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Trip Report: Dorney Park disappoints when it comes to safety

by Attractions Magazine Staff

Well, it finally happened. Eleven parks into my road trip, and I am finally advising skipping a park. Most of the parks I’ve been to — from Lagoon to Hersheypark — have been great. Every other Cedar Fair park I’ve visited, they all felt safe. Dorney Park, however, managed to crush my expectations and destroy my opinion that all Cedar Fair parks were handling this well, because, honestly, they aren’t,

dorney park
Photos by Justin S. Landers

By Justin S. Landers

Dorney Park is already considered to be one of the more neglected Cedar Fair parks, so my expectations were fairly low from the start. I expected to have an experience similar to my trip to Worlds of Fun — empty parks, no lines, great mask enforcement.

trip report

What I got instead? Long lines, rude guests, and not a single comment about masks from an employee all day. As I walked into the gates, entry was almost typical. The thermal cameras were not working, but the handhelds were quick enough. However, once I got into the park, I realized this was the busiest Cedar Fair park I’ve been to.

There were a lot of people there, and a majority of them were not wearing masks. I have become used to seeing guests trying to side-step the mask rules by pulling them down beyond their nose, but at Dorney Park, guests didn’t even have masks visible. I didn’t hear a single employee tell someone to put a mask on during my entire visit.

Food lines were long, at 30+ minutes for food and drink stands. Most of the food stands were open, but guests were not social distancing in lines as well as not wearing masks. The food was typical Cedar Fair food. The stand-alone drink stands were not readily available, with any stand that was just for drinks being closed. This means getting a drink would require waiting in the regular food lines. So much for the drink plan being a good value if your home park is Dorney.

dorney park

Rides and attractions were mostly open, except one of their key coasters: Possessed, an Intamin impulse launch coaster. I was informed it would be down for the season. Steel Force, their Morgan Hyper coaster, was a decent ride, but nothing standout. Talon was an average B&M inverted roller coaster. Hydra is a decent but small B&M floorless coaster.

If Possessed had been open, this park would have a decent, yet slightly dated collection of thrill rides. Certainly not a great collection. Thunderhawk, their wooden 95-year-old coaster, is now an American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) landmark. I found it to be extremely rough and not nearly as well-maintained as some of the other older wooden coasters I have ridden on this trip. There is also a rumor that in 2021 (2022 now, maybe?), they will be getting a new coaster — but those are just rumors for now.

hydra

As I stood in line for the coasters, I also noticed that operations were slow. Sometimes it would take 5+ minutes to dispatch a train, even with them running multiple trains on every ride. Could this be because of cleaning?

dorney park

No, I did not see a single train being cleaned the entire day. Every other Cedar Fair park has made it a policy to clean trains every 30 minutes. I purposely went on multiple rides right at the 30-minute mark to try to see if they were cleaning, and they weren’t. I sat on each brake run in the park for a good bit of time before the newly-loaded trains dispatched, allowing us to unload. In line for rides, just like with food, guests were not social distancing and not wearing masks.

I found myself questioning if this was actually a Cedar Fair park multiple times throughout my day, and regretting my decision to visit as I became frustrated trying to remain distant from complete strangers who had a lack of respect for personal space, and no regard for the safety of those around them. I found myself thinking that another day at Hersheypark would have been a better use of my time.

In fact, if you are in the area and considering going to a theme park, I would say Hersheypark is certainly the better choice. This was a beyond disappointing experience in a sea of great experiences at parks all across the country. This was the first time I did not really feel “safe” visiting the parks during these challenging times.

demon drop

There was one silver lining at Dorney Park: Demon Drop. This “coaster” is actually a first-generation Intamin drop tower, which used to operate at Cedar Point. I rode it when I was younger, and it was moved to Dorney eventually to spruce up their lineup. At Cedar Point, the ride operated sporadically and not very effectively, with lots of down time. Dorney Park seems to have found smooth operations with this last-of-its-kind in the United States; these drop towers are rare.

During a normal year, Dorney Park might be worth a visit. The ride collection is not stand out by any means, but if you are passing through the area and want to burn a few hours of your day, it would be a decent stop.

The park is normally a half-day park at best, but right now? I would not go anywhere near Dorney Park again with the information I have. The disregard for safety was astounding; no mask enforcement, no train cleanings, no social distancing, even though the markers were there. Dorney Park is a pass for now.

Dorney Park reopening

29-year-old Justin Landers owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions. He has been involved in the amusement and theme park industry since 2013 as a freelance photographer and videographer. You can follow him on Instagram @Inverted_Therapy and Just Shoot Light on YouTube.

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39 comments

Rob July 28, 2020 - 5:48 pm

You must have picked a bad day, unfortunately. I’ve been there numerous times and I’ve never seen the lines as terrible as what you described. The only ride that typically has had a long line there is the Wild Mouse because of its policy of no more than two adults per car. I can’t speak for Dorney’s Corona protocols since I haven’t been there this year, but I was at Hersheypark the Friday that Candymonium opened and the people there were no better than what you describe seeing at Dorney, so by that logic, I would say to skip Hersheypark as well.

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Maricela Merced July 28, 2020 - 10:46 pm

I second your opinion, we just visited the park 2 weeks ago and it was a lot of staff reinforcing the use of the masks, disinfecting the rides very often , no lines and the park couldn’t look cleaner.

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Aimwe August 7, 2020 - 11:15 am

I went few weeks ago with my daughter and it was awful! We left after three rides because no one was cleaning and NO rides were open that we wanted to ride. The staff did not clean up anything and they didn’t check our temperature. It was not enforced wearing of mask and it was dangerous. I wanted to fight for a refund not one dollar coaster was open except cat and mouse. Rip off and very in safe

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Anthony July 29, 2020 - 7:30 am

Good thanks for the review I’ll be heading out to this park now!!!!
Someplace that you aren’t forced to wear a mask out in the open!!!
Stay home crybaby

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Dev July 29, 2020 - 9:00 am

Thank you. Someone who finally said it. A place I’m not forced to wear a mask in open fresh air. I’ll see you there with no mask.

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ALan July 30, 2020 - 12:24 pm

He’s got a right to say what he thinks about the safety protocols!

It’s so funny how people who make lots of noise about the freedom not to wear masks then turn around and attack others for taking a position on their own freedoms.

You don’t believe in freedom at all.

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Bob July 29, 2020 - 9:14 am

I really enjoy the reviews you are doing and the scare tactics to keep people away. Anything that helps get the lines shorter I appreciate.

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Joanne July 5, 2021 - 3:06 pm

Went to do on fri the 2nd of july 2021 had a blast. Every coaster was opened lines were quick. Food at coasters was not tasty at all but everything was a good day went to great adventure on the 23rd of june 2021 u what to talk about long lines got their at 11 am left at 7 and only got on 3 rides the lines were iver a hr.and a half food was ok but very iver priced. Fir the price u pay u should be able to get in to water pk and safari. But that day was a waste of time

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Lenny July 29, 2020 - 9:40 am

I haven’t been to Dorney at all this year, so I can’t speak for adherence to Covid protocols, but for the four years before this I had season passes. As another commenter said the only ride that has line issues is the Wild Mouse, and I agree with that. Rude guests-I do have to agree with that too. Dorney has a lot of busses come in from out of the area, they overrun the park and they act terrible. That tends to occur most on the weekends I’m July and August. At that time I prefer visiting after work in the evening when the busses are gone and the park isn’t so crowded.

The one thing I don’t recommend is Haunt. The other guests there are terrible. Line jumpers all over, smoking in the park, and long lines for only a handful of attractions. Been it it a half dozen times and maybe twice was it an okay experience.

Overall, the best times to visit this park are in May and June, and weekends after Labor Day.

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Liz September 2, 2020 - 12:18 pm

I grew up 20 minutes from Dorney, so I used to go there a lot. Not as much since I’ve left the area, but I still make it there once a year or so. The rude guests have always been an issue.

Their Haunt is actually really good if you purposely go on a slow night.

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Scott July 29, 2020 - 10:15 am

I herd they are taking down possessed because they are adding a new roller coaster

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Heather July 29, 2020 - 10:26 am

It doesn’t sound like the author of this article was at Dorney Park! I am a Season Pass member, and my family and I have been to the park multiple times on various days (Thursday through Sunday) and at multiple times during the day since it opened. I feel very safe. The park is so clean. I have witnessed the cleaning of rides (Talon, Hydra, Steel Force, Scrambler, and Thunder Creek Mountain…to name a few). The lines were minimal, and for some rides, it was just myself and my daughter and another couple. They had staff outside some rides holding up signs to reinforce social distancing, and while I did have to remind some guests behind me to stand on the mark, most remembered. We go to Subway each time, as we have the meal plan, and we are mostly the only ones in the line. Sometimes there is 1 guest before or after us. We have also gone to Sweet Temptations and Chickee and Pete’s with no lines. We have also gotten a cup of water quickly at other food places. I have also seen tables, railings, and door handles being cleaned regularly. Most people wear masks correctly, but I have seen staff and security guards tell guests to pull the mask above their nose if they weren’t wearing it correctly. There are lots of security guards, and staff is friendly and helpful. Oh…the bathrooms are super clean, and they even have bathroom attendants outside most bathrooms. The show (piano music and singing) is also fun. They have a cute set up with tables socially distanced for families to relax and listen to the music. There are also relaxation places throughout the park with tables, and staff gives out water at the one by Hydra. When I read the article above, I really couldn’t understand why the author would write what he did. Was this really his experience?! I think Dorney Park has gone above and beyond to make this park safe during this uneasy time! My family and I have been super careful during the pandemic, and I feel very comfortable being at the park and bringing my family!

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Shannon Kelly July 29, 2020 - 7:22 pm

I agree with you

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Annette July 29, 2020 - 7:31 pm

My family went on July 23rd and this was my experience too. The lines were super short, very clean, sanitizing after every ride, employees telling people to wear their masks properly and most people were social distancing. My kids even rode rides multiple times in a row because we were the only people on the rides. Wild Mouse had a few people in line, but the wait was not outrageous. The only disappointment was the water park being closed.

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Jann July 31, 2020 - 8:13 am

I agree with you. We were there, last week, and I felt safe. The lines were short, the rides were being cleaned, and I saw employees enforcing the mask policy. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

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Roland Hoffman jr April 17, 2021 - 12:47 am

By the way you have commented, on extreme length to how impeccable the park is maintained and employees enforce masks, screams you posted this by some corporate influence. Employees do NOT do their job to perfection one day and then become lax without supervisory involvement. Your post is too perfect and making the impression of the original reporting even more valid. It’s obvious this park could care less about safety and the bottom line. But what else is new when a corporation owns a product. To say hershey park is no better than dorney park by another post in this thread is another post by the corporation to confuse the reader. The only way to get corporations to play fait is to NOT spend your hard earned money there

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Joshua July 29, 2020 - 11:28 am

I have to disagree with this author.

I have visited Dorney Park almost every day since it has been open. Yes, I have experienced rude people, those who do not wear masks properly, etc. However, I have seen park employees tell people to put their mask back on and employees stop rides because they do not have masks over their noses.

There are more people with yellow shirts cleaning the park this year than ever before. There have been multiple days when I was there that I had to wait to get on a ride because it was closed for cleaning.

Yes there have been lines for eating, partially because of understaffing due to the pandemic.. Some visitors to the park do not do the social distancing thing in lines very well. Some people have no concept of personal space. But I find that this is a problem in grocery stores and other places as well. This is a problem in our country and our culture, not a problem that is exclusive to Dorney Park. People not having a concept of personal space or thinking of others has been a persistent problem in our culture, long before the pandemic ever arose.

I am very scared of the coronavirus and have taken many precautions to protect myself. For instance I will not takeoff my mask to drink or eat in the park, unless I am someplace where I know no one can come near me without a mask or a half mask (that is not over the nose).

I can tell you this, if I did not feel safe at Dorney park, as much as I love the park, I would not be coming. Therefore my assessment is different than this author.

It very well could be that the author was there on a bad day. Saturdays tend to be rather busy at the park, just as they always have been. However the amount of people in the park is far reduced compared to the number of people on a normal Saturday in a normal July.

I commend the management and staff of Dorney Park for doing the best job they can to maintain fun for those of us who come to the park while still trying to maintain safe practices. The world we live in today is different than it was last summer, and I believe it will never be the same. We must learn to live in this new reality. Trying to go to a place for fun is a welcomed diversion in this new reality. Thank you Dorney Park.

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dave August 15, 2020 - 12:24 am

stay home

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Izzy July 29, 2020 - 12:34 pm

Stay your damn ass home then it’s a amusement park what the hell do you expect

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dave August 15, 2020 - 12:25 am

right on

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Melodie July 29, 2020 - 2:23 pm

Bought two season passes last week and if you go on google and type in dorneypark season passes and go directly to buy season passes…Nowhere are you alerted that wild water kingdom is closed… in fact when you purchase the season pass it says dorney park and wild water kingdom… most websites have red, yellow covid alerts about changes and limitations due to pandemic… So, because there is no other place to swim, i purchased two season passes thinking wild water kingdom is open….. Again, no where are you alerted if you go DIRECTLY to buy the season passes that WWK is closed… i took screenshots of everything… They told me “Well, it’s on our website”… yes, but for those who go directly to buy a season pass, there is NOTHING stated WWK is closed, Nothing… purchase description says dorney park and wwk… I felt that an alert would have been nice and they should remove wwk from the purchase description for those who go directly to purchase season passes there’s no alert… that’s deceptive whether knowingly or unknowingly… Granted, i knew the price was lower but it never dawned on me that wwk was closed… i just assumed the lower price was due to the fact that the season opened late… i don’t know but here’s my advice… Go to knoeble’s it’s a little bit of a drive… The pool is open, free admission, may bring your own food, elders and those who don’t ride the rides, can enter the park free… The have pavilion free for reservation… Dorney park is nice but the way it’s run isn’t…. They should run it like Knoeble’s they’d do so much better… people wouldn’t trash the parking lots with litter and food if they didn’t have to picnic in the parking lots because to take a family and buy just food and water/drinks at dorney the prices are ridiculous not to mention mom and dad or grand parents who
may not be going on rides don’t have to pay just to be in the park… Again, the park itself… is clean and nice inside but it’s not family budget friendly and i’m VERY upset and feel duped about the wwk issue! Deceptive, point blank period!

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Jann July 31, 2020 - 8:16 am

The good thing is, you will be able to use those season passes through the 2021 season, as well.

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cj July 29, 2020 - 2:40 pm

Check Dorney Park’s Twitter account …. plenty of theme park promos …. and zero mention of covid-19 enforcements! If I was an under paid park employee there? I wouldn’t enforce anything (I’d just protect myself from getting it!)

I’m assuming their adjacent water park is in operation (folks don’t think they can catch covid-19 in the water – which is true, because you’ll get it away from the water!)

For those who don’t take covid-19 seriously? You will once it effects your family, your job, etc (and when folks you know die from it). I’m just going to wish everybody Stay Safe and let’s hope 2021 is covid-19 free.

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Heather July 31, 2020 - 12:34 pm

When employees ask guests to wear masks correctly, that is how they are protecting themselves. Remember…my mask protests you and your mask protects me.

Wild Water Kingdom is closed for the season. Only the amusement side is open. There are 2 water rides in the amusement area, but masks must be worn until you are on the ride, and they must be put back on once the ride is over.

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dave August 15, 2020 - 12:29 am

i have nothing for you to catch. the face diaper is for people that are obedient to the government.

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dave August 15, 2020 - 12:27 am

people die every day from something, people get sick everyday from something.

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Ben July 29, 2020 - 2:46 pm

I was there a three weeks ago and experienced a similar day. My day however was ruined by Talon being down almost all day and NONE of the app ride times were working.

Masks few and far between employees were trying to enforce but didn’t care enough to kick people out of line or call security.

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Lexi July 29, 2020 - 7:07 pm

Wish it were closer. Would love to go to a theme park that doesn’t buy into the plandemic. 😉

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Anthony barrett July 30, 2020 - 12:55 pm

This whole article is full of bs, Ive gone every weekend since the park reopened and the majority of what the author has said is wayyyy off base.

The writer clearly just wants attention, lol, sad but true.

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Jesse Haessig July 30, 2020 - 5:43 pm

I visited Dorney Park for the first time, just two weeks ago (July 17th), and my experience was the exact opposite. Lines were very short, very few people in the park, everyone had a mask, and employees reminded those who had them down that they were “to be warn at all times, while in line and while on the ride”. I also saw many cleanings, gladly waiting for a clean train to board.

Dorney is definitely small, especially compared to my home park of Kings Island, and the next closest, Cedar Point. This was my fourth Cedar Fair park I’ve visited, and other than the hill, I was pleased with it. I wouldn’t drive to Allentown just for Dorney, but it’s a good stop during a trip east, using an already paid for Platinum Pass.

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SK July 30, 2020 - 11:19 pm

I’m so glad you wrote this. I work at Dorney and it’s been a nightmare. I’ve worked there a long time and I’ve never seen this many aggressive and rude guests, especially when you tell them to put their masks on—a rule that is posted all over the park, for one, but is also a statewide mandate in PA.

And I’ve been there long enough to know that if someone or some agency came in to do an inspection of some kind, the park would manage to keep things together just long enough to get by, and then everything would revert to the disaster it has been.

If I didn’t need to work, I would not be there.

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Jennifer July 31, 2020 - 8:31 pm

I honestly don’t know how you had this experience but I went there for my daughter’s birthday and on July 18 our temperature was taken, we were told to wear our mask and if it was pulled down they did enforce it, getting our food was less than 8 minutes, and customer service was great. The people visiting the park were the ones with the attitude and nasty. We had a great time and it was such a fun day regardless of the how hot it was.

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GB August 1, 2020 - 10:40 am

I visited Dorney Park yesterday, 7/31, and Hersheypark the day prior. I saw many more park employees enforcing mask policy at Dorney vs Hershey. It did seem as if the issue is mainly teenagers in terms of social distancing. At Dorney, many seemed on the younger side, maybe 15 and below and had no regard for social distancing at all. They would walk right up behind you as if it were pre-Covid. Twice in line I did ask a group to move back and they did without issue. The teens at Hershey seemed at the older end, 17+, and mostly distanced some, if not six feet. I do like the big wide strips of labeled tape Dorney uses instead of the small circles that Hershey and Six Flags use. If you want to see bad, try Six Flags America. Maybe 40% of guests wearing masks properly and only 75% of employees.

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Faithie August 3, 2020 - 6:55 am

We just went to Dorney Park yesterday with my family and they enforced us to keep our mask up witch was good throughout the park! We had a fun day enjoying the park and the short wait in lines! We can’t wait to go back again!! WE LOVE Dorney Park!! We had a blast!!

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Carmencita August 13, 2020 - 8:06 pm

Wow. I must say it must of been an off day for Dorney the day you visited. I took 3 teenagers and my youngest. Everytime my 15 year old would try to keep his mask below his nose. A worker would appear and state to please pull mask up. I have seen others being told to keep their mask on. The only thing ,I would advise is that the sanitizers be automatic ones then then ones they have. Because pushing them to release sanitizer was a pain and not much came out. As far as wiping down they should just spray the area and just mandate the visitors to sanitize hands before getting on each ride.

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mo August 16, 2020 - 12:02 am

I was there just 2 weeks ago on a Thurs and it was great! No lines and mask enforcement!!! Sorry you didn’t have the same experience..hopefully you reconsider in the future. My children and I had a blast.

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Dave August 17, 2020 - 4:10 pm

but guys, when you’re packed in line with no spacing, breathing on each other for the entire wait to get in the ride, it’s not in the open air! And no matter, its not what the company advertised as the policy of required face masks, so they are not providing the services as promised. – bad business. . .

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oasis miss August 21, 2020 - 5:53 am

What? Oh, that’s amazing! Masks are the key point to avoid virus. How dare they don’t remind the clients to wear the masks. That’s a big problem.
I hope Dorney Park pays attention to the safety of customers.

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B. Bunny August 31, 2020 - 9:47 am

You must have went on an off day or had been in the twilight zone because we are season pass holders at Dorney & every time we go they are telling people to put their masks on. You are there to have fun! To get away from media fear mongers! We have lived in masks for the past 6 months or longer. ENOUGH ALREADY! We need to breathe naturally & end the mask mandate as well as social distancing. If you don’t feel safe- stay home! We NEED to be exposed to all germs,colds, flu so we can build our immune systems NOT DESTROY & WEAKEN them by living in fear & being FORCED to wear a mask! It is our CHOICE OUR RIGHT TO WEAR OR NOT TO WEAR A MASK etc. The worst thing about Dorney Park is that the tables & eating areas aren’t kept clean continuously & rest rooms need to be cleaned/stocked more often. It is a little park. I also have season pass at Hershey Park. Bigger park/cleaner and much more rides. Were you at Dorney to rate rides or work for the CDC? Get a grip! The government has tormented us long enough w/their control. End the mask mandate & social distancing so we can go to parks again & enjoy them mask free & BE FREE TO BREATHE AS WE ARE MEANT TO AS HUMAN BEINGS! Living in masks is NOT THE NEW NORMAL ! Having fun again is what all of us need! Dorney is doing the best they can. Blame the government – they brought on all of this destruction & mass hysteria.

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