(WHTM) – Coasters are the main attraction at most amusement parks but three have stood the test of time: Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Park, Comet at Hersheypark, and Thunderhawk at Dorney Park.
These three coasters are all wooden and some have been around for almost 100 years.
Phoenix has been in operation since June 15, 1985, making it 38 years old (about to be 39 in June 2024.)
Before it was the Phoenix, it was the Rocket and was located at Playland Park in San Antonio, Texas starting operation there in 1948, making the total age of the ride 75 years old.
When the Rocket was moved to Knoebels it would be the largest roller coaster to be moved from one park to another.
The coaster manufacturer was Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster Inc. and cost $1.5 million at the time.
The ride fits up to 24 people and uses a chain lift hill as the propulsion leading riders up 78 feet and dropping them 72 feet.
The ride reaches a top speed of 45 miles per hour and is 3,200 feet in length which results in a 2-minute ride.
Phoenix uses a lap bar to secure riders and usually leaves space between the bar and laps which can result in airtime on some sections of the coaster that have “bunny hills.”
In 2018, 2019, and 2021, Phoenix received the Golden Ticket Award for best wooden roller coaster.
Riders must be 42 inches to ride.
Comet began operation on May 30, 1946, which makes it 77 years old (about to be 78 in May 2024.)
Comet shares the same manufacturer as Phoenix; Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster Inc.
The coaster’s height is 84 feet and uses a chai lift hill for propulsion to get the rider to the 78-foot drop and reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour.
The length of the total track is 3,360 feet and the ride can hold 24 people at a time.
Comet lasts 1 minute and 48 seconds and can fit around 950 people per hour.
The ride also has bunny hills similar to Phoenix and the Comet’s bunny hills also give some riders airtime.
Comet was built with around 248,919 feet of lumber and the first drop was given the nickname “Chocolate Drop.”
Riders must be 42 inches to ride while being accompanied and 48 inches unaccompanied.
Thunderhawk (Dorney Park)
Thunderhawk first started operation on March 30, 1924, making it 99 years old (about to be 100 in March 2024) and is the eighth oldest coaster in the United States.
The manufacturer was also Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster Inc., the same as both the Phoenix and Comet.
Thunderhawk reaches a height of 80 feet using a chain lift hill for propulsion and takes the rider down a 65-foot drop.
The coaster’s top speed is 45 miles per hour and the ride lasts 1 minute and 18 seconds.
Thunderhawk’s length is 2,767 feet and can fit up to 24 riders per train.
Thunderhawk was renovated in 1989 and also refurbished in 2016.
American Coaster Enthusiasts presented a plaque to Dorney Park in 2021 which designated Thunderhawk a Roller Coaster Landmark.