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Behind the Scenes of Winter Maintenance on Coal Cracker at Hersheypark

Iconic Flume Ride Marks 50th Anniversary in Summer 2023

Hersheypark will open for its 2023 season on April 1, but this time of year - January through March - is actually the busiest at the Central Pennsylvania amusement park. During the off-season, the Hersheypark maintenance team disassembles, inspects and overhauls more than 70 rides in preparation for spring.

Each off-season, we take readers behind the scenes of the maintenance work being done on one of our coasters. Check out our previous maintenance stories on Skyrush, Candymonium and Great Bear. This year, we are shifting gears to spotlight the maintenance of Coal Cracker. The iconic family flume ride located in the Kissing Tower Hill region of Hersheypark turns 50 in June. 

Coal Cracker maintenance begins in the fall and typically takes about five months to complete by two team members. The first step in the maintenance process is to pull the 30 boats off of the ride when the water is still filled and transport them to the maintenance shop located outside of the Park gates on the Hersheypark Entertainment Complex. At the maintenance shop, the Coal Cracker boats are inspected from nose to tail. The team pulls out the seats and inspects them for any flaws, checks the bolts, and tests the 240 road and guide wheels (4 of each wheel type per boat).

Fun fact: Each boat weighs 600 pounds and can hold up to 5 riders.

The boats are also rolled onto their sides for an additional inspection of the fiberglass material. Fiberglass and upholstery repairs take place on-site, with some larger custom upholstery projects outsourced to local upholstery shops, including Lancaster County Upholstery and Ralph S. Alberts Co., Inc.

During the off-season, maintenance work also occurs back at the Coal Cracker ride. The 300,000-gallon upper and lower lakes of the ride are drained, and at least one of the four pumps is craned off and replaced. The lift belts are also split in half and inspected, with about 375 rollers looked at during the process. 

Fun fact: When the ride is operational, the 2,500-pound, 16-foot pumps push 11,000 gallons of water per minute. 

When Coal Cracker opens for the summer season, the maintenance work doesn’t just stop. Like all of the other rides and coasters at Hersheypark, Coal Cracker receives daily inspections, weekly greasing and other maintenance as needed. The daily inspection starts at 5 a.m. and takes two maintenance team members and electricians about 2 hours to test the lifts, check lasers, run the ride, and more. Every 30 days, Coal Cracker also receives a state inspection. 

Fun fact: Even though Coal Cracker has 30 total boats, the ride runs between 21 and 27 boats at once. The total number depends on if both sides of the final drop are open.

Ride Coal Cracker During Its 50th Season

Get ready for a splashing good time on Coal Cracker this summer by purchasing tickets now during the Best Price Of The Year on Hersheypark.com. Tickets purchased during this sale will be valid on any 2023 public operating day from April 1, 2023, through Jan. 1, 2024. 

Hersheypark admission tickets include three parks in one with more than 70 family-friendly and thrill attractions thoughtfully placed together, so families never have to split up to enjoy the fun at every level. Tickets also grant access to The Boardwalk At Hersheypark water park, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park by accessing the Zoo through the bridge inside Hersheypark during posted Park hours.