|Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom|
Dorney Park is a theme park owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company located in Allentown, PA. The park is a combination theme park and water park. Interestingly, the park was originally opened in 1884 as a trout hatchery and summer resort.
Even though it may seem surprising, many amusement parks around the country did not start out with a plan to entertain and thrill guests. Dorney Fish Hatchery, currently known as Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, is one such case.
In 1860, a businessman by the name of Solomon Dorney opened a large fish hatchery in a rural area in Allentown, Pennsylvania, located in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. With over twenty acres of rolling hills and farmland, Dorney developed the excess area into a recreational park. Complete with Lake Dorney and the Cedar Creek as natural assets, Dorney’s fish hatchery and park soon grew into a thriving picnic ground that featured a small zoo, a restaurant, and even a hotel. With the success of “Dorney Park,” Solomon Dorney decided to do what no other fish hatchery had done before: build a roller coaster. Simply referred to as the Coaster, the exhilarating wooden ride followed a simple, yet thrilling out-and-back design through the natural terrain traveling parallel to the numerous streams that fed Lake Dorney. Built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in the spring of 1923, the Coaster became the first attraction at Dorney Park, and one of the first coasters in the state of Pennsylvania.
thunderhawklogo.jpg © Dorney Park Just six years later however, the ride which many people had grown to love was closed and reconstructed, receiving a complete reworking of the track. The ride was also lengthened to become a double-out-and-back design, and now featured several airtime-inducing hills towards the final stretch of the ride. Later on in the Coaster's life, it would be known as Thunderhawk.
With its newly-designed coaster operating, it seemed as if nothing could stop the growing amusement facility. That all changed when the Great Depression hit the United States in the 1930’s. Unlike many of the parks in that era, Dorney refused to let his hard work fail him. As one of the only parks still in business, Solomon Dorney struggled to keep his park open for guests and families alike. Finally, after four slow years, the first new attraction in seven years was added. Opening in 1934, Zephyr was a scenic train ride that toured riders through the southwest side of the park, a then undeveloped area. With the addition of Zephyr, crowds once again started to stroll Dorney Park’s cobblestone midways.
laserlogo.jpg © Dorney Park For the next four decades, carnival rides came and went, until in 1977, Dorney hired Pinfari to build a one-of-a-kind roller coaster that would stay in its place for many years. Glistening in the sun with its red and white color scheme, the Flying Dutchman opened in the spring of seventy-seven and once again sparked the interest of thrill-seekers in the Tri-State area. Nine years later, it would be joined by Dorney Park’s first roller coaster to turn its riders upside down (not just once, but twice): Colossus (later known as Laser). Designed by the world-famous Anton Schwarzkopf, Colossus sported the same bright colors as the Flying Dutchman for two years, until in 1988, after eleven years of operation, the Flying Dutchman was grounded and removed from the park.
Throughout these years, Dorney Park had been influenced only by the Solomon Dorney’s family. That was altered when Mr. Harris Weinstein, a former park employee, bought the park in the summer of 1985. Weinstein didn’t waste any time getting to work. Just one month after buying the park from the Dorney family, he started construction on the largest expansion in park history to date. After a year of production, Wildwater Kingdom opened to guests as one of the only seasonal water parks in the state. Complete with towering slides and a soon-famous wave pool, Wildwater Kingdom became one of the largest water attractions in the northeast.
Now with a steady collection of two high-class roller coasters, a water park, and countless other attractions, Weinstein did what any other growing park would do: he added yet another roller coaster. herculeslogo.gif © Dorney Park This time, however, it would be a record-breaker. With the help of the Dinn Corporation in 1989, Dorney unveiled a new legend: Hercules. As the park’s second wooden coaster, Hercules dominated over all of Dorney's other attractions at an astonishing height of ninety-five feet. Using the natural terrain to its advantage, Hercules incorporated an even more impressive drop of 151 feet right over Lake Dorney.
steelforcelogo.jpg © Dorney Park Weinstein wasn’t done yet. In 1989, another huge project was undertaken as more than ten attractions were added and renovated, including Aquablast, Balloon Race, and Joker. Two of Dorney’s beloved attractions, the Coaster and Colossus, were closed and received complete makeovers. Colossus was painted a bright green and purple and renamed Laser, while the Coaster received a golden-yellow paintjob and was renamed Thunderhawk. Dorney Park was now a beautiful, natural park filled with state-of-the-art attractions, with much more land to expand onto: the perfect investment for an ever-growing company named Cedar Fair. Already managing several other world-class theme parks scattered throughout the nation, Cedar Fair found Dorney as the ideal new property to add to their chain of parks. So in 1992, Dorney Park had its second management swap as Cedar Fair bought the park from Harris Weinstein who had been running the park successfully for seven years.
dominatordplogo.jpg © Dorney Park In 1996, Cedar Fair showed that Dorney Park was going to thrill guests like never before. Construction started on the tallest freestanding structure that would ever reside in the park. Opening May 30, 1997, Steel Force became the tallest roller coaster upon debut in the Northeast. Towering over Thunderhawk, Steel Force spanned the entire back end of the park, thrilling riders through more than a mile of red track and gray supports at speeds of seventy-five miles per hour. Then, in 1999, Dorney Park received Dominator, a tower complex designed by S&S Power that shoots riders up 180 feet into the air and launches them back down faster than gravity.
For the new millennium, Dorney Park received Camp Snoopy, a two-acre child-friendly environment featuring the Woodstock Express family coaster. Also added was the Wild Mouse coaster along the main midway. Just one year later, Cedar Fair hired Bolliger & Mabillard to build one of the most intense inverted coasters on the planet. The problem, however, was that Dorney was running out of room to build, and a compact design was needed. It turned out that wasn’t a problem at all. Talon: the Grip of Fear opened as the tallest and fastest inverted coaster in the Northeast on May 5, 2001. talonlogo.jpg © Dorney Park Located between Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, Talon inverts riders a total of four times at speeds of fifty-seven miles per hour though 3,110 feet of bright yellow and orange track.
In 2002, Dorney Park would receive the park's first new flat ride in many years. Named Meteor, the double-sided inverting ride was designed by Vekoma and resides in the Hercules (now Hydra) plaza. One year later, the legend of Hercules came to a sudden end. After closing due to uncomfortable rides and high maintenance costs, Hercules was torn down, leaving the place where its legend once lived empty for several months. For 2003, Cedar Fair focused on Wildwater Kingdom. The wave pool was refurbished and ten brand new slides were opened. Dorney also had a reconstruction of its main midway, with addition of the Coasters: Drive-in restaurant. The next year, another thrill ride would open on the midway between Laser and Steel Force. Revolution was designed by Chance-Morgan with bright vibrant colors.
hydratherevengelogo.jpg © Dorney Park In 2005, the legend of Hercules was born again, as its pursuer finally made its appearance. As the first and only floorless coaster in Pennsylvania, Hydra: the Revenge was the second coaster in the park designed by Bolliger & Mabillard after Talon. With unique inversions including the "Jojo" and cobra rolls, Hydra completely twists riders upside down a total of seven times. Though only ninety-five feet tall, Hydra delivers a high-speed journey over the ground where Hercules once stood.
2007 was a great year for Wildwater Kingdom, where a second wavepool, Wildwater Cove was opened to refresh the public. With realistic waves, this holds 355,000 gallons. A six-lane mat racing water slide, AquaRacer held its first 300 foot races this season, as well. This would be the last season to see Halloweekends at Dorney.
voodoologo.jpg © Dorney Park The spirits were stirring late in 2007, and for 2008, they conjured Voodoo! Transplanted from now-defunct sister park Geauga Lake, this Intamin impulse coaster possesses its riders to heights of 180 feet. Located in the spot where Skyscraper once stood tall, Voodoo nestled in between Laser and Monster at the bottom of the park. This would be the last year that Laser would shine, though. At the end of the 2008 season, Laser was removed and sold to German showmen, Meyer and Rosenzweig. Debuting in September, the new Haunt took Halloween more seriously, with such attractions as Club Blood, Cornstalkers, and Terror Square. So serious, in fact, that Dorney strongly recommends children under 13 years old not attend.
For 2009, Voodoo was revealed to be truly Possessed. Additionally, Dorney Park celebrated its 125th birthday. With this anniversary came the Good Time Theater, a large theater dedicated to Snoopy Rocks on Ice – an intricate ice skating show. The Haunt debuted 13 new attractions, many upgrades from former Halloweekends attractions. These include Asylum, Death Trap, Backwoods, and Psycho Circus.
Demon Drop, a first generation Intamin free fall ride, got a new lease on life at Dorney Park after it was moved there from Cedar Point in 2010. It is currently one of five Intamin free fall rides left in the world. Demon Drop took the place of the Krazy Kars bumper cars next to Thunder Creek Mountain. The newest Haunt attraction for 2010 was the Mansion House Hotel, a large haunted hotel attraction.
Two parks for the price of one wasn’t enough for Dorney Park and in 2011 they added Planet Snoopy. An upgrade to the pre-existing Camp Snoopy, Planet Snoopy is essentially a mini park within a park, featuring 16 kids rides and more extensive Peanuts themeing. This was a chain-wide addition at all the Cedar Fair parks.
Extensive construction occurred throughout 2011 and on opening day 2012, both of Dorney’s new attractions were ready and running. Dinosaurs Alive!, which saw success at Kings Island the year prior, was added in the woods behind Steel Force. Taking over Laser’s previous home, Stinger dared riders to test its teal tracks for 2012. The Vekoma Inverted Boomerang traveled all the way from California’s Great America to be reborn at Dorney Park.
Today, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is a prime example of an American amusement park. With more than 100 operating rides and attractions scattered throughout 200 acres and eight coasters, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is truly a wonderful destination for thrill-seekers and families alike.
Present Roller Coasters (8)
|Backlot Stunt Coaster (Dorney Park)||Premier Rides||Launched Roller Coaster||2023||Rummored|
|Hydra The Revenge||Bolliger & Mabillard||Floorless||2005||Operating|
|Steel Force||Morgan||Hyper Coaster||1997||Operating|
|Talon||Bolliger & Mabillard||Inverted||2001||Operating|
|Thunderhawk||Herbert Paul Schmeck||Wooden||1923||Operating|
|Wild Mouse||Maurer Söhne||Wild Mouse||2000||Operating|
Past Roller Coasters (8)
|Hercules||Curtis D. Summers||Wooden||1989||2003||No|
|Scenic Railway||Fredrick Ingersoll||Wooden||1903||1920||No|
|Steel First||Allan Herschell Company||Kiddie||1990||2010||No|
|Wild Mouse||B. A. Schiff & Associates||Wild Mouse||1964||1965||Bushkill Park|
|Unknown||B. A. Schiff & Associates||Kiddie||1952||Unknown||No|