Park of the Week: SeaWorld San Diego

Theme Park of the Week: Hersheypark

March 27, 2022, 8:19 PM · Our Theme Park of the Week this week is Pennsylvania's Hersheypark, which opens for its 2022 season on Saturday.

The most popular independent theme park in the United States, Hersheypark traces its history back to 1906, when Milton Hershey opened the park as a recreation facility for public in his chocolate factory town. Today, Hersheypark offers a line-up of 14 roller coasters, tying it for having the fourth-most coasters in the nation.

Among those coasters, our readers' top pick is the park's most recent coaster, the 2020 Bolliger & Mabillard Hyper, Candymonium.

New for this year will be a Jolly Rancher retheme for the former Sidewinder, which is becoming Jolly Rancher Remix. The Vekoma Boomerang is getting a a "flavor tunnel" and five different randomized ride profiles - each with different music, lights, and... scents.

Jolly Rancher Remix
Jolly Rancher Remix. Concept images courtesy Hersheypark

Hersheypark also is adding a Zamperla Nebulaz called Mix'd Flavored By Jolly Rancher next to that coaster. Both attractions will open later this summer.

Mix'd Flavored By Jolly Rancher

Until then, fans can enjoy the rest of the park's coaster line-up, including favorites such as Fahrenheit, Storm Runner, Lightning Racer, and Skyrush.

Located in Hershey, Hersheypark opened its new Hershey's Chocolatetown entrance plaza in 2020. But chocolate lovers should not overlook the Hershey's Chocolate World indoor attraction next door, which is open year-round and features a free dark ride, Hershey's Chocolate Tour. Ticketed attractions at Hershey's Chocolate World include a 4D movie, a Create Your Own Candy Bar experience, the Hershey's Unwrapped: A Chocolate Tasting Journey show, and a Hershey Trolley Works tour of the town.

For our readers' ranking of the park's coasters, please visit our Hersheypark page.

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Replies (8)

March 28, 2022 at 8:36 AM

Woooo!!! My home park! It's been awesome watching this park morph and change since the mid 1970s into what it's become today. However, any of the newer coasters over the last 5-8 years, I have not experienced (mostly because at my age, I check every one of those "DO NOT RIDE IF...." boxes!) Regardless I love this park and want to get over there this year to see the new entrance plaza.

As a kid, I always wanted to work there but I lived just a tad too far to make it a daily commute. From the 70s, I remember fondly riding a Chance Toboggan that was permanently installed at Carousel Circle. Going straight up inside that tube was a rush. I was probably only 5 when I first rode it and I think there were 2 of them side by side. The Comet was the first wooden coaster I'd ever experienced and I'd still ride that today despite I'd need a chiropractic appointment afterwards! The Super-Dooper-Looper was also my first looping coaster.

The Coal Cracker will always be my favorite flume ride with its unique "2 chutes". I swear the right one is faster! And the Coal Shaker (now defunct) was a coal themed "cuddle up" inside a building that you had to scream to hear yourself talk. One of my favorite long gone rides was "The Conastoga" which was a covered wagon themed Huss Rainbow. It was the perfect ride to "spin dry" the water out of you after coming off Canyon River Rapids (sadly gone now too)!

HOWEVER...the mother of all thrills and the one attraction I find the least amount of data on, was the "Frontier Meeting House". Built inside the dome where the arcade stands today, was an inhouse built "magic room ride" that literally took you to hell and back. Sitting inside an old country church, two long pews back to back, you'd hear the preacher start his sermon by saying..."Welcome friends, to chapel on the mountain." He began talking about the dangers of digging holes in the hills and the damages mining will cause. As he continued to condemn the mining going on underneath the church, the room slowly started to rotate..just in little increments to make everyone start to scream. With the sounds of creaks and cracks, the building started to rotate all the way around and the lights went out. Suddenly you saw tunnels where miners were trapped by demons. The devil himself had a huge strobe light flashing upon him. The miners were screaming, the audience was screaming...ahhhhh good times! I rode that so many times that I can vividly picture it from beginning to end.

Sadly it only lasted a few years and vanished. It's no wonder why. You thought Mr. Toad had a strange ending?? It had NOTHING on the Frontier Meeting House! As you exited the other end of the church while hillbilly banjo music played, you could just see the look on guests' faces. I heard one lady say "what the hell just happened!?" It became more fun watching guest's expressions then the ride itself. I loved Hersherypark and I will continue to do so.

March 28, 2022 at 9:26 AM

a fitting tribute to hershey native Christian Pulisic scoring his first hat trick in Orlando last night ??

I love this park, not just for its collection of coasters but for how well it has maintained its sense of self while expanding over the years. it’s hard to do, and others have tried and struggled on the other side of the country.

March 28, 2022 at 9:28 AM

@Sarah: really enjoyed your reminisces of your home park. Thanks for sharing! The Frontier Meeting House sounds like Villa Volta at Efteling, one of the weirdest, yet entertaining, attractions I've been on. Even though I don't speak Dutch, this ride clearly has supernatural overtones and a definite feeling like you're heading to the Bad Place. Feels like it's the exact same ride system. Still need to get to Hersheypark, hopefully someday soon.

March 28, 2022 at 9:34 AM

Hersheypark probably has one of the most well-rounded collection of rides of any theme park in the US. The only downside is that for such a long time, none of their rides were the best (or even close to among the best) of their type. Candimonium is a step in the right direction as one of the best B&M hypers around, but the rest of the coaster collection is decidedly meh. While none of the rides are "bad" per se (though Great Bear and Reese's Cupfusion are among the worst of their types), none are singularly worthy of planning a visit to experience.

However, what Hersheypark lacks in quality it makes up in quantity, and the park's success, particularly among locals, is undeniable. To do that without any backing from a major theme park company is even more impressive.

March 28, 2022 at 1:04 PM

Great write up, Sarah!

Always loved the Hershey woodies, Wildcat and Lightning Racer. And let’s not forget the city of Hershey is a treat for the senses, especially the smells (of chocolate)!

March 28, 2022 at 2:40 PM

The one thing I always think of when thinking of Hersheypark is the blunt signage they have all over the rides. They have large noticeable signs plastered all over the queues/stations that only have one message per sign.

"YOU WILL LOSE YOUR HAT ON THIS RIDE"
"SINGLE RIDERS LOAD IN THE CENTER OF THE TRAIN AND PAIR UP WITH ANOTHER RIDER" (this does not work btw)
"CLOTHING MAY GET SOILED BY TRACK LUBRICANTS"
"PLEASE BE PATIENT A BRIEF DELAY IN DEPARTURE MAY BE EXPECTED WHILE ENGINE REBUILDS PRESSURE" (Flying Scooters)
"LOOSE ARTICLES NOT PHYSICALLY ATTACHED TO THE RIDER MAY NOT BE TAKEN ON THE RIDE"
And of course the "Have a great day! And thank you for riding the _____" with the random candy bar character at each rides exit.

Comet is a severly underrated wooden coaster, I think it gets overshadowed by the other classic woodies in the state at Knoebels and Kennywood, but I absolutely loved it especially at night with the chaser lights. TBH I think its just as good as any other classic woodie in the state. I didn't have any "thigh crush" issues but i've only ridden it twice so maybe I just got good seats. I also really like Great Bear, its an older ride that never got the publicity of many of the other inverts that opened around that time, but its enjoyable and great for that park nonetheless. Storm Runner is really good although it being an Intamin Accelerator has had its issues with major downtime over the years. Lightning Racer is fantastic as well, if I remember correctly it was the first to have millennium flyer trains, which we have more recently discovered is great for rides that start with it but it doesn't necessarily fix old rides that are already rough (Gwazi, Wildcat). Sooperdooperlooper was kind of a let down but my home park growing up was SFGAm so after riding Whizzer so many times, which is a far superior Schwarzkopf, I was expecting more out of SDL that it just didn't have. That B&M hyper looks like it was built purely for aesthetic/marketing reasons...like it is what it needs to be and nothing more.

Wildcat, Farenheit, and the Boomerang are trash that they could do without. I got a kick out of their Boomerang being sponsored by the local Hospital lol.

March 29, 2022 at 7:32 AM

I remember a time back in the 1980s or 1990s when the train ride had much more to look at while you moved along the tracks. There were different scenes depicted, similar to how it would look on Jungle Cruise, just without the commentary. Most were about the old west and desert life. This was before Sidewinder and others were built and there was much more open land. Most of those scenes were removed when the park started building up more and it became prime real estate, although some small ones still remain.

The thing I remember the most was there was a part along the way where the train was stopped as if it was getting robbed. A park employee/actor would come aboard the train, complete with guns and all, to look for a bag of gold that a lucky kid chosen before the train departed got to hide somewhere. If the robber did not find the bag of gold, the kid would get some sort of prize at the end of the ride when the bag of gold was returned. I did get chosen one time and I hid the bag so well it was not found and I got a prize at the end. I do not remember what I won, I just remember we stuffed the bag underneath my mom's purse and nobody was finding that thing. Not sure how many years that lasted or if it was every time the train went, but as a kid around 9-10 years old it was pretty awesome.

I do go to the park still every summer. I really like the new Candimonium, and Storm Runner is my favorite current coaster. While everything is good and fun to ride, none would be considered world class or destination rides, but are enjoyable nonetheless and worth it when you have a less than two hour drive. Wildcat was really great when it first opened but now is headache inducing. Lightning Racer is nothing special on its own but is quite enjoyable when you throw in the racing aspect of it. Plus for a wooden coaster it still has a relatively smooth ride. Super Dooper Looper was the first looping coaster I went on, and for older me is a nice easy coaster when I want mild thrills but nothing too drastic. Plus the line never gets too long. Same with the Comet. I enjoy the leisure ride on the monorail, and spending a few hours checking out ZooAmerica is always nice and relaxing.

I could go on as Hersheypark is a favorite of mine, but it is true its not at the level of some other parks. It does have its faults or things that could be done better, but being surrounded by chocolate themes everywhere you go can more than make up for it.

April 3, 2022 at 5:45 AM

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