Canyon River Rapids | 1987-2008

Canyon River Rapids was installed in the Pioneer Frontier section of Hersheypark for the 1987 season. This was the first major ride added to the park since the addition of sooperdooperLooper for the 1977 season. Hersheypark added 5 acres of land with the addition of the new ride.


The ride was purchased at a cost of $4 million ($8.459 million, adjusted for inflation) from ride broker Intamin. The ride itself was primarily manufactured by a subcontractor created by Intamin called Hafema. Hafema has operated as an independent company since 1990, called Hafema Water Rides GmbH.

Several other companies were also involved in the production of these rides including Giovanola (who built the lift system to get the ride back into the station) and Schwarzkopf.

1987 Canyon River Rapids release [large]
Canyon River Rapids press release information, which includes credit to the manufacturer supplier, design engineer, general contractor, and construction management.

Hafema continues to build rapids rides to this day, including having done renovation work for the rapids ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Rapids’ course consisted of a series of curves and elements that could cause water to splash into the boat. There were several waterfalls just before the end of the ride. It was 1700 feet in length, and had 26 boats. The ride had a reservoir lake, which held one million gallons of water, at a depth of 8 feet.

Canyon River Rapids proposal, 1986.
Canyon River Rapids proposal, 1986. The proposal included the addition of new restrooms across from the ride. You can also see the extension of the park fence to include the new area.
Images of the construction of Canyon River Rapids can be found on the Hersheypark History Group on Facebook.

A wavemaker was one of the other special effects on the ride. This wavemaker eventually was discontinued for use but remained on the ride. It was eventually repurposed for the wavemaker on the kiddie wave pool, Sandcastle Cove, when it was constructed as part of The Boardwalk expansion of Hersheypark in 2007. With that expansion, Canyon River Rapids received a new exit area.

Canyon River Rapids, as seen from Western Chute-Out, in 2006.

Views of the Rapids

Canyon River Rapids had an on-ride film (rather than an on-ride photo) which recorded the experience of your ride. Cameras were placed all along the course of the ride that recorded every boat that passed through. Here is an example of one such video, which you can watch below. It is from 1997.

Below is a video of Canyon River Rapids from 2001.

The on-ride film was removed in 2006, replaced with an on-ride photo.


Removing Canyon River Rapids

The removal of Canyon River Rapids was hinted at as early as June 2007, by then-new CEO of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Ted Kleisner (he left the position in 2013). Canyon River Rapids was officially closed on August 17, 2008.

It was replaced by a wave pool called The Shore and a lazy river called Intercoastal Waterway – this was part of the “SeaQuel” expansion to The Boardwalk that opened for the 2009 season.

That would be the last significant update to Hersheypark until the addition of Skyrush in 2012.

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