Summer vacation is OFFICIALLY here and, since we live less than an hour from the “sweetest place on Earth,” summer means many of us will be planning day trips to Hersheypark. As fun as those days can be, they can also be long, expensive, and exhausting, especially with young kids in tow. So before you go, check out these Hersheypark tips generated by your fellow Carlislians (is that a word)?
When you first arrive, be sure to stop by Hospitality Services for a free Family Finder bracelet. This is essential if you have young children. You’ll write your name and cell phone number on the inside of the bracelet, which is then placed on your child’s wrist. If your child becomes separated from you, park staff will be able to get your number and call you. Let your child know that, if you get separated, she should go straight to the closest park staff (point out the uniforms).
Never pay full-price for tickets at the gate. (I feel like I’m stating the obvious!) We usually buy our tickets from Guest Services at GIANT or a friend selling discounted tickets for a church fundraiser. Another option is to take advantage of the “Sunset Pass,” which typically gets you 4 to 5 hours in the park, but at half the cost of full-day admission.
Since the park doesn’t open until 10:00, consider packing sandwiches and eating an early lunch in the parking lot when you arrive. And, before you step foot in the park, let your kiddos know your rules for those enticing carnival games. Will they be allowed to play? If so, how many games? We typically give our kids $5 each and encourage them to play games that allow several tries or guarantee a prize. When their $5 is spent, game time is over. One expense that may be worth the cost: locker rentals at the Boardwalk. While they do run $15-20, you’ll avoid having to carry your extra things with you all day and the possibility of your belongings being stolen.
Consider a Season Pass
While we’ve never gone the season pass route, I have several friends that swear by it. If you have young children, a season pass allows you to take several short trips, which can be more tolerable for them. To break-even on a season pass, you’ll need to go at least four times (that’s based on discounted summer ticket prices). However, you also get free parking, meal discounts, and early entrance on select days.
Hersheypark recently launched a redesigned website that is very user-friendly. The website includes a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions, with everything from where to eat to “Can I bring my Selfie-Stick?” (No, you can’t…and I’ll add there is nothing wrong with going old-school and asking a stranger to take your family’s photo!) Skim through the FAQ before you go and you’ll know just what to expect.
Will you need to “divide and conquer” so everyone in your group gets to enjoy their favorite rides? Do you plan to spend some time at the Boardwalk? What about Zoo America? I find that having a general game plan before we arrive ensures the day goes smoothly. The first few times we went, scoping out the park map to get the lay of the land in advance was a big help.
Avoid the Crowds
If at all possible, plan for visit for a weekday. During the summer, we typically go mid-week, when the crowds are much more manageable than on the weekends. Other recommendations include Sunday evenings, after it has rained, or on a day with a cooler forecast (although that may rule out enjoying the Boardwalk). Lines for the “big rides” tend to be shorter first thing in the morning and after dinnertime.
What are your favorite Hersheypark tips?