Airtime fans take note: Candymonium is Hersheypark’s newest roller coaster that’s a must-ride.
By Ricky Brigante
Candymonium is a hyper-coaster that lives up to that name, packing in thrills without leaving riders rattled. Hyper-coasters emphasize speed and airtime over inversions, meaning that even though you’ll never go upside-down on Candymonium, guests wont be missing any feelings of exhilaration.
The new ride begins with a walk through the colorful enclosed queue, which Hershey reps describe as the park’s “most themed” queue to date. Colorful animated lighting and bouncy music accent giant candy wrapper-inspired decor throughout the queue.
Each train is colored for one of three candy wrappers: blue for Hershey Kisses, red for Twizzlers, and orange for Reese’s.
The ride’s seats are comfortable, though heavier guests may have some difficulty getting the lap bar to reach the two clicks needed to ride.
With its 210-foot-tall lift hill, Candymonium is 10 feet taller than the park’s previous record holder, Skyrush. Likewise, Candymonium is a far more enjoyable experience overall, as Skyrush is quite shaky and has a rather painful lapbar design.
The view from Candymonium’s lift hill is fantastic, but the drop that follows really brings a fantastic sensation of freefall, with some added airtime for riders near the back of the train. The camel humps that follow are perfectly designed, with the biggest allowing for what feels like around 10 seconds of off-the-seat airtime.
It’s a long ride at nearly 2 1/2 minutes, but since it’s so smooth and fun, it feels like the perfect length – just long enough to be satisfying, but just short enough to not be overwhelming. In all, it’s a ride that’s somehow both thrilling and gentle, never leaving riders stumbling as they get off, instead wanting to run back around and do it again.
An easy one-and-a-half-hour drive from Philadelphia, and just 15 minutes from the nearby Harrisburg airport, Hersheypark makes for an excellent getaway for those who are still feeling cooped up in a COVID-19 world. The park is doing a good job checking all the safety boxes and doing their best to adhere to guidelines for wearing masks and social distancing.
Touchless temperature screenings are mandatory on the way in and all guests are required to wear face masks at all times outdoors, indoors, and on rides – except when in the park’s water play areas, water rides, and while eating. It was apparent Hersheypark is really giving it their all to ensure a safe experience for everyone, with all employees wearing masks properly (yes, covering their noses too) and actively encouraging social distancing. Capacity has been reduced by more than 50 percent on many rides to allow riding parties to not just have their own rows on coasters, but also in many cases leave entire empty rows between parties. Trains are given a thorough cleaning regularly and eating areas are wiped down between each party’s use. And there are plenty of hand sanitizer dispensers found mounted on walls just about around every corner.
Of course, this safety comes at a price of frequent higher wait times on rides, even with fewer bodies in the queue. Despite lower than normal crowds, the reduced capacity on rides and attention to cleaning means guests will need to be extra patient. Fortunately, it also means guests will never have to hear the dreaded phrase, “Move all the way forward filling in all the available space.” Social distancing markers ensure there is plenty of space between guests and most guests seem to be respecting these boundaries.
It’s also clear the staff is running on full steam and slightly overwhelmed by all the new rules. It may take an extra hour or two to get all the rides up and running in the morning as I was told they have been struggling to find enough staff to fully operate the park, with many new hires being trained on the job alongside volunteers to fill the needed roles. Managers are present at every major attraction to ensure everything runs smoothly.
But the park’s staff does need to be commended for their efforts going above and beyond to ensure safety is the top priority.
Candymonium arrives as part of a grand reinvention of Hersheypark’s entrance area, now dubbed Chocolatetown. In front of the park’s grand new entrance, a compass rose features important milestones throughout Hershey history engraved on plaques in the ground. The entrance area has had a dramatic facelift from its dated predecesor and now offers an easier and more inviting pathway between the park and nearby Chocolate World attraction.
Chocolatetown and the areas surrounding Candymonium are still very much a work in progress. The pandemic delayed construction efforts, according to Hersheypark reps, and much of Chocolatetown is now scheduled to be completed some time in 2021.
Visitors before then can expect to still see dirt mounds, along with workers and construction vehicles, even underneath the new coaster.
Chocolatetown has opened a couple of new Hershey stores, the park’s first Starbucks location, and a Hyperdeck VR experience that puts guests onto a simple motion platform rig while they play a VR game. It’s apparent Chocolatetown has a way to go before being complete, but even so, the aesthetic is more reminiscent of a modern strip mall than a vibrant theme park environment. It’s not the most exciting, but it gets the job done.
Candymonium is now officially open. Tickets and more information are available at HersheyPark.com.