Hello, everyone. In case you haven’t heard, it is currently Voluntine’s Week, a blogging holiday invented by C. T. Murphy of Murf vs Internet, who also was the one behind Listmas. This holiday involves volunteering to write guest posts for other blogs you enjoy, and Cary of “Recollections of Play” and I have decided to trade guest posts for Voluntine’s Week. Below is her post about her visit to Hersheypark, a most delightful place if there ever was one.
Ah, summertime. That time when children are freed from the hallways of school, and long days and sunny sun make for plenty of enjoyable outdoor activities. For many, summer is also a time of travel, and that’s what my family did regularly when I was a youth in Pennsylvania. At my house, summertime meant trips to see family and other far off places. Among those destinations were amusement parks, which were my favorite most of all. Six Flags, Dorney Park, Busch Gardens — if it had roller coasters, I wanted to go…badly. Much to my childhood delight, we visited one park fairly regularly, every summer in fact, over a number of years: Hersheypark.
Video by YouTube user HisKidsDotNet
Hersheypark (yes, one word, though it was once called “Hershey Park”) can be summed up in two words: rides and chocolate. And lest you think that either is boring…well, oh ho, you’ve not been to Hersheypark. You’ll forgive a little history here, but one of the most fascinating things about the place is why it is even there.
Milton S. Hershey, born and bred in central Pennsylvania among Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch communities, founded the now-famous Hershey Chocolate Company in the 1890s. (Prior to this he created and sold the Lancaster Caramel Company and was a fairly well-established candy-maker.) As the company grew, Mr. Hershey needed to expand his facilities. He probably could have gone to any number of rural areas with fresh dairy supplies (i.e. cows and milk), but he chose to stay within the region by purchasing large swath of land outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Within a matter of years, a new plant was built and Hershey was churning out top-of-the-line chocolate with state-of-the-art machines. But he didn’t stop there. Around the plant he constructed a town for his workers – places where they could live and shop. And he built them a park, a place where they could have fun and relax. Over time, this park evolved into Hersheypark, and the Hershey name found international success.
It’s a fun story, and one that’s quite evident in Hershey, PA. If there’s one thing about Herheypark that sets it apart from other amusement parks, it’s that it’s impossible to forget where you are! Besides the fact that Hershey chocolate and candy brands mark nearly every store, ride, and restaurant, the park has an amazingly fun Chocolate World attraction and the smell of chocolate regularly permeates the air!
As nice as it is to have chocolate molecules wafting about in the atmosphere, when it comes to amusement parks, the rides are pretty much the only thing I care about. More specifically, the roller coasters. Now, you can keep most any “ride” that you see at a county fair – things that spin and whirl at high rates of speed on giant hydraulics – no thank you. I prefer to keep everything that belongs in my stomach in my stomach at all times. Also, anything with water. I hate spending time in soggy trousers as much as anyone. But you put a bunch of cars on a track, wooden or metal, and I’m all for it. Hersheypark has a great assortment of both older and newer roller coasters, from the Wildcat (a wooden classic) to the wonderfully terrifying Fahrenheit (steel, crazy-tall drop). (The last time I visited was in 2010 and they’ve since added another huge coaster, Skyrush, which I hope to ride someday.) The park also has a great boomerang coaster that takes you backwards first (Sidewinder), a hydraulic launch coaster (Stormrunner), and a super fun dueling coaster (Lightning Racer). This park really is a must for coaster enthusiasts as it has got some of the best thrill rides going on the East Coast.
As I mentioned above, the last time I visited Hersheypark was in 2010, and it was probably the best visit yet, because it rained on one of the days. Think that’s crazy? Allow me to explain. We had two-day tickets to the park and a three-day weekend. The first day we went to the park, it was quite crowded, as expected. The ride lines were very long and we spent most of the day waiting in them. We managed to hit every major coaster but were too tired to go back for seconds. The morning of our planned second day at the park, it rained. It was disappointing, but we figured we’d hit the park after the rains and visit the stores and game booths since we figured that was all that would be open. When we got to the park in the late afternoon, it was nearly empty, and it was fantastic! I mean, I think it’s a dream of any park-goer to have a whole park to oneself, and indeed, we practically did! The best part was that a handful of the roller coasters were open. So in addition to picking up some souvenirs, we rode every available coaster as many times as possible! I’m sure we looked perfectly silly to the bored coaster managers, but seriously, when you have the chance to get off and immediately back on a great ride, you take it because you know it’s probably never going to happen again!
I really look forward to visiting Hersheypark again someday. It’s a place that I’ve been able to return every now and again to since childhood, and in all that time it’s never stagnated. The park is constantly evolving and growing to meet demand; and though it might seem like it’s in Nowheresville, Pennsylvania, Hersheypark is truly a grand destination. It forever holds a special place in my thrill-riding heart.