I see lots of people having problems deciding between Dutch Wonderland and Hersheypark. They are both large, expensive parks owned by big corporations. The difference is that Dutch Wonderland is a little kids park and Hersheypark is a family park.
What does that mean?
Well, you can check out my trip report for Dutch Wonderland here to see specifics, but basically Dutch Wonderland is for kids 8 and under. Even 8 might be pushing it. The rides are good for smaller heights and there are no thrill rides at all. The park is a theme park for young children with a dragon, princess and knight theme (with a little PA Dutch thrown in.)
Hersheypark has a mix of kiddie rides, family rides and thrill rides to please all ages. They are a little light on rides for the smallest children and a little heavy on the teen stuff. If you have a wide range of ages in your family you will definitely get more mileage out of a trip to Hersheypark.
Both parks have water areas but Hersheypark’s are bigger and more geared to older children and teens. They do have a small child section including a pool of water to please the little ones at Hersheypark - and they have a slow floating river too. Dutch Wonderland’s water area features a slide but it is primarily for children and is not that exciting.
So if you have little kids only, try Dutch Wonderland. If you have older kids, definitely choose Hersheypark. If you have a mix, well, I’d lean toward Hersheypark especially if most are at or near 8 years old.
And if you have a lot of non-riders or hesitant riders? Head to Knoebels where it is free parking, free admission and pay as you go for rides.