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.