What Could Have Been | Hersheypark in the mid-1980s

In 1983, Hersheypark began drafting operations capital requirements for the years 1984 to 1988. What was created wasn’t a plan for the park to follow, just an idea of what future operating budgets may need to be. To understand the motivation for this projection, we need to look back at the previous five years 1978 to 1983, first.

The “Arms Race”

After Hersheypark installed sooperdooperLooper in 1977 and had its best year ever, the park had a sharp decrease in attendance and profits in 1978. The 1979 year was considered disastrous by park management – outside factors caused less tourists to visit Hersheypark. There was the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant incident as well as a Polio outbreak in Lancaster County which encouraged tourists to travel to other areas.

1979-08-23 [Elmira, NY] Star-Gazette (p3)

AP article in the Star-Gazette of Elmira, NY, from August 23, 1979, on page 3.

The disastrous 1979 season put the park on a course of not installing a “sooper” ride like the Looper for a number of years. At the time, the amusement park industry was undergoing an “arms race” as parks were adding crazier attractions year-over-year. Hersheypark withdrew from this race as a result of the 1979 season.

In the following several seasons, while the park added new attractions in 1980 (Pirat and Cyclops), 1982 (Wave Swinger and Paddleboats), and 1983 (Tilt-A-Whirl), attendance continued to decline.

This was the mindset management was in – they were considering options to stabilize attendance and increase revenue. This five year projection they created was not a plan for the park moving into the future, but a general idea of what they were interested in doing.

Let’s take a look at the five year projection.

Five year projection

In the first year, 1984, the concept was to purchase a water / dark ride at an approximate $2.5 million dollar cost. It would have been installed in the Pioneer Frontier region of the park, the first ride to be added to that part of the park.

The concept for 1985 was particularly intriguing.

The first item listed for Rides Capital Requirements was to rebuild and install the Miniature Railroad at a cost of $200,000. Miniature Railroad had been removed and in storage at the park since the 1972 season. The second item was to install and modify The Bug, which had been removed and in storage near the Monorail garage since the 1982 season.

Miniature Railroad

Miniature Railroad in the late 1960s.

The concept for 1986 called for either kiddie ride additions or a major ride replacement. It’s unclear what major ride would have qualified for being replaced – Coal Shaker and Himalaya both would fall under this category of major ride. The Rotor also would have fallen under this category.

In 1987, the concept was to purchase a new major ride at a cost of approximately one million dollars.

The concept for 1988 was to replace a ride at a cost of $300,000. Rides like the Coal Shaker, Himalaya, and Rotor, easily could have been the ride to be replaced.

What did happen?

Hersheypark struggled quite a bit, operationally, in the early-mid 1980s. While the park was still doing reasonably well, things were not where they wanted it to be. Ultimately, that was what pushed the park to move in a different direction from the concepts discussed above.

The park began expanding into the Pioneer Frontier region in 1984, but instead of adding a water / dark ride, they added Conestoga and Timber Rattler. The two rides cost the park three quarters of a million dollars instead of the 2.5 million they initially anticipated spending.

In 1985, the park completed the Pioneer Frontier primary expansion with the opening of Pioneer Frontier Food Court, which included the relocation of Livery Stables and Wells Cargo to that area. Unfortunately, the revivals of The Bug and Miniature Railroad didn’t happen. While the Miniature Railroad train stayed in storage, on property, into the 2000s, The Bug was scrapped in the mid-80s. It would be pretty interesting to see both the Miniature Railroad and The Bug operating somewhere in Pioneer Frontier.

Circa 1984 The Bug scrapped near Monorail [large] [JWGreen].jpg

The Bug in storage near the Monorail garage by Trinidad Avenue, in ZooAmerica. Photo circa 1984 and courtesy of JW Green.

In 1986, the park really didn’t do much, though they had been trying to install the water / dark ride. The park actually had a plan drawn up by Intamin for a Chute-the-Chutes ride, which would have been installed in 1986.

The concept ultimately was not approved, and thus never installed. The rejection of the Chute-the-Chutes directly led to the proposal of Canyon River Rapids, which was approved. So in 1987, when this concept called for a million dollar ride, the park ended up installing a four million dollar ride in Canyon River Rapids.

In 1988, Hersheypark added Western Chute-Out, the first water slide ride the park installed since the Giant Toboggan Slide that was in the park from 1931-1941.

The park also ended up removing the three major flat rides mentioned for possible removal – Coal Shaker and Himalaya were removed after the 1989 season (replaced with Flying Falcon and later Hershey Triple Tower), while the Rotor was removed after the 1994 season (effectively replaced by the kiddie ride, Tiny Tracks, and later Skyrush).

For other articles about things that could have been in Hersheypark, check out the article on What Could Have Been | Hersheypark in 1974

Bike Boat | Big Water Sensation of 1930

I recently wrote about a water ride at Hersheypark called Bike Boats. I wanted to look into the subject of the ride a bit more, so here is a look at the Bike Boats ride, one of the most popular attractions in 1930 and 1931. 

Bicycle boats have been patented as far back as the 1890s. At the time, they looked a lot more like bicycles on skis.

US 547422 1895-10-08 Marine Conveyance [Dean, John]

Figure 1 of John Dean’s patent “Marine Conveyance” from October 8, 1895, patent number 547,422.

By the late 1920s, the wheels had mostly been dropped in favor of a more sleek form. Peugeot Cycles, a French manufacturer of motorcycles and bicycles, and a subsidiary of famous automobile company Peugeot Automobile Company, decided to go into the water bicycle business themselves. They developed a device called a Bike Boat.

To promote the Bike Boat, Peugeot Cycles hired Aimee Pfanner to ride the craft across the English Channel. The trek reportedly took between 8 and 9.5 hours (promotional reports said 8 hours while British Pathé – watch the video below – reported it took 9.5 hours). Doing this gave the device a lot of press and the Bike Boat quickly became famous.

This is a silent film.

Peugeot immediately tried selling the device in the United States. They sold the sales rights for the American market to Harry Kramer, who created Bike Boat, Limited. This company operated out of the General Motors Building in New York City.

1930-04 MotorBoating (p266)

Advert for the Bike Boat, in an April 1930 issue of MotorBoating, on page 266.

Bike Boat, Ltd., first debuted the Bike Boat device at the 1930 Motor Boat Show in New York City, at Grand Central Palace from January 17-25, 1930. They followed up their debut with a larger public display at the 1930 Los Angeles Boat Show which had greater publization. This event was at The Ambassador Auditorium from March 8 to March 15, 1930.

As part of the display, several women operated the Bike Boat. They were Kay Miller, Ida Schnall, Jeanne De Carva, and Flora Wood. Kay Miller raced against an Irish swimmer, Harry Devlin, to demonstrate the power of the bike boat.

1930-04-11 The Cincinnati Enquirer (p10)

A photo from the LA Boat Show display of the Bike Boat. Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 11, 1930, on page 10.

Per an article in the February 1930 issue of MotorBoating (a magazine), the Bike Boat, “consists of two shells of specially prepared wood which support a framework similar to the mechanism of a bicycle. The motion of the pedals, however, instead of being transmitted to wheels, is delivered to a three-bladed propeller, which is capable of pushing the boat about eight miles an hour with little exertion by the operator. Steering is accomplished by handlebars connected to a rudder which is attached to one of the floats.”

Also per this article, the Bike Boat was about 3 and a half feet wide and 14 feet long. The advantage of this boat was that it could not be capsized or sunk.

1930-04-07 The Galveston Daily News (p5)

Image published in The Galveston Daily News, April 7, 1930, estimated to be on page 5 (that issue of the paper is incomplete and the page does not have a page number on it). The image features Ida Schnall and swimmer Harry Devlin as he watches Schnall doing her performance.

The inability for the device to flip or sink was displayed by Ida Schnall who did a variety of tricks on the Bike Boat.

The popularity of the Bike Boat took off in America very quickly. It was labeled as “The Latest Sensation in Water Sports” in 1931. The Bike Boat could be found in many cities in America, as well as in many parks including Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Bay Shore Park in Baltimore, Maryland.

1931-07-10 Harrisburg Telegraph (p13)

Hersheypark advert for the Bike Boat in the Harrisburg Telegraph, July 10, 1931, on page 13. Note it says that it “Cannot Capsize or Sink.” They also used a drawing based on the image of Kay Miller on a Bike Boat from 1930.

1931-05-29 The Baltimore Sun (p5)

Bay Shore Park advert including the Bike Boat, published in The Baltimore Sun, May 29, 1931, on page 5. Note that they also used a drawing based on the image of Kay Miller on a Bike Boat from 1930, although it was drawn differently from Hersheypark’s advertisement.

The sensation of the Bike Boat quickly waned after 1931. A few other variants of bike boats appeared in the years after, including one version manufactured by Mar-Craft, Inc., of Clarence, NY, which debuted in 1947 after several years of development.

Bike boats are still around today, with a variety of different kinds being patented as recently as the last couple of years.

The Whip at Hersheypark | 1937-1975

Hersheypark's first W.F. Mangels Company ride was the Whip, installed in 1937.

The Whip was one of several rides mentioned in 1919 as being planned to be added to the park in the upcoming years. However, due to poor investments in sugar futures, the Hershey Chocolate Company found itself in receivership – being controlled by a bank from New York.

As a result, plans for installing any new rides in Hersheypark in the early 1920s were cancelled. Once the company exited receivership – the town got it's company back – new rides began appearing in Hersheypark, starting with the park's first roller coaster, The Wild Cat (originally, The Joy Ride from 1923 to 1934).

Installation and operation

The ride was constructed in a space near The Bug, and did not have a roof. Whip was the 20th ride Hersheypark installed, and was the 16th ride in the park in the 1937 season. A roof would be added to the ride in the following season; this was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.

Mangels produced a variety of different sized Whips. Hersheypark purchased a 12 car Whip. Other models include a 16 car variant, one of which continues to be in operation at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania (in the suburbs of Pittsburgh).

The Whip was originally given the name Whipperoo, and used this name for many years. In 1964, a kiddie Mangels Whip would be installed and would also be called Whipperoo. It doesn't appear that both rides having the same name ever confused anyone, especially since there weren't any park maps produced. Even when there were, beginning in 1972, the kiddie rides were not labeled, except generically as "Kiddie rides."

1972 Welcome to Hershey [map]1972 Welcome to Hershey [map - Hollow crop]The ride remained in the hollow location until the end of the 1972 season. Some stories about the flood of 1972 suggest that the Whip was destroyed in the flood, but this is not the case. The Whip can be seen on park maps from 1973 and 1974, and on a park souvenir map from 1975. The ride was relocated to the Hill, in a spot approximately where part of the fun house Funland stood until the end of the 1972 season.

When the ride was relocated in 1973, the roof was not. So for the final three seasons, the ride operated uncovered, as it had been in it's first. The ride was also renamed The Whip, but was simply labeled Whip on the 1974 and 1975 park souvenir maps and rides lists in the park's press kits.

1974 Hersheypark map |

The Whip was retired after the 1975 season. When Midway America expanded in 1997, a new version of The Whip was added to the park. This was a homage to this original Whip. Part of the concept of Midway America was to bring back rides the park used to have.

Footage of The Whip can be seen at the end of this video of Hersheypark in the Summer of '75.

Where the Whip was, today

For the Whip's Hollow location, 1937-1972, it is mostly part of the midway in front of sooperdooperLooper's station and maintenance area. The Whip was not right along the creek because the Miniature Railroad ran behind it.

For the Whip's Hill location, after the ride was removed, Mini Comet and another kiddie ride, OutBoard Motor Boats, was relocated to that spot. In 1977, Mini Comet was slightly adjusted to accommodate the relocation of Himalaya, which had to be relocated from the Hollow due to the addition of sooperdooperLooper.

In 1978, ZooAmerica opened, and a bridge over Park Avenue was added, creating a park entrance for ZooAmerica right in the general area as Himalaya and Mini Comet (Mini Comet was removed after the 1978 season, and OutBoard Motor Boats was relocated to a spot near Dry Gulch Railroad after the 1979 season).

After the 1989 season, Himalaya was removed and replaced with Flying Falcon. Though not on the exact same spot that Himalaya occupied, it was in the same general area. Flying Falcon was then removed and placed in storage after the 2016 season. The space is now home to two kiddie rides, Convoy and Frog Hopper.

To read more Throwback Thursday posts, click here

Bike Boats at Hersheypark

Hersheypark had a variety of water attractions on Spring Creek over the years. While the park no longer has any (since the end of the 2006 season), this was still a mainstay for many of the years the park has been open.

In 1931, Hersheypark installed a new boat ride called Bike Boats. These were promoted as being a popular ride from Europe. An example of a bike boat can be seen in this stock photo.

1931-07-10 Harrisburg Telegraph (p13)

Hersheypark advert featuring the Bike Boat From Europe (France, specifically). Published in the Harrisburg Telegraph, July 10, 1931, on page 13.

The image in the advertisement above originates from a photo of a Bike Boat being displayed at the 1930 Los Angeles Boat Show. You can especially see the similarity in the edge of the pool, as well as there being four flags on the Bike Boat.

1930-04-11 The Cincinnati Enquirer (p10)

A photo from the LA Boat Show display of the Bike Boat – the device’s debut in the United States. The person in the photo is Kay Miller. Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 11, 1930, on page 10.

Hersheypark purchased the Bike Boats from Bike Boat, Ltd., a New York City-based company. Bike Boats, Ltd., purchased the rights to sell the Bike Boat from Cycles Peugeot, a French manufacturer of bicycles and motorcycles.

A bike boat can be seen in a Curt Teich postcard of Spring Creek.

[1935] - 5A-H241 - Canoeing and Boating

Curt Teich postcard from 1935, Canoeing and Boating on Spring Creek, #44 in the series of Hersheypark.

[1935] - 5A-H241 - Canoeing and Boating [crop]

When you take a closer look, you can see at least three Bike Boats, one prominently.

The concept of the ride was pretty much having a bike mounted on water skis. You could propel yourself by peddling and control direction by turning the handlebars. The boats were said to be stable enough on the water to not flip over, so this was a safer option for those concerned about boating on the creek.

Aside from the canoes and rowboats the park had, the Bike Boats were also complimented by another boat ride, Custer Specialty Company Paddle-About, in about 1936. By the end of World War II, it appears that both the Bike Boats and Paddle-About rides were retired, with canoes being the only boats seen in post-war photos of Spring Creek.

Hersheypark wouldn’t install another kind of paddle-boat ride until 1982, when the park installed the upcharge ride Paddleboats.

For more Throwback Thursday articles, click here

Used Rides at Hersheypark

Over the history of Hersheypark, there have been 151 rides installed to this date in 2017. The park was in operation for two seasons before an amusement ride debuted: a Herschell-Spillman carousel.

Unlike most of the rides to follow, this Herschell-Spillman carousel was a small, used model. Within four years (1912), it was replaced by a larger, brand new Dentzel carousel. That ride would remain in the park until 1944.  Interestingly, the Dentzel was replaced by a used Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel which the park continues to operate today.

With that being said, these two carousels are two of twelve rides which the park purchased used or rented.

There is also unique circumstance in which the park purchased a ride new, sold it, rented it, and bought it back used.

Click here to see the list of used rides Hersheypark purchased.

Hersheypark in 1971

When Hersheypark opened for the 1971 season on April 18, 1971, things were quite different. The park was gated, and there were five entrances around the park’s perimeter. Even the name of the park was different, as the park went from being named “Hershey Park” as two words, to one word: “Hersheypark.” (I’ll be writing more articles about Hersheypark in 1971 and 1972 in the future.)

One thing Hersheypark did not do this season was produce a map of the park.

As a result, I recently decided to make my own version of a 1971 map of the park. This hypothetical map is based off the map the park produced in 1972. The work that went into making this was pretty intensive, but it was a lot of fun.

The hardest part was definitely putting Miniature Railroad on the map.

Here is my map of Hersheypark, 1971.

1971 Hypothetical Map [FINAL]

This is a hypothetical Hersheypark map of the way the park was in 1971. I made this map based off the 1972 map, which was the first one Hersheypark produced.

More Hersheypark Monorail History

This article is to go into further detail about the history of Hersheypark’s Monorail, as well as the Monorail Amusement Company. If you haven’t read the first article about the history of the Monorail, I suggest you read that article first and then read this.

The Monorail Amusement Company was formally established by an agreement between Hershey Estates (today, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company) and Hershey Foods Corporation (today, The Hershey Company) on February 12, 1968. It was submitted to Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds and put into public record on March 31, 1969 – this is known as the “1969 Agreement.” This agreement featured description of the land which the Monorail would occupy, as well as the foundation of a new company, the Monorail Amusement Company.

1968-02-12 Monorail Agreement

A map of the monorail system to be constructed for Hershey, Pennsylvania, from 1968. Published on the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds website. 

As said in the previous article on the history of the Monorail, the Monorail Amusement Company was 50% owned by Hershey Estates and 50% owned by Hershey Foods. The Monorail opened in 1969, with Hershey Estates maintaining and operating the system. In early 1973, Hersheypark decided to make the system a park ride. On November 8, 1973, Hershey Estates and Hershey Foods Company reached a new agreement called the “1973 Assignment.”

This agreement is known as an “Assignment of Interest.” Hershey Estates paid Hershey Foods $1 for Hershey Food’s share of Monorail Amusement Company. This effectively ended the Monorail Amusement Company.

This agreement had several conditions. First was that Hershey Foods retained the right to revoke any (or all) rights of way by September 10 of any year. In this case, the “right of way” is referring to the Monorail track and station on Hershey Foods property. This means that if Hershey Foods didn’t want the Monorail on their property any longer, they had to give Hershey Estates written notice at least six months prior to September 10, which is April 10.

Hershey Estates would then be required to dismantle and remove the Monorail from Hershey Foods property as soon as reasonably possible. At the time this meant no later than September 10, as the park season normally ended on Labor Day.

1973-11-08 Monorail Termination Agreement

The start of the “1973 Assignment” in which Hershey Estates took full control of the Monorail Amusement Company. Published on the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds website. 

The second condition was that if Hershey Foods did enact the first condition prior to September 10, 1978, it would reimburse Hershey Estates for the reasonable cost of the equipment and relocation of the track. However, Hershey Foods would not be responsible for paying for any extension of the system, even if an extension was necessary due to the request of removing the track from their property.

Of course, the second condition never came into play, as Hershey Foods didn’t revoke Hershey Estate’s right of way by 1978. In fact, Hershey Foods never revoked Hershey Estate’s right of way –

– that was, until 2014.

2017 Monorail Track Relocation

2016-12-14 Monorail Track Relocation

A map detailing part of the track relocation – from December 14, 2016. Published on the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds website.

…In 2014, [The Hershey Company] began discussions with [Hershey Entertainment & Resorts] pursuant to its rights under the 1973 Agreement and requested [Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company] to relocation a portion of the Monorail that passes over the main entrance of [The Hershey Company’s] office building at 19 East Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, Pennsylvania….

The Monorail Agreement, Right of Way And Easement, reached on November 29, 2016, between Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company and The Hershey Company.

As Hershey Entertainment was subject to the terms and conditions of the 1973 agreement, they “agreed to relocated that portion of the Monorail.” Both The Hershey Company and Hershey Entertainment agreed to a new location – which we saw in the Monorail Track Relocation Update from January 2017.

The companies agreed to 11 terms in this agreement. These terms included Monorail Relocation Work, Monorail Easement, and that this agreement superseded the existing 1969 and 1973 agreements.

2016-11-29 Monorail Termination Agreement [large'

The 2016 agreement supersedes the previously existing 1969 Agreement and 1973 Assignment. Published on the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds website. 

About a month before an agreement was formally reached, The Hummelstown Sun published an article stating that the Monorail was to be slightly relocated. The agreement was then reached on November 29, 2016, with relocation work beginning promptly on January 6, 2017. Track relocation work was completed by March 2017.

This has been a deeper look into the history of Hersheypark’s monorail. I hope you enjoyed this article. Keep checking back for more on the history of Hersheypark!

Monorail | Hersheypark

In the late 1960s, monorails were a futuristic mode of people mover transportation being installed in many places in the United States and Canada. Monorails were featured at various expos, with some being installed in amusement parks. One monorail was installed at Dutch Wonderland, in Lancaster, PA; the Disney World monorail is perhaps the best-known theme park monorail today.

During this time frame, there was similar consideration being given to having a monorail in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1968, plans were being pulled together to have such a project come to fruition. The monorail they chose to buy was manufactured by Constam Corporation, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and designed by Habegger Engineering Works of Thun, Switzerland. (By the time the Hershey monorail would open, Constam would be reorganized into Universal Mobility, Incorporated.)

The system Constam was selling would later be called the UNIMOBIL Type II minirail system. It was called a minirail because it was a light weight miniature monorail system. Most other monorail systems made at the time had larger trains and thus were heavier. The lightweight nature of the system is ultimately a fault, as the rest of the monorail industry would not adopt similar light trains. This Type II minirail system proved difficult to upgrade as it was quickly outdated.

1968-02-12 Monorail Agreement

A map of the monorail system to be constructed for Hershey, Pennsylvania, from 1968.

On December 18, 1968, a new company, Monorail Amusement Company, announced it would be opening a monorail in Hershey in 1969. The Monorail Amusement Company ownership was split between Hershey Estates and Hershey Foods Corporation for a 50/50 share. The board of the company was comprised of six people: Lloyd Blinco, John O. Hershey, Wallace Mayer, Earl Spangler, Sam Tancredi, and Richard Zimmerman.

The Monorail was to have two stations, one in downtown Hershey near the chocolate factory, and the other next to Hersheypark Arena. The route would go in a counter-clockwise direction. If you started at Station #2, the downtown station behind the Hershey Estates offices which housed the Hershey Drug Store, the route would proceed as follows: The ride would pass the chocolate factory and go through Hershey Park Zoo (later ZooAmerica). The Monorail would then cross Park Avenue the first time, entering Hersheypark. From there it would cross the park to get to Station #1 at Hersheypark Arena. From there, the route would continue through the park, by the original main entrance of Hersheypark, across Park Avenue again, and then back to the downtown station.

August 1970 Monorail downtown

Monorail, as seen in 1970, from the downtown Hershey station (Station #2). You can see the main entrance to the park in the background.

Steel for the track was fabricated by Constam at their facility in Salt Lake City. The steel beams were then transported to Hershey by train. The beams were then placed at various spots around the Monorail route. The monorail system was quickly constructed, and the trains and autopilot system were delivered to the park.

Monorail opened on June 20, 1969. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony before the ride officially open. It was led by the Master of Ceremonies, Robert M. Mumma, then Secretary of Commerce of Pennsylvania. Trudy Petersen of York, PA, Miss Pennsylvania of 1969, cut the ribbon.

To ride Monorail, you had to pay a fare of 25 cents. This fare was paid using tokens which has the Monorail Amusement Company logo stamped on them. In some cases, guest received free ride tickets.

Above are several types of ride tickets a person could receive. All feature the Monorail Amusement Company name and logo, and one kind was specifically issued by Hershey Foods Corporation (today, The Hershey Company).

In September of 1969, the American Vecturist Association published their monthly newsletter, The Fare Box. In this issue, there was a report that a Mr. Ed Dence took a ride on Hershey’s Monorail and was surprised that the monorail used tokens. Ed Dence is known in the vecturist community for being the author of a book titled A Visual Guide to Store Charge Coins, amongst other things. It was quite significant that tokens were used for the Monorail.

The ride had three trains, one of which was initially enclosed and air conditioned. After the 1969 season, the enclosed car was renovated to match the other two trains. The trains were also extended, with an extra car added to each train.

1971 Monorail and DGRR

Monorail, as seen in August 1971, from the station by Hersheypark Arena and one of the five entrances of Hersheypark. (That entrance would become the main entrance for the park in 1972, before the entrance was moved to its current spot in 1973.)

In 1973, this was changed when Monorail was converted into a Hersheypark ride. With Hershey Food Corporation moving the chocolate factory tours into a new facility, Chocolate World, there was far less a reason for tourists to be in downtown Hershey. Hersheypark weighed the option in consultation with R. Duell & Associates, the company that created the design for the renovations for Hersheypark in 1970.

Hersheypark decided to make the Monorail a scenic tour ride instead being of a people mover. From that point forward, the downtown station was not commonly used. There were occasions where the Monorail would operate before the park would, in the spring or the fall. Those would be the only occasions the downtown station would be open to the public. This did not happen consistently from one year to the next. Eventually, the downtown station was only used for private events, and even that stopped around 2001. From that point onward, the downtown station was only used for emergency unloading in the event of a ride breakdown.

Monorail ran three trains until June 2000. The fiberglass of several cars on the back of the Train 2 and the front few cars of Train 3 were cracking. These cars from the two trains were retired and the remaining cars were merged into one train. For a brief time, this gave the joking appearance of the Monorail having 1 and 2/3rds trains because when Train 2 and Train 3 were merged, the front of the train had the number 2 while the back of the train still had he number 3. That was quickly corrected.

In 2011, Hersheypark purchased a small amount of steel rail and the three trains from Six Flags Magic Mountain Metro monorail. The park has not operated any of these trains since purchasing them, leaving the park with still having two trains.

Metro Monorail Trains (storage) 001

Here are the Metro trains, in storage, June 2011.

In January 2017, the downtown station was removed from the Monorail, and the Monorail track was slightly adjusted. The Monorail now barely crosses through the parking lot behind the old Hershey Drug Store and old factory. Click here to read more.

There is a second article that goes into even more detail about Hersheypark’s Monorail. Click here to read more.

Thank you for reading this article about Hersheypark’s Monorail. An article about Six Flags Magic Mountain’s monorail system, Metro, and the system at the California Exposition, is next. 

An Introduction to Monorail and Metro

In this series about various monorail systems, there are two monorails with a close relationship between the history of both parks.

When John O. Hershey was put in charge of cleaning up Hershey Park in 1969, he was very open minded to significant changes in the amusement park industry, and as such, he took to visiting parks all across America. This brought him in contact with the company which designed Disneyland with Walt Disney – R. Duell & Associates.

At the same time, R. Duell was involved with a project in Valencia, California – what would open in 1971 as Magic Mountain. It should be no surprise that the renovated Hersheypark (renamed from Hershey Park after the 1970 season) and the brand new Magic Mountain were something of a kindred family as there are some striking similarities to the look of both parks.

But since this is about the two park’s monorail systems, I digress. The monorail built for Hershey and the one built for Magic Mountain were both Universal Mobility, Inc.’s UNIMOBIL Type II minirail system. While Hershey’s Monorail opened in 1969, Magic Mountain’s Metro opened with the park in 1971.

30 years later, Magic Mountain closed Metro, and the ride remained “standing but not operating” because the ride was too expensive to deconstruct.

In 2011, Magic Mountain began taking the trains out of their storage area to be shipped somewhere.  It turned out that Magic Mountain sold the trains and some small pieces of track to Hersheypark. The delivery arrived at the end of May that year. Since that time, nothing has come of the trains being sold to Hersheypark.

I will be writing more about Hersheypark’s Monorail and Magic Mountain’s Metro in the next few days.

Universal Mobility, Incorporated

In 1960, a man by the name of Hendrik “Hank” Pater founded a new corporation in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah: Advanced Welding Engineers (AWE). Pater is company president and general manager. In about 1963, AWE merged with another Salt Lake City firm, Steel Contractors, Inc. (SCI), of which Pater was president.

The business these two companies in varied within steel manufacturing, but it would turn to building tramways for ski resorts. One project SCI was part of was a tramway at Treasure Mountains! Park City, the longest gondola high ride in the country at the time. SCI fabricated towers and crossbars for the gondola lift.

In 1965, SCI was involved with another tramway project in New Mexico. Pater served as the principle consulter for SCI.  Sometime between then and 1967, Pater left Steel Contractors to form a new company, Constam Corporation. This company was founded to enter the monorail systems market, since monorail systems were growing in popularity.

Constam was awarded the opportunity to build a monorail system that was a mini-monorail system, known as a minirail. This system was designed by Habegger Engineering Works of Thun, Switzerland. Habegger previously installed three minirail systems, two in Europe, and one in Canada for Expo 67.

1964-06-04 The [Franklin] News-Herald (p7)

The Habegger minirail system called Telecanape, at the Swiss National Exposition, in 1964.

The opportunity Constam gained was an agreement with Habegger to build a minirail system at the California Exposition in Sacramento, California. The project was announced in December 1967, with the ride scheduled to open in 1968. With no major issues, the minirail system at the Cal Expo opened in 1968 for the California State Fair.

With this first success in 1968, Constam had the chance to move forward with a second minirail system. This project would be on the other side of the country in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Announced in December 1968, the ride that would be called Monorail was scheduled to open in June 1969.

Underneath Monorail

This picture is from underneath the Monorail at Hersheypark, from 2016.

Around the time of the opening of Monorail at Hersheypark, Constam reorganized into Universal Mobility. The company was branded as Unimobil / Habegger and the systems installed at the Cal Expo and Hershey were called Unimobil Type II.

Miami Downtown People-Mover Environmental Impact Statement (p2-56)

Unimobil/Habegger Type II – as shown in an environmental impact statement for a possible downtown Miami people-mover system.

The first monorail UMI would sell after Hershey was a minirail system to Magic Mountain, in Valencia, California. The ride was named Metro and had several stations in the park. Metro opened in 1971.

Metro remained in operation for the next 30 years, closing in 2001. It wasn’t until 2011 that some of Metro was dismantled. The trains for Metro were sold to Hersheypark, along with a small amount of track. Parts of Metro still stand in Six Flags Magic Mountain today, including one of the old stations.

The remainder of the monorails UMI constructed at theme parks were a new system called UM Tourister Type II. Three were constructed: Carowinds (1973), Kings Island (1974), and Kings Dominion (1975). The Carowinds Monorail would be closed in 1994, while the Kings Dominion system would be closed in 1993. The Kings Island system was also closed in 1993. In 1999, Jungle Jim’s International Market purchased the minirail system and it continues to operate to this day.

1983 Metropolitan Transportation Planning (p411)

A UNIMOBIL / Habegger monorail system shown in a 1983 Metropolitan Transportation Planning document, page 411.

In the mid-70s, UMI began subcontracting the manufacture of fiberglass components of the trains to a company called Intermountain Design Inc. (IDI), of Salt Lake City. This relationship would continue for as long as UMI would exist.

IDI did have other jobs. This included – a full  decade later – designing the lavatory for Air Force One during the George H.W. Bush presidency. IDI would manufacture the fiberglass components of at least the monorail systems built after 1975.

Three other Tourister monorails were built, one at Minnesota Zoological Garden in Apple Valley, Minnesota, which opened in 1979. An agreement was made between UMI and the zoo in August 1977. Only part of the ride officially opened in 1979, with the remainder of the route opening in 1980. It was also subject of a US Department of Transportation winterization test to understand how well certain monorail systems could operate in winter conditions.

1982-01 Downtown people mover (DPM) winterization test demonstration: UMI

This is the front cover of the DPM Winterization Test Demonstration in which UMI participated. The final report was issued in January 1982.


The monorail at the Minnesota Zoo was closed in 2013. Officials from the zoo commented that to renovate and update the ride would cost around 40 million dollars, which simply wasn’t feasible.

In 1981, UMI was contracted to build a monorail for the soon opening ZooMetro in Miami, Florida. UMI then contracted Budd Company, of Detroit, Michigan, to assist in the construction of the system.This Tourister system opened in December 1982.

This would lead to UMI’s final monorail – which was built at the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. UMI decided to create a subsidiary company that was a joint venture between Budd Co. and UMI. This company was named Unimobile 84, Inc. after the minirail system.

While the monorail at the expo was the most popular ride at the event, the exposition itself was not generating the kind of revenues they were expecting. Unimobile 84 pushed to get revenue, and a deal was struck between the company and the fair. However, it was apparent the fair was unable to meet the terms of the agreement. Unimobile 84 eventually sued the fair organizers themselves to get payment; this did not fare well in the courts (pun not intended). Unimobile 84 took the case to Federal Appeals Court, in which they lost.

It was apparent that this venture hurt Universal Mobility, Inc., as they would not sell another monorail after this point. The Transportation Group, Inc. (TGI), a branch of Bombardier Inc., purchased UMI in 1989. The most valuable asset was a new design UMI had been working on, which was the UMI Type III monorail. TGI would go on to use some of the Type III designs in other projects.

UMI did offer a few other systems, though none of these ever seemed to be sold. One system was a UNIMOBIL Transporter System. Another was a tram service called Unimobil Unitram. The tram was available for sale in at least 1985-1986.

1986-Spring A Shuttle Bus for the University of Central Florida

A picture of a Unimobil Unitram, sold by UMI, in at least 1985-1986. This image was in a Master’s thesis for the University of Central Florida discussing the need for a shuttle bus service.

This is the complete history of Universal Mobility, Incorporated, from the 1960s to the end of the 1980s. Out of their nine minirail systems, four still operate today, including their oldest two. For a company that has been defunct for nearly 30 years, with a system long since outdated, that’s a pretty good accomplishment.

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