[Editor's note: This is the second installment of Laurie Toupin's road trip series. See her first article here.]
During our family’s first road trip stop in Hershey, Pa., my son Jacob shouted as he passed through an industrial cocoa bean-drying oven.
"Wow...I'm baking like a real coco bean!" he rang aloud excitedly as we all passed through the drying oven, a pretend one of course, on the Hershey Chocolate Factory tour.
"I'm hungry for chocolate!" Colie added. And so was I.
Hershey Park, the first stop on our cross country tour, began with a fun, educational tour of how Milton Hershey manufactures his world famous Hershey's Kisses, chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and other confectionary delights.
The tour is housed in Chocolate World, where the kids can also make their own chocolate bars, help solve a mystery in the chocolate factory while watching a 4D movie, or sip a frozen Hershey chocolate frappe.
We hadn’t even entered the main part of the park yet.
What you want to know if you’re planning a trip
Hershey Park is huge – 110 acres, the size of Vatican City. Kiddie rides are interspersed with "big" kid rides, so several age groups can ride at the same time without the adult ever having to move. The park boasts five large, very fast roller coasters and a huge water park where you can even try body surfing.
If you ever decide to visit, plan on coming the day the before.
Hershey allows most ticketed guests a “preview.” This means that we can go in the night before at 6:30 p.m. and stay until the park closes at 10 p.m. on the same ticket that we use the next day. What a perk! We got to ride attractions when the park was less crowded and decide what we wanted to hit the next day.
Also, it is worth staying in one of the Hershey Park lodging facilities. We stayed in the campground resort. Resort may be a bit strong of a word for this campground, but it is a wonderful way to see Hershey. A shuttle bus runs continuously from 8:30 in the morning until 11:15 at night. I do not have to pay for parking or move the RV the whole time we are here. We can leave the park during the day, come back to the campsite to swim, eat, and decompress before returning later for a second round of rides.
Another benefit of staying in the campground is that we are allowed into the park an hour before other guests.
Be ready for chocolate overload
Whether at the park or campground, we were reminded of chocolate constantly. We saw candy bars walking around everywhere! Peppermint Patty and Chocolate Moose visited us at the campground pool. Jacob had his picture taken with the Hershey chocolate bar. Colie high-fived the Hershey's Kiss and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
I found a T-shirt store that sold an orange Reeses peanut butter cup warning, “Stop Global Warming … or all the Reese's will melt.”
Even the rides are rated by chocolate type. Jacob is a Reese's (my favorite), Colie is a Hershey bar (her favorite), and Maria is a Twizzler. I am a Jolly Rancher…though not by much! A brochure indicates what rides are appropriate for what candy. That allows us to choose rides that are perfect for Jacob without him knowing that he is “too little” for some.
The only downside of the park is that everything and everyone looks so delicious that my children and I were craving chocolate constantly!
Oh well, every one needs some sweets for a road trip...even if we do eat them all in the first five minutes.