Exploring Hershey Park and Its Surrounding Areas

Updated on November 25, 2019
Robert Sacchi profile image

I've visited Hershey many times over the years. Something always brings me back!

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Hershey Park, December 2014A character at Hershey Park, December 2014.A character at Hershey Park, August 2011.Hershey Park, August 2011Hershey Park August 2011Hershey Park, August 2011Hershey Park, August 2011Hershey Park, August 2011Monorail view, Hershey Park, August 2011Hershey Park, August 2011A bison at Zooamerica, August 2011Zooamerica, August 2011ZooAmerica, August 2011Hershey Park, August 2011Seals at Hershey Park, 2002.A Dixieland Band at Hershey ParkDolphins performing at Hershey Park.A dolphin show at Hershey ParkBumper Cars at Hershey Park.Hershey Park, PA.Kiddie Ride at Hershey ParkKiddie Ride at Hershey ParkSeal show at Hershey ParkA dolphin performing at Hershey ParkA dolphin at Hershey ParkA giant slide at Hershey ParkA kiddie train ride at Hershey ParkHershey Park, December 2014Hershey Park, December 2014Hershey Park, December 2014Hershey Park, December 2014
Hershey Park, December 2014
Hershey Park, December 2014 | Source
A character at Hershey Park, December 2014.
A character at Hershey Park, December 2014. | Source
A character at Hershey Park, August 2011.
A character at Hershey Park, August 2011. | Source
Hershey Park, August 2011
Hershey Park, August 2011 | Source
Hershey Park August 2011
Hershey Park August 2011 | Source
Hershey Park, August 2011
Hershey Park, August 2011 | Source
Hershey Park, August 2011
Hershey Park, August 2011 | Source
Hershey Park, August 2011
Hershey Park, August 2011 | Source
Monorail view, Hershey Park, August 2011
Monorail view, Hershey Park, August 2011 | Source
Hershey Park, August 2011
Hershey Park, August 2011 | Source
A bison at Zooamerica, August 2011
A bison at Zooamerica, August 2011 | Source
Zooamerica, August 2011
Zooamerica, August 2011 | Source
ZooAmerica, August 2011
ZooAmerica, August 2011 | Source
Hershey Park, August 2011
Hershey Park, August 2011 | Source
Seals at Hershey Park, 2002.
Seals at Hershey Park, 2002. | Source
A Dixieland Band at Hershey Park
A Dixieland Band at Hershey Park | Source
Dolphins performing at Hershey Park.
Dolphins performing at Hershey Park. | Source
A dolphin show at Hershey Park
A dolphin show at Hershey Park | Source
Bumper Cars at Hershey Park.
Bumper Cars at Hershey Park. | Source
Hershey Park, PA.
Hershey Park, PA. | Source
Kiddie Ride at Hershey Park
Kiddie Ride at Hershey Park | Source
Kiddie Ride at Hershey Park
Kiddie Ride at Hershey Park | Source
Seal show at Hershey Park
Seal show at Hershey Park | Source
A dolphin performing at Hershey Park
A dolphin performing at Hershey Park | Source
A dolphin at Hershey Park
A dolphin at Hershey Park | Source
A giant slide at Hershey Park
A giant slide at Hershey Park | Source
A kiddie train ride at Hershey Park
A kiddie train ride at Hershey Park | Source
Hershey Park, December 2014
Hershey Park, December 2014 | Source
Hershey Park, December 2014
Hershey Park, December 2014 | Source
Hershey Park, December 2014
Hershey Park, December 2014 | Source
Hershey Park, December 2014
Hershey Park, December 2014 | Source

Hershey, Pennsylvania, bills itself as “The Sweetest Place on Earth.” This article is based on my personal experiences, including missteps, during visits to the Hershey area. The visits span from 2002 to 2014.

Hershey is best known for its theme park, Hershey Park. Admission is free for children 2 and under, and for most of the year, there are discount prices for children 8 and under and people 55 and older.[i]

There are many other nearby points of interest. One attraction, Chocolate World, is adjacent to Hershey Park. Chocolate World opens year-round at 9 AM. Closing time depends on the day. The two exceptions are Christmas Day, when it is closed, and Thanksgiving when it opens at 4 PM.[ii] In nearby Lancaster, there is Dutch Wonderland, an amusement park geared toward younger children.

Hershey Park

The first time I visited Hershey Park was when a radio station had a promotion. People who entered the park before its normal opening time got in for free. I regretted I hadn’t gone to the park years earlier. At the park’s entrance, there are measuring posts that have bands with the names and logos of different Hershey candy bars. It is a great photo opportunity to measure children to show how tall they were at each park visit.

There are Hershey chocolate characters wandering through the park. There are young children and adult rides. This includes classic and racing style motor cars. The park had a monorail and a skyride. They only have one stop so they can’t be used for transportation. The monorail is a good start point. It’s near the main entrance and will give first-time patrons a good idea of the park’s layout and distances.

Water Park and Zoomerica

Within the park is a water park. Adjacent to the park is Zooamerica. Zoo visits are included in the park’s entry fee. You will need your hand stamp to reenter the park. While the zoo is small it does have a good collection. The collection includes animals native to North America.

The park has animal lectures next to the zoo entrance. During one of these lectures, I learned an owl’s large eyes leave less room for the brain cavity. Despite the owl being a symbol of wisdom, they probably aren’t very intelligent.

They have stages throughout the park. One stage has a large pool and has shows with sea mammals as the stars. Another stage is in a large auditorium. The other stages are outside but under cover. The park has 50 rides, 14 are rollercoasters.

I never had the opportunity to visit the park during the Halloween season. Hershey Park calls its Halloween festivities “Hersheypark In The Dark”.[iii] Hershey Park is only open a few days so it’s a matter of if your schedule meets their schedule.

My last visit to Hershey Park was in December 2014. The park was decorated with seasonal lighting. They had live reindeer at the park. They also had seasonal shows. Unfortunately, I wasn’t dressed for being outside for a sustained period in cold weather, and the park affords few places to get away from the weather.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Tabernacle, Lancaster, PAThe Tabernacle, Lancaster, PAFood Court at Chocolate World, 2014.  There was a school band competition in Hershey this day.Chocolate World, Hershey, PAA NASCAR on display at Hershey WorldSign outside Good 'n PlentyLancaster, PAPennsylvania Dutch tour.Lncaster, PALancaster, PALancaster, PALancaster, PALancaster, PA
The Tabernacle, Lancaster, PA
The Tabernacle, Lancaster, PA | Source
The Tabernacle, Lancaster, PA
The Tabernacle, Lancaster, PA | Source
Food Court at Chocolate World, 2014.  There was a school band competition in Hershey this day.
Food Court at Chocolate World, 2014. There was a school band competition in Hershey this day. | Source
Chocolate World, Hershey, PA
Chocolate World, Hershey, PA | Source
A NASCAR on display at Hershey World
A NASCAR on display at Hershey World | Source
Sign outside Good 'n Plenty
Sign outside Good 'n Plenty | Source
Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA | Source
Pennsylvania Dutch tour.
Pennsylvania Dutch tour. | Source
Lncaster, PA
Lncaster, PA | Source
Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA | Source
Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA | Source
Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA | Source
Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA | Source

Hershey's Chocolate World

Hershey’s Chocolate World is open year-round. The hours do vary depending on the season.[iv] Chocolate World is closed on Christmas but open on Thanksgiving.[v] There is no admission. There are attractions that cost money. You can buy tickets to individual attractions or buy one of the package-deal options.

There is a free Hershey’s Chocolate Tour ride. The wait time depends on time and the season. The ride uses revolving carts so the line keeps moving. The queuing area has its walls painted to represent cocoa tree groves. There is an overhead video that explains the process of harvesting cocoa.

Before the escalator leading to the carts, a wall is painted to represent the cocoa on the docks. The cart takes the riders through all the phases of making chocolate bars. When they get to the part of adding the milk there is a trio of singing animatronic cows. A camera takes a picture of each cart so patrons can buy a memory of their experience.

Before the Hershey factory closed down, there was a digital counter that showed how many of each type of bar was made so far that day. At the end of the ride, the staff handed out free candy to the riders.

There is a large food court. It is in the same area where Hershey chocolate is on sale. The chocolate in the gift shop and the food court is all fresh. There are also souvenirs on sale.

Lancaster

Lancaster is about a 45-minute drive from Hershey Park. Lancaster County is known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country because of its large Amish population.[vi] There are numerous area tours. Most are in tour busses but they also have tours in horse-drawn wagons. A misconception, illustrated in the 1985 movie Witness, is that Amish live separate from the non-Amish. Amish farms and houses are often next to non-Amish farms and houses.

There is the Biblical Tabernacle. Outside it has metal figures and tents representing how an Israelite encampment would look when the Israelites were wandering in The Sinai. Inside they have a painting giving a full view of how an encampment would appear. There is a room that depicts the Tabernacle. A staff member explains the details of the Tabernacle and the rituals. It is educational and inspirational.[vii]

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Monument at Gettysburg.Site of Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg, PA
Monument at Gettysburg.
Monument at Gettysburg. | Source
Site of Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg, PA
Site of Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg, PA | Source

Gettysburg

One time on an alternate route we drove through Gettysburg. Another time we stopped at Gettysburg on a return trip. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay long. Gettysburg is a sprawling battlefield. We went to the visitor’s center, where they have a cyclorama painting that depicts Pickett’s Charge.[viii] I was fortunate to find my way to the scene of Pickett’s Charge. I was able to listen in on a tour guide who gave a detailed description of Pickett’s Charge.

Hotels and Restaurant

The most memorable restaurant we visited was Good ‘n Plenty.[ix] The restaurant features authentic Pennsylvania Dutch food. It is an all you can eat restaurant. The staff brings food to the table. The seating is long tables. The concept is to have different groups seated at the same table.

We only stayed there for overnight visits. I rent rooms at inexpensive hotels since I can’t see paying a lot just for a place to sleep. Inexpensive hotels are available in the Hershey area. They are what one would expect from a bargain basement hotel.

When visiting Hershey Park in December 2014 I would have missed the hotel if I didn’t have the car’s navigation system. The hotel was off an unlit road. There were no other cars in the parking lot. To me, it seemed like a setting for a horror movie. The parking lot had recently been repaved, so the tar scent was in the air.

The hotel staff was nice. I never had a hotel receptionist know me by name when I entered. He explained after Hershey Park closes for its regular season there is very little tourism.

References

  • [i] Hershey Park, https://www.hersheypark.com/tickets/, last accessed 10/14/19.
  • [ii] Hershey.com, https://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/en_us/plan-a-visit/hours.html, last accessed 10/22/19.
  • [iii] Hershey.com, https://www.hersheypark.com/explore-the-park/halloween.php, last accessed 10/22/19.
  • [iv] Hersheys.com, https://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/en_us/home.html, last accessed 10/24/19.
  • [v] Hersheys.com, https://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/en_us/plan-a-visit/hours.html, last accessed 10/24/19.
  • [vi] The Amish are of German extraction. “Pennsylvania Dutch” is derived from “Pennsylvania Deutsch”.
  • [vii] Mennonite Information Center, https://mennoinfocenter.org/tabernacle/?utm_source=lancasterpa.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Lancasterpa, last accessed, 11/2/19.
  • [viii] National Park Services Gettysburg, https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm, last accessed 10/30/19.
  • [ix] Good ‘n Plenty, https://www.goodnplenty.com/, last accessed 10/30/19.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Robert Sacchi

Comments

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    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 weeks ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I got furloughed today. When and if they call me back will be a good indicator of how things are getting back to normal. Stay well.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I am sure you are glad you visited these places long before the pandemic hit. Hopefully, they will be able to once again host visitors in a safe manner if they are not already doing it.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      8 months ago

      I definitely needed more time at Gettysburg. The Amish tours are nice. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      8 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      This sounds and looks like an interesting trip not much for the chocolate but for Gettysburg and the Amish communities.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      8 months ago

      Thank you all for reading and commenting. It is a fun place to go as FlourishAnyway points out though there can be missteps. Cheap pun I know,

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for showing us all of your photos and descriptions of visiting Hershey Park and the surrounding areas. It looks like a fun place to spend some time.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      8 months ago from USA

      I’ve thought of visiting here with extended family since it’s a midway point. I’ve visited Lancaster and stayed with my daughter who was three or four at the time at a farm bed and breakfast but it wasn’t a great experience (she found some dead kittens and fell in a cow pie). I’m finally ready to go back though and want to visit Hershey Park. My sister said the whole place smells like chocolate. I wasn’t aware the factory closed. I liked your description of the hotel knowing your name.

    • Asad Dillz profile image

      Asad Dillz Khan 

      8 months ago from United Kingdom

      Again an incredible job Robert! I would love to visit the park. Your writing is very expressive and superb. Thanks for sharing this master piece.

    • Robert Sacchi profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Sacchi 

      8 months ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting. There is much to see in the area. It's one of those places I wish I could stay longer. I first went there on a school day trip with I was in grammar school. I was too young to appreciate an Amish tour then.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 months ago from Sunny Florida

      My mother, my sister and I took a trip and drove through the Dutch country. It was so beautiful. We didn't go to any parks but your descriptions make me know I would have loved. I enjoyed looking at all your pictures also.

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