In 1998, a single Inverted Roller Coaster opened: the Great Bear at Hersheypark. When Milton S. Hershey, founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company bought land to form the city of Hershey, PA, an area was set aside for leisure activites. Hershey Park was founded in 1906 as the leisure facility on both sides of Spring Creek and the first rides appeared in 1908. One interesting location is the Comet Hollow, which is a valley near the park entrance and where the Comet wooden roller coaster has been running since 1946. A small amount of land was available on the western side of Spring Creek in Comet Creek, so B&M though hard and managed to make a custom layout to use that land and have riders fly over Spring Creek.
The Comet coming down the first drop. This picture appears courtesy of http://www.negative-g.com/
The train going up into the station turnaround. This picture appears courtesy of http://www.negative-g.com/
The station was built in Mine Town on the hill above Comet Hollow and it was shoehorned by the Coal Cracker log flume. The ride layout also had to take into account the classic SooperDooperLooper Schwarzkopf Looping Racer and the fact the park was not allowed to install footers in Spring Creek. The end result is an Inverted Coaster that like Pyrenees is split in two distinct half’s and doesn’t just go through a parade of inversions before hitting the brake run.
The SooperDooperLooper Vertical Loop. The green trough is part of the Coal Cracker Arrow Hydro-Flume and you can see the Great Bear lift hill in the background.
The ride starts with a 90 feet lift hill, but doesn’t go into the first drop right away. Instead, the ride executes a unique 360° spiral in the air before aligning with the first drop and drops 124 feet into the valley. The train is now on the west side of Spring Creek and go through a 100 feet tall Vertical Loop and then roars through a section that hugs the ground. An Immelmann follows and the exit is at a roughly 45 degrees angle toward the Comet and we then execute a perfect Zero G Roll over the Famous Famiglia Pizzeria.
The train about to crest the lift hill and the pre-drop spiral.
Flex shot this great picture of the drop.
Flex took this unique picture of the loop and Immelmann. You can see the creekside location of the ride.
Comet Hollow was renamed to The Hollow later and the new entrance portal frame the Immelmann perfectly.
The train goes through the Immelmann.
The Zero G Roll.
This is where things go unique as the train does a banked turn over Spring Creek, but B&M had to design complicated supports since they could not go into the water. What came out of it is rather amazing since you have foot and arm chopper visual effects from the supports that surround the train. After rising and going under the Sooper Dooper Looper lift hill, we go through a Flat Spin and on the following turn, we “can kick the Sooper Dooper Looper”. This turn is named as such since it goes very close to the loop and it feels like we could kick the neighboring ride.
The custom supports over Spring Creek. The train goes under the SooperDooperLooper lift hill at that point.
The Flat Spin. This picture appears courtesy of Flex.
The finale of the ride when it goes by SooperDooperLooper.
The ride ends its 2800 feet journey with two turns that bring the train up to the station level. With two 32 passenger trains, the ride was the highest capacity roller coaster in the park when it opened and it was only surpassed when Skyrush opened in 2012. The ride track was painted charcoal/nearly black and the ride supports silver.
Great Bear station building.