Why we Love Visiting Hershey Pennsylvania with Kids
Visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania is one of those childhood memories that both my husband and I had since we grew up in the Northeast US. And in fact, I remember as a child visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania in the summertime, and my husband visited frequently around Christmas. Two totally different experiences and we love to share our childhood memories with our kids as well!
First off I will say if you plan on visiting Hershey Park I suggest looking in advance for discount tickets. In past years I’ve seen coupons advertised before the park even opens for the season. The best discount I have seen was that all the tickets were the price of a kids’ ticket which can save you some serious dough. And I am fairly certain you can’t buy these too early, as long as you use them up by the end of the summer you should be good to go!
The park opens at 10 AM in the summer but people start lining up at the entrance over an hour beforehand. The park is quite large so even with the big crowds, it doesn’t feel overly crowded even if you are visiting on a Saturday. I will say that on a warm day the Boardwalk area is definitely more crowded than the rest of the park. Our usual amusement park strategy is to hit up the busy rides first before their lines get too long. Hershey Park does offer some variation of a “fast pass” called FastTrack but we did not purchase this option. Kids (or adults) can measure themselves to determine which “candy” category they belong to. Crazy how much my youngest has grown in two years and can now go on a bunch of new rides.
I will admit that MOST of the bigger roller coasters require you to be over 54″, which neither of my kids was for our most recent visit. The website also gives the ranges for each category so you can see in advance where everyone will fall. After our most recent trip, we have decided it would be best to wait until my oldest is 54″ to return to ride the roller coasters. There are a few roller coasters that you can still ride under that height though. And even in the “Reeses” category, there is a roller coaster that can you ride that even goes upside down!
Even for kids smaller than my girls, there are plenty of rides to get on! We typically spend anywhere from 6-8 hours at the park and have never rode every single ride. The lines tend to get longer as the day goes on, but they aren’t too bad for rides for the younger kids.
Besides being tons of great rides for the kids there is also an entire water park embedded into the park! We didn’t spend a ton of time in there because there was a quick thunderstorm that closed it for a while. The girls did have a great time playing in the water even when it cooled off after the storm. When we return to Hershey Park we are thinking we almost would need a second day to just hang at the water section and one just for the regular park!
In addition to all the rides, Hershey Park also has a small zoo attached. Admission to the zoo is included with your admission to Hershey Park. We have visited on some trips in the past – but often will skip it since we do visit many zoos elsewhere.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Right before the main entrance to Hershey Park, you will find Hershey’s Chocolate World. When you first walk in you’ll think it’s just a giant gift shop and place to load up on chocolate. And while that is almost true, there are also some other interesting ways to experience chocolate here! Chocolate World opens at 9 AM so many people head in there before the park opens. We decided to go the day after we were at the park before we got on the road to drive home, so we could take our time and not feel rushed to get into the park. If you are only going to Chocolate World for under 3 hours parking is free – score! We purchased a bundle of tickets for 3 different events in Hershey’s Chocolate World. We chose the option for the Chocolate Tasting Experience, 4D show and Create your own candy bar. There are also options that include a trolley ride, we only skipped this opportunity because we didn’t think the kids would enjoy at this age.
Create Your Own Candy Bar
We woke up on our last day and declared the day “chocolate day”. The girls were excited to go make their own chocolate bar! The first step is to put on a hairnet and an apron before you enter the chocolate factory. After this step, you are led into the next room with touch screen computers. It is here where you make all the big decisions on what kind of candy bar you want to make. Our kids loved picking this out and it was a tricky decision for sure.
The following room is the actual factory where the chocolate bars get made. Everything is visible and at a good level for kids to see. You actually get to watch your chocolate bar go down a conveyor belt getting the fillings and toppings you chose in the previous room. It moves slow but our girls loved watching theirs and making sure everything was how they designed it to be.
Once the chocolate bar has been made you are then directed into a room where you design the candy bar wrapper. Again on a touch screen computer, you can pick your color and designs of the wrapper. After that is completed you are back to the conveyor belt watching for your chocolate to get wrapped up and finally packaged by a factory worker. The bars of chocolate are huge and the packaging is seriously fancy! We had to cut the bars with a knife to eat them and they lasted days!
The tasting took place in a room located off the gift shop which we actually had a hard time finding, haha! It was a quick presentation on different types of chocolate and how chocolate was made. The instructor taught the audience how to taste chocolate in three steps. First, you snap the chocolate, the smell and then eat it. The girls LOVED this tasting for obvious reasons as did I!
Chocolate Factory Tour
The last thing we did inside Hershey’s Chocolate World was the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour, which was FREE to everyone! The tour is a slow-moving ride that takes you through the process of how Hershey’s Chocolate is made. It is quick and cute and at the same time, you learn a lot!
Hershey’s Chocolate World Gift Shop
In this Hershey themed gift shop, you will find any type of Hershey candy you could ever imagine. In addition to all the chocolate, there are also endless non-edible souvenirs for you to remember your time in Hershey. If your kids are anything like mine, they are going to want to buy it all, so brace yourself. We so rarely buy souvenirs when we are on a trip, but it is hard to turn down all the yummy chocolate here.