HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — When Hersheypark’s first Wild Cat closed in 1945, many thought the cat was done for. But 50 years later in 1995, the park announced that the cat was coming back in a brand new way.
The second iteration of The Wildcat was announced on June 30, 1995. This would be the park’s fifth roller coaster at the park and would be the first wooden roller coaster at the park since the Comet, which opened in 1946.
The roller coaster was constructed by Sunbury, Pennsylvania-based roller coaster manufacturer Great Coasters International. This would become the company’s very first coaster.
The roller coaster took inspiration from the old wooden twister-style coasters from the 1930s and 1940s. The coaster was to be the centerpiece of a brand new section of the park, which was called Midway America. The coaster officially opened to the public on May 26, 1996.
The ride featured an 85-foot swooping drop and many twists and turns, reaching speeds up to 48 miles per hour. The coaster was critically acclaimed when it first opened. However, as the years went on, the coaster started to gain a reputation for being rough.
In 2007, Wildcat received new trains, which were made by Great Coasters International, which made the coaster smoother. During the offseason, portions of the ride would be re-tracked, which would also cause the ride to be smoother.
In early 2013, Hersheypark honored a ride operator named Nick Pantalone, who had a deep love of the coaster. Before Pantalone passed away, the park recorded him reciting the safety spiels for the attraction. His voice was played on the platform of the coaster to remind guests of the safety requirements to follow. A plaque was then dedicated to him and still remains outside the queue line of the attraction.
On July 8, 2022, the park announced that the ride would close at the end of July 2022. The ride officially closed after the park closed on July 31, 2022, with the last ride going to the parents of Pantalone.
Many thought after the closing of this version of the Wildcat, the cat was gone forever. But, later in 2022, it was announced that the cat will be coming back, but this time for vengeance.
You can take a virtual ride on the former Wildcat below!