The coasters that seem to generate the most buzz, both in our niche community of enthusiasts, as well as in the general public, tend to lean towards the gargantuan. Earlier this year when the Intimidator coasters launched, the lion’s share of the buzz was reserved for the 305 foot tall version introduced at Kings Dominion, Intimidator 305, built by Intamin. That’s not to say the Carowinds Intimidator was massively dwarfed-it wasn’t-or that it underperformed-The Coaster Critic preferred it-the simple truth of the matter is that I305 was bigger. The semantics of quality of ride always come down to a rider’s preference, not to mention about a million other factors. Still, the fact remains, I305 was “The” new coaster this year in North America, and it seems there was nothing Carowinds could have done to change that perception.
Yet, public opinion aside, some of the very best coasters do come in small, twisted layouts, and one of the best examples of this is Hersheypark’s wonderful Fahrenheit. Hershey has long suffered for land, but this seems to drive coaster builders to really utilize the space they’re given to create some of the most unique rides found anywhere in the world. Fahrenheit is one of those rides. From the paint-orange with blue supports-to the vertical lift and difficult to discern visually track layout, Fahrenheit is just plain old fun to look at. Even better, Fahrenheit is just plain old fun to ride.
After a quick jog through the park, ever present buddy Lukas and I hopped through the empty queue and onto the front row of Fahrenheit. It was our first ride of the 2010 season, and we were pretty fired up. Then we were flat on our backs getting pulled up the lift hill, and for the first time in a long time, I had butterflies in my stomach.
My first ride on Millennium Force was the last time I can recall being nervy on a coaster, and yet here I was, 31 years old and genuinely a little freaked out. I’ve done a vertical lift before, but never without a launch! There was something very unsettling about not being able to see the track as the train went up Fahrenheit’s lift hill, but it was also really cool. When we crested the top, I wasn’t nervous anymore, I was beyond excited.
The three car train curled over the top of the lift hill, hung for a second and we were off. If you’ve seen pictures of Fahrenheit, you know that the first drop goes beyond ninety degrees. I felt like the drop was a gimmick, cool to look at, but nothing that would have any bearing on a ride. I could not have been more wrong. My organs literally felt compressed as the train dipped inside of the hill, and I’m pretty sure my breath came out in a yell. The first drop is a serious punch, and in a good way. If The Coaster Critic were ever to continue his “memorable coaster moments posts”, the first drop on Fahrenheit could very appropriately be added.
After that menacing plunge, it’s off to the races. Fahrenheit may be compact, but Intamin must have felt a need to add as many elements as possible into the tiny footprint they were allowed, and that’s not something to complain about! First, an almost trick track element, which quickly inverts atop a hill, I believe the Intamin term for this one was “Norwegian Loop”, this element provided a wonderful pop of very unexpected airtime. Next up, a vertical climb that inverts again to right the train, to be perfectly honest, youtube.com will help with this one. That inversion lids into a valley, and then my favorite “cobra roll” of all time. Not only is it pretty, no head banging whatsoever, just pure double inversion goodness.
Intamin should have been tapped at this point, but of course, this is Intamin we’re talking about, so the craziness continues. The cobra roll leads into a pair of zero g rolls, a banked turn, and an incredibly powerful airtime hill. This coaster is up there with Maverick as far as airtime loopers go! Lukas and I rode Fahrenheit twice that day, once in the front, and once in the very back, and the differences were huge, almost as much as seating affects the average wooden roller coaster. We both agreed that the back, while not offering the visuals of the front, was definitely more forceful and the preferred area of riding.
Using The Coaster Critics scale, I rank Fahrenheit a solid nine, giving it a one up on its fellow in Storm Runner, and a point below its sister, Maverick. As for intensity, Fahrenheit was no head banger, but still a thrilling ride. This coaster packs a wallop, from start to finish, and would not be appropriate for the average coasting noob.
Fahrenheit is not the biggest punk on the block, but neither was Napoleon the tallest emperor. Rides on a coaster like Fahrenheit are a nice reminder that though the big guys may dominate the press, the small statured can be just as much fun. This coaster is a must ride for any coaster enthusiast, and my wonderful memories of riding it make me long for nice weather, and for my next trip to Hersheypark.Final Rating – 9.0 (Excellent)
For safety reasons, please DO NOT take a camera on a roller coaster.
Fahrenheit is rated ‘IN’ for Intense. It’s a 4 out of 5 on the Thrill Scale because of its steep drop and loops. See the full scale here.
What’s Your Take?
What do you think of Fahrenheit? Leave a comment below. Images courtesy of CoasterImage.