Hydrus ready to rise from Seaside Heights boardwalk
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — It has been nearly five years since Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Jersey Shore, and the image of the Jet Star roller coaster sitting in the ocean off Casino Pier is still one of the most iconic memories of that storm.
Guests to the newly constructed boardwalk are seeing the final steps in the process to replace the Jet Star as the Hydrus coaster is in its final steps of construction and preparation.
Maria Mastoris, the marketing manager at the amusement area, said work on the project started last October and that in January the construction of the roller coaster itself began. With dummy testing being conducted this week, Mastoris said the goal is to have Hydrus ready for the boardwalk's opening the first week of April.
With Hydrus and Jet Star both named after constellations, Mastoris said they are paying tribute to the past while also looking forward to to the future.
"Hydrus is also a sea serpent, so being right on the Atlantic Ocean, it fit perfectly," she said.
For many people the memory of Superstorm Sandy is still fresh in their minds. Mastoris said since the storm the plan had always been to build a new coaster for people to enjoy.
"We've always been planning on getting another coaster," she said. "We just needed the space to bring in a new roller coaster because we weren't expanding the pier to its original form which was going into the Atlantic Ocean."
After acquiring more property across the beach, Mastoris said work began to build a new pier to give the new coaster a home. "It took some years, but we're finally excited that this season we'll have a new coaster on the pier," she said.
Even before it opens, Hydrus is already an imposing figure on the boardwalk, including a 72-foot vertical lift that then drops riders down at a 97-degree angle. The ride, which is around 1,050 feet of track, includes loops and speeds up to 45 mph.
"Every day you can see people lurking and taking pictures of the roller coaster being built and sharing it on their social media and commenting on ours, so everybody is very excited," Mastoris said.
In addition to Hydrus, Mastoris said a new ferris wheel is expected to be completed by the middle of the upcoming summer season. These attractions and others are all reasons why Mastoris said there is a lot of excitement at the boardwalk this year.
"Every year after Sandy I think there was just more hype coming back to Seaside Heights," she said. "I think with the roller coaster and a lot of new things opening we're very excited for the summer."
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