Hersheypark is a theme park unlike any other I’ve ever been to. The park itself not only requires, but really deserves, at least two days of time so that you can fully experience everything it has to offer. And it’s the perfect park to tackle with young kids because of the park layout, plethora of kids rides and activities, and additional included attractions like Zoo America and Hershey’s Chocolate World. All in Chocolate Town USA – Hershey, Pennsylvania!
Visiting Hersheypark with Young Kids
Hersheypark has a little bit of something for everyone. I visited with my mom, dad, and three-year-old son earlier this summer. We only had one day to visit Hershey, PA. Take it from me – one day wasn’t enough, even with skipping nap time and playing in the park from the moment it opened to the moment it closed. I wish we’d taken advantage of Hersheypark’s awesome preview option that allows you to enjoy the park for the 2 1/2 hours before it closes, the day before you plan to visit.
One of my best friends lives in Hershey with her four kids, who range from six months to eight years old, and she said a season pass was a no-brainer. It’s easily their favorite place to spend an afternoon as a family. I envied her as we only had one day to spend at the park and had to skip the water park altogether as well as many of the non-water attractions, much to my three-year-old’s dismay.
My dad has been on over 400 roller coasters around the world, which means he’s been to a lot of amusement parks. One of the things that impressed him (and me) the most was actually the layout of Hersheypark. Often times kids rides are all grouped together in one area at theme parks, but at Hersheypark the kiddie rides are intermingled throughout the park. Each area in the park has a couple of roller coasters, a few other theme park rides, and a few kiddie rides.
Why is this such a big thing? Because when you’re visiting a theme park with young kids and using the ride swap on roller coasters, it’s so convenient to have kiddie rides nearby instead of having to head to a completely different side of the park. While my mom and I rode Skyrush and the SooperDooperLooper, my dad took my son on the sweet swing and the tea cups right around the corner. And then we switched.
Hersheypark Kiddie Rides
As soon as you walk into Hersheypark, get your child’s height measured to figure out which rides to hit and which ones to avoid. If you’re not sure of the height restrictions, every ride is labeled clearly on the park map with its corresponding sweet (Hershey Kiss, Twizzler, etc.). I’ve been the short girl who just missed the height limit for a roller coaster over and over again, so I was nervous that my son wouldn’t be able to ride much at the park. I was very wrong.
As a 36″ Hershey Kiss, he was able to go on over 40 rides, 40! And that doesn’t even include the seven water attractions at The Boardwalk he couldn’t tried. With every type of ride imaginable from cars to a dinosaur go-round, young kids will be anything but bored at Hersheypark.
We didn’t have time in our one day to visit The Boardwalk, but it looked like it would make for an incredible day or two days in itself. It’s right in the middle of the park, so my recommendation would be to bring your swimming clothes and take a break at the water park in the middle of the day when its the hottest.
I have yet to meet amusement park food that I didn’t like. Amusement park = comfort food at its best. Whatever you decide to eat, make sure that you head to Simply Chocolate in Founder’s Way for one of their epic milkshakes. We tried the Reese’s peanut butter milkshake and while the shake part itself wasn’t the most amazing, everything else that comes as part of the milkshake made up for it. Definitely a treat to share.
The one place where Hersheypark is a little lacking is the number of and the quality of their shows. We looked at the schedule and the only show that really interested our family at all was Our Friends from the Sea, a short show featuring sea lions and seals. It was only about 15-20 minutes long, so make sure to get there on time so you don’t miss out. And be forewarned that if the animals don’t feel like cooperating, they aren’t forced to. I understand that they don’t want to force animals to perform, but it can be a little disappointing for a young kid who is looking forward to seeing a seal do tricks for fish.
As part of your Hersheypark ticket, you receive entrance to Zoo America, a small zoo that’s attached to the back of Hersheypark. Zoo America’s claim to fame is that all of the animals in the zoo are ones found naturally in America. It may not be the most impressive zoo, but it’s still fun for young kids who love animals, and my son loved it.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
If you have time left over, Hershey’s Chocolate World is right near the entrance to Hersheypark and a nice air-conditioned way to spend an hour. My son loved seeing how chocolate was made on the ride, but my dad was a bit sad that the tour no longer actually shows chocolate being made but rather a digital and modernized version. Everyone will love the chocolate sample at the end. And gasp, if you don’t like chocolate like my son, they have mini Twizzlers they will give you instead. Hershey’s Chocolate World has other fun attractions as well, but I’d recommend doing them on a separate day rather than tacking them onto your trip to Hersheypark.
My recommendation is to plan a three-day trip to Hershey. Spend the first morning and afternoon exploring Hershey Lodge and Hershey’s Chocolate World. After Hershey’s Chocolate World, take advantage of the preview plan and spend 2 1/2 hours in Hersheypark. On your second day, split between the regular attractions at Hersheypark and the Boardwalk water park so you can head back to your hotel for showers. And on your third and final day, check out Zoo America and any attractions you missed at Hersheypark the first two days.