Winter Maintenance on Great Bear at Hersheypark
Behind-the-scenes look at off-season work on popular coaster
Each year, Hersheypark closes its gates to the public from January through the end of March during what many consider the off-season. While some people may assume this a slow time of year at the Park, it is far from it for the more than 200 full-time maintenance staff. During the off-season, they are busy disassembling, inspecting and overhauling rides according to manufacturer guidelines.
Following the Halloween and Christmas events at the Park, the ride cars are gently removed from their tracks and transported to the Hersheypark Service Center where the team conducts visual inspections, various testing and repairs for maximum safety and compliance. However, five of the soon-to-be 15 roller coasters at Hersheypark are worked on at maintenance bays located right at the coaster stations. One of these coasters is the Great Bear.
Here is an insider view of some maintenance work currently being done to this popular ride at Hersheypark.
Great Bear has two trains that are maintained on a regular basis. The wheels and brakes are replaced every three years per manufacturer instructions. This year, one of the trains is getting new wheels. The photos below show the team putting together new road wheels. First, they have to place the white cylinders in boiling water to get them to expand. The cylinders are made of a nylon material, which helps to create the roar sound guests hear from Great Bear. After a cylinder is heated up, the team carefully removes it from the boiling water, quickly attaches it to a metal plate and screws it in place.
Each train consists of 32 road wheels, 32 side and guide wheels and 32 upshot wheels. While these wheels are being made, other parts go through non-destructive testing (NDT) before they are reassembled. After everything passes inspection, the team heads upstairs in the maintenance bay to attach the wheels and other parts to the train.
The seats, restraints and seat belts on Great Bear are also removed from the trains, inspected and repaired as needed. Each seat has dedicated parts, which are labeled in the buckets found in the one photo below.
As you can see, this is just a small sampling of the work done on Great Bear each year to ensure the attraction is safe for guests to enjoy once Hersheypark reopens the first week of April for Springtime In The Park.
The Hersheypark maintenance team takes great pride in the critical role they play in keeping guests safe and #HersheyparkHappy all year long.