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Proposed new Dorney Park roller coaster clears its first hill

Dorney Park | Wildwater Kingdom
The Dorney Park Hydra coaster.

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. — Dorney Park soon may add a ninth roller coaster.

South Whitehall Township Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously recommended preliminary/final approval to a plan for a 161.67-foot steel roller coaster to the township commissioners.

The park plans to have it operational by 2024, according to Dorney's public relations and communications manager Ryan Eldredge.

  • Plans for a new steel roller coaster at Dorney Park moved forward at a South Whitehall Planning Commission meeting
  • The roller coaster would be the fourth tallest ride in the park, behind Possessed, Dominator and Steel Force
  • Officials did not provide any additional details about the ride, but a company spokesperson said more details likely will be released in the coming months

It would be the fourth-tallest ride at the park: the tallest point on the nearby roller coaster Possessed is 185 feet, drop tower Dominator is 200 feet tall and the main drop of roller coaster Steel Force is 205 feet tall.

“I think it will draw a lot of new people to the park and locals who have been to the park before and can see something new."
South Whitehall Township resident Bret Senftleben

South Whitehall resident Bret Senftleben, who said he has had a season pass to Dorney Park for years, said he is excited about the new ride because it has been a while since the park has had a new attraction.

“I think it will draw a lot of new people to the park and locals who have been to the park before and can see something new,” Senftleben said.

Eldredge said the project is early in the process and does not have any public details as to what the coaster will be like.

He said more details likely will be announced in the coming months.

The new ride would be constructed on the site of the former Stinger roller coaster, north of Dorney Park Road and Lincoln Avenue.

The Stinger was Dorney Park’s short-lived inverted shuttle roller coaster model developed and manufactured by the Dutch company Vekoma. It was open from 2012 to 2017, and previously ran as Invertigo at the amusement park California’s Great America from 1998 to 2010.

“I think it will be a lot better than Stinger,” Senftleben said.

About 60 people attended the meeting virtually from across the region. Several attendees, including one from New Jersey, asked questions about the specifics of the ride, but park representatives declined to comment.

A new sidewalk along Hamilton Boulevard?

Township planners discussed whether Dorney Park would be required to build a new sidewalk as a part of the project, which is typically a requirement for new development plans.

A potential location for the new sidewalk would run along Hamilton Boulevard from Cedar Crest College to Dorney Park.

Attorney for the park Joe Bubba argued that the sidewalk requirement does not make sense for this project because the park would have as many rides as it has had before.

“This is a little bit like moving furniture around in your living room,” Bubba said. “There have been rides in this location before. One has been removed. Another ride is going in the same location.”

Planning Commission Member Mark Leuthe disagreed, saying the board should not treat Dorney Park’s application differently.

“I think it's hypocritical for me to sit here and say one guy has to do it the other guy doesn’t, just because it’s Dorney Park,” Leuthe said.

Chair of the board David Wilson said he thinks something needs to be done to improve pedestrian safety along Hamilton Boulevard, but further investigation is needed into what can be done.

“We've all seen people walk on Hamilton, on the side of the road, that's definitely not safe. We don't know what the best situation is,” Wilson said. “But it definitely needs to be investigated. I think we can all agree upon that.”

The Planning Commission voted 5-1 to approve an agreement with Dorney Park that park representatives would investigate the best way to move forward with potential sidewalk plans, but it would not be tied to the plans for the roller coaster.

Staff writer Stephanie Sigafoos contributed to this report.