Apr 032014
 
Dole Whips only come in one size - so split them

Dole Whips only come in one size – so split them

This is a little trick I came up with when my kids were toddlers.  Even the kids size cones at Turkey Hill at Hersheypark were too big for them at the time so I bought one ice cream cone and asked for another plain cone or a dish (depending on what they wanted) then I split the cone between the two of them.  Often I travel with extra spoons and small plastic dishes in our backpack anyway so that makes this very easy.  I have only once been charged for that extra empty cone but the price was significantly less than the cost of a second cone that we just didn’t need.

This works especially well at Dutch Wonderland where Dole Whips only come in one size – too big.

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Apr 022014
 
Hersheypark Entrance Gates

Hersheypark Entrance Gates

All regular tickets to Hersheypark include a free preview of the park to be used the night before.  This includes tickets purchased with our Boy Scout discount.  This post will help you get most out of that free preview.  To view the free preview plan information on Hersheypark’s website, go here.

Locating the free Preview box on your ticket

I don’t have a photo of a 2014 ticket yet, but I will get one as soon as I can.  Somewhere on your ticket there will be a box.  In 2013 it was in the upper right. I’m not sure what the label will read or if it will even have a label, but there will be a box on your ticket.  This is the same for home printed internet tickets, tickets purchased through a box office or through another vendor like a school fund raiser.

How do I use the free preview?

When the clock reaches the magic hour (see the next question) you are allowed to go in with the Preview Plan.  You go to the entrance gate and show them your ticket.  The attendant will check that box and give you the ticket back to use the next day for your full day visit.  The trick here is not to lose the ticket.  Do not try to jump that entrance time, they will tell you to go away and come back at your allotted time… they will do it nicely of course.  :-)

The preview must be used BEFORE your full day in the park as you won’t get your ticket back when you go for your full day.  Does it need to be used exactly the night before?  The jury is out on that.  Hersheypark wants you to do it that way but right now there is no way for them to know when you used the preview. In 2013 my family used our previews first and then went back several weeks later to use the full days.  Without knowing what the 2014 tickets look like it is hard to say if they will crack down on this or even have any way to know when they were used.

What time can I get into the park with the free preview?

The free preview entitles you to enter the park at the following times:

  • For an 8pm closing you get in at 5:30pm.
  • For a 10 or 11pm closing you get in at 7:30pm.

What parts of the park will I be allowed to visit during the free preview?

The entire park is available to you during the free preview; however, ZooAmerica and the Boardwalk have earlier closing hours than the rest of the park so you may not be able to catch them before they close.

How can I make the most of my free preview?

Having 2 1/2 or more hours to roam the park is a good thing, especially if you have not visited before.  Here are the best ways to use that time:

  • Explore the park and get your bearings.  Hersheypark is large and a map is a must for each person.
  • Use a park map and circle the things you don’t want to miss on your full day (or send yourself a text message.)  When you go back to your hotel you can make a “touring plan” using the map to fit in everyone’s top 3 items or so to make sure everyone has a good day.
  • Ride coasters if your goal is to ride them all.  Hersheypark has 12 coasters (one is a kiddie, but adults can ride it) and it is VERY hard to fit them all in during a single day, especially if it is a weekend day in the summer.  Best coasters to do on your preview are as follows:
    • Any coaster with a short line!
    • The coasters in Midway America – Lightening Racer, Wild Mouse, Wildcat.  These coasters are the easiest ones to get even on a busy day, but getting them out of the way on your preview frees up your time for the tough ones.
    • Skyrush, Fahrenheit or Storm Runner – These rides have long waits on any day generally but if the queue area is still open you WILL get to ride.  They estimate how low it’ll take to work through the line till closing and close off the queue accordingly.  So if your dream is to ride one of these coaster by all means do it on your preview.  You may wait but you will for sure get ‘er done.
  • If you plan to visit the Boardwalk on your full day, fit as many rides in as you can during the preview to give you more time in the water.
  • Take in a late show.  The Music Box Theatre usually has its last seating at 8pm.
  • Buy souvenirs and win the giant stuffed Scooby Doo.  You won’t have to lug them around all day.
  • Let the kids ride their favorite ride until they drop.  Kiddie rides often have shorter lines at night so it is a good time for them to make the most of their favorite.  Sometimes the ride operators will let them stay on if there isn’t a line.
  • Take a ride on the Dry Gulch Railroad.  Lines for the railroad are long all day but thin at night.  Riding the train is a great way to see the park up close.

What should you do BEFORE the free preview if you have time to kill?

  • Chocolate World is always a nice option to keep busy before you go to the park. If you want to do any of the attractions that require tickets you can purchase them several days in advance to get the times you want which will let you make a candy bar or see the 4D movie and still get out just in time for the preview period.  The factory tour is free and there are always tasty things to eat.
  • Eat a good dinner at Hersheypark Place.  This is the only full service restaurant on Hersheypark property.  It is outside the main gates so is available to you before you go into the park. Their menu is posted outside.  They serve adult drinks which is nice too.  I have found many of their sandwich plates are excellent values compared to eating in the park and the food is better in general than what you well get at counter service. I loved my ham and cheese on a pretzel roll.  Al fresco seating is available on some nights and you may get a visit from a Hersheypark character.  I was visited by Kit Kat last year.
  • Shop the shops at the entrance to the park or grab a coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  If you’ve only got a short time this is probably enough to keep you busy.   Coffee is hard to come by in the park so if you need a bit of java, get it now. You CAN take the cup in with you even though you can’t take other food and beverage in.  The guards will allow Dunkin Cups in – though they usually ask if you will get them one.  ;-)
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Apr 022014
 
Free Water at Dutch Wonderland

Free Water at Dutch Wonderland

I wish I could tell every person coming into the gates of these parks this piece of information it is that important.

One of the most common health problems visitors face at an amusement park is dehydration.  Bottled water is expensive at the parks and soda doesn’t do much to keep you hydrated.  There is a solution though…

  • If you have a souvenir cup for either park, ask for it to be filled with water and ice at any stand that sells fountain soda.  They will do it for free.  This includes the kids cups at ZooAmerica and Dutch Wonderland.
  • If you do not have a souvenir cup, visit a stand that sells fountain soda and ask for a cup of water with ice.  They will give you a cup for free – sometimes it is a small cup, sometimes it is a full size soda cup.  Depends on the person and the stand.

There are also water fountains at most rest rooms so that is another source of water to drink.

Remember, you never have to pay for water at the parks so keep hydrated!

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Apr 012014
 
One of the places you can get a kids sized soft serve cone - Turkey Hill Creamery in Pioneer Frontier

One of the places you can get a kids sized soft serve cone – Turkey Hill Creamery in Pioneer Frontier

Last Updated 4/13/14 – 2014 price and photos

If your children like ice cream, especially soft ice cream, a good place to take them is any of the Turkey Hill soft Ice Cream places.  It is not on the menu, but you can ask for a kid’s size cone or dish of regular ice cream (vanilla, chocolate or twist.)  They are plenty big enough even for an adult and the 2014 price is $2.22 (less if you have a season pass) and sprinkles are free!  They are still not listed on the menu.  The photo below is of my kids (ages 4 and 5) with their kids sized ice creams.  Neither one of them could finish their ice cream (I did finish mine… yum.)

2014 Kid Sized cone and dish - sprinkles are free!

2014 Kid Sized cone and dish – sprinkles are free!

Places that serve Turkey Hill soft serve are:

  • Crossroads Creamery in Founder’s Way (across from the Lemon Drop) though this location becomes a Coffee shop at Christmas Candylane
  • Waterfront Creamery in Midway America (near Tidal Force)
  • Turkey Hill Creamery in the Pioneer Frontier Food Court
  • Comet Creamery in The Hollow
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Mar 292014
 
The Kissing Tower May 2012

The Kissing Tower May 2012

Updated 4/9/14

Hooray!  We have made it through the winter of 2013-2014 and the good news is Hersheypark will be opening for Springtime in the Park in a few weeks.  The bad news is that this year Hersheypark is only open for 2 weekends but the good news is you can still get discount tickets at Giant!

My store just got the tickets in today and the price of a regular ticket is $28.80 and a junior/senior ticket is $19.80.

Make sure if you are going Easter Sunday that you get your tickets early.  GIANT IS CLOSED ON EASTER SUNDAY!

Want to know where a store is close to you, check this list of participating Giant stores to see where you can get yours!  The source of this list is the Hersheypark website.

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