The ride lasts only 63 seconds. But excited passengers exiting the ride on its first day said they loved the thrill, short as it was.
"Awesome — that's about all I can say. It feels like you're flying," said Andy Zemba of suburban Harrisburg. Like everyone else who rode the coaster when it opened on Memorial Day weekend, Zemba and his son Matthew, 13, had a long wait in a line of several hundred riders.
"It was worth the wait in line," Matthew said. "It's really fun when you go through that giant dip. I want to come back and ride it again."
For months, Hersheypark officials have been publicizing Skyrush, the first new coaster here in four years. It cost $25 million and took 14 months to build. Park officials say it's the "longest, highest, and fastest" of the park's 12 roller coasters, which they say are the most coasters of any amusement park in Pennsylvania.
The new coaster has a 3,600-foot-long track and has eight rows of seating, each with four seats. The seats on the far left and far right don't have a floor — a rider's feet just dangle in air — but the seats in the middle two rows do have a floor.
Riders are urged to place cellphones, coins, wallets, purses, and other valuables in secure bins before entering the coaster, to keep them from flying out during the ride.
"I couldn't breathe when we were going down that [200-foot] drop," said Lucas Row of suburban Harrisburg. "My eyes were totally open the whole time and I couldn't stop screaming."
On opening day, some riders showed up at 7 a.m., three hours before the park's 10 a.m. opening, just to be near the head of the line.
"We waited three hours, but it was worth it," said Yasline Caraballo, from Etters, York County.
"I've never seen lines of people like this, waiting to get into the park, even when we opened previous new coasters," said Hersheypark publicist Kathy Burrows.
On Skyrush's first day, the lines at most of the other 11 coasters were short, which "we attribute to Skyrush," she said.
"There's no way to describe it — it's very smooth," said Chad Miller of Lebanon. He said he was "wingless," meaning lifted off his seat, seven times during the ride.
"I liked how fast it was," said his friend, Lyn Lam of East Petersburg, Lancaster County. "It's like you are up and down [the dips] in no time."
Skyrush is one of three American coasters that opened this year as "a whole new breed, a mega-coaster with winged seating,'' Hersheypark officials said.
The other two are at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill.
“Winged seating" refers to the outer rows of seats on the right and the left, which don't have a floor beneath them and allow riders to feel as if they are flying in air.
Those outside seats are "designed for the bravest of riders and offer a staggering 270-degree panoramic viewing perspective," park officials gushed in a statement.
Skyrush differs from the Dollywood and Great America coasters in one major way: It has only lap restraints for riders, not lap and shoulder restraints. That's because Skyrush doesn't make a 360-degree inversion — a complete upside-down turn — as the other two coasters do. So Hersheypark officials say a shoulder restraint isn't necessary. The lap restraint system "maximizes both safety and rider experience," they said.
Riders do undergo several 270-degree turns, however. Row said the ride is exciting as it is and "doesn't need [360-degree] loops. The speed makes up for it."
To comment, e-mail TravelTalk@phillynews.com.