Hersheypark, the Sweetest Place on Earth, has become a Halloween fan’s heaven! We went to the opening weekend for the 2023 Hersheypark Halloween celebration and its Dark Nights experience and it was an absolute dream (or is that “scream”) that exceeded all expectations.
This year, you’ll find five haunted houses (one more than last year) and three epic “scare zones” in addition to loads of rides, trick-or-treating at “Treatville,” awesome lights-out rollercoasters, and priceless family fun. Hersheypark kept all of the amazing things you loved about their Dark Nights extravaganza from last year and elevated it.
After spending an entire three-day weekend at Hersheypark Halloween, we’ve got the scoop on what’s new as well as insider tips for getting the most from this action-packed, electrifying family experience.
But hurry up! There are only two weekends left before Hersheypark Halloween and Dark Nights disappear!
Dark Nights Tickets
New this year, your admission ticket to Hersheypark Halloween ALSO includes admission to all the Dark Nights haunted houses and scare zone attractions. This is a significant cost savings! Previously, you needed to pay for an “add-on” or wait at an automated kiosk to get a wristband. Beware, though: Since every visiting guest has access to the haunted houses, the lines are longer this year.
Fallout Zone, Midway of Misery, and Darkstone’s Hollow have increased in scale. Jaw-dropping immersive features and loads of scare actors have been added. We loved the floating “fobbles” (fog inside bubbles), mesmerizing pyrotechnics, and watching the Decayed Brigade team of actors “sliding” across the pavement scaring the wits out of unsuspecting guests. Wandering the scare zones at dusk and after dark is a worthy attraction on its own accord.
Pro Tip: Last year, our 7-year-old daughter was worried about being frightened. We invested in a cute, but pricey “no boo” bat necklace. It lights up, is fun to wear, and alerts the scare actors NOT to scare you. It is available again this year for the faint of heart.
Hersheypark Dark Nights has five haunted houses filled with loads of “scare” actors at every turn, shadowy figures, animatronics, and mesmerizing special effects. The newest addition, Auntie Mortem’s Abattoir, is bone-chilling, ghastly and gory. However, our favorite remains The Descent, which had some creative newly added features over last year’s version.
The variety of haunted houses, recommended for ages 13 and over, are:
- Creatures Uncaged — This mainly outdoor experience introduces you to fearful and deadly creatures that lurk. Don’t worry, they’re in their cages. For now.
- Haunted Coal Mine — Enjoy this immersive preshow where you’re thrust onto an elevator down into the coal mines. Then, take a daring trek through the abandoned mines for what becomes an explosive encounter.
- *NEW* Auntie Mortem’s Abattoir — Enter this meat processing plant at your own risk. Prepare to cringe in this gruesome labyrinth as you desperately try to escape.
- The Descent — Who prowls the dark underground tunnels beneath Hersheypark? Follow into the depths of decay where the only way out … is down!
- Twisted Carnevil — Have your tarot cards read by a twisted fortune teller! Then, be forced into a never-ending carnival of nightmares. Was it real or was it all in your mind? This haunted house featured some amazing mirror maze haunts!
The Hersheypark Halloween Dark Nights experience starts at 6 p.m. With sunset around that time, you want to save the outdoor experiences like Creatures Uncaged until it’s pitch black so you enjoy them in all of their eerie splendor.
Note: In addition to the scare actors, inside the haunted houses you’ll find a significant amount of security guards. They made us feel safe and kept the crowd flowing smoothly through the dark mazes. If someone in your party becomes too scared, security will quickly escort them out of one of the numerous exits.
The Boardwalk water park area is transformed into “Treatville,” a good old-fashioned trick-or-treating trail. You’ll find 10 pit stops to load up on your favorite Hershey candy, take lots of photos in festive settings, and enjoy quality time with your family. The lines at “Treatville” got significantly longer around sundown so plan to enjoy this activity earlier in the day. Note: Treatville closes at 8 p.m.
New this year, is the RIP Dinner Buffet & MEAT the Monsters — a dreadfully delicious all-you-care-to-eat buffet featuring eerie entrées like Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Test Tubes, yummy desserts, and a large dose of dinner theater as several unsavory characters (from the Scare Zones and haunted houses) visit and engage at your table. Our family tried this one evening and absolutely loved the experience.
Plus, as a special RIP dinner guest, you’ll receive a single-use fast-track pass that lets you skip the line for a haunted house or participating ride. This was an excellent perk to jump to the front of the line on the newest haunted house.
Next time, we’d like to try the “Dark Nights Tasting Pass” which enables you to sample up to five specialty menu items throughout the park.
Rides: Are they still open?
The majority of Hersheypark’s most popular rides and rollercoasters are still open during their Halloween and Dark Nights. You can count on riding Skyrush, Reese’s Cupfusion, Laff Trakk, Comet, and Carrousel.
Hersheypark’s “Dark Ride” is out of this world and something every rollercoaster enthusiast should experience. During the last hour of every evening, prepare for an intense, lights-off thrill ride on Wildcat’s Revenge, Comet, Lightning Racer, and Candymonium. Plus, Laff Trakk has its lights off for the entire day.
If you think the award-winning Wildcat’s Revenge was spectacular and thrilling before …wait until you try it as a dark ride!
What’s the best day to visit Dark Nights?
Smaller crowds on Fridays (and even Sundays) meant enjoying more time on our favorite rides and attractions and less congestion in the scare zones and haunted houses. Based on our many past visits, Saturdays are always jam-packed with park guests and that was 100% true for this year’s Halloween visit as well. This means extremely long food lines and lengthy wait times on rides. Make sure to download the Hersheypark app for real-time “wait times” to help plan your itinerary.
Pro Tip: Plan to stay for the last hour or two before the park closes when lines get significantly shorter because most families with younger children have already left to start their bedtime routines.
Hersheypark’s Halloween has become a new family tradition and can’t wait to return in 2024 to see what new attractions, updates, and surprises they have in store for us. Even if you can’t make it to Dark Nights this year, definitely put it on your family’s list of autumn destinations for next year!
Hersheypark Halloween Dark Nights schedule
Hersheypark Halloween and Dark Nights runs weekends through Oct. 29. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Halloween – Tuesday, Oct. 31. Dark Nights begins weekend nights at 6 PM. Closing time varies by the day.
What happens when it rains?
Wait times are usually shortest when it’s raining. The crowds bolt indoors to shop and eat or leave to head home. That means more rides for families that stick it out! We always come prepared with rain ponchos and relish having the park nearly to ourselves during rain showers.
Don’t like getting wet? You can still ride while escaping the rain on several indoor/covered rides: Reese’s Cupfusion, Laff Trakk, Kissing Tower, the carousel and bumper cars, for example. Or head over to Hershey’s Chocolate World for their free and entertaining chocolate factory tour ride.
Pro Tip: If the weather gets severe and causes the majority of major rides and attractions to close for a continuous 60 minutes, a voucher may be issued for a return visit for the current operating season
Disclosure: Lance Somerfeld is a member of Hersheypark’s Sweetest Families Program. The program includes complimentary park passes and hotel accommodations for our family provided by the kind folks at Hershey’s Entertainment & Resorts. His thoughts and opinions are genuine and have not been influenced by the brand. All photos by the Somerfeld family.