Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom Logo.svg
Location Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Coordinates 40°34′48″N 75°32′01″W / 40.579868°N 75.533559°W / 40.579868; -75.533559Coordinates: 40°34′48″N 75°32′01″W / 40.579868°N 75.533559°W / 40.579868; -75.533559
Owner Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
Opened 1884
Previous names Dorney Park
Operating season May-October
Area 200 acres (0.81 km2)
Rides 59 total
  • 7 roller coasters
  • 18 water rides
Slogan Two Great Parks for the Price of One!; The Fun & Only; Ride On!; Dorney's the One For 2 Times the Fun!

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is an American amusement and water park located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The park features nine roller coasters, other adult and children's rides, and a waterpark, Wildwater Kingdom.

It features some of the world's most prominent rollercoasters, including Steel Force, the ninth longest steel rollercoaster in the world and the longest on the U.S. East Coast.

The park is accessible from Interstate 78, U.S. Route 222 (Hamilton Blvd.) and Cedar Crest Boulevard. The region is served by Lehigh Valley International Airport, approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of Dorney Park. Bieber Tourways has a nearby bus terminal at the former Charcoal Drive-In (at junction of U.S. Route 222 and Hamilton Boulevard), with daily service to and from New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal, Philadelphia Greyhound Terminal and other regional locations.




Dorney Park traces its history to 1860, when Solomon Dorney built a trout hatchery and summer resort on his estate outside of Allentown. In 1870, Dorney decided to convert the estate into a public attraction. Initially, the facility featured games, playground-style rides, refreshment stands, picnic groves and a hotel and restaurant. By the 1880s, Dorney had added a small zoo, gardens and a number of mechanical rides, marking the enterprise's beginning as an amusement park.[1]

When the Allentown-Kutztown Traction Company completed its trolley line from Allentown to Kutztown in 1899, the company added a stop at Dorney's park. Two years later, the traction company purchased the park, operating it until 1923, when the park was sold to Robert Plarr and two partners. Plarr soon bought out his partners and ran Dorney Park until his death in 1966. Ownership then passed to Plarr's son Stephen, who died within a year. Robert Ott, Plarr's son-in-law, took over as owner in 1967. In 1985, Ott sold Dorney Park to Harris Weinstein. Weinstein owned it until 1992, when he sold the park to Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.[1]

Rides history

Early years

Main entrance to Dorney Park, 1950.

Rides have come and gone at Dorney Park, such as the Philadelphia Toboggan Company's Grande Carousel which debuted at Dorney in 1932 from Shellpot Park in Wilmington, Delaware, but was destroyed in a September 1983 fire. The Bucket O' Blood (once known as Pirates Cove) dark ride burned in the same fire. Luckily, the incident occurred after the park was closed for the season. Another early ride was the Whip, in which riders spun on a small track in a pavilion. The Whip is still in operation today and is the park's oldest ride.

Dorney Park also had a swimming pool from the early 1900s until 1963. Filters were damaged beyond economic repair at that point, and the pool was closed to swimmers but was repurposed. One side of the former pool had live seals and fish, while the other side was used for the Whale Boats, motorized boats seating two people each. Near the lower entrance to the park was the dark ride called Tunnel Of Love which later was rethemed as The Journey to the Center of the Earth. The ride was a Bill Tracy dark ride. It was a boat ride through a dark tunnel with scary scenes behind glass, and a lift and drop at the end. It was razed following the 1992 season, after Cedar Fair, LP acquired the park. Journey To The Center Of The Earth was located near the park's first roller coaster, which opened in 1923. It was simply known as the Coaster or "the yellow rollercoaster" until 1989 when it was renamed Thunderhawk. It still operates today.

Also near the pool was the Mill Chute, built in 1927 but closed in 1960 to become Journey to the Center of the Earth as described previously. The Iceberg was a cuddle-up ride which was cold inside and had strobe lights and loud music. It was painted black and retitled Meteorite at the end of the 1980s and removed after the 1993 season. The Gold Mine was a scary walk-through under the Solomon Dorney Mansion in the middle of the park near the Iceberg and PTC Carousel. The Gold Mine closed in the mid-1980s. The Flying Dutchman was a Pinfari compact steel coaster located where the Ferris Wheel is currently located. It was the largest of its kind. It was removed following the 1988 season due to mechanical problems.

For many years, a clown figure called "Alfundo" (the name was derived from a combination of the words ALlentown, FUN and Dorney Park) reigned supreme as the park's trademark, and was used as the decoration of the main entrance to the park (see photo).


In 1980, Dorney Park Road, a former two-lane state highway (US 222) which cut through the park, was closed to traffic and converted to a midway, and U.S. 222 was rerouted. Prior to that time, Dorney Park's narrow-gauge railroad crossed the road, which led to traffic stoppages every time the train was to cross Dorney Park Road. This railroad crossing also helped patrons cross Dorney Park Road.

The road closing led to the enclosure of the park by fence and the introduction of a single-price admission fee, which eliminated individual ride tickets. The park previously maintained groves for family picnics. While the groves remained outside the park a while longer, patrons were no longer allowed to bring food inside.

The parked opened its log flume ride, Thunder Creek Mountain, in 1982, which still owns the record for longest drop on a log flume ride. In the fall of the next year, a major fire destroyed a large section of the park, including the Carousel, Bucket O' Blood, Flying Bobs, Skeeball and several food stands. The park replaced the rides in 1984, its 100th anniversary, with the addition of Enterprise, Musik Express, Ranger, and Apollo 2000. New skeeball alleys, gift shops and food stands were added as well.

With the addition of the rides as well as the improvements to the park, the park's value was high enough to sell. It was sold mid-season to Harris Weinstein in 1985. He also bought the neighboring automobile racetrack which had been used once a year for NASCAR racing. At that point the racetrack was razed. It was determined that there was a need for swimming to be brought back to Dorney Park. With the pool being razed 20 years before, the void was finally filled by a waterpark called Wildwater Kingdom in 1985. It had separate admission and included a wave pool, family water raft ride, several body slides, several tube slides, and a children's water play area. That year season passes began to be offered.

That year it was also determined that the park needed a looping roller coaster, so in 1986, Laser, a Schwarzkopf designed coaster with two loops was built, giving the park three adult coasters. This roller coaster was originally meant to be a ride that would be for fairs and carnivals, but Dorney Park kept it assembled. The coaster was named in a commercial tie-in with a local radio station, WAEB-FM, a then-Hot AC radio station known as Laser 104.1. Two years later, a kiddie coaster was added across from Laser called Little Laser. This kiddie coaster originally operated as a junior coaster (children and adults were at that time able to ride) from the early 1960s to 1981 near the coaster now called Thunderhawk. It was in storage from 1982 to 1988, and in 1989 it was moved next to and painted the same colors as the Laser and was renamed. As a kiddie coaster, adults cannot ride the Little Laser unless accompanied by a child. Laser was taken down in 2008 and Little Laser was renamed to Steel First.

The park further grew with debut of Hercules, a wooden terrain coaster in 1989. It was built on the top of the hill lining what was then the back of the park, near what was at that time Wildwater Kingdom's parking lot. This coaster was the tallest wooden roller coaster in the world until Cedar Point's Mean Streak debuted in 1991, which boasted a first drop only 4 feet (1.2 m) taller than Hercules. Hercules proved a big hit for Dorney in the coaster's first four seasons, but unfortunately was soon known for its rough, often jarringly shaky ride, due in large part to significant modifications made to Hercules after the park was purchased by Cedar Fair in 1992. Hercules was removed in 2003 due to high maintenance costs and low ridership. Hydra: The Revenge is now where Hercules once stood, which is why it's slogan is "It's the Ride That Brought Down Hercules."


In 1991, Dorney Park added a few more flat rides and improved landscaping, preparing to once again sell it. Cedar Fair purchased the park in 1992. In 1993, the park added a flume ride that plunges riders in 20-passenger boats down an 80-foot (24 m) drop, creating a giant wave that not only soaks riders, but onlookers as well. It was known as the Pepsi Chute and today as White Water Landing. It was built next to Hercules and the Wildwater Kingdom parking lot.

In 1994, a new midway was built on the top of the hill near Hercules and White Water Landing. The parking lot for Wildwater Kingdom was doubled in size and converted to serve both Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom. A new entrance was also built to Dorney Park. Some concession stands and a carousel was also added at this new midway. The old lot and entrance also continued to be used. Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom were separately gated until the end of that season. The park now charged guests a then-small charge for parking.

In 1995, admission to both Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom was offered at a single price for the first time. The change was promoted under the slogan "Two Parks for The Price Of One." That year also saw the addition of Thunder Canyon, a river rapids ride consisting of eight-passenger rafts that plunge and rock along a 16,400-foot (5,000 m) path through an authentic looking canyon, propelled by approximately 1 million US gallons (3,800 m3) of water. The new ride was designed by Intamin.

In 1996, Dorney went "green" and transplanted 120 30-year-old trees to make shade. It also made the park look nicer. Construction began on a steel hypercoaster slightly over 200 feet (61 m) tall. It was designed by D.H. Morgan, a former employee of Arrow. Morgan helped design Magnum XL 200 at Cedar Point in 1988. This coaster would have a similar out and back layout but would have a smoother braking system and be a more pleasant ride than Magnum. It opened in an area that was previously considered the front of the park taking up that entire stretch of land. This coaster is known as Steel Force and opened in the spring of 1997. This brought the park up to four adult coasters and a kiddie coaster. At that point the former front entrance was restricted to employees and was now considered the back entrance. Over the years, the waterpark added some newer waterslides as well as a second lazy river.

In 1998, Dorney Park added a top spin ride called "Hang Time". At the end of this year the "Monster" was temporarily removed and eventually relocated with in the park. This was also the last year for the "Sky Ride", it was removed at the end of the season. During the offseason, the Lazer was repainted in a neon green and purple style, replacing the red and white theme it had since it's introduction to the park.

In 1999, a 200-foot (61 m) tower called Dominator, featuring two gravity-defying rides, was also added. One tower blasts riders straight up 15 stories before dropping them back to earth, while another tower slowly lifts riders to a staggering 170 feet (52 m), then thrusts them downward at faster-than-free-fall speeds.


The first drops of Dorney Park's Steel Force and Thunderhawk rollercoasters

The year 2000 saw the debut of Camp Snoopy, a themed children's play area. A junior coaster (managed like a kiddie coaster in that adults without children cannot ride) called Woodstock Express[disambiguation needed ] was added that year, bringing the coaster count to eight, including four adult coasters, a junior coaster, and three kiddie coasters. The Wild Mouse was also added this year.

In 2001, a Bolliger & Mabillard designed roller coaster called Talon was added near the now-front entrance of park. The ride was a steel inverted looping coaster with ski lift type seats, and approximately the size of the Raptor coaster at Cedar Point. The addition of the new adult coaster brought the park's roller coaster count to nine. In 2002, the waterpark modified a few waterslides, but no other changes occurred.

In 2003, Wildwater Kingdom was overhauled. Several older body slides were removed and replaced with four modern colored bodyslides, two of which were open and two of which were enclosed tube slides. Three inflated tube slides were also added. One of the slides is mostly open and straight down, another is winding and completely enclosed, and the third slide also winds but is partially open. A new children's water play area was also added.

In July 2003, the park announced that Hercules would close Labor Day and in 2005 be replaced by Hydra: the Revenge, a $13 million, steel floorless Bolliger & Mabillard coaster. Hercules closed and would be replaced as a result of high maintenance costs, a rough ride, and low ridership. Soon after, it was demolished, reducing the coaster count to eight. Construction on Hydra began soon after razing Hercules and continued during the 2004 season. It opened on opening day for the 2005 season on May 7, 2005. The coaster is a half-mile in length and features a105-foot (32 m) drop. It is the first and only floorless roller coaster in Pennsylvania. The addition made the park home once again to nine adult and children's coasters.

On September 22, 2007, Dorney Park announced it would be opening its sixth adult roller coaster, a shuttle twisted impulse U-shaped coaster built by Intamin. The coaster, located at Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio, from 2000 to 2006, was originally known as Superman: Ultimate Escape, but was renamed Steel Venom when the park was bought by Cedar Fair from Six Flags in 2006. Steel Venom was removed from Geauga Lake in 2006 and unofficially opened as Voodoo at Dorney Park on May 17, 2008. Its grand opening was held six days later. The ride was renamed Possessed after the 2008 season to resolve a conflict with Six Flags, which held the rights to the name Voodoo.[2]


In 2010, the park removed its bumper cars ride to add the Demon Drop from Cedar Point. Rita's Water Ice was also introduced as a new concession. Meanwhile, the park announced that "Planet Snoopy" would open for the 2011 season.[3][4]

In 2011, Dorney Park introduces an 8 million dollar extensive overhaul to the former Camp Snoopy kid's park area. Additions include seven new rides, a new family care center offering services and amenities for parents and their young children, a new and larger outdoor amphitheater, and extensive new PEANUTS™ theme attributes being applied to differentiate the now 3.5-acre (14,000 m2) kid's park from the rest of Dorney Park. Theme attributes include a new bright color palette, large billboard like Planet Snoopy signage, arch entry ways, paver blocks on the midways instead of concrete, and a Snoopy Sculpture as a center piece and kids photo op.

In 2012, Dorney Park will add Stinger, formerly Invertigo from California's Great America, to its Roller Coaster Collection

Dorney Park roller coasters


Name Manufacturer Type Design Opened
Hydra: the Revenge Bolliger & Mabillard Steel Floorless 2005
Possessed Intamin AG Steel Inverted/Shuttle/Twisted Impulse 2008
Steel Force Chance Morgan Steel (hypercoaster) Sit Down 1997
Talon Bolliger & Mabillard Steel Inverted 2001
Thunderhawk Philadelphia Toboggan Company Wooden Sit Down 1923
Wild Mouse Maurer Söhne Steel Sit Down 2000
Woodstock's Express Zamperla Steel Family 2000
Stinger Vekoma Steel Inverted Shuttle 2012


Name Manufacturer Type Design In operation
Scenic Railway Frederick Ingersoll Wooden Sit Down 1903–1920
Wild Mouse Schiff Steel Sit Down 1964–1965
Flying Dutchman Pinfari Steel Sit Down 1972–1988
Hercules Dinn Corporation Wooden Sit Down 1989–2003
Laser Anton Schwarzkopf Steel Sit Down 1986–2008
Steel First Allan Herschell Company Steel Kiddie 1990-2010
Dragon Coaster Zamperla Steel Powered 1992-2010

2011 Admission

Single Day Admission

One-Day Admission Regular everyday walk-up gate rate: $44.99

Early & Fall Seasons Regular Online Only: $29.99 Valid April 30, May 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27 & Sept. 11, 17, & 18

Regular Season Regular Online Only: $37.99 May 28 through Sept. 5

Junior/Senior (any operating date, any purchase venue): $24.99

Two-Day Admission

Regular $64.00

Junior/Senior $35.00

2011 Starlight Admission

For Regular, Jr. & Sr.

After 5 p.m. when the park closes at 10 p.m. or later: $24.99

After 3:30 p.m. when the park closes at 8:00 p.m. or earlier: $24.99

2011 Season Pass Options

DP & WWK Regular: $99.99

DP & WWK Junior/Senior: $61.99

Cedar Fair Platinum Regular: $165.00

Cedar Fair Platinum Junior/Senior: $92.00

Junior admission includes guests 3 years of age or older and under 48 inches (120 cm). Senior admission includes guests 62 years of age or older. The Platinum Pass allows admission to all Cedar Fair parks, while the regular season pass is for Dorney Park/Wildwater Kingdom only.[5][6]

Wildwater Kingdom

Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom, located on the park grounds, is one of the largest water parks located within an amusement park (as opposed to stand-alone or separately gated waterparks) in the country , with over a dozen water rides and pools. It opened in 1985. It has become a major summer attraction and is especially popular with residents from the local Lehigh Valley, as well as Allentown's two closest major cities, New York City and Philadelphia.

Wildwater Kingdom has 22 water slides, three aquatic playlands for children, a water funhouse, two tubing rivers, two wave pools and other water rides. In the 2006 season, Wildwater Kingdom introduced an additional wave pool (called Wildwater Cove) to accommodate the immense popularity of the park's existing wave pool. The season pass lot was eliminated and now season pass holders must park in the regular lot at no additional cost. In 2007, a six-lane mat racing water slide called the Aqua Racer was added, sponsored by Capital BlueCross. Two enclosed tube slides (Torpedo Tubes) were dismantled at the end of 2006.

Dorney Park in popular culture

Dorney Park is featured as the park backdrop in the 1988 John Waters' film Hairspray. In the film, the character Franklin Von Tussle, played by Sonny Bono, owns an amusement park.

Also, the 1968 film, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows features scenes of Dorney Park including the old Alfundo entrance over the coaster (see photo above), the Pirate's Cove (Bucket O' Blood), Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Scrambler, the Coaster (Thunderhawk), and other Dorney Park scenes.

In Summer 2006, a music video for the Kidz Bop song "Move Along" by The All-American Rejects was filmed at Dorney Park.

Dorney Park Haunt

Every fall, Dorney Park has a haunted program in the park. The program had 13 haunted attractions in 2010. Including The Asylum, Death Trap, Back Woods, Gauntlet, Pirates Passage, Psycho Circus, Club Blood, Cornstalkers, and Terror Sqaure.


Further reading

  • Futrell, Jim. Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries: