It was a seasonably mild late December day (after Christmas), so we decided to take our 3-year-old and a 10-year-old to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane. Before we left for the park around 4 PM, I checked Hersheypark’s app on my iPhone and confirmed what I thought – it was a busy day at the park. During the winter, a handful of rides are listed with wait times on the app. This includes the Dry Gulch Railroad, the Claw, Kissing Tower, and a few more. During the summer, the rides with wait times listed in the app are mostly reserved for the popular roller coasters.
When we arrived at Hersheypark, our original plan was to go to Chocolate World first, and hopefully the park would clear out a bit after we rode the Factory Tour ride and got a bite to eat. “Bad choice”, as my 3-year-old would say. As we entered the Chocolate World main doors, I could see that it was jam packed – pretty much the busiest I have ever seen it. The Factory Tour line was spilling into the retail space. It was difficult to walk. We quickly turned around and headed into the park, which was very busy as well.
We skipped the rides in Founder’s Circle and went down into the Hollow. The Hollow is where the Comet roller coaster is located, as well as the Wave Swinger and two new rides for 2014, the Teacups and the Sweet Swing. We waited about 15 minutes to get onto both the Sweet Swing and the Teacups, and they were a hit with the 3-year-old and 10-year-old. During Christmas Candylane, the Hollow is also home to the “NOEL!” light show, which is a must see while at the park.
After the Teacups, we stopped at the bathrooms near Skyrush, the newest roller coaster, also located in the Hollow. I prefer these bathrooms because they are also the newest in the park. The kids saw the Granny Bugs ride after visiting the bathrooms, so they rode them. Granny Bugs was located toward the back of the park in Midway America until around September of this year. When the construction of Laff Trakk (the new indoor roller coaster set to open in 2015) started, the three kiddie rides, which my daughter loved, were removed. The removed rides were Pony Carts, Granny Bugs, and Mini Train. Granny Bugs is temporarily located in the Hollow, and I have been unable to locate Pony Carts and Mini Train. Rumor is that Mini Train has been put in storage indefinitely. That saddens me, because it was one of my daughter’s favorites.
Everyone was hungry at this point, so we went to the Overlook Food Court to get a bite to eat. All of the lines were long and slow moving. Luckily the kids were in decent moods, and we chose a seat outdoors, since the tables inside the Food Court were full. It was a fairly mild night for December – temperature in the mid-40s, so eating outside wasn’t horribly cold. We got our typical meal of chicken tenders and fries. I love Hersheypark’s fixings bar which includes lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomatoes. They also have honey mustard in ketchup-style pumps, so I pile the fixings and honey mustard on the chicken tenders. It makes for a fairly big meal from just two tenders.
After dinner, we stopped at the group of kiddie rides near the Food Court. I got on the Frog Hopper twice with the kids. That is always one of their favorite rides. Next was Convoy (trucks), and then the Red Baron airplanes. While the kids were on the airplanes, I ran (literally) over to Kissing Tower Hill to check out the line for the Kissing Tower. The Hersheypark app indicated that the wait for the Tower was 45 minutes, but I found this hard to believe with this high capacity ride. The crowd at the park also seemed to be clearing out a bit, and it was after 7 PM. When I saw the line for the Tower, I became an instant believer in the 45 minute wait accuracy. The line spilled out of the regular queue, past the reflecting pool, and down the hill a bit. I decided not to even mention riding the Kissing Tower to the kids. Instead, after the airplanes we headed back toward the main entrance to the park.
The 3-year-old happily got on the Swing Thing, a small version of the Wave Swinger. Since the 10-year-old was too big for this ride, I headed to the Wave Swinger back in The Hollow with her, I was pleasantly surprised that the line for Wave Swinger was not long. We got on the next cycle of the ride, and it was cold, but fun! After that, we left the park and went back to Chocolate World. We rode the Factory Tour this time, though we “waited” to get on the ride about 15 minutes. I say “waited” because the queue can be set up to be so long that it feels like you’re just walking the entire time through the line. We made funny faces as we always do for the ride photo, and I was happy to see that the candy they were giving out at the end of the Factory Tour was my favorite, Kit Kats.
We couldn’t leave Chocolate World without getting some ice cream, which is sort of a family tradition for us. The ice cream line was moderately long, but moved very fast. We used our refillable milkshake cup, which saves us $3 every time we get a milkshake! After ice cream, we went back to the car to go home. The kids were asleep before we left the parking lot. Even with the large crowds, we had a fun evening.
Things to remember:
1. Bring tissues! My kid’s nose runs like a fountain in the cold weather; she doesn’t even have a cold. I always forget to bring tissues and end up using napkins or a glove to wipe her nose.
2. If lines are long in Founder’s Circle at the front of the park, save those rides for when you come back on your way out of the park. Near park closing, these lines tend to get shorter.
3. Your reusable souvenir cups from the 2014 season are still usable. I always attach mine to my belt loop until we fill it up. I hardly know it’s there, but it’s probably not a great fashion statement!