Hercules - Dorney Park - Roller CoasterHercules at Dorney Park | Defunct Roller Coasters
Hercules reigned over Dorney Park in Allentown, PA from 1989 to 2003. It was a massive wooden roller coaster. When it debuted it had the longest drop of any wooden coaster in the world. It was a big draw for Dorney before it had Steel Force and Talon to bring in the masses. By the time I rode it in 2003, Hercules was on its last legs. It had such a rough reputation that I told my girlfriend that she might want to skip it.

I don’t remember a whole lot from my ride. Rough, unevenly paced wooden coasters (like Predator @ Darien Lake) start to meld together in my memory. The record setting drop was long, but not very steep. And the banked turn over the pond was as rough as you’d expect on a turn that immediately follows such a tall drop. In the Fall of 2003, Hercules was dismantled and removed.

I love terrain coasters, but Hercules met the same fate as so many other wooden coasters. It aged badly, became rough, and ridership decreased. I’m not sure if any rehab efforts were taken, but it obviously didn’t do the trick. At least Dorney Park bounced back with a winner in Hydra: The Revenge. Hydra was a nine-headed monster that battled Hercules and in this version of the tale it looks like it won. The B&M looping floorless coaster was built on the former site of Hercules and has been well-received.

What’s Your Take?
Did you ever ride Hercules? What’d you think? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

9 Responses

  1. bob sheaffer

    i rode the hercules on its opening year and many times after that.i was truely impressed with it and was sorry to hear of its demise.i would love to see it renoveted and put back in operation.it was awesome .i love wooden coasters and i think all of them that made a mark in the amusement park history should never be done away with.and this one surely made it's mark.

    yours truely BOB SHEAFFER

  2. Scott R

    I was fortunate enough to ride Hercules on his opening day. Back then, he rode like a dream, but even before construction was complete, there were already concerns over the record setting drop and its subsequent banked turn. It was said that on its inaugural run, the Philadelphia Toboggan president lost his lucky hat right after the first drop… a bad omen indeed. I know there were a few attempts to re-engineer that section of track, but alas mother nature and gravity always win!

    It's kinda sad that a $6 million coaster built in 1989, with the best computer aided design had to offer, lasted a scant 14 years, yet Thunderhawk, right next door, as been in operation successfully since 1923. If ever there were a "they don't build 'em like they used to" moment, I guess this is it.

  3. Jennifer

    I remember riding Hercules the year it opened…my class went there on a class trip and my friends and I rode it…it was awesome, and the first drop was insane! It was really rough though, as are most wooden roller coasters…it was fun though and it will be missed! I agree with Scott…it's amazing that the other wooden roller coaster is still there considering how lt is…it's pretty rought too, but fun. 🙂

  4. Don Darnell

    I have ridden Hercules many times when it was at the park and I agree that it ws very rough but
    I liked it and I too was sad to see it go. I have been going to Dorney since the 1970's when I was a kid.

  5. Michael Kelley

    I grew up in the city of Philadelphia. As a child,teenager and a adult I went to Dorney Park alot. When I attended college at the UofP my friends and I liked going to this amusement park. I had the honor and privilege to ride
    Hercules its first year back in 1989. The ride was enjoyable but rough at the same time, The first drop was high and long but not steep. When the roller coaster ended its drop the sharp turn around the bend was a killer. It hurt my legs & knees. Overall I loved Hercules. I miss you. Please rebuild her xo xo xo xo.

  6. Robert Dunkel Jr

    I used to go to a company picnic at Dorney, I have ridden that ride and do remember riding it and how rough it was. I was sad when I found out they tore it down, but it seemed it was kind of worn. Hopefully it was sent to a park that could use it.

  7. Tara

    I live in Allentown and grew up going to Dorney Park every summer. I loved Hercules! When it first opened it was not as rough as in later years (late 90s); it was a relatively smooth coaster, for a wooden coaster. Over the years it became rather rough and in the late 1990s the park did rehab the coaster to try to “smooth it out.” Basically they got rid of the camel backs and made a straight track (which was very lame) and I think they also tried to fix the shaking after the first drop into the curve, but that was not successful. It actually got to the point I could not ride it in any seat other than first because it was so rough.
    Over the years, there were many reported injuries on Hercules (mostly back injuries) because of the roughness and the hard stop in the reduction brake (first braking system on a coaster into the station). That sounds contradicting but when 3 trains were on the track, the first braking system often had to stop the train if there was a train in the station. I only recall one collision of the trains in the station ever happening which turned out to be operator error.
    I was a ride operator in the ’91-’92 season. Even though I did not regularly operate Hercules, I was a back up operator for all the coasters at the time (yellow coaster aka Thunder hawk – before it was computerized and still used the manual braking system, the Laser, and Hercules). Personally my ride choice as an operator was Thunder Creek Mountain.

  8. Larry D. Williams

    Years ago I wote, Produced and Directed a news story on Hercules and Dorney park. You can see it on U-Tube Larry D. Williams Hercules.

  9. Heather

    I rode Hercules the year it opened. Not only was it rough but I’ll never forget the turn at the end of the first drop. I bounced so hard in my seat that my face hit the safety bar and I got a bloody mouth and nose. First and last time I ever rode that one. Still sad to see it go though because I grew up there from the 70s to the 90s.


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