Hersheypark can be found in the quaint town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, where chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey set up shop in 1903. It’s a family friendly theme park that sits among several other chocolate related attractions, including but not limited to a museum, a digitalized and animated version of a factory tour, and gardens that feature a butterfly conservatory. The theme park and its set up is much along the line of Darien Lake Water and Theme Park in New York, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, Wonderland located just north of Toronto, or virtually any of the Six Flags parks across the US.
It is similar in the sense that it houses a wide array of attractions, from kiddie rides to thrilling roller coasters and everything in between as it gears it’s appeal to a wide range of visitors. It is alike in the sense that a large and impressive water park has been added to grounds and is included with the price of admission. It is comparable considering that ticket packages give guests the option of One-Day, Late Day, or Multi-days entry, or with seasonal passes. And like most parks, it offers a Fast Track Pass to reduce the time spent in lineups.
With the exception of Wonderland, it is also similar to the aforementioned parks given that a variety of onsite accommodations, restaurants, and extra activities are available, thus raising the game and turning the theme park into a popular vacation destination. Staying onsite at Hershey’s campground or one of two hotels lends itself to perks that include discounted park tickets, early entry to the park, and complimentary shuttles to and from accommodations, among other things.
Despite that the park shows its age, it is undoubtedly neat and clean and contains a wide variety of games, eateries, and rides. The newest installment is the Hershey Triple Tower, essentially 3 side-by-side drop towers of differing heights to appeal to various riders. Cleverly, the towers are named after Hershey’s most famous chocolate treats – Hershey’s Kisses Tower, the shortest at 80 feet tall; the Reese’s Tower, of moderate size at 131 feet tall, and Hersey’s Tower, the tallest at 189 feet tall.
Hershey characters stroll the grounds for photo opportunities, and a series of cute boutiques are gathered near the entrance/exit that sell T-shirts and other Hershey merchandise depicting the characters’ images. Of course, lots of chocolate is available for purchase as are a number of other sweet treats and iconic park foods such as funnel cakes, corn dogs, and fudge.
The park includes 3 wooden coasters – Comet, Lightning Racer, and the Wildcat, plus 4 family coasters – Cocoa Cruiser, Trailblazer, Wild Mouse and the indoor glow-in-the-dark Laff Trakk. Thrill seeker coasters include Fahrenheit, Great Bear, Sidewinder, Skyrush, SooperDooperLooper, and Storm Runner. To help with some visualization, we have put together some video of the coaster selection at the bottom of this page.
In contrast to the many similarities Hersheypark has to the other theme parks listed above, it also has a lot of differences. For starters, it contains a small zoo as one of its attractions. Called ZooAmerica, it features a few dozen animals typically found in North America. Included are black bears, a wolf, Canadian lynx, some elk, bald eagles, a mountain lion, prairie dogs, and more.
The habitats are small, perhaps not as well kept as they could or should be, and it’s quite strange that several animal enclosures are almost in the backyards of some local residents who seemingly share a chain link fence with the zoo. But indeed it is a much different attraction than most theme parks and it makes for an enjoyable stroll as the hilly pathway winds its way through the animal exhibits.
Another big difference is the mobile phone app, which doesn’t seem to function quite as well as apps for Cedar Point or Wonderland, for example. The interface isn’t as user-friendly, it fails to inform guests of where the ride entrances are located (which causes confusion when it comes to large rides – i.e. roller coasters that consume a large section of the park so the entrance could be anywhere), and it doesn’t sync properly with where guests are actually located in the park.
Finally, the terrain on which the park sits – essentially the Appalachian Mountains just south of the Poconos – is much different to most of the aforementioned parks considering Hersheypark is extremely hilly. Rather than excavate and level the area on which it was built, architects followed the lay of the land. As such, pathways have retained an abundance of notably steep inclines and continual ups and downs. Perhaps this is the result of advanced age given that it was built in the early 1900’s. Yet, despite that Hersheypark has obviously undergone several upgrades and additions over the years, the undulating layout has never been addressed. As a result, it is not what we would consider mobility friendly. Parents struggle with strollers and carriages on the steep hills, pushing hard to get up one side only to very briefly crest before facing an abrupt downside. Automatic wheelchairs grapple with the landscape, sometimes lacking the necessary power to climb the bigger hills. And guests that are pushing manual wheelchairs become physically exhausted, especially on a hot and humid day. Even mobile guests incur a noticeable workout in several sections of the park considering the pathways mimic the roller coasters.
Our experience in early August, which is considered peak season, did not reveal exceptionally long lineups even though the park was busy. The longest lineup we encountered was for Comet, which bordered on 25 minutes. All other coasters lines were surprisingly wide open with wait times of less than 5 or 10 minutes.
If you’re thinking of going before the summer season ends in September, summer ticket prices are as follows, with Fast Track Passes costing an additional $65 each. This is somewhat pricey when taking into consideration that the pass only pertains to 11 rides.
Hersheypark features several package deals on their website to help guests save a few dollars. Some of the packages include meals and drinks. And, as mentioned, if you stay in Hershey accommodations (Hershey Campground, Hershey Hotel or Hershey Lodge), discounted tickets are offered. A quick Google search will also reveal discounts and printable coupons on various travel and coupon websites so it’s worthwhile to spend a few minutes and take a look.
Speaking of taking a look, here is our video featuring Hersheypark rides, in particular, the roller coasters. Enjoy!