Most summertime visitors to Hershey have one destination in mind: Hersheypark. Here are some tips for making the most of your visit to the park, with a few tips for dining and other attractions.

 

Tickets and the Free Preview Evening 

If you plan on spending more than two days at Hershey park, consider a season pass. It will pay for itself  -- not only does it cover your admission to the park, it also gives you free parking, a 15% discount off food and merchandise in the park and a coupon book with excellent deals (10% off purchases at Chocolate World, for example). If your time is more limited and you've purchased one-day tickets, make sure you get to Hersheypark for the Free Preview Evening -- the evening before your full day at the park, you can get in a couple hours before closing for free, and it's well worth the trip. Crowds are lighter, and you have the chance to get a feel for the layout of the park.

 

Making the Most of Your Day 

If you plan to try the waterpark attractions in the new Boardwalk theme area, a good advice is to wear your swimwear under your clothes and be at the main gate right at opening time (10 a.m.) Then get to the Boardwalk (on the far end of the park, in the shadow of the Ferris Wheel) as fast as you can and send one person to get a big locker there -- they go quickly, and they're essential if you want to stow your swimming suits and enjoy the rest of the park after the Boardwalk. Another person should go to the wave pool area and claim lounge chairs for the family -- lounge chairs are very hard to come by after 10:30.

Whew.

Now you can enjoy the park!

If you like big water rides, do the Vortex and the Whirlwind at the Boardwalk first to avoid hour+ waits later in the day. Then enjoy East Coast Waterworks. The wave pool, where your lounge chairs are located, is a fairly central location and a good place to relax with a drink and a snack mid-morning.

By noon, the Boardwalk is elbow-to-elbow people and the rides have long waits. That's when you change, stow your swimsuits in a locker and head out to the rest of the park. The rides around Midway America (just outside The Boardwalk) should have short lines. If you're getting hungry, a great recommendation is the Sidewinder food court area. There are several good food stands there -- a favorite is Mixed Grille, where you can actually find healthy food, and it's made from scratch. But there's a good burger stand, a sausage concession, a smoothie place and an ice cream place there, as well as a Subway -- and it's a nice shaded area that tends to stay quiet.

Another tip: Take a break in the heat of the afternoon and head to air-conditioned Chocolate World. It's just outside the main gate of Hersheypark, but it's easy to get a handstamp for a quick return to the rides. Chocolate World has reconfigured almost everything -- new chocolate tour ride, new merchandise area, a fairly good 3-D show, a chocolate-tasting experience, the "Factory Works" (kids get to "work" on a Kiss assembly line, nice for the picture and the experience, but pricy). It's worth spending an hour here, and the Kit Kat Cafe on the upper level is usually quiet, with some good drinks. The milkshakes in the food court area are excellent and don't miss the Scharffen Berger/Dagoba/Schmidt's "artisanal chocolate" island in the food court area if you appreciate good chocolate! There are often surprises to be found around the central garden area -- there is a lone box of Green Tea Kisses, which are not available in the United States (the next day, they were gone!)

Once you've returned to the park, don't forget to take in the shows. It's a nice break from the crowds and the entertainment value is excellent, whether you choose the aquatheater or one of the music/dance revues. If you're in Hershey over a weekend, be sure to hang around the park late on Saturday -- a fireworks show takes place at 10:15 p.m. every Saturday in the 2007 season to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hersheypark!

Tired of Hersheypark?

If you're in Hershey for more than a day and you want to see some other attractions, a trip on the Hershey Trolley (tickets and departures from Chocolate World), lunch on the veranda at the Hotel Hershey, a stroll through the Hershey Gardens (don't miss the Children's Garden and the Butterfly House) and a visit to Adventure Sports on 743S (batting cages, mini sports cars and boats, miniature golf). Stop by Bricker's Pizza on West Chocolate Avenue for an Old World Pizza. Don't miss the Kiss-shaped streetlights while you're downtown, and by all means, drive past the factory to see the Hershey Cocoa hedges on the east side.

Here's a few photos from around Hershey here.