When R. Duell & Associates was hired by Hershey Estates (today, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company) to renovate Hersheypark, one major thing R. Duell wanted int the park were a handful of new roller coasters. At the time, Hersheypark only had one roller coaster – Comet – and the park needed more if it was going to compete on a national level.
While the park added two small roller coasters in the Twin Towers Toboggans manufactured by Chance Rides, those were relatively minor and overlooked in the roller coaster count. R. Duell called for a major roller coaster to be added in 1974 – that would become the family friendly runaway mine train coaster Trailblazer.
Trailblazer was preliminarily added to Hersheypark’s renovation budget in August 1972. In the R. Duell renovation plan, the coaster was assigned #5206 and the station was assigned #5112.
Several proposals were submitted to R. Duell and Hersheypark for Trailblazer. One proposal was given to Hersheypark by Intamin for a Speed Coaster Mine Train that would have had 2 lifts and was 3270 feet long and could reach speeds of approximately 45 mph. This coaster was a custom system that would have been manufactured by Schwarzkopf Industries GmbH. (Schwarzkopf would later build sooperdooperLooper for Hersheypark, opening in 1977.)
Runaway Mine Train
Hersheypark chose Arrow Development Company’s runaway mine train instead, purchasing the ride on April 30, 1973 at a cost of $975,000. The ride opened on May 18, 1974, making it the second to last Arrow Mine Train to be opened. The Runaway Mine Train at Six Flags Great Adventure was the last to be opened, on July 4, 1974.
Hersheypark named the ride Trailblazer (originally Trail-Blazer) because it was supposed to be in an Indian Village themed region. This theme region was never otherwise constructed, but the name of the ride was a good fit for the Pioneer Frontier region which was formed in 1984-85, the theme region Trailblazer is part of today.
The length of the ride is 1600 feet and reaches speeds of 35mph. The ride has been repainted on several occasions, most recently to the current colors in the 2000s decade. The name Trail-Blazer was part of the design of the roof for the station of the coaster, but was removed by the 1980s. Trailblazer currently runs trains manufactured by Premier Rides.
Because of the relative tameness of the ride, it was often considered a kiddie coaster, especially when the park didn’t have a kiddie coaster between 1979 and 2013. The ride has a simple layout. The train exits the station and drops down a hill as it turns toward the lift hill. There is a transfer block where the trains are stored, and then the train goes up the lift hill. There is a fairly small drop after the lift which takes the train into a helix. After the helix, the train goes through a brake run and then down into the hollow and into a double helix. The train goes up the double helix and then up a curve and into the brake run outside of the main station.