Exploring Hersheypark – PA’s Largest Theme Park

Exploring Hersheypark - PA's Sweetest Amusement Park

Hersheypark is PA’s largest and most-visited theme park, located in a town that bills itself as “the sweetest place on Earth”!

Entrance to Hersheypark.
Entrance to Hersheypark.

Spanning more than 120 acres and containing more than 70 rides (including 14 roller coasters), Hersheypark is the largest theme park in North America NOT located in Florida or California.

Hersheypark has more roller coaters than any other amusement park in Pennsylvania.
Hersheypark has more roller coasters than any other amusement park in Pennsylvania.

Of course the reason both the town and the park have instant name recognition is due to Milton Hershey and his milk chocolate factory, founded here in 1903.

Portrait of Milton Hershey at Hersheypark.
Portrait of Milton Hershey at Hersheypark.

Milton Hershey made milk chocolate for the masses, the foundation of a business empire that is still going strong to this day.

Milton Hershey invented mass-produced milk chocolate making it affordable for the average person.
Milton Hershey invented mass-produced milk chocolate, making it affordable for the average person.

Included in his vison for his company town was Hershey Park, a “picnic and pleasure ground” for his employees.

Milton Hershey founded Hersheypark in 1907 as a picnic ground for his chocolate factory workers.
Milton Hershey founded Hersheypark in 1907 as a picnic ground for his chocolate factory workers.

That modest initial park has now grown to include a zoo, a waterpark, and a plethora of dining and shopping options.

Nathans Hot Dogs on the Boardwalk at Hersheypark.
Nathans Hot Dogs at the Boardwalk water park inside Hersheypark.

These areas within and immediately adjacent to Hersheypark each operate on slightly different schedules, so I’m going to mention each one in the order that most people visiting Hersheypark for the first time would encounter them.

Hersheypark summer hours of operation.
Hersheypark summer hours of operation.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

For me, a trip to Hersheypark always starts at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Hershey's Chocolate World is free to enter and open year-round.
Hershey’s Chocolate World is free to enter and open year-round.

Located outside the gates to Hersheypark and FREE to visit, Chocolate World offers a dizzying array of Hershey-branded products, souvenirs, and candy.

The Amazing Candy Machine at Hershey's Chocolate World.
The Amazing Candy Machine at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

The sheer amount of candy and candy-inspired products is almost overwhelming, a tribute to the more than 90 brands now under the Hershey Company’s umbrella.

Blueberry Muffin Kit Kats at Hershey's Chocolate World.
Blueberry Muffin Kit Kats at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

My favorite reason for visiting Chocolate World first (and often last as well, on my way out of the park) is the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour!

Preparing to take the free Hershey's Chocolate Tour.
Preparing to take the free Hershey’s Chocolate Tour.

This slow-speed ride is FREE to enjoy, and takes you through the process of making milk chocolate, from acquiring the raw ingredients to creating the finished products.

The Hershey's Chocolate Tour runs continuously during Chocolate World operating hours
The Hershey’s Chocolate Tour runs continuously during Chocolate World operating hours

Animatronic cows will clue you in to one of the main reasons why Milton Hershey chose this area to build his factory…

Animatronic cows on the Hershey Chocolate Tour.
Animatronic cows on the Hershey Chocolate Tour.

Access to lots of fresh milk!

The Hershey Chocolate Factory was opened in 1903.
The Hershey Chocolate Factory location was chosen in part to be near sources of fresh milk.

The tour proceeds through the simulated “factory” and gives you an overview of how the raw ingredients are combined to create Hershey’s famous candies.

Entering the Hershey Chocolate Factory on the Hershey Chocolate Tour.
Entering the simulated Hershey Chocolate Factory on the Hershey Chocolate Tour.

From Hershey’s Bars to the iconic Hershey’s Kisses, you’ll get an idea for how the products are made, packaged, and shipped on the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour.

Learning how Hershey's Kisses are made on the Hershey's Chocolate Tour.
Learning how Hershey’s Kisses are made on the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour.

The tour concludes with a trip through a Willy Wonka-like tunnel of lights and a free mini-Hershey’s Chocolate Bar as you exit the ride.

A tunnel of lights along the Hershey's Chocolate Tour at Chocolate World.
A tunnel of lights along the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour at Chocolate World.

Chocolatetown

Chocolatetown is the newest area at Hersheypark, located immediately next to the entrance to the park and featuring more dining and shopping options.

Hershey's Chocolatetown offers even more dining and shopping opportunities.
Hershey’s Chocolatetown offers even more dining and shopping opportunities.

The rule of thumb here seems to be if it’s big enough to emblazon with a Hershey-related logo, you can find it for sale in Chocolatetown!

Hershey-themed checkers set at a Hersheypark gift shop.
Hershey-themed checkers set.

Diecast cars and trucks, clothes, games, plush toys, jewelry – the variety of Hershey-themed “stuff” available in Chocolatetown is seemingly endless.

Hershey-branded toys at a Hersheypark gift shop.
Hershey-branded toys at a Hersheypark gift shop.

Chocolatetown is also home to several rides, including Candymonium, the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster at Hersheypark.

Candymonium is the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in Hersheypark.
Candymonium is the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in Hersheypark.

The park’s carousel can be found in Chocolatetown as well.

The Carousel at Hersheypark.
The Carousel at Hersheypark.

Hersheypark

From the moment you walk through the gates of Hersheypark, roller coasters dominate the skyline.

Roller coasters dominate the skyline at Hersheypark.
Roller coasters dominate the skyline at Hersheypark.

That’s not to say roller coasters are the ONLY rides at Hersheypark, as you’ll find plenty of other amusement park favorites, like this giant Ferris Wheel.

Ferris Wheel at Hersheypark.
Ferris Wheel at Hersheypark.

But if you ARE a roller coaster fanatic, you’ll get your money’s worth at Hersheypark.

Directional sign pointing to various roller coasters at Hersheypark.
Directional sign pointing to various roller coasters at Hersheypark.

The Jolly Rancher Remix seemed to be a particularly popular coaster on my most recent visit.

The Jolly Rancher Remix at Hersheypark takes riders forwards and backwards on the same track at a max speed of 47 mph.
The Jolly Rancher Remix takes riders forwards and backwards on the same track at a max speed of 47 mph.

The iconic Kissing Tower takes riders up 250 feet in an enclosed cabin, where they are treated to panoramic views of the park and town through Hershey’s Kisses-shaped windows.

The Kissing Tower at Hersheypark takes riders up 250 feet in an enclosed cabin to panoramic views through Hershey's Kisses-shaped windows.
The Kissing Tower at Hersheypark takes riders up 250 feet in an enclosed cabin to panoramic views of the park and town through Hershey’s Kisses-shaped windows.

In addition to rides, you’ll find many of the classic midway games you’ve come to expect at an amusement park, like ring-toss.

Ring toss at Hersheypark.
Ring toss at Hersheypark.

And there are lots of Hershey-themed photo ops scattered throughout the park, for the all-important selfie or TikTok video.

One of the many photo-ops with Hershey-themed characters at Hersheypark.
One of the many photo-ops with Hershey-themed characters at Hersheypark.

The Boardwalk at Hersheypark

The Boardwalk is an 11-acre water park inside Hersheypark.

Entrance to the Boardwalk water park at Hersheypark.
Entrance to the Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk is open Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day.

The Shore is a 378,000 gallon wave pool that gradually deepens from 0 to 6 feet at Hersheypark.
The Shore is a 378,000 gallon wave pool that gradually deepens from 0 to 6 feet.

East Coast Waterworks at the Boardwalk features 7 slides, 2 crawl tunnels, a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket, and nearly 600 interactive water toys.

East Coast Waterworks is just a small part of the Boardwalk water park at Hersheypark.
East Coast Waterworks is just a small part of the Boardwalk water park at Hersheypark.

Tidal Force at the Boardwalk is essentially a water coaster.

Tidal Force is one of the attractions at the Boardwalk waterpark inside Hersheypark.
Tidal Force is one of the rides at the Boardwalk waterpark.

Riders travel up a 100-foot incline before diving downhill at speeds exceeding 50 mph!

The Tidal Force ride travels up a 100-foot incline before diving downhill at speeds exceeding 50 mph at Hersheypark.
The Tidal Force ride travels up a 100-foot incline before diving downhill at speeds exceeding 50 mph.

ZooAmerica

ZooAmerica is home to more than 200 animals, and admission to this 11-acre zoo is included with your admission to Hersheypark.

Entrance to Zoo America from Hersheypark.
Entrance to ZooAmerica.

The animals at ZooAmerica come from 5 different regions of North America.

Map of the regions Zoo America's animals come from.
Map of the regions ZooAmerica’s animals come from.

This gila monster lives in one of the indoor enclosures that simulates the American southwest.

Gila monster at Zoo America at Hersheypark.
Gila monster at ZooAmerica.

Whereas this antelope lives in a large outdoor enclosure meant to simulate Big Sky Country.

Antelope enclosure at Zoo America at Hersheypark.
Antelope enclosure at ZooAmerica.

Final Thoughts

Hersheypark is a massive theme park, and trying to see it all in one day is really pushing it, especially if enjoying the Boardwalk water park is part of your plans.

The Boardwalk spans 11-acres inside Hersheypark.
The Boardwalk water park alone spans 11-acres inside Hersheypark.

It’s also one of the pricier amusement parks in Pennsylvania, but then again it’s essentially four parks in one.

Bear-themed growth chart at Zoo America at Hersheypark.
Bear-themed growth chart at ZooAmerica.

Tickets purchased online are approximately 25% less expensive than tickets purchased at the gate; you can check the most current pricing and promotions on the Hersheypark OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

The Hershey Company acquired the H.B Reese company in 1963.
You’ll save money by purchasing your tickets to Hersheypark online.

Like many Pennsylvanians, I grew up going here, and now I’m taking my own kid to Hersheypark.

Hershey's Chocolate World is open year-round.
The summer trip to Hersheypark is a Pennsylvania family tradition.

For thrill-seekers in particular, it’s hard to find a better bang for your buck than Hersheypark – PA’s largest theme park!

Inverted loop on the Jolly Rancher Remix at Hersheypark.
Inverted loop on the Jolly Rancher Remix at Hersheypark.

Knoebels Amusement Park near Elysburg, Pennsylvania is consistently ranked as one of the best amusement parks in the United States.

Exploring Knoebels the largest free-admission amusement park in Pennsylvania.
Knoebels Amusement Park in eastern PA.

 A big part of why Knoebels is so popular is that it offers free parking and free park admission.

The Impulse is one of the rollercoasters at Knoebels in Elysburg.
Knoebels offers free parking and free park admission.

Idlewild Park is Pennsylvania’s longest-operating amusement park!

Idlewild Park is the oldest operating amusement park in Pennsylvania.
Idlewild Park is the oldest operating amusement park in Pennsylvania.

Idlewild Park as been named “Best Childrens’ Park” by Amusement Today, and “Best Park for Families” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association.

Exploring Idlewild Park in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania.
Some of the rides and attractions at Idlewild Park in Westmoreland County.

DelGrosso’s Amusement Park has been a central PA tradition for more than 100 years!

Enjoying a summer afternoon at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Blair County.
Enjoying a summer afternoon at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park in Blair County.

Like Knoebels, parking and park admission are FREE at DelGrosso’s!

Some of the rides for older kids and adults at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Blair County Pennsylvania.
Two of the many rides for older kids and adults at the park.

Nearby Attractions

Hershey Gardens is 23 acres of themed gardens, statues, ponds, and botanical beauty.

Exploring Hershey Gardens and Butterfly Atrium in Dauphin County Pennsylvania
Hershey Gardens is located on a hill directly across the road from the entrance to Hersheypark.

Indian Echo Caverns is a beautiful “show cave” located 3 miles west of Hershey in Dauphin County.

Exploring Indian Echo Caverns near Hershey Pennsylvania.
Indian Echo Caverns is home to a free petting zoo and gem mine, in addition to the cavern tour.

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Rusty Glessner is a professional photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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