When Steel Force opened in May of 1997, Phil and Julie Wehr were in line at 10 a.m. In its first year of operation, the Wehrs rode the 200 ft. tall steel coaster 125 times.
Then 133 times in its second year and 216 rides in its third. By June 9, 2002, the couple completed their 1,000 ride. By September 29, 2006, the couple accomplished their 2,000 ride.
As of 2017, Steel Force’s 20th year in operation, Phil and Julie have ridden over 2,700 times and love it as much as they did after their first ride.
“From the first ride, I had a goal to reach 100 rides in the first year, which was tough back then due to the long lines, and on and off breakdowns, and wheel repairs. But we made it past 100 till the end of the season,” stated Phil.
For the next three years, their goal was to beat the previous year, which they succeeded in doing for the next five years.
“To This Day, Our Enjoyment on Steel Force is as Great as Our First Ride”
As members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts organization, the Wehrs have visited countless of parks across the country, and the thrill of the 205 ft. drop of Steel Force continues to be their favorite.
“Steel Force is our personal favorite,” Phil told Parkland Press reporter Susan Rumble in 2006. “We enjoy riding it over and over.” In fact, the couple’s all-time record is 20 rides in one single day. Whats his favorite part of the ride? All of it! “Great lift hill, great first and second hills, great turn around, and great bunny hops, you got speed, you got hills and airtime, you got wind blowing through your face and hair, you got comfortable seats, you have everyone screaming and laughing and enjoying life. What can be better than that? From the moment you hop into the train, there is not an awful part to the ride," says Phil.
Although their other life commitments keep them from riding as many times a year as they used to, they still continue to visit the park and continue their usual ritual.
Their weekend routine consists of entering the park right as the gates open and making their way down to Steel Force for their first ride of the day. By lunch, Phil and Julie usually ride the coaster about 10 times!
“We hit 500 rides, then 1000 rides, 1500 rides, 2000 rides, then 2500 rides. At that point, our weekends became busier with other causes, we were not coming as regularly and we were now riding more for fun then to break records. Hearing about the 20th celebration gave us cause to rekindle the ride total and share with Dorney Park” revealed Phil.
For now, the Wehrs do not have a specific goal time set for ride 3000, but hope to eventually get there, riding when time permits.
The couple also loves to listen and speak with fellow riders of the coaster and love to listen to people from all around the United States enjoying the ride for the very first time. “We still love the ride, the fun, the excitement, and hearing all the comments, the excitement, the screams, the laughter from people of all ages, that may be experiencing the ride for the first time, or the hundredth time,” explained Phil. “No matter what, when they pull back safely into the station, they are all laughing and living life.”
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