Estimated Travel Time from Providence, Rhode Island to Hershey, PA: 6 hours
DISCLAIMER: Our family wasÂ comped one night at the Hershey lodge plus Hersheypark ticketsÂ We also received free tickets to try the 4D adventure at Chocolate world.
I am a true believer of the saying that families that play together stay together and that’s why we try to make a family vacation happen every year. Having outgrown our annual trip to Santa’s Village and Storyland, I was on the look out for a new family destination. All of a sudden it hit me like a ton of chocolate:Â We chose Hersheypark, and got chocolate wasted!
We weren’t sure what to expect because we have never been before but part of what attracted us to Hershey was the unique story of its founder, Â Milton Hershey is an example of the underdog. He grew up poor, fatherless and with a limited education but with passion and perseverance he became a successful confectioner and philanthropist. With his success he chose to give back to his community, especially orphaned children through the Milton Hershey School.
Hersheypark is a little bit pricier than the smaller parks but we always find ways to make our trips more affordable. Avoid long lines and reduce costs by traveling midweek. Since the food bill is usually our highest expense I pack tons of food, even a toaster.
One of our first decisions was where to stay in Hershey. Hersheypark has three official resort choices for three different budgets, Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge and The Hershey Park Camping Resort. We chose the Hershey Lodge because of its family friendly activities, mid-range prices and added extras.
Arriving into town we were greeted by the smell of chocolate in the air and Hershey Kisses street lights and when we checked-in at the Hershey Lodge we were greeted with an inviting smile and five Hershey Bars. I like Hershey’s style.
One of my kids favorite activities at The Hershey Lodge was “kids check-in” where kids get to write their name in a guestbook, get a piece of candy, meet a character and receive their Hershey Lodge Badge. The back of the badge has a place to write your child’s name and contact information, which is great in case your child gets lost in the park, which my son did, TWICE!!
Our first stop out of the Hershey Lodge was Chocolate World. There is enough chocolate in there to give the world cavities. While there, we embarked on our special agent mission to solve the 4D Great Chocolate Factory Mystery with Mr. Reese’s. During the prep for the mystery we learned that Hershey and Reese’s played baseball together ever since they were bite size. The kids made great chocolate agents, that Sauer Von Sauer and the No-Bots had nothing on my kids. Then we went on The Hershey’s Great American Tour Ride four times. Each rider gets a bite of a Hershey Bar after every ride. We loved it so much we went on it four times. Okay you caught us; we kept going on for the free bite size candy bar.
After Chocolate World, we took advantage of the preview plan, and walked over to Hersheypark which greeted us with the song “I want candy”. We couldn’t help but skip to the music. The first thing you see when you walk into the park is a beautiful water fountain with a statue of Milton Hershey and then everywhere you look are rides and coasters. The preview plan offered the luxury of NO lines and cooler night temps.Â The kids rushed over to see what candy bar they measured up to and ultimately which rides they could ride. They were all Reese’s which left my oldest a little disappointed because she wanted to ride the Hershey Bar size rides. We saved The Kissing Tower for the last ride of the night.Â Way above the park at night you get a fantastic view of all the sparkling lights from the rides.
The next morning we checked out ZooAmerica so the temps would be cool and the animals would be out. Once the temperatures rose we zipped over to Hersheypark’s themed waterpark, The Boardwalk, which at first glimpse stopped us dead in our tracks. It really is GIGANTIC!!!
No matter which direction you look there is a giant roller coaster in the skyline. Skyrush is the newest coaster. It looks like a monstrous yellow track in the sky. My favorite was Comet because of the nostalgic feeling you get while riding a wooden coaster and listening to the click and clack of the wood.
Even though we packed most of our food we do like to treat ourselves to a dinner once in a while. Our family requirements for a restaurant are: “Does it have french fries?” and “Is it loud enough to drown out the sound of our kids?” With that in mind we chose, “The Bears Den” which is a hockey themed American Pub inside the Hershey Lodge.
On our last day there we visited The Children’s Garden located inside of The Hershey Gardens. There my children participated in a scavenger hunt to win the prize of a garden tool. It was filled with lots of plants that mimicked scents from chocolate.
The last stop on our trip was The Hershey Story which is an interactive museum that tells the story of the Milton Hershey and his chocolate company.Â One really neat feature of the museum is the kids can design a virtual Hershey Bar wrapper, email it home and actually print it out to fit a Hershey Bar.
If your goal is to ride EVERYTHING at Hersheypark I would suggest at least a two day ticket to the park. We had an awesome time and are planning on going back when all the kids measure at a Hershey Bar. I think it would be really neat to experience the Halloween in Hershey.
Helpful Tips + Resources
- Download the free mobile Hersheypark App
- For families with many small children:
- Plan the rides according to area of the park so you don’t have to walk back and forth. There is no transportation throughout the park.
- Bring an adult rider per small child that LIKES rides because many of the rides that my children wanted to go on required an adult.