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Author: Mike Armstrong
The writer was provide some compensation by Hershey Park for the purposes of writing this story. All opinions, however, are his own.
Hershey, Pennsylvania is often referred to as “The Sweetest Place On Earth.” It only makes sense, then, that it is home to the sweetest amusement park on Earth, Hersheypark! With rides, attractions and entertainment that appeal to all ages, it’s THE must-see destination for family fun, when making a trip to Chocolatetown, USA. From my experience, making the most of you and your family’s time at the park can be more daunting than eating a melted Hershey’s candy bar. You can avoid the headaches if you don’t do a bit of research beforehand. As such, here are some Hersheypark tips, which will ensure your that you have a sweet trip!
RIDE HEIGHTS – SIZE MATTERS
Hersheypark has thrill rides and kiddie rides for people of all sizes to enjoy. However, not all sizes can enjoy every ride. The park has a cute, candy-themed height category system, ranging from “Hershey’s Miniatures” for children under 36″ to “Jolly Rancher”, for those 60″ or taller. There is a measuring station near the front entrance, where your kids can get a wristband noting their height. This limits any confusion as to what they can/can’t go on, which is pretty convenient. If, like us, you miss the station because dealing with little kids when they first enter an amusement park is basically organized chaos and some important details are bound to be missed, don’t worry. Each ride has signs nearby where you can measure your kids, regardless.
WATER RIDES – GET WET
Hersheypark is not just thrill rides. It has an 11 acre water park in it, too, called the Boardwalk. Here, you can find water slides for all ages to enjoy, plus splash areas and attractions for kids to play in. One of my favorite rides, dry or wet, is the Waverider, a simulated surf experience (if you’ve never surfed before, it’s a great opportunity to find out how bad at surfing you are). Take a break from the excitement at the Intercoastal Waterway lazy river, a ride so relaxing that my youngest son actually fell asleep on it! Between the Boardwalk and the rest of Hersheypark, you can really get in a full day of family fun. We did the Boardwalk stuff early when the park opened, which turned out to be a good call, as we beat the larger crowds/lineups later in the day from those looking to cool off. Also, lockers are available to rent, in small or large sizes. Depending on the size of your party, be aware that one large locker might not be enough for all of your belongings.
FAST TRACK – WAIT A MINUTE….OR NOT!
If you hate ride wait times, I do have a couple of tips for Hersheypark. First, you can buy a Fast track program, to either bypass the lines one time for the featured attractions, or you can upgrade to the “unlimited” option which lets you skip the lines for them all day long.
Second, Hersheypark has a Kiddie Swap option. No, this doesn’t mean that you can trade your problem child for a well-behaved one. It means that, if you and your significant other want to ride the Fahrenheit roller coaster, for example, but your kids are too small for it, you can still both ride it. Once you all get to the front of the line, tell the attendant that you want to get your kiddie swap on (not in those words, though, hopefully). You can ride it while your significant other watches the kids; then, when it’s over, you can switch spots. Same deal if you’re on your own with two kids, for a ride that requires adult accompaniment. In our case, the only time that we got our swap on was for the wooden roller coaster known as the Comet, which (spoiler alert) was deceptively thrilling!
QUESTIONS? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT.
The Hersheypark mobile app is pretty handy, so be sure to download it. Among the features, I really appreciated that it lets you monitor ride wait times. As well, it has GPS- enabled map, to help make navigating the place easier. So, if your kids are craving some Chick-fil-A because you all walked past it earlier, but you forget how to get there again, the mobile app has you covered
FOOD – GET IN MY BELLY!
I’ll be honest. When it comes to food, Hersheypark has a lot of options, to cover all cravings, including gluten-free ones. As to be expected when eating at an amusement park, pricing is a tad on the high side, even with the various deals that are available. For example, we bought two burgers (no fries), and two plates of chicken fingers and fries for lunch, without drinks, and it cost about $40.Be prepared to shell out some money during your visit if you choose to dine there. Outside food is a no go, but you can bring a refillable water bottle. Hersheypark does have an all day drink deal that can be a good value though, if your brood is of the thirsty type. And yes, alcohol is served at various locations too, in case you need a little liquid courage before braving a coaster like Skyrush!
ZOOAMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
Hersheypark also houses ZooAmerica, a wildlife park with 200 animals in it. Your Hersheypark ticket also comes with admission to the ZooAmerica. It’s a nice way to wind down after a day of amusement. So, if after braving the Sooperdooperlooper, your kids suddenly have the urge to go look at some bears……you can do that.
PREVIEW PLAN – WHY STOP AT ONE DAY?
If you’re feeling overzealous about visiting Hersheypark, but don’t think that you can fit this all into one day, take advantage of the preview plan option. This let’s you go to Hersheypark up to 2.5 hours before closing, the night before. You can knock off a few thrill rides from your list, so the next day won’t be so hectic. Added tip – hit up Hershey’s Chocolate World the night before as well, since it’s right beside Hersheypark. It has numerous attractions, some of which are free, like the Chocolate Tour. There’s also a shopping area with all things Hershey in it. So, if you ever wanted to buy Jolly Ranchers boxer shorts along with a four pound bag of Hershey’s kisses, that is the place for you!
HOTELS – REST……IN REESE’S PIECES
Staying at one of the official Hershey resorts, like The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, or Camping Resort definitely has its perks. For, example, you’ll get 4.5 extra hours with the preview plan, and also free admission to Hershey Gardens and the Hershey Story Museum. Booking here can also get you cheaper Hersheypark tickets, too, as part of some package deals. Staying at one of the nearby hotels is also a decent, less expensive option, too.
SHOWS – NOW THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT
My last tip is that there are numerous shows and performances throughout the day, which are worthwhile to check out. My kids in particular loved the Character Quiz Show, where audience members can compete for prizes against a giant Twizzler. You can’t make this stuff up, people. My daughter actually got picked to play, and won. Her over the moon excitement about this definitely hit a sweet spot with me (no pun intended).
About the Author:
Mike Armstrong is a married dad of three, from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. On his site https://daddyrealness.