Last year, the Wildcat at Hersheypark thrilled riders for its 20th season. Once the anchor attraction of the Midway America section of the park (yes, you read that correctly: it was an anchor), the very first wooden roller coaster from manufacturer Great Coasters International is now notably less popular.

This has led many coaster enthusiasts, myself included, to speculate that famed compaNew Texas Giant Returns to the Stationny RMC—Rocky Mountain Construction—would be brought in to overhaul and modernize the original ride. Not familiar with this trend? Examples of wooden roller coasters that have been updated with RMC track include: New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas (pictured right), Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, & Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

From a distance, Wildcat seems to be the stereotypical “RMC” project: an aging, rough woodie that does not draw in the crowds. However, this has not happened; even the Screamscape rumor mill is quiet when it comes to the Wildcat. Why is this? There are a few possibilities. For one, the Wildcat’s ride isn’t terrible. Or at least, that terrible. The only real patch of unbearable roughness is just that, a patch—specifically, the track leading up to the brake run. Other than that the ride is unsettling but not unnerving; your wits are left intact. Compared to some other aging beasts of lumber (I’m looking at you Georgia Cyclone), it delivers a decent ride and doesn’t shake you to your core.

Undoubtedly because it lacks such soul-crushing roughness, the ride still has quite a few fans—both enthusiasts on the outside and some who work at the park. There are positives! The layout is actually quite nice. It is a picturesque backdrop to the midways of Midway America, and traverses over the landscape beautifully. If you RMC the Wildcat, you will lose some of that beauty. Aesthetically, steel track with inversions can’t evoke the same vintage feel as a classic wooden twister in the mold of the late Harry Traver. Not to mention that not everyone dislikes the ‘Cat. There are even some who—gasp—enjoy the ride as it is!

Of course, that is still a significant minority. The actual ride experience would most definitely be improved if you were to make the change. Ask anyone who has experienced both an RMC and Hersheypark - Wildcat - Roller Coastera GCI, and the majority would no doubt prefer the RMC. Not to mention that its Midway America neighbor across the way, Lightning Racer, shares the ‘Cat’s signature GCI twister layout. This redundancy has to be noted.

Because there are positives and negatives to “RMCing” the ‘Cat, I believe management’s decision will come down to how quickly they wish to expand onto their new land. Hersheypark absorbed about 30 acres of land southwest of the entrance which was previously separated by a road. This road has now been moved, and yet the only signs of any future addition there are mere rumors.

For the next big thing, Hershey faces the choice of replacing an older ride or using the aforementioned new land. If they decide to replace, look for an “RMCed” Wildcat to debut in the next 3 years. If they prioritize the new land, it will have to wait.

However, even that is an unfair simplification. The decision to “RMC” an old woodie is not as straightforward a decision as many coaster enthusiasts believe.

What’s Your Take?
What do you say? Should Hersheypark give Wildcat an “RMC” overhaul? Leave a comment below and vote in this poll.
[poll id=”2″]


Photo Credits – Images via Creative Commons:Martin Lewinson (Photo 1) and Jeremy Thomspon (Photo 2).

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jon! I have many interests, but chief among them is a love of roller coasters and theme parks. I love rides and parks that deliver cool, unique, and meaningful experiences. I try to capture as much of that experiential goodness as I can in my writings!

12 Responses

  1. Joel

    Great post Jon! Based on my experience with Wildcat, I’d say yes! I’m not a fan of rough rides and this one definitely beat me up. I do agree with you that RMC-ing rides a simple decision and I wouldn’t say all aging roughing woodies need to be updated.

    Here’s more on my rough ride: Wilcat Review

  2. Dave C.

    Having ridden it a few weeks ago, I would say it has some rough points though my son liked it. We both rode Twisted Colossus at Magic Mountain a few weeks before that and we loved its RMC-ing. Twisted Colossus is one of the more intense not harsh coasters of those I have ridden. While Twisted Colossus is a different style, I would rank it with Nitro, Intimidator and Intimidator 305 on sheer fun. That in my opinion is what RMC-ing can do. Hershey Park has two other wooden roller so it would not be a big deal if they RMC’ed one and it would take away its reputation for roughness.

    On another matter, one of the ride ops thought Hershey was going to build a giga coaster. Maybe that is reason for the land described in your post. If true I just hope it doesn’t have the same Intamin seats as Thighcrush (Skyrush). The only thing I can imagine is that Skyrush was so painful because I rode it multiple times in the backmost wing seats. I feel Skyrush has the potential to be one of the most intense coasters with comfortable seats. We felt like we were going to get launched multiple times. B & M’s lap restraints would be incredible on it.

    • Jon H

      Hi Dave. Yeah, Skryush’s restraints have been a major hinderance to the ride. They really dropped the ball there. It definitely it dropped ridership because of how bad the thighcrush was in the first year. Its improved since then, and I can tolerate it but it’s never been a comfortable ride, as you alluded to.

      As far as a giga… Let’s just say I’d be (very) pleasantly shocked if that was the case. The rumors I’ve heard are not that major. But you never know…

  3. Bobbie Butterfield

    Naw, leave it as is. Wildcat does not seem to have significantly waned in popularity and I had no problem whatsoever with it. Interestingly, on the final day of the park’s operating season – I tend to visit Hershey then – Wildcat is likely to be one of the only coasters with a queue. (Most of those that normally have long queues, such as Fahrenheit because of its low rider capacity, are walk-ons.) Whether this is because Wildcat is more family friendly than Fahrenheit/Storm Runner/Skyrush or whether people are actually eager to ride it I don’t know, but I consider it painless compared with punishing aging woodies such as Mighty Canadian Minebuster and Wild Beast.

    • Eric

      Those woodies at CW destroyed me too, from what I recall on my 2009 visit to the park. I rode MCM and thought “there’s no way the other can be as bad as that”, only to be proven wrong by WB.

      Still, Predator @ Darien Lake takes the cake as the roughest, most unpleasant woodie in my riding history 🙁

  4. Steph Thompson

    I think they should RMC Wild Cat because it would make the ride more smooth. I agree- the layout is good.

  5. Matt Glumac.

    Leave the Wildcat alone. Its the original GCI coaster. RMCing this coaster is basically spitting into the faces of GCI.

    • Eric

      With the exception of Gwazi (which ran 365 days/year) and SFDK’s Roar, all other GCI models are still in operation with Wildcat being the oldest of the bunch. Why fix what isn’t yet broken? I hope they keep it around for a while.

  6. Eric

    I can’t help but see the RMC treatment on Wildcat as an inevitability. Maybe not in the next 2-3 years, but in 5 or 6 seasons from now, the thought of an “Iron Wolverine” (© Eric S, 2018) is pretty damn tempting…..especially if ridership goes down.

    Hershey wouldn’t DARE touch the Comet, or Lightning Racer. I don’t *want* to see the original GCI twister become another conversion job, yet the industry seems to be leaning in that direction……

    Nice thought-provoking post, Jon.

  7. Chris

    Why wouldn’t Hersheypark RMC Wildcat, It is my home park and I have ridden it several times. Each ride getting worse. I mean look what Cedar Point did. They took the unbearably rough Mean Streak, RMCed it, and now Steel Vengeance is the best roller coaster in the world. And another thing, why in the world would the 2020 coaster be another hyper? If you wanted to make a better hyper, give Skyrush new restraints.


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