Apr 032015
 
Hersheypark Ducks

Hersheypark Ducks

Updated 4/9/15 – new Season Pass Parking updated again… waited for the final word (I hope) this time

Updated 4/5/15 – No more new season pass parking (at least for now)

It’s a rainy Good Friday so what else would I be doing but going to HERSHEYPARK!   Springtime in the Park opened today and even though it was a day for ducks (and geese) I had to get back in the park. I missed it.

Riding in I learned that season pass holders now have a new parking area which was formerly the bus parking area. I wasn’t much pleased with it since it wasn’t close to anything – either the buildings or the trams.  If you are coming in July late in the day it’d be helpful, but I’d rather park near a tram station myself and not have the walk.  Some more info on it here. (4/5/15 Hersheypark changed this parking situation OVERNIGHT after complaints from season pass holders.  Season pass holder parking is now back in the Preferred parking area for the rest of Springtime in the Park. 4/9/15: Hersheypark made another change to season pass parking, this one is supposed to be permanent for the 2015 season.  Check my link above for the latest.)

I got out of my car and it started to really rain so out came the umbrella.  It was 9:35am so I went to Chocolate World for my coffee fix.  $1.05 later (using my refillable cup) I was taking photos of all the people waiting in line at 10am, not too bad.  Sad that more of them didn’t plan for rain.

Hersheypark Gate at 10am

Hersheypark Gate at 10am

Saw some new roof installations on the Tudor Buildings in Founder’s Way and also this neat dragon on the side of the one building – it’s probably been there for years but I just never noticed.

Gadzooks, a dragon!

Gadzooks, a dragon!

 

Noticed some new sponsorship, this time on the lockers. Not sure who Uncle Bob is, but he’s sponsoring lots of lockers.  Every year we see more sponsorship and I wonder if we didn’t see so much if the ticket prices would increase even more.  Dunno.

Howdy Uncle Bob!

Howdy Uncle Bob!

It had stopped raining by this time so away went the umbrella and out came the camera for my in -park yearly round of menu and ride photos and the fun game for me of “Spot the Hersheypark Differences!”

Made it through the security (lots of women guards this year!) with my coffee since it was from Chocolate World in a Chocolate World labeled cup – about the only way you’ll make it in with a cup other than Dunkin Donuts from 2 feet away – and grabbed my handful of park maps.  The park is relying more and more on the phone app and the maps are getting harder and harder to read.  There is way too much information to cram into them now I guess.  You can see my scans of the 2015 Springtime in the Park map and brochure here.

Stopped by Hospitality Services for my meal voucher and games value pack and found the lines non-existent.  Why?  You can now use your online meal voucher receipt right at the food vendors, no more need to stop at Hospitality Services to get your physical voucher. Hooray! (Wondering if the meal voucher is right for you… check out my take on it here, freshly updated for 2015.)

Noticed the new Makin’ Whoopie Pies stand where Simply Chocolate used to be.  I didn’t get a whoopie but I will eventually.  You can choose your cake type and filling and one of the fillings is coconut. Yum.  You can of course also choose candy toppings.

Makin' Whoopie Pies location

Makin’ Whoopie Pies location

One spot was blockaded off in front of the Craft Barn and I took a peak at the nesting pair of Canada Geese.  They get really nasty if you approach their nests and I think they should probably have given them even more room there but hopefully the babies will hatch without problem before summer comes.

Nesting Geese - this is NOT ZooAmerica

Nesting Geese – this is NOT ZooAmerica

Walked around the kiddie rides getting my pictures and took this photo of the Hersheypark crew staring at the Helicopters which were not running.

Grounded Helicopters

Grounded Helicopters

As I went down Founder’s Way I got my first sad shock of the visit, my favorite soft serve place, Crossroads Creamery, is now Founder’s Way Funnel Cakes.  I’m sure some folks will be happy about this but I’m not.  I hate funnel cakes.

Funnel Cakes anyone?

Funnel Cakes anyone?

Also gone is Cold Stone Creamery and I will miss their Sweet Cream Vanilla so much.  In it’s place is a relocated Simply Chocolate (which used to be where Makin’ Whoopie Pies is now) who now have an expanded menu and my Turkey Hill Soft Serve.

Bye Bye Coldstone

Bye Bye Coldstone

Every year a couple rides don’t make it open for Springtime in the Park.  This year the Pirate is one of them.  Was so strange to see it without its supports.

A Stranded Pirate

A Stranded Pirate

Lots of food menu photos were taken to post in the park prices 2015 posting which I’ll hopefully get to soon. Prices are comparable to last year but with a lot more gluten free and other allergen free options.

This sign at the German Kettle Corn stand made me think, “Now what happened that they had to post this sign?”

Hmmm....

Hmmm….

Tidal Force was operating, and since it was pretty warm and lots of folks were already wet from the rain, they did have some riders.  This ride is iffy every year for Springtime in the Park so when I see it open, I make a note.

Ready to get (more) wet?

Ready to get (more) wet?

Also new this year are two locations inside the park where you can have your Season Pass photo taken and you can turn a single day ticket into a Season Pass (when you pay the price difference.)  The first of these is in the Midway Mercantile across from Chickie’s and Pete’s and next to Decades.  The left side of the building is devoted to pass handling while the right side still sell souvenirs.  To read more about these new locations, check my post here.

New Guest Services in Midway America

New Guest Services in Midway America

Lipton tea has a much bigger presence this year on vending machines and beverage carts.  Not sure why that is?

Lipton tea anyone?

Lipton tea anyone?

And the vending machines are now sporting “Calories Count” reminders…. um, yeah.  I didn’t see any of those on the chocolate bars?

So, I was now heading into the area of the park with the most visible changes, Midway America.  You see it in the distance and it is a big, not-very-pretty, box.

Laff Trakk in the distance

What could that be in the distance?

Everyone had warned me. I’d seen blueprints. I’d seen pictures.  But to see the size of this sucker in person?  Yeah… it dwarfs the area for sure.

Yep, big, white, box

Yep, big, white, box

And if Hersheypark gets permission, this giant white box will be covered in fluorescent fun house posters.  Oh my, what an improvement!  (Can’t wait…)  This big, white box is the outside shell of Laff Trakk, the new 13th indoor dark coaster (yes we’ve had 13 before…) opening this Summer.  They are still working on the exterior…

Laff Trakk still in cut and paste stage

Laff Trakk still in cut and paste stage

Other changes to the Midway are the addition of Granny Bugs and Pony Parade opposite the Skeeball area.  The fried veggie stand and Shaved Ice place plus the Chicken Fingers and Waffle fry places are gone.  In fact, there are no food carts in this area any longer right now.  There are two electrified locations that are empty in this area so perhaps one of them might be a food stand, like the one below next to Granny Bugs.

Granny Bugs behind empty slab

Granny Bugs behind empty slab

Returning to Hersheypark after leaving several years ago is Tiny Tracks.  Placed in the former overflow queue area of Lightening Racer, I’m really happy to see this ride back.  Every kid in my family, including me, has had their photo taken on this train with a loved one’s arm around them.

Yeah Tiny Tracks!

Yeah Tiny Tracks!

Another casualty of an early Spring opening is the Ferris Wheel. It was operating but was missing a lot of bling.  I think it’s kind of beautiful this way in an industrial kind of way.  But I’ll be glad to see the colors back.

Ferris Wheel missing it's color

Ferris Wheel missing it’s color

That was it for my photos in Midway America so I moved onto Pioneer Frontier and the new Outpost food location.  It is an allergy friendly venue with a customizable menu to handle several types of food allergies. It takes the place of the old Tumbleweed’s Tacos.

Gluten Free Brownies anyone?

Gluten Free Brownies anyone?

Also new in the food court, but not open yet is Moe’s Southwest Grille.  This has taken over the spot formerly housing the Mixed Grille and the Panini Grille. You can still get a lot of the Mixed Grille’s menu at the Gourmet Grill and Mixed Grill Express on Kissing Tower Hill.

Soon to Open... Moe's

Soon to Open… Moe’s

Made it through the smoke at Spring Creek Smokehouse and up to Kissing Tower Hill.  Every year the Flying Falcon is still here I’m happy.  It’s a beautiful machine to watch and it’s nearly one of a kind now.

New on Kissing Tower Hill is a Guest Services location where Wing It! used to be.  You can still get Wing It! wings at the Overlook Food Court.

New guest services. Wonder if it smells like wings in there?

New guest services. Wonder if it smells like wings in there?

Also new on Kissing Tower Hill is the Business Center which today was being used to issue season passes.  The Business Center was formerly a small retail shop with Kissing Tower and Kisses merchandise. It is now a small room with wi-fi, plug in locations and other amenities for folks like me who work when they visit the park.  It is open from 12-6.

Outside the Business Center/Season Pass office

Outside the Business Center/Season Pass office

Inside the Business Center/Season Pass Office

Inside the Business Center/Season Pass Office

I decided to have lunch at the Overlook Food Court since I was hungry for a burger and they have a toppings bar there. I was deeply disappointed to see the changes they made to this food service area.  It is mirrored after the Gourmet Grill food court now.

Looking toward the cashier, food on your right, tables on your left

Looking toward the cashier, food on your right, tables on your left

While getting your food is significantly easier (and getting your beer is really easier) and paying for it takes less time, they must have lost at least a third of their indoor seating.  This is one of only a few air conditioned places to sit and eat during the summer and during peak times they will not have nearly the seating they need.

My meal was tasty but the smoke coming from the grills outside was a little overwhelming.  I saved over $4 using my meal voucher here.  You can see the breakdown in my post about it here.  Now that they have Ranch dressing on tap, it is easy to make a little side salad with the hamburger toppings. I’m sure that isn’t their intention, but I would have just put it on my burger anyway….

Lunch!

Lunch!

Not only is it easier to get your beer, you can get other adult beverages too including cider for those on gluten free diets.

A little drinkie maybe?

A little drinkie maybe?

I made my way down to the Hollow and started toward the gate.  Four hours and I was done for.  Last thing I saw before taking the “secret” path to the front gate was Skyrush… not operating.

Not much rushing here

Not much rushing here

So that was it… I’m sure I missed some new things in my whirlwind tour.  Feel free to leave a comment with what YOU saw on your 2015 Springtime in the Park trip.

 

 

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Apr 032015
 
Season Pass Redemption

Season Pass Redemption

Beginning in 2015, Hersheypark is offering a few locations within the park where you can pose for your pass photo and turn your online voucher into your magic card. Your online voucher will get you in the gate ONE TIME and then you need to head to either Midway America or Kissing Tower Hill to a Season Pass Redemption Center (check out the park map for the ticket icon).

These locations also offer the ability to credit a single day ticket toward a season pass on your visit but you will need to retain your ticket stub to do the switch.

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Apr 032015
 
2015 Meal Voucher

2015 Meal Voucher

I love getting a meal voucher to save money on my first meal at Hersheypark, but I hated the long lines at Hospitality Services waiting to redeem my online printout it for my actual ticket.

New for 2015 you can take your online printout of your meal voucher purchase to the food vendor of your choice instead of visiting Hospitality Services.

Not sure if a meal voucher is right for you?  Check my post here to find out more.

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