If you’re headed to Hershey, Pennsylvania, your trip wouldn’t be complete without a day at Hersheypark. How can you pass up 74 rides, including 13 roller coasters, not to mention 14 water rides? Plus, let’s be honest—how often do you get the chance to cavort with life-size Reese’s Cups and Kisses? At Hersheypark, the characters are all just part of the fun.
Those who find speed and g-force as thrilling as chocolate will not be disappointed. The park has several levels of rides, including two breathtaking inverted roller-coasters, and the exhilarating sooperdooperLooper. The bravest of visitors tackle the Wild Mouse, which gives the repeated illusion that riders are about to fall off the track. Laff Trakk is the first spinning indoor “glow-coaster” in the country.
If water rides and splash centers make your gang happy, you’re in luck: Hersheypark’s Boardwalk area provides lots of wet fun for the whole family, including Tiny Timbers, an easy log-flume ride for kids who like action; and Sandcastle Cove, a 9-foot zero-entry splash-a-thon anchored by a giant sandcastle, and offering fun water slides, cannons, water curtains and jets. Just take the required swimsuits and towels, which are required for this area, and consider packing extra shorts and tees, for changing in one of the park’s many locker rooms after a wet ride.
Within the park, you’ll also find ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, which could easily fill a day all by itself. ZooAmerica holds animal lovers enraptured, as they get to observe 75 species from around the USA in their natural habitats: unusual critters like the park’s new black-footed ferret and the giant chuckwalla lizard tend to make the cameras come out.
Located adjacent to Hershey’s Chocolate World, Hersheypark is open for the summer season starting on weekends in early May, then goes to seven days a week at the end of the month, through Labor Day. Beyond that, a few weekends stretch the fun into fall for your Hershey vacation.
A one-price admission entitles visitors to all rides (as long as they’re tall enough to meet the requirements); any of the entertainment, including amphitheater shows; and a same-day visit to ZooAmerica, when entered from the park. All guests are allowed to leave and reenter within the same day. It is possible to purchase tickets online and print them before you arrive at the park. Designated gates mean you’ll get in even faster if you have these in hand.
Credit cards can be used for admission and—once inside—food and merchandise. Cards also top cash when it comes to the park’s recommendation of not having loose items, which are at risk for loss during rides. A little advance planning will be necessary to keep cameras, sundries and such safely tucked away. Shops even offer “package pickup” so souvenirs can be purchased at any time and picked up at departure time.
Stroller rentals are available if you want to hold your schlepping to a minimum.
The Hershey Company’s park is historically less busy Sundays through Thursdays. The months of May and June are less crowded than other months, and certain holidays—Mother’s Day, Memorial Day Monday, father’s Day, July 4 and Labor Day—also draw smaller crowds. The lines for roller coasters and water rides get longer as the day goes on, so consider starting with them. The same holds true for the park’s Midway America section. Lunch spots get crowded between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. Hershey offers a tremendous bonus with its Preview Plan, which allows guests with tickets for the next day to enjoy the last two and a half hours of the park on the prior day!
Hersheypark’s website has all sorts of great tips for planning a day there, including itineraries for various weather patterns. A quick read could really maximize one’s admission tickets. The best tip of all might be to pre-arrange a meeting spot and time in case someone gets separated from the group while having a Chocolate Factory moment. Let’s all just admit it: it’s easy to be distracted by a six-foot-tall Hershey bar with legs.
For more things to do in the Hershey, Pennsylvania area, check out our Hershey Travel Guide!