Visiting Hersheypark – Hershey, Pennsylvania

by GO GlobeHopper

If amusement parks are on your must-visit list, try Hersheypark for a theme that’s based on chocolate. Hershey, Pennsylvania marks the spot where chocolate mogul Milton S. Hershey set up shop in 1903, and the town features several related attractions.  This includes the amusement park, which is set up much like Cedar Point in Ohio, as well as a museum, a zoo, a digitalized and animated version of the Hershey chocolate factory, and gardens that feature a butterfly conservatory.

The park features an array of attractions, from kiddie rides to thrilling roller coasters and everything in between, including a large and impressive water park that is included with the price of admission.  Like many parks, ticket packages give guests the option of  One-Day, Late-Day, or Multi-day entry, plus there are seasonal passes.  To reduce the amount of time spent in lineups, a Fast Track Pass is also offered.

Like many parks these days, visitors can expect a multitude of amenities to assist with vacation planning, including several restaurants and accommodation options.  Staying onsite at Hershey’s campground or at one of two hotels lends itself to perks that include discounted park tickets, early entry to the park, and complimentary shuttle rides.

Despite that the park shows its age, it is neat and clean and contains a wide variety of games, eateries, and rides.  The most recent ride installment is the Hershey Triple Tower — essentially 3 side-by-side drop towers of differing heights that are named after Hershey’s most famous chocolate treats.  Hershey’s Kisses Tower is the shortest at 80 feet tall; Reese’s Tower is of moderate size at 131 feet tall, and Hersey’s Tower is 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.  Of course, lots of Hershey’s chocolate is available for purchase along with other sweet treats and iconic park foods such as burgers, corn dogs, and funnel cakes.

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.

Although Hersheypark has many similarities to other theme parks, it also has a lot of differences.  For starters, it contains a small zoo as one of its attractions.  ZooAmerica 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.

Another big difference is the mobile phone app, which doesn’t seem to function quite as well as apps for Cedar PointUniveral Orlando’s Adventure Island, 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 is essentially the Appalachian Mountains just south of the Poconos which causes the property to be extremely hilly. Rather than excavate and level the area on which it was built, architects followed the lay of the land. Consequently, some pathways have severely steep inclines and continual ups and downs. Yet, despite that Hersheypark has obviously undergone several upgrades and additions over the years, the hilly layout has never been addressed. As a result, some sections are 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 some very mobile guests incur quite a 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 coaster lines were surprisingly wide open with wait times of less than 5 or 10 minutes.

Hersheypark features several package deals on its 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.


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