24 June 2009

[Imported] 97 degrees and falling fast

This past weekend was my highly anticipated trip to Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, the trip in which I was one of eleven invited to be on the first train of their brand new coaster, Fahrenheit.

You can click on these for larger photos.

I've been asked at least twenty times how I won, and no two answers that I've given have ever been the same. Not that I was lying - I was genuinely trying to tell them all how it happened, but every time, after about 10 seconds into the explanation, I could tell the person was already sorry they had asked. I'd imagine that me telling the actual story would be a bit like a physicist trying to explain quantum mechanics to a psychologist. The explanation would be long, complicated, uninteresting, and go totally over the psychologist's head; and after about five minutes, she'd just peg the physicist as crazy and call it a day.

But to give you an idea, the whole thing involved a fake - but still kinda real - website, a handful of anagrams, an address that led you to the middle of some Amish field, some binary code, and a Swiss coaster manufacturer called Intamin. Oh, and even the Lochness Monster somehow found himself involved.

Do you honestly think that's a story that could be told in less than a half hour? Do you honestly think it'd hold your interest for that long? In my experience, the answer has been an emphatic NO every single time.

Included with my maiden coaster run, I also got two free tickets to the park. I invited my mom to come, and laugh all you want, but it saved me hundreds of dollars in gas and hotel money. She also invited her sister, which I was fine with, right up until she got sick on the very first roller coaster we took her on (one of the little 70-foot-tall wooden coasters that your 90-year-old great-grandmother with a broken hip could ride and eight times in a row and come off healthier than when she first got on). Don't get me wrong, I understood that she physically was unable to handle a roller coaster, but I'm such a people pleaser, and the fact that she wasn't having a good time made me feel like the most awful human being in existence for being responsible for her unhappiness. And, yes, I know that I wasn't responsible for her unhappiness, but just you try to tell me that directly, and then I'll run off crying for putting you through the trouble of having to correct me. Trust me, if you are ever in my company and not having a good time, I can ASSURE you that the time you are having is a little slice of heaven compared to the ninth circle of HELL that I would be in over the not good time currently being had by you.

This is just my cross to bear, you know? But is it really so much for me to want you all to just have a dadgum good time already?

And for those of you who have ever wondered just how much of a prude I actually am, I seriously just googled "substitute swear words" just now to be used in that last sentenced. I know I've sworn on this blog before, but really, I try do to refrain. Not very Christian of me to use the swears, now is it? I still think it's sounds better with "have a G*dd*mn good time," but I'm WWJD-ing right now. But "Dadgum?" Really, Natalie? No, I have all my teeth and live in a house without wheels, I SWEAR.

Man, what is this blog about again? I am all over the map tonight.

Anyway, the next morning at the park was the day that Fahrenheit was opening and when we were going to get our first rides (we were actually scheduled to have the whole ride to ourselves for about 15 minutes before the ride was open to the public). And while the past tense in that sentence does in fact represent that this whole thing happened a few days ago, it's mainly being used to show that NONE OF THIS HAPPENED.

Fahrenheit valleyed.

No, that's not my totally awesome camera being so awesome that it captures the train flying through inversions without even a hint of a blur (although it is THAT. GOOD.) No, that's the train. just. sitting. there. First test run of the day and it decided that making it all the way through the second (only second!) inversion required way too much effort.

Lazy bastard.

So, no first ride. But we did get some exclusive ride time (ERT) on another awesome coaster in the park (Storm Runner), as well as a Q&A session with one of the head maintenance guys (one of the ones who wasn't currently soiling his pants over the situation with Fahrenheit). Plus, they didn't tear our tickets when they let us in the park, so now I have two tickets to Hershey to be used at my leisure sometime between now and September 27th.

Hershey had an awesome recovery, however, and by 4:15pm THE SAME DAY the train had been pulled through the rest of the track, and the coaster completed the proper number of successful test runs for them to officially open the ride. I had left earlier in the day, though, since I had done the park the day before and crowds were INSANE, but my stamped hand and I returned to the park around 7:00 for my ride. FINALLY. (Neither my aunt nor my mom do anything that goes upside down, so they just dropped me off).

The line, as expected, was pushing the two hour mark, and while I would have waited in the line without complaints like the rest of the general public, I figured I would still explain the situation to the greeter just to see what would happen. The worst they'd tell me would be just to wait, so what did I have to lose? I just kindly explained that I was supposed to be one of the first riders, I had driven all the way from North Carolina for this, was their anything they could do to help me out? (I'm usually a polite person as it is, but after working at Disney, I knew only too well how much nicer it is to deal with a courteous guest than a pissed off one who thinks they're entitled to the world). The greeter motioned over one of the ride managers, and he took me through the exit to the front of the line. On the way, I couldn't resist to say, "I don't want to seem a beggar, but would it be possible for me to sit in front?" "Sure, that shouldn't be a problem." And as luck would have it, the next in line for the front row was another girl all by herself, so I didn't even cause the front row line to wait an extra train. See? It all worked out in the end. And I was so appreciative of what they did for me, that even though it was completely out of my way, I walked back to the entrance of the ride once I got off, and thanked them again, even though I must have thanked them at least three times before I even got on.

If you want to know what I thought about the ride, as well as get a more in depth recount of the day (including why it's actually my fault that Fahrenheit valleyed), you can read my trip report here. More photos can be found on page 3.

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