Great Bear Anecdote

When I came up with the idea of comparing Great Bear and Talon, I was reminded of something that happened in June of 2014 at Coasting For Kids, a fund-raising coaster marathon at Dorney Park during which I set a personal record of 36 rides in one day (12 on Steel Force, 16 on Talon and 8 on Hydra).  On one of my rides on Talon I found myself sitting next to a teenage boy who struck me as somewhat challenged – I suspect that he was autistic – and who kept chanting Great Bear, like a mantra, throughout the ride.  At the time I wondered why he was fixated on a coaster at another park but in retrospect it made perfect sense, as these two coasters are strikingly similar.

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

Layout And Setting

Great Bear is partially, scenically situated over Spring Creek whereas Talon is situated primarily over turf.  Both coasters ascend the lift hill directly from the loading station and the lift hill on Talon displays several titillating signs –  GOING UP, NO TURNING BACK, GETTING CLOSER, ALMOST THERE – on the way up.  Once at the top, Great Bear descends into a 360-degree helix before completing a 124-foot drop while Talon drops 120 feet to the right.  Great Bear clearly has the edge for setting and the early helix.

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

Elements and Sequence

Great Bear and Talon are B&M (Bolliger & Mabillard) inverted coasters that feature essentially the same elements.   These consist of a vertical loop, Immelmann, zero-g roll and corkscrew.   Both coasters travel at the same speed (58 mph), enter the vertical loop after the initial drop and seat four across in eight rows with similar restraints (over the shoulder harnesses).   Although the elements are the same, the two coasters do not enter them in the same order.  On Great Bear it’s vertical loop/Immelmann/zero-g roll/ corkscrew; on Talon it’s vertical loop/zero-g roll/Immelmann/corkscrew.  From my perspective, the fact that Talon goes into the zero-g roll right after the loop makes a tremendous difference in the ride experience.  Talon seems to gain momentum very quickly as a result.  On Great Bear I found the first part of the ride somewhat lacklustre; it was only after the zero-g roll that the coaster seemed to kick into a higher gear.  For positioning of the elements and pacing Talon has a decided edge.

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

Highs and Lows – From Soaring To Swooping

Both Great Bear and Talon afford the sensation of soaring into space and both coasters make maneuvers that send them close to the ground.  Great Bear dives close to the water before the vertical loop then later on a straightaway.  Talon makes a swooping, very low to the ground left turn (location of the camera) before transitioning into a corkscrew/ flat spin followed by a left upward helix.  This swooping turn, which comes pretty much out of the blue, greatly enhances the ride experience and earns Talon extra points.

The Winner

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

And the winner is:  Talon, which comes out ahead in two of the three categories.  I find that Talon offers the better overall ride experience as well as being seriously underrated.  It seems to have more energy than Great Bear. Great Bear is a coaster that I would ride maybe once on a visit to Hersheypark, time permitting, whereas Talon is a coaster I would seek out and ride repeatedly during a visit to Dorney.

What’s Your Take? 
Have you ridden Great Bear and Talon and if so, how do you think they match up?

Also, check out our other roller coaster showdowns and let us know what other match-ups you’d like to see.

About The Author

Hi! I took up roller coasters late in life, 8 years ago at the age of 59 and am trying to make up for lost time. Most of my favorite coasters were made by Intamin and lately, Rocky Mountain Construction. I love Hersheypark not only because it's the sweetest place on earth but because the three major coasters are Intamins. In real life I work in the legal profession.

8 Responses

  1. Joel

    This is a tough one for me. I haven’t ridden either in a quite a while, but I remember having similar observations as you did Bobbie.

    I remember enjoying Great Bear’s odd layout with that helix after the lift. Also, Great Bear’s cramped surroundings with the pond, trees, and other rides added to the fun for me. But Talon is really underrated and delivers a really solid ride with great pacing and surprises.

    I’d probably lean towards Great Bear because I’m a sucker for terrain coasters and the journey-like feeling they provide, but this is a close one for sure.

  2. Brian MacDonald

    Wow, this is tough one for me as well. I live just about equidistant from Hershey and Dorney, so I’ve ridden both of these coasters quite a few times. I’m a big B&M fan, so both of these are high on my list. I think I’m going to have to agree with Joel that the terrain setting of Great Bear is the deciding factor for me. Talon is a great coaster, and one that I’m happy to re-ride many times, but it doesn’t have that same positioning that Great Bear has, at the top of the hill with the trees.
    I think we can all agree that both of these B&M inverts are superior to Batman: The Ride (any iteration; they’re all the same).

  3. LinaSkye

    I would give the edge to Great Bear IF that ridiculously long section of slow straight track at the end wasn’t there. I really enjoy the little helix before the drop, and I can’t think of any other B&Ms that do that. Plus, Great Bear has better scenery. However, Talon doesn’t waste an inch of track, and it has always felt way more forceful to me. I enjoy both and have great memories from both, but Talon’s intensity and compact design always beats out GB for me.

    And then Montu kills them both.

  4. Judy P in Pgh

    Talon gets my vote, probably because I marathoned it for 3 consecutive years thanks to Coasting for Kids. It was easy to get 20+ consecutive rides during that event. I prefer the last two rows (either end seat), but the front row is also good. The last few times I visited HersheyPark, my ride partner needed a “big boy seat,”, so we were stuck in the middle on Great Bear. We tend to only ride Great Bear once or twice on a visit. I’m not sure if that is because of long lines or if it is because there are so many other good coasters at HersheyPark. When I am at Dorney Park, Talon is my favorite! Neither of these coasters has a mid-course brake run, which is a plus in my book. Talon is located near the park entrance/exit, so I am more likely to finish off an evening with consecutive rides than I would with Great Bear, located a good distance from the park entrance/exit.

    • Bobbie

      Translation, according to Babelfish, is as follows: I am sorry that I interfere, but I think this topic is not already up to date.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.