Hersheypark, the Sweetest Place on Earth, has reimagined its entire Halloween experience for families in 2022! The old “Hersheypark in the Dark” is now “Dark Nights”!
This year at the Pennsylvania theme park you’ll find four haunted houses and three “scare zones” in addition to loads of rides, trick-or-treating at “Treatville,” and awesome lights-out rollercoasters. We just returned from a Hersheypark Halloween weekend with an 11-tip family fun guide for getting the most from this action-packed, electrifying family experience.
But hurry up! There are only two weekends left before Halloween!
1. Trick-or-treat at Treatville early in the day
Head to the festive Boardwalk water park area to indulge in good old-fashioned trick-or-treating. You’ll find 10 pit stops to load up on candy, take lots of photos in creative fall 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.
Family fun guide pro tip: Unlike last year’s Hersheypark Halloween experience, parents get to trick-or-treat as well.
2. Get your Dark Nights wristband early in the day
At this year’s Hersheypark Halloween celebration, you will need a special Dark Nights wristband (additional fee required) for entry to the four haunted houses. We recommend obtaining yours earlier in the day when lines are shorter. Additionally, you can get your wristband at several of the HPGO Stations. However, the kiosks by the park entrance and the Reese’s Cupfusion ride had very long lines. We found kiosks with almost no lines further inside the park, like the one by the Trailblazer ride.
3. Do the two indoor haunted houses first
Hersheypark Dark Nights has four haunted houses filled with loads of “scare” actors at every turn and mesmerizing special effects. For the first year of this transformative Hersheypark Halloween experience, they did an outstanding job.
The haunted houses, recommended for ages 13 and over, are:
- Creature Chaos — This mainly outdoor experience introduces you to fearful and deadly creatures. 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.
- The Descent — Engaging indoor preshow. Who prowls the dark underground tunnels beneath Hersheypark? Follow into the depths of decay where the only way out … is down!
- Twisted Darkness — Have your tarot cards read by a twisted fortune teller and 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 until it’s pitch black so you enjoy them in all of their spooky splendor. We recommend going to The Descent or Twisted Darkness first. They’re both completely indoors so it doesn’t lose its impact if it’s still light out.
The Haunted Coal Mine topped our list of favorites. We loved this immersive, frightening attraction so much we went through it four times.
Note: In addition to the scare actors, inside the haunted houses you’ll find a significant amount of security guards which we were very happy about. They made us feel safe and kept the crowd flowing smoothly through the dark mazes.
Family fun guide pro tip: The Descent and Haunted Coal Mine seemed to have the longest lines. Queue up for those first.
4. Enjoy many of the other Hersheypark rides
The majority of Hersheypark’s most popular rides and rollercoasters are still open during their Halloween Dark Nights. You can count on riding Skyrush, Reese’s Cupfusion, Laff Trakk, Comet, and Carrousel. Sadly, the waterpark is closed for the season.
5. Ride a rollercoaster with the lights off!
Hersheypark’s Dark Ride is something that every rollercoaster enthusiast should experience. During the last hour of every evening, prepare for an intense, lights-off thrill ride on Comet, Lightning Racer, and Candymonium. Plus, Laff Trakk has its lights off for the entire day.
6. The Hersheypark Halloween vibe is contagious
Numerous families come to celebrate Dark Night dressed up in Halloween costumes. Dense fog, strobe lights, and spooky music add to the festive charm as you navigate the theme park after sundown.
7. Are the new scare zones scary?
We found the scare zones more fascinating than scary. We spent time relishing in the fog and loved watching flames burst into the sky as guests walked through a creepy gateway in Midway of Misery. The memorable Midway of Misery zone was our favorite and we recommend every guest to head over there to see what it’s all about.
Family fun guide pro tip: My 7-year-old daughter was worried about being frightened. We invested in an adorable, but pricey “no boo” bat necklace. It lights up, is fun to wear, and alerts the scare actors NOT to scare you.
8. Remember to indulge in fall-inspired treats!
Festive king-sized shakes, sundaes, and cupcakes are added to your usual Hershey favorites. You definitely need to seek out the warm, pumpkin-spiced mini-doughnuts for something truly drool-worthy.
9. Go visit Hershey’s Chocolatetown
Yes, Hershey’s Chocolatetown is open during the Hersheypark Halloween Dark Nights extravaganza! Our favorite destination on the property, The Chocolatier Restaurant, Bar + Patio was exactly what our family needed before our thrilling evening. The weather was mild so we enjoyed dining outdoors on their grand patio with expansive views of Candymonium, Skyrush and more. We loaded up on dessert with local dairy, house-made ice cream at Milton’s, and Halloween cupcakes at the Sweeterie Confectionery Kitchen. Plus, our visit is never complete without adding a new stuffed animal to our collection at The Supply Company.
10. Visit Dark Nights on Friday and/or Sunday during Hersheypark Halloween
Smaller crowds on Fridays (and even Sundays) mean enjoying more time on our favorite rides and attractions and less congestion in the haunted houses. Based on our many past visits, Saturdays are always literally packed with park guests. 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 agenda.
Family fun guide pro tip: The “late” bird catches the worm. 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.
11. Stay overnight at an official Hersheypark Resort
A three-hour drive from NYC is too much for us to do twice in one day. We planned our visit in advance and that included an overnight stay at an official Hersheypark Resort. This time it was Hershey Lodge, just a few short minutes from Hersheypark. We loved our experience! The stay included convenient shuttle bus service to/from the front gate of Hersheypark, candy-bar bingo, and frolicking in their indoor “Water Works” waterpark.
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.