HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — On May 8, 1977, Hersheypark opened a ride that took riders for a loop… literally!
The sooperdooperLooper roller coaster has been thrilling guests young and old, and this year it turns 45 years old.
The coaster was the second one of its kind in the United States when it opened in 1977, only being beat by a similar looping coaster that opened in 1976 in California. At the time, the coaster was the most expensive ride that the park ever built, costing over $3 million. (which would be about $14.2 million in 2022).
The ride was designed by famed roller coaster designer Anton Schwartzkopf of West Germany and purchased by roller coaster manufacturer Intamin AG out of Switzerland.
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The ride wasn’t always going to be called sooperdooperLooper. According to the Hershey, Pa. website, the ride’s name was narrowed down to two possible choices: Merry Derry Dips or Super Duper Looper.
At the time Group Vice-President, of Sports & Entertainment Bruce McKinney preferred Merry Derry Dips, with its reference to Derry Township, But his wife and two daughters outvoted him. So, Super Duper Looper was chosen, and the spelling changed soon after to the name we know today.
According to the park’s website, the ride is 2,614 feet in length, with a lift hill height of about 75 feet. Once the train crests the lift hill, it traverses a small left-hand curve and goes into the main drop traveling at speeds of 45 miles per hour.
After the drop, the coaster goes through the 57-foot-high signature vertical loop. Afterward, the coaster threads the loop and travels through a tunnel (which used to have a spider that would drop down to spook guests). It ends with a helix finale.
The ride has seen many paint jobs throughout its history. It opened with an off-white and orange color scheme. It was then repainted in 1989 with a blue and black color scheme. Recently, in 2021, the coaster debuted a new color scheme that blends the old with the new, by having a white loop and a repaint of the blue and black track throughout its course.
This ride has been known as a gentle family-friendly roller coaster. It was actually my very first upside-down roller coaster back when I was only three and a half years old!
Without this attraction, we may not have seen Hersheypark grow into what it has today, which is an amusement park with 14 other roller coasters. sooperdooperLooper paved the way for other inverted coasters throughout the U.S and the world.