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Mar 16, 2016
Pulling from @halfabee’s comments about ride ops, I can put some explanation to it:
PA does not have a Kong’s Dominion Law, so their school week started last week. On top of that, in school year there is some strict laws on how many hours, how long, and what they can do. In fact, it’s not too out there to say all PA parks ops suffer quite a bit at this time of year.
VA no longer has one either. They just passed a law allowing schools to start earlier.

That being said while it certainly plays a part it shouldn't cause a significant disruption. It is something that they encounter every year. There should be a plan in place to deal with it.
We visited a few weeks ago and the operations then were generally good. Lightning Racer, which was mentioned, was being run very well and had very short waits.
Lightning Racer was dispatching trains at 5 minute intervals, sometimes longer, on Friday. Trains would pull into the station, guests would hop out, and it would be 1-2 minutes of literally zero visually evident activity before the gates would eventually open. For much of that 1-2 minutes there would be no ops on the platform, nor anyone in the elevated section between the two boarding platforms. Then, suddenly, employees would appear and airgates would open. Restraint checks were ultra leisurely, at least when we rode.

Since they can eat two lines at once with that ride, and it is all fed by a single line, the wait wasn't too bad... until we got into the row-specific chutes on one side or the other. Then, having chosen a side and specific row, if you wanted to know how many more minutes you'd wait, you would do well to count the number of people in front of you and multiply by 3. Are there 8 people in front of you for your row? Well, then you're gonna wait a solid 20-25 more minutes to ride this roller coaster with the highest theoretical capacity in the park. Oof.

Single train ops partially explained the issue. Ops were discussing, with a frustrated supervisor, the call they had put in 30 minutes prior to have a second set of trains brought on. It had gone unanswered. Given the unreal dispatch intervals, they would have stacked the second train immediately anyway. But at least the molasses-like boarding process could have been made simultaneous with the time for a dispatched train to actually complete its circuit, cutting off a couple of minutes per cycle. Then the wait would only have been 3+ minutes per cycle, which is what you might expect from good single-train operation.

Low staffing also explained part of it. And maybe the best ops were long gone, back in school while laggards picked up the slack. I dunno. Here's the thing, though: I looked around and couldn't figure out where the ops were disappearing to for 1-2 minutes after each train unloaded. It was as if they just melted away in front of our eyes. Like mediocre chocolate. Total silence. Long queue. Everyone waiting. No explanation. Then, finally, they returned and got back to work as if nothing was strange. Over and over again. I wonder if the supervisor showed up due to guest complaints about the wait.

I'm not typically a complainer around here, in the style of others I could name. But this whole experience was surprisingly infuriating. While I don't go to Hershey expecting the strongest ride operations in the regional park industry, this made the Hershey Intamin rides' (lackluster) uptime plus slow dispatch times look positively world class. At least those rides' ops were consistently visible!

(Don't get me started on the app: an open ride with the occasional short 5 minute queue would show up accurately, but a fully closed ride ALSO would show up as an open ride with a 5 minute queue. Including rides that had not yet opened at all for the day. Super useful!)

The only thing I can come up with for Lightning Racer, based on my own time in the industry, is that something odd was going on belowdecks with the ride, and for some reason it required the attention of all hands to resolve it every single time a train came into the station. But then, what would that issue be? Why seek to add a second train? What would that resolve, rather than complicate?
Oh, the app. The years past I've been the wait times seemed kind of accurate, at least relatively speaking compared to other parks. But when we went this year it was pretty much useless. The wait times were wildly inaccurate, and erred on the short side by a lot. Like many rides would say 5 minutes when the wait was much longer than that. So I had the same experience with it. But the operations were good when we went. I'm forgetting exactly how many weeks ago it was. Might have been a month or more.
I have a friend who lives in Lebanon, PA who over two years (several years past) was a one-day ride operator at Hershey as a fundraiser for her PTA. Once she worked at the Fun Slide, and subsequently worked at some ride that was similar to DaVinci's Cradle but I'm not sure it went over the top. I think it was wagon-themed. (I can't find this ride on the site so perhaps I'm mistaken about this.) Both times she had to arrive an hour early for training. According to her, the latter ride had just adjusted the height restriction upward due to manufacturer's requirements and she had several angry parents insist that their children had ridden before so they should be allowed to ride again.

Hershey has /had? some unique ways of staffing.
Hershey is also very much a company that rewards loyalty. Usually ride ops that have been there longer get preferred hours, days off, ride assignments. Problem is you have to do 2-3 years of that to get to that place. It’s why weekday daytime hours are usually the smoothest run times, because most TMs that have been there for some time all request those hours.

Your commentary on the height sticks...that’s why most TMs don’t last there. For some reason Hershey is where I’ve seen it at its worst with parents pulling that. When I was a pass holder, I made the suggestion they get rid of the “self check” height station.

The ride ops side that sucks....your first month or two working for them is usually on the height patrol, who gets the most hate. There’s a lot of ride op employees who don’t make it past that point.
I have literally worked there for 18 days as of this post and have been trained on a bulk of rides.

None of what @warfelg says has been true.

? could be different from when I was there. My first whole month was spent moving around on measuring duty.
I have a friend who lives in Lebanon, PA who over two years (several years past) was a one-day ride operator at Hershey as a fundraiser for her PTA. Once she worked at the Fun Slide, and subsequently worked at some ride that was similar to DaVinci's Cradle but I'm not sure it went over the top. I think it was wagon-themed.
Conestoga, the covered wagon ride. It was on the hillside overlooking what is now Midway America etc., which originally was just a wide open grassy field.
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