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We visited Hershey’s Chocolate World the last time we were in Pennsylvania.  This time we skipped the Chocolate part and stuck to the amusement park.  Our logic is that we’d done a few days at Sesame Place, which is really more appropriate for the younger ones.  So we headed out to Hershey Park to satisfy the thrill ride appetite of the older ones.

Overall this proved to be a good decision.  We kept exclusively to the dry rides, so I won’t review the water park.  But, there were enough rides for the little ones and the oldest, specifically, was very excited by the big roller coasters.

We think we will go again sometime, maybe even stay at a Hershey Park hotel to get another day in the park and gain some of the benefits for hotel guests.  That being said, there were some issues.

  1. It is very hilly, especially the entry area.  This can be a real beast with a stroller.  The entry is so steep that even going down can be tricky to manage.
  2. There are six different ride heights, more than I’ve seen anywhere else.  With the kids spread across four of them it was trickier than usual to keep track of who could go on each ride.
  3. Along these same lines, the little kid rides are almost exclusively mechanical carnival rides so I would recommend your youngest being a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar (48-54 inches) before you go.  This seemed to be the sweet spot where the most rides were available.  Therefore one could choose between the calmer kiddie rides and the bigger thrill rides, depending on your child.
  4. Our tickets came with meal vouchers.  It was annoyingly difficult to determine where these could be used.  Plus, once you did figure that out, it was almost impossible to find the establishment you were looking for.
  5. To follow up on that, the paper map is useless.  Nothing is properly marked, it’s by region at best.  In many cases we couldn’t figure out where the thing was even though we were in the correct region.  In other cases we could see a ride, but couldn’t find the entrance even with the map.  Somebody really needs to go over that again.

With all that in mind, we did have a good day.  Our strategy was to head all the way to the farthest point in and work our way back stopping at rides we liked along the way.  Doing this we did get almost everything we were interested in done before nightfall.  We did end up eating dinner in the park, which hadn’t been part of our original plan.  We also did manage to sneak into the place we found to eat dinner just before it closed.  I’m not sure why it closed so much earlier than the park itself.

Some of the rides had very long lines (1 hr +) on a summer day that was nice, but no so hot that you felt you needed to go in the water park.  They do offer FastTrack passes, but they are only available for a limited number of rides.  We did not get that option and I’m not sure how helpful it would have been, both because I’m not sure one matched the rides we went on and because I’m not sure one matched the height categories of our family.

Some of our favorite rides were:

Bigger Kids: Laff Trakk, Lightening Racer, Comet, Great Bear, The Howler

Smaller Kids: Tiny Tracks, Fun Slide, Red Baron, Traffic Jam, Dry Gulch Railroad

In summary, we enjoyed Hershey Park.  It offered ride options for all ages and was reasonably accessible.  It was also a good day trip distance from Philadelphia where we based most of our activities.  That being said, it seems like a place you need to go to a few times before you feel comfortable with the lay of the land, which is a bit unfortunate.