' Blood), Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Scrambler, the Coaster (Thunderhawk), and other Dorney Park scenes.

In Summer 2006, a music video for the Kidz Bop song "Move Along" by The All-American Rejects was filmed at Dorney Park.

References

  1. ^ a b "History". Dorney Park official website. http://www.dorneypark.com/public/news/history.cfm. Retrieved 2008-09-20.  

Further reading

  • Futrell, Jim. Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.

External links

Coordinates: 40°34′48″N 75°32′01″W / 40.579868°N 75.533559°W / 40.579868; -75.533559


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