COASTER-net.com > Ride Gallery > Great Bear
'The Sweetest Place on Earth' became even sweeter in 1998, for coaster enthusiasts at least, when the wraps were pulled off of their truly unique brand new $13-million scream machine dubbed the Great Bear after the star constellation Ursa Major. With only four inversions and a lift height of merely 90 feet, many die-hard coaster lovers called the coaster the 'not-so great bear' and 'family inverted coaster' before the ride actually opened. But that all changed on May 23 of 1998 when Great Bear took its inaugural run. What enthusiasts didnít know was how close the Great Bear would be located to everything else in Comet Hollow. The ride squeezes by the Comet and crosses over the SooperDooperLooper numerous times. Bolliger and Mabillard had to redesign their footer layout for this ride due to Spring Creek being right below the ride. This adds for more leg choppers and quite a few near misses through out the ride.
Guests venture to the Minetown section of Hersheypark and they see the entrance to the stars. Actually, itís the Great Bear, but it as close as they can get. They enter the queue line and make their way to the station. Once inside, itís time to board the bear. Riders file onto the ride sitting 4-abreast and secure the over-shoulder-restraint with the seat belt that hooks to it. The train is then released from the station and begins its climb towards the sky. After the 90-foot climb, the Great Bear begins with a surprising near 360-degree helix following the lift hill, taking passengers up just above tree-level. A swooping 124-foot deep drop, the second surprise to the ride, gets trains going in order to complete the first inversion - a 100-foot loop. Hersheypark truly demonstrates their seemingly endless ability to squeeze new rides in the existing limited amount of space already occupied by numerous rides and landscaping. The Great Bear speeds right above pedestrian's heads before pointing skyward just before a near collision with an existing building and completes the Immelman. Next in this compact layout is the In-Line Twist right above the walkways below. After more curving action around the Comet and SooperDooperLooper, riders experience the leg-chopping effect. Dazed by the closeness of the support, riders are taken by surprise as they are whipped into a flat spin right above the water below. The train then screams toward the final brakes and is brought to a complete stop, after your picture is taken, of course. The brakes release and the train rounds a 180-degree turn and slowly enters the station.