Visiting Hersheypark invigorates a parent by immersing you in its thrills, sweet treats and quality family bonding. We recently took our fifth family adventure to “The Sweetest Place on Earth” where we stayed at one of the official Hershey Entertainment & Resorts accommodations so we want to share some insider Hersheypark tips for having an awesome, successful and #HershyparkHappy family vacation.
Insider tip #1: Skip weekends (at least avoid Saturdays)
Every family has a different measurement of summer fun. The gauge for our overall experience is how many different rides we go on, how many times we’re able to go on rides, and the size of the crowds. In evaluating those factors, we learned we can usually DOUBLE the amount of rides we go on during a day at Hersheypark when visiting on a weekday. The lines for food, locker rooms and waterpark attractions are also much more manageable, putting more smiles on everyone’s faces. (Since not every family can ditch work or skip school to visit on a weekday, we’ll provide some additional insider tips to gaining an upper hand on the crowds.)
Insider tip #2: Stay overnight at an official Hersheypark resort
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our family has never been in such a desperate need of a vacation getaway. Still, we weren’t ready to fly. A road trip was the perfect solution. But rather than drive three hours back to New York City after a whirlwind day of adventure in Hersheypark, we made plans to stay overnight at The Hotel Hershey — located a stone’s throw from the amusement and water parks. The Hotel Hershey, one of three official lodging sites, was as much a highlight of our experience as Hersheypark! The accommodations were inviting, luxurious and provided panoramic views of the rides and attractions.
It’s easy to relax and and get lost in vacation here. Why? Let’s see:
- You receive Hershey Bars and get to hug various park mascot characters at check-in.
- There’s a dazzling, oversized, outdoor pool complex (there’s an indoor pool on property, too) to frolic in. Or just sip frozen cocktails under a shady umbrella while watching your kids race through water slides in the pool.
- Roasting s’mores at a family-friendly fire pit in the evening.
- Enjoying an awesome breakfast buffet at The Circular Restaurant to fuel up for the day,
- Watch your little ones enjoy a host of engaging activities throughout the day like making ice-cream sundaes, playing “glow golf” and bingo where the prizes are full-size Hershey bars and Kit Kats!
We enjoyed our stay at The Hotel Hershey and Hersheypark so much we decided to extend for an extra night. There was pure joy on our kid’s faces (and ours) when we told them we were staying … and never wanted to leave.
Insider tip #3: “Sweet Start” — More rides, minimal waits
COVID-19 and staffing shortages forced Hersheypark to reduce operating hours by three or four hours per day. This makes maximizing your time at the theme park of paramount importance. Consequently, an incredible bonus offered exclusively to guests at the official resorts of Hersheypark and some levels of season pass holders is the “Sweet Start” option.
Sweet Start allows you to enter Hersheypark one hour before the general public and access approximately 50% of the park. This is a huge win. It enabled our family to go on roller coaster that usually have lengthy lines and wait times several times. Additionally, if you come the day before your ticketed visit to the amusement park, Sweet Start allows you to enter Hersheypark three hours BEFORE closing that night. That’s three hours of bonus fun time to get a jump-start on enjoying the rides and attractions.
Bonus insider Hersheypark tips: The newest ride at Hersheypark this summer is Candymonium. Located in the park’s newest section, Hershey’s Chocolatetown, Candymonium is the park’s tallest, fastest, longest and sweetest rollercoaster. The new steel coaster, which soars at up to 76 mph, is smooth, swift and exhilarating. It has has easily become our new favorite thrill ride. With average wait times between 30 to 90 minutes, Candymonium is one of the most popular rides in the entire park. Candymonium is near the main park entrance, and included in Sweet Start, so make it your FIRST stop when gates open. You’ll basically walk right onto the ride!
Insider tip #4. There’s a Hersheypark app for that!
Don’t overwhelm your family with a rigid agenda that tries to squeeze in everything in one day. The free and fairly reliable Hersheypark mobile app will help with that. It enabled our kids to plan a loose schedule based on park geography, making navigating the park — and our lives — easier.
The free app includes a host of useful tools: talk about insider Hersheypark tips! These include:
- an online park map
- a complete list and description of rides
- ride height restrictions, and the secret weapon — Ride Wait Times.
We became obsessed with using the app during our visit. We kept a watchful eye for wait times that fell under 15 minutes for our favorite attractions like Comet, Breakers Edge Water Coaster and Laff Trakk.
Bonus insider Hersheypark tips: Wait times are usually shortest during morning hours and days with inclement weather. Most families would cringe at a chance of showers in the forecast. Not us. We celebrated when there was a 20-minute downpour. It sent the crowds running indoors or home, resulting in much shorter wait times and more rides for us.
Insider tip #5: Hershey’s Chocolatetown is drool-worthy
The new Hershey’s Chocolatetown was one of the most ambitious and transformative park expansion’s in Hersheypark history. For us, its crown jewels are the Candymonium coaster and The Chocolatier Restaurant.
Make sure you dine at The Chocolatier Restaurant, just opened for summer 2021. The food was excellent, service friendly and relaxed, and the panoramic views of Chocolatetown from the expansive outdoor patio are mesmerizing. Make sure to save room for their creative and delicious desserts!
BEWARE: The restaurant does NOT take reservations. We called ahead and table wait times averaged between 90 minutes and two hours. Not a good recipe with tired, cranky or hangry children.
Bonus insider Hersheypark tips: Have one family member walk into The Chocolatier Restaurant about two hours before you would normally eat. Put your name on the wait list and provide your cell phone number. Then, go back to enjoy more of Hersheypark’s attractions or venture into nearby Hershey’s Chocolate World (their Factory Tour ride is awesome and free). You’ll receive a text when your table is ready. We tried to get in twice and this proved to be the winning solution.
We also highly recommend eating at the recently opened Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor, also located in Hershey’s Chocolatetown. The craft house-made ice cream flavors designed by expert “Ice Creamologists” had us drooling! The Toasted Marshmallow was out of this world and the grilled cheese with tater tots were a delight.
Hersheypark is where lasting memories are made! We’re still reeling from our incredible vacation there and can’t wait to visit again this fall for “Hersheypark in the Dark.” Hersheypark has us addicted for life!
Disclosure: Lance Somerfeld is a member of Hersheypark’s Sweetest Families Program. The program includes complimentary park passes and hotel accommodations for his family provided by the kind folks at Hershey’s Entertainment & Resorts. His thoughts, opinions and insider Hersheypark tips are genuine and have not been influenced by the brand.