I think I am getting too old for amusement parks. NAW! Not really. But, a big park can sure frizz my hair, queze my stomach, and blister my feet. What happened to the days when I could run a park all day long and then still go out after to a club and dance? I think all the parks got bigger, faster, and hotter. But, I guess it could be that I got bigger, slower, and hotter.
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When we started planning a big east coast road trip, Hershey Park was one of the key stops. Hershey is my all-time favorite park. My Granny used to take me when I was a kid. I thought it was the grandest thing in the world to go see Granny in Baltimore and shop and visit the Park. I also thought it was cool that Granny wore huge sunglasses and drove a red convertible. I grew up in a really small town, so it was a treat to do city stuff and to hang out with my radical Granny.
Over the years, Hershey Park has grown. But, the friendly flavor of the park still floats in the air along with the smell of chocolate cooking. Sometimes I’ll go back someplace I saw as a kid, and I’ll think: “Boy, I was a goofy kid. This is not that great.” Hershey was just as wonderful as I remembered and maybe even better.
One thing I would say that visiting a park today is a science and calls for some planning. If you’re thinking about going to Hershey Park, then click to the home site at www.hersheypark.com/. It’s a cute site, and it has loads of information plus some special deals that will help out on the cost. You can even download or print a park map and scope out the scene at home.
Hershey is an all day visit (and more), so don’t plan to piggy bag the trip with other tourist activities. It’s a good idea to split it up, so you don’t end up worn out and cranky. You would not believe how many cranky people are at parks. The sister in front of us on one ride threatened her little brother: “We ARE going to have fun,” she told him. “I don’t care if you want to or not.”
You can go 2 ˝ hours before closing time the day prior to your visit and see the park and then do the full-day trip the next day. That’s a good way to check things out and see the layout of the park. It’s also cooler and not as crowded those last couple of hours. They have a musical laser show at night, but if you start when the park opens, then you may wipe out and miss the show.
Chocolate World is connected to Hershey Park. That is the tour where you see how chocolate is made. That is really neat. You ride in little cars and see a moving show. It’s free, air conditioned, and you get a free bar of chocolate at the end of the ride. Consider doing that the day before or after the park. If you stay less than 2 hours, then you don’t even pay for parking. They give you a parking ticket, and you just drive out if you finish in 2 hours. It took us 1 ˝ hours for the tour and shopping. To be real honest, my favorite ride at the whole park is the chocolate tour. SHHH! Don’t tell anyone.
Shopping with the free tour and then heading back to the hotel works out better, because you don’t want to carry chocolate in the park. When it’s hot, your chocolate will melt. When melted chocolate cools back off, it has gray polka dots and tastes funny. Though some of the prices are the same or higher than in stores, you can get a bulk box of your favorite bars with the price per bar running 30 cents. They also have items that you can’t find in local stores like a nut and raisin bar that I drooled all over. Eli and I got hat pins that looked like Hershey kisses that ran $2.95 each. The post cards are cute, but they are cheaper at the local Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart also has Hershey t-shirts which run lower than at the park.
When you first enter the park, get a map and schedule of shows. The park is pretty compact, but there are lots of trees and small trails except in the new water park area where the trees are still trying to grow.
Bigger kids will love the roller coasters. Hershey Park has nine, and the newest one is the Roller Soaker, which is a water ride coaster. The coasters frame the park, so you can hit one no matter which direction you go. We rode the first one, which is the old one I remembered from years back. The part I did not remember is my stomach lurching up to my eyeballs. One roller coaster did me fine this trip. I don’t even want to think about the one that goes upside down.
Some parks go so “big and bad” that little kids and mom don’t have much to ride. Don’t worry about that at Hershey. Though they have loads of big rides (Jolly Ranchers), they also have kiddy rides (Kisses and Reese’s). My favorite was the Ferris wheel and the carousel (they have a carousel company close town that you can tour too).
Another plus for the little ones (and mom/dad too) is the stroller rental. They have singles and doubles. They are kind of high tech looking jog type strollers. They had built in drink holders and a net space to put junk. We’re past that stage, but I sure would have loved one of those when my boys were younger. Actually, I would have loved to have ridden part of the day, but I would say the size limit is about 6 years.
As I mentioned earlier, they do have water rides at Hershey. I’m not quite sure why all parks have added water. It messes up your hair and makes your underwear wet. Being wet feels fine at the time, but when you start to walk around, then you begin to make vapor and feel twice as hot. This is not a pretty site, and it does amaze me that young dating age people think a big time is getting wet and messy.
One water thing that I did love was the little sprinkle sprays throughout the park. You get stand there and get a mist. A mist is a lot different from a bucket. That was a good plan. I would say big thumbs up for the sprinklers. I loved them, and I could have just sat under one all day if the boys had not been so keen on riding rides.
We went on a Monday to avoid the crowds, but it was pretty packed anyway. The wait for the water rides ran 1 ˝ hour at the tubes and two hours for the Soaker. I think the water lines were especially long due to the heat. Other rides were “walk right up and get on.” The boys passed on some of the rides due to the long waits. I have to say I was glad. I’m not really one to wait 2 hours for 2 minutes of fun.
If you do want to do the water scene, then you can carry in a swimming suit and rent a locker at the far corner of the park at the Roller Soaker. They do not want you to walk around in a swimming suit unless you are in the water area. In fact, you can get kicked out of the park for looking indecent. I did not see anyone get popped for looking nasty, but the park police did haul off two boys who cut in front of the long line for the Canyon River Rapids. Since it was 95 degrees and the folks in line were getting hot and mean, those guys were lucky that the crowd did not just stone them with lemonade slush. This is the only ride I ever saw where you walked past the food counter and could get something to eat or drink. They just think of everything, don’t they?
If you decide to carry clothes in, then they may search your bag. They have that posted and seem to do it at random. Then again, they may pick folks who look suspicious. The police asked about my purse. Hum? Maybe he wanted me to show him, but I just gave it to him. He checked one compartment where I keep my billfold and address book and sent me on. He missed the section with the tampons, so he did not get too embarrassed.
I guess they check for things like guns, but they also have a policy of “no food” carried in. Most parks do that these days. That is irritating when they run the food prices way up, and you’re stuck inside the gates and have to buy what they offer. I was pleased and surprised to find that Hershey had decent prices and good food too. You can get a New York style slice of pizza for about $2. Drinks run about $2 too. They have Taco Bell inside the park, so if you don’t want to gamble, then go with that. My favorite thing was the hand cut French fries. Dip those in cheese, and you might as well find a bench for a nap.
The shows in the park are fun. The sea otter show was my favorite. All the shows are free except the big ones in the Stadium. The day we went, The Who was on stage. We got to hear the warm up which was neat. I would not want to do a full day at the park and then a concert. That would be too much. But, that’s just me. Those are separate tickets, and they plan ahead as far as parking. It did not have any major impact on the park.
After we finished up at Hershey, we rode the free trolley out to the parking lot. Those are nice, and the staff members dressed old fashioned. We paid $6 for a full day parking, and then we went back to the HoJo. The motel was close, and the price was decent. My review on the hotel is at: http://www.epinions.com/content_71878676100. I would say that the HoJo is a good bet for a Hershey trip.
Another suggestion I would make if you want to visit Hershey Park is to read Chocolate by Hershey: A Story about Milton S. Hershey. I found that before the trip, and I just loved it. It is really meant for kids, but it is a real keeper. My review on the book is at: http://www.epinions.com/content_66392723076. Caleb read it on the way to the park. He said he read it back home and that it was boring, but he made that up. He just didn’t like the cover. After a couple of hours in the car, he finally caved in and read it. “Hey. This is neat,” he said. Then, he told us lots of trivia during the park trip. KIDS!
If you really get interested in the candy families, then Crisis in Candyland: Melting the Chocolate Shell of the Mars Family Empire is a contrast with the Hershey model. After I read that book, I was even more keen on putting my money on Hershey. The review on that Mars book is at: http://www.epinions.com/content_68791930500.
Hershey Park is tops in my mind. It is a tourist attraction, but it is tourist friendly too. They have the big and the small rides. The food is inexpensive and good. You can visit and get the free tour and buy chocolate, even if you don’t have time or money for the park. I think Milton Hershey would be pleased. He always put people first, and that spirit still shines at his park.
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