The move to the east coast has opened up a whole drivable area of places to visit. One that’s quickly becoming a family favorite is Hershey, Pennsylvania, especially Hersheypark. Here are 11 Hersheypark tips and hacks for your next visit!
I kinda dig both.
So moving within a 3-hour drive to Hersheypark has made me one happy momma!
The kids aren’t stuck in the car for too long and at the end is one sweet thrill park filled with roller coasters galore. Who could ask for more?
Why Hershey PA?
You might be asking— What’s so great about Hershey PA?
I mean, it’s the town built by chocolate. CHOCOLATE, y’all!
But specifically, if you are looking for things to do in Hershey as a first-timer, check out this post. I’ve covered a few great options for you here.
And if you are one of my fellow theme park loving runner friends: heads up.
The Hershey Half Marathon is happening in October and you still have time to register!
Here’s why runners love Hershey.
Hint: there’s a fabulous day spa for after the run… I know you want to know about that!
Hersheypark Tips and Hacks
And then there’s Hersheypark itself.
This is one fabulous theme park with an appeal for families of all ages.
My family consists of four children ages seven to 15.
This can make pleasing everyone, shall we say, a challenge?
They all absolutely loved the trip we just took to Hersheypark.
I learned a few hacks about Hersheypark that you’ll want to know before your next trip.
Check the Hours of Hersheypark
This may surprise you if you are not from the area (or from a northern state) but Hersheypark isn’t a year-round park. Makes sense considering it can get a bit cold and snowy up there during the winter months.
It would be a total bummer to pull a Griswold on your family and roll up to a closed park!
This hack might seem like a “well, duh” but in this world of 24/7 entertainment, you’d be surprised at how many people expect entertainment 365 days of the year.
Know before you go, mom and dad!
Check this post out to get Hersheypark Happy! It has all the Hersheypark hours and deets you’ll need for your sweet visit.
The Seasons at Hersheypark
The summer season typically runs from early May to the end of September. In fact, it just wrapped up this past weekend.
The good news is Hersheypark is rolling into fall where things get really exciting!
Up next is Hersheypark In The Dark, aka, Halloween at Hersheypark, which you know is going to be a hit with kids.
This season kicks off on October 13 and runs Friday nights and weekends through the rest of October. Trick or Treat through the 13 candy trails or scream your head off in the dark on the thrill rides: the choice is yours!
Starting in November through January 1 Hersheypark is open for Christmas Candylane.
Experience the park lit up for the Christmas season and special meet & greets with Santa and his reindeer.
And don’t forget to take a drive through the Sweet Lights, a 2-mile trail you can drive through of unforgettable sparkling lights!
After a winter break, Hersheypark is open again during the spring with select dates to coincide with Spring Break travels.
Check the website for those dates as they aren’t quite scheduled yet.
Arrive Early Or Stay Late at Hersheypark
Make the most of your theme park ticket by beating the crowds and arriving early.
You’ll have a better parking spot (and not feel the need to pay for preferred parking!), which trust me, you’ll appreciate at the end of a long day when you are carrying your littles back to the car!
You’ll also be able to hit some of the headliner rides with minimal waits.
And if you can arrive REALLY early, then you can take advantage of the Preview Plan. Early as in the night before!
When you purchase a regular full-day admission ticket, you can enter the night before your big day for 2 1/2 hours prior to Park closing.
Purchase parking the evening you are using the Preview Plan and keep the parking stub, along with your admission tickets, to use the following day. How cool is that?!
Alternately, if you roll in a little later in the afternoon, you’ll see a lot of people leaving as you walk in.
You’re fresh and ready to rock and roll through the evening while a lot of the crowd is calling it a day.
Early or late: winning either way you go!
Go Mid Week & Mid Summer to Hersheypark
More people are at work, therefore there are fewer people in the park.
It makes sense.
If you can manage to head to the park during the week, you’ll typically have a less crowded experience which means less whiny kids, amirite?
Another suggestion that ties into timing is to avoid opening and closing weekends during the summer.
Everyone is excited to be there that first week! And everyone wants one last ride to say goodbye before the park closes for the summer.
Download the Hersheypark App
And turn on the location settings.
This was such a huge help when we were first learning our way around the park.
There’s a handy feature that shows up when you search a ride or dining location that says “Take me there!” and if location settings are turned on, you’ll soon see a blue line on the map telling you which way to go.
The app will also let you know approximate wait times on your favorite rides. Extremely helpful when splitting your group up to hit the rides for the younger kids and older kids.
ps- Hersheypark also has Wi-Fi! So link up and don’t be afraid to use the app and save your data.
Split the Group Up at Hersheypark
This isn’t always the most popular opinion when it comes to theme park navigation, but I’ve learned that you cannot make everyone happy all the time when your kids span the age gap mine do.
My older kids are all thrill seekers; my youngest gets nervous on a teacup ride.
I let my husband do the wild and crazy thrill rides with the big kids and enjoy the simpler attractions with my little one.
Thanks to the wait time estimates on the app, we can agree to an approximate meetup time between rides and everyone is happy!
Charge Up with Charging Stations at Hersheypark
Walking through the park I noticed my battery was dying on my phone and inwardly thought, welp, I guess we will need to call it a day!
I’m not totally serious; but if you are like me, you’ve become reliant on cell phone use in most aspects of your daily life.
It’s my communication device as well as my primary camera. And at Hersheypark, see app suggestion above, it was my navigation system.
If the phone died, things would get a bit more complicated with my split up family.
That’s when I discovered the T-Mobile charging stations at Hersheypark.
I gave the iPhone a little juice and we were back in business.
By my count, there are three of these stations located throughout the park. Chords are included for various devices.
Bring Your Walking Shoes to Hersheypark
The park is sprawling and has a few hills to it.
Nothing unmanageable, but it’s not a wide open stroll you might envision!
Be prepared with comfortable walking or running shoes so you can manage the workout you’ll get along the way.
Buy a Sweet Treat at Hersheypark
This park does have the typical hotdog & french fry theme park food, but it also has some great restaurants.
We loved the Gourmet Grille inside the park and had a lovely lunch with plenty of options for everyone.
But where Hersheypark excels is in the sweet snacks and desserts!
Around 4 pm when my people were in need of a pick-me-up, we stopped at Simply Chocolate and bought this:
Yes, that is a cupcake on top of a milkshake.
And this is My No-Guilt Life, so you know, don’t judge.
Grabbing something sweet is a good way to keep the kids from having a mid-afternoon meltdown. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-timed sugar rush!
Kiddie Swap Program: Use it!
If you have a smaller child (say the size of a Hershey Kiss) but everyone else wants to ride something appropriate for the Twizzlers in your family, take advantage of the Kiddie Swap program.
You let the ride attendant know and they make the details work for your family.
One parent may ride while the other stays with the child. At the conclusion of the initial ride, the parents may “swap” places.
Similarly, if one parent has two children who meet the height restriction but must be accompanied by a responsible rider or who wish not to ride alone, the parent may ride with one child while the other child waits in an appropriate area of the ride.
At the conclusion of the initial ride, the parent may remain on the ride while the children “swap” places.
It is such a family-friendly policy & adds to my love for Hersheypark.
Visit ZooAmerica at Hersheypark
When you purchase your Hersheypark day pass, the ZooAmerica visit is included.
That’s right: you get a two-fer.
Amusement park and a trip to the zoo all in one!
This was a highlight for my youngest as the zoo is just the right size and scope for a young child. It was also a nice distraction from the hot sun and lines we stood in that morning.
It’s located in the back of the park, so don’t overlook it!
I hope these Hersheypark hacks will help pave the way for your next visit with kids. If you’ve got any additional tips for navigating Hersheypark, shout them out in comments!
Thanks, Hersheypark, for hosting our visit.
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)