Following the overwhelming success of Wildcat, Hershey Park once again teamed up with Great
Coasters International. This time around, they wanted to design a wooden coaster
that offered a unique experience - one that would allow riders to race and duel. With
this idea in mind, they created Lightning Racer -- the first racing/dueling wooden coaster
in the United States.
As you enter Midway America, you immediately notice Lightning Racer's massive structure
looming over the entire area. As you approach the ride, many of Lightning Racer's
signature elements, including the 'Psycho Turn' and 'Side Swipe Alley', come
Lightning Racer's queue is equipped with several TV monitors that show you various parts
of the ride. Once you reach the station, you must decide whether you want to ride
Thunder, which is to your right, or Lightning, which is to your left.
I decided to ride Thunder first, since it had the shortest line, and took a seat in the last
row. Lightning Racer is equipped with the very comfortable Millennium Flyer
trains, which are also used on Roar at SFMW. Before long, the restraints were
checked, and the two trains headed out of the station.
The race begins with a small drop and left-hand turn, which leads towards the lift-hill. Heading
onto the lift-hill, we were slightly ahead of Lightning. Following our journey up
the lift-hill, which provides a great view of Midway America, we began our descent down the
Thunder flies down the drop, which twists to the right, with Lightning following closely
behind. Next up, you fly up a twisted hill, which provides a nice pop of air. Following
the hill, the trains split apart and head into the Psycho Turn.
This heavily banked swooping turn puts you on a collision course with the opposing train. After
you traverse trough the Psycho Turn, you head straight for a tunnel surrounded by a
waterfall. Following the journey through the tunnel, you head up and over a bunny
hop, which offers a lot of airtime.
After the bunny hop, you speed into the ride�s first fly-by. The two trains careen
right in the other's path, and split away from each other at the very last moment. Next
up, you head into another one of Lightning Racer's signature elements, 'Side Swipe
Alley'. In this element, Thunder first flies over Lightning and then
Lightning crosses over thunder, with each hill providing a nice pop of airtime.
You then soar towards the second and final fly-by. Following the final near miss,
you continue your race towards the finish line.
At this point, we were slightly ahead of Lightning, which took the lead coming out of the
double up. We soon crossed the finish line, and the winner was--
On this particular time around, Lightning won. But when you are on this ride,
everyone is a winner.
GCI and Hersheypark have managed to create another world-class wooden coaster. Compared
to Wildcat, Lightning Racer is slightly tamer, but has better pacing and a lot more
With the addition of Lightning Racer, Hersheypark definitely has one of the best collections
of wooden coasters in the U.S. If you are in the area, be sure to stop by and
take a spin on the world's first racing/dueling wooden coaster.