Hershey Park Fun and 8 Great Tips for Summer 2018!

Summer is officially here! That means it's vacation and travel season. While our travel season actually starts in May, we have kicked off our family fun destinations this year with a family and class trip to the sweetest place on Earth, Hershey Park!

My daughter's 5th grade class raised money through out the entire year towards a class trip to Hershey Park. While it was mostly a fun field trip for her classmates and her to spend a day together at the end of the school year, my husband and I took advantage of the group rates and purchased three more tickets through the school so we could go too and make it our first family fun trip of the season.

This was both of my kiddos first time there, and right off the bat they were extremely excited. 

We drove down ahead of the buses, so we got there a little early; before the park was opened to regular ticket holders. So we took the time to check out the map, and have the kids measured so they knew what rides they could go on once they were in the park. I love that they have this right as soon as you get into the park. And one of my time saving tips is to do this FIRST! It's literally right there on the right as soon as you get to the ticket purchase area. The reason I say to utilize this, is because while there is another one once you get through the ticket gate and into the main part of the park, that's the one everyone seems to use and there's always a crowd there. Plus, this is a fun little spot to get photos! There are large statues of the Hershey characters to take photos with.

My son is a Reese's and my daughter was just in between a Hershey and a Twizzler. Like, she was just above the line for Twizzler. This kind of worried me, because I wasn't sure if she would be tall enough for the Twizzler rides, but the ride attendants are really good at checking the height for the kids. All of the rides have these handy height requirement charts before you get in line so you can double check and see automatically what your children can ride, and what they can't. This is super helpful because I remember when we were kids, these didn't exist at the parks we visited and you didn't know if you were proper height until you got to the front of the line and the attendant pulled out their handy measuring stick to double check you. Then, if you didn't meet requirements, you had to walk back through the line and find something else. What a pain! So this new (not so new?) system is much better and a huge time saver. They will also tell you on these if the children's rides require an adult co-rider or for the adult rider to be optional. 

We had quite a bit of time to spare because the buses for the rest of my daughter's class were running really late. So we just hung out for a bit. If you do get there a bit early, Hershey's Chocolate World is outside of the park and is a fun little spot to visit with a huge shop, a free (and adorably fun) ride, and some other activities for the whole family. 

Around lunch time we headed back to the parking lot to meet up with our daughter's class to have a picnic lunch. This is quite the hike, so here's tip number 2: utilize the tram. I'm not kidding. To the park from the lot as well as to the lot from the park. Talk about exhausting! Especially when you are booking tail to try and catch up with someone. We learned our lesson quickly and once we dropped the oldest off with the class and chaperone's, we used the tram, and took a selfie. Which I swear to you, the announcer literally told us to utilize this time to do so. 😂 He also told us to hold onto little kids, and adults who tend to act like little kids just in case there were sudden stops. So yeah, I held onto my goof ball husband. Even if you don't think you'll need the ride, take it. It was like a mini tour and they gave some really great information about the park as well as the upcoming concerts and such. Not only that, but you'll bypass the crowd of people walking into the park. 

Hershey Park not only has a huge variety of rides for literally everyone, but they have a few arcades as well. My husband and son really loved the arcades, and surprisingly, even though it was sweltering outside, and the arcades are air conditioned, they weren't as packed as we thought. There's a lot of nostalgia at these arcades. There were many old school arcade games and pin ball machines, including a Ghostbusters one that the hubs and little got really excited over. We mostly played just to play, and quite a few times we had people give us their tickets because that's what they were doing too. So we accumulated tickets quickly. When we met up with our daughter later on, she played for tickets, so both kids were able to cash in tickets and get things at the arcades. It was pretty funny watching my son play Wave Runner, since he didn't expect the jetski to actually move. We tried to tell him, but he was having too much fun to even care. 

Hubby was in his element here since he loves video games. He loved the Aliens one and there was a really awesome Star Wars one where you actually sat inside a pod that closed up. I mostly just hung out and enjoyed the air conditioning while watching my boys have a good time. 

There are tons of rides for the little ones, and they are scattered through out the park (not in one particular location). They have the mini versions of the bigger rides pretty close to the big ones. This was a huge sigh of relief for us, because we knew our son would see a big ride he wanted to go on, and we would have to tell him he was too little for it. For instance, he saw the Hershey Triple Towers  and wanted desperately to ride them. But I spotted the Frog Hopper ride, which is basically the same thing, and steered him to that instead. He had no complaints. As a matter of fact, he had the time of his life. Especially since daddy was allowed to sit on it with him. Although my husband wasn't all that thrilled, he did it to make the little guy happy. 

They have a small zoo there, which my son didn't seem to be all that interested in. I think it's because he just wanted to ride the rides. However, we had just had lunch and wanted our bellies to settle before going on more rides, so we went through the zoo for a bit. He especially hated the part of the zoo where you go into a little room that is completely pitch black to see animals that are only really seen at night. The only light is a few dim ones inside the enclosures. DO NOT take your child in here if they are afraid of the dark. My son screamed bloody murder. And I'll admit, I'm not afraid of the dark, but it made me uncomfortable. Although, I'm not entirely sure it's an avoidable section of the zoo since there's a path you follow through the entire place and I don't think you can bypass it like you can at a regular zoo. However, while there, we did get pretty up close with a lot of the animals, including some Bald Eagles! 

The food selection is off the charts there. Of course it's your typical amusement park food for the most part, and they have dining specials, they also have a Subway and a Chick-fil-A. The Chick-fil-A had a huge line out the door, as usual, but if you frequent Chick-fil-A literally anywhere you already know what their lines are like. They do sell alcohol at one of the food court areas, but you cannot take it outside of that area. 

Hershey Park also has a huge water park that is always expanding! There's a little splash area for the smaller kiddos, which my son really liked. But my daughter went on one of the big slides with her friends and it scared her. To be fair, she's never been on a water slide, and Hershey Park's water slides are HUGE! the chaperones bought the girls ice cream and they happened to be sitting right outside the ride we just got off so we had a chance to chat for a bit before splitting up again. 

I went on maybe one or two mild rides with my son and husband, but something in me must have snapped and I lost my mind, because at one point, I thought riding the Tidal Force was a good idea. We got drenched. Really drenched. As we came off the top of the drop, I put my sons head to the lap piece as well as my own to brace for the gigantic tidal wave of super cold water. It didn't help. We were gasping for breath from the cold water as we were laughing. My husband told me I had went insane for dragging him and our son on that ride. And especially since as you come off the ride, you have to go over a bridge where you get completely soaked a second time. 

Tidal Force Photo via HersheyPark

We had a really fun (exhausting) day, but the kiddos loved it. 

So here are my tips for your next trip to Hershey Park:

  1. Ride the tram. I'm serious. You may think it's not that far of a walk, but to put it into perspective, when we got home, my step tracker said we had walked 8 miles. It doesn't seem like a lot of walking, and typically for us (spending 12 hours at cons), it's not. But Hershey Park is almost all hills. There are very few flat spots. You tire easily. So skip the walk to and from the park by taking the tram.
  2. Get measurements before heading into the park. This is going to save you time. We saw a lot of people walk past the measurement area in the park entrance, but the line at the one inside was horrendous. I have no idea why this is skipped, but it's also a cute little spot for photos. So utilize it!
  3. Don't forget the sunscreen! Apply frequently! My daughter had her own drawstring bag with her that held her towel, swim suit, and sunscreen. We had a backpack with the same things. We were all lathered down with sunscreen, but I still got burnt to a crisp. Despite the fact that a lot of Hershey Park is shady, I still had one ouchie of a burn. Take the time to frequently apply the sunscreen, not just before entering the park.
  4. Buy the refillable cup. Hershey Park has a refillable cup that you can purchase for $15 and get refills all day long for free the day of purchase and $0.99 refills on future trips in the same year of the purchase. Trust me, this is super worth it! You can refill this cup every 15 minutes with soda, tea, lemonade, and even a really great variety of Icees. There are a few self refill stations and according to the park attendants, you can get them refilled pretty much anywhere you get beverages, but that honestly isn't 100% true. Franchise eateries will not refill your cup. So you can't go to Subway or Nathan's and get a refill, but Hershey Park exclusive restaurants should be able to fill them. We just used the self refill stations. Between my husband, son, and I, this thing paid for itself after about an hour and a half in the park because we drank a lot. You can bring bottled water into the park, but a whole backpack of bottled water for a family gets pretty heavy and a pain to tote through the park. The refillable cup was fantastic, easy to carry, and ours was a pretty blue and now happens to be my favorite travel cup!
  5. Download the Hershey Park App. Hershey Park has a really handy app where you can access the park map, get park add-ons, purchase tickets, get information about rides (including height requirements and thrill level), and so much more. The app even helps you locate your vehicle in the parking lot, which brings me to tip number 6....
  6. Don't forget to save your vehicle location in the park app. Hahahaha, yeah... so the park app allows you to save the location of your vehicle and then later be able to find it's exact location. I had intended on using this, but had forgot to hit the save location button after we had parked. So naturally, it didn't save where we parked. Luckily, we parked near one of the parking markers (indicated by number as well as a Hershey candy) and directly across from the charter buses. But honestly, had those two things not been there, I would have walked all over that place. I was exhausted and had forgotten that we had my mother-in-law's vehicle and not our own. Had it been just me, I would have been completely lost. Thankfully, my husband was alert and on the ball. Let's all laugh at my stupidity, but also let it be a word of caution, because that parking lot is huge. That's no joke. 
  7. Don't forget to ride the Chocolate Tour inside Hershey's Chocolate World. This is a FREE ride that is so stinkin' adorable, you'll want to ride it more than once. This ride utilizes all senses in the same way Disney does, in that, as you go through the ride, the temps change and certain scents are piped in to really increase the experience. The line may be long, but it moves rather quickly because the ride never stops. What I mean by this is that once it's your turn in line, you walk (quickly) across a moving floor and book it into a cart that does not stop at all. It sounds like chaos, but I swear it's a lot simpler than it looks and sounds. There are singing cows, the smell of cocoa, and adorable mascots through the ride, which is 30 minutes of fun and it's actually educational! My entire family absolutely LOVED this part of the entire day, which we did as we were leaving the park for the night. Also, once you get through the ride, you get a FREE single Hershey Bar! 
  8. Small children can ride the same ride more than once without getting off. If your small child happens to be on a ride that doesn't have many riders in line (or none at all), the ride attendant will allow your child to keep riding as many times as they want until the ride gets busy. For a lot of the kid's rides, there's never a line and always more ride seats than there is kiddos, so if your child likes a particular ride, all you have to do is ask the attendant if your kiddo can ride again. Most of the time, they have no problem with it. The one ride my son went on, there had been one little girl on it and that was it. No one else was in line. The little girl loved it so much, the attendant just let her ride until she got sick of it. It was in the shadiest part of the park, too, so the parents got to enjoy a cool breeze and shade, while the little one enjoyed the ride. 
Do you have any great tips for Hershey Park that I didn't list here? 
Let me know in the comments! 


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