Hersheypark: Finding magic outside of Disney (Preview Plan)

For our last-minute Hershey trip planning, I was able to confirm that the park’s Preview Plan was available on our discounted buy 2, get 1 free special.  This brought the cost of the park to less than $25 per person/per day. The size of the park and the fact that it also includes the Boardwalk water park area and the Hershey zoo makes Hersheypark very competitively priced!

Being entirely unfamiliar with Hersheypark, I set low expectations for what we’d be able to accomplish over 2 1/2 hours late in the day.  The whole family is used to our focused Disney touring strategy. It allows the girls to ride their favorite rides multiple times with minimal waits. Trying to not set up the girls for disappointment, I warned Sport that she probably wouldn’t be able to ride all of the coasters, and that riding a coaster more than once was probably out of the question.

Obviously it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver. This is exactly what we experienced at Hershey. We arrived at around 7:10 for the 7:30 preview opening.  The three or four lines were each about 20 people-deep.  Once the clock struck 7:30, the scanners started and we were in the park very quickly. The park is very large and never seemed too congested. The ride lines, even late in the day, were extremely reasonable.

Saving time with measurement bracelets

Right when we entered the park, we were able to stop at a hospitality booth at have the girls officially measured.  A park worker measures each child and fastens a wrist band labeled with a Hershey candy. Children under 36 inches are Hershey miniatures, 36-42 are Kisses and so on.  Rides in the park are marked with those different types of chocolate/candy.  Having the bracelet means your child only needs to be measured once. There’s also no disappointment at getting to the front of the line and finding out a child can’t ride.

Sport landed in the Twizzler category, which made her tall enough to ride most rides. The tallest designation is Jolly Rancher. I didn’t see any ride that were only for Jolly Ranchers. Some rides blocked them out for being too tall.

Bean was a Hershey bar. This excluded her from a lot of the roller coasters, which she was happy about. No one could try to get her on a coaster!

We go our separate ways

We made our way into the Hollow area. Since the girls’ tastes in ride are so different, we decided to split up. My husband and Sport went right to the Comet roller coaster. Bean and I rode Skyview (one of those ski lift type rides). After Skyview we kind of just wandered around and went up to whatever caught our eye. My husband and Sport hit every coaster they could.

We managed to do a lot in the time we were there.

Me and Bean: Skyview, Wave Swinger, Frog Hopper, Pirate, Fun Slide, Ferris Wheel, five or six games

DH and Sport: Comet (twice), Skyrush (DH rode a second time), sooperdooperLooper, Triple Tower (tallest tower), Great Bear

Wait times for all of the rides were incredibly reasonable. 

The girls and I rode the Scrambler while my husband rode Skyrush a second time. We were the last ride on that for the night. On the way out we saw a Milk Duds character meet and jumped on that. We were in our car around 10:05 and heading back to our hotel.

Extending the Magic

We left the park very happy! After worrying that Sport might not be able to ride a lot, she finished four of the eleven coasters that offer Fast Track. In total, we rode 13 rides and played about 5/6 games. Not bad for 2 1/2 hours.

The night went so well we thought we’d capitalize on more low-crowd touring time. Hersheypark offers a character dining breakfast. It starts at 8 am and includes an extra hour in the park from 9-10 am. Guests staying in a Hershey hotel are also eligible for this hour. Even less than 10 hours out there was still availability. I booked the breakfast with no problems.

Even though it wasn’t Disney, it felt like a magical night!

 

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