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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Walked around the kiddie rides getting my pictures and took this photo of the Hersheypark crew staring at the Helicopters which were not running.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
Lipton tea has a much bigger presence this year on vending machines and beverage carts. Not sure why that is?
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
Not only is it easier to get your beer, you can get other adult beverages too including cider for those on gluten free diets.
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.
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.