Apr 192014
 
Say Hello to the new Sweet Swing in The Hollow

Say Hello to the new Sweet Swing in The Hollow

Normally Good Friday is the first day of Springtime in the Park so I always head there solo to take photos of the changes the park has undergone since December but this year I had already taken care of that so I didn’t really have to go but I went anyway. And not only did I go, I made my poor family go with me.  Never again.

This had to have been my worst trip to Hersheypark ever since December 2008 when everything was closed.  I knew we were in trouble when we got to the park and parking was the whole way up to Tram Stop 3 and Tram Stop 2 was open.  This day is always crowded, always.  Unless it is pouring.  I tell everyone to stay away on this day and I really need to listen to myself.

The thing is, the crowds weren’t the worst part of the trip – it was the staff at Hersheypark that really made this trip awful. Staffing was not optimal for the crowds, moods were unpleasant and the park just generally fell short of doing a good job keeping guests safe and the park clean.

Our first unpleasant staffing incident happened just inside the park. We had to wait ten minutes for someone to pay us any attention at the Official Measurement Station at Hospitality Services even though we were the ONLY people there and there were 6 staff members. I realize most of them couldn’t help us since they did vouchers etc., but neither of the two who were there to take care of us seemed to care we were there even though they looked directly at us a number of times.  After fifteen minutes we did finally leave with our wristbands. I almost left to go to the measurement station by the Carrousel but I’m glad I didn’t. It was closed.

We experienced some unpleasant ride situations where the attendants were ignoring safety policies left and right on the kiddie rides, in particular Traffic Jam.  One woman insisted she ride in the back of the purple car since it was the only one her son wanted and he wouldn’t ride without her.  The attendant said something to her but she talked him out of making her get out of the car and after one parent so that she wedged herself into the front seat of another car and when the ride started she fell off the seat and ended up walking her foot along with the ride till she could wedge herself back in.  Lawsuit waiting to happen there.  The sign on this ride clearly states adults may only ride in the fire engines, and only the back 2 seats of those.  Rules at the Carrousel were not being enforced either and I saw handheld infants not in the chariots plus a tandem rider (parent with child in front.) Both against the rules.  I don’t care much that people don’t know the rules or even that they try to break them, what bothers me is that the ride attendants don’t take their jobs seriously enough to enforce the rules to keep people safe.  That’s how people end up getting hurt and then the park gets a bad reputation.

Food situations weren’t much better.  One counter person and a line of twenty people for ice cream does not make for a good park experience for anyone and not having spoons really made it tough when you got your ice cream in a dish.  My son gave it his best though until we got to Overlook where they had some spoons.

Trash everywhere at Overlook and not a napkin in the place!

Trash everywhere at Overlook and not a napkin in the place!

Then there was the trash…. tons of it.  We ate at Overlook (formerly Minetown) to get my son out of the cold air and every trash can was overflowing.  There were no napkins anywhere.  I actually saw one of the team members take trays that were on top of the trash can above and walk them to another trash can which was equally as full and try to stuff the trash in just so he could take the trays.  Ew.

And then there was the beer.  I have no issues at all with people drinking beer in the park as long as they keep it away from the kids.  The rule is you keep the beer on the Overlook patio but nobody was watching last night and four adults (very adult, as in grandparents) brought their beers to the area where Convoy, Red Baron and Frog Hopper were.  Not only did they bring the beers but they set them down in flower pots, on curbs and on benches when they needed to help their little darlings onto a ride.  I saw one child grab for the beer in the flowerpot but luckily his mother caught him in time. If it was me I’d have dumped that beer for sure.  Beer does not belong in a children’s section unattended.  Alas there was no security to be seen all night to even help with the situation.  Normally you can’t walk five feet without tripping over a security team member but last night in our 3 hours there I saw one and it was on our way out.

Nice new decals on the Scrambler

Nice new decals on the Scrambler

There were a couple high points to the night. First, Scrambler is back online and looks to be all new or at least heavily refurbished.   I’m looking for some photos to compare if it is indeed the same ride – my hubby thinks not.  But I do know if you do a complete refurb it can seem like a whole new ride, mostly cause most of it is.

Second, the Sweet Swing is in place and operating as you can see in the opening photo.  If you wondered what a family swing is, well think a Frog Hopper only in a playground type big swing.  The two end seats can hold an adult.  It’s a small footprint ride that helps up the kiddie and family ride number in the park without adding much excitement, but the kids riding it seemed to like it so that is all that matters.

Other things I noticed, you can no longer take anything with you on Reeses Xtreme Cup.  They took my backpack from me and held it on the platform.  There have always been signs to this effect but they didn’t do it before so this was new to me.  Also the Filling Station is still boarded up.  And the Teacup platform is done to the concrete with the yellow safety line.

So…. I will NEVER take my family to Hersheypark on Good Friday again.  NEVER.  I should have followed my own advice from year’s past and stayed away.

Apr 092014
 

Updated 4/3/2015 – changed year, price remained the same

Be ready when you get to the park – the 2015 Springtime in the Park parking fee is $8 for regular cars, $12 for campers if I remember it right.  If you plan to leave by car and come back in the same day save your parking stub to get free-reentry.

Season passholders get free parking as usual but you’ll have to walk farther!

Apr 032014
 
Kiddie Swap works great on Sunoco Speedway and Fahrenheit

Kiddie Swap works great on Sunoco Speedway and Fahrenheit

(Note: I’ve got “parent’ in the title of this post just to make it easier to type, but this applies to grandparents, older siblings, uncles or any other people accompanying children to Hersheypark.)

Kiddie Swap works at Hersheypark for two distinct situations.  Hersheypark talks about Kiddie Swap on their website FAQ here but here is my explanation.

Two parents and a height restricted ride

If you are parents of young children and you still crave the thrill of the coasters and other rides small children are not tall enough to ride, use the Kiddie Swap to allow both parents to ride.  Enter the ride queue as normal with the whole family.  One at the front of the line tell the attendant you’d like to use Kiddie Swap. One parent rides while the other waits to the side with the children who are unable to ride.  When the first parent returns the parents swap so the second parent can ride the ride.

One parent with two or more children and a ride that requires a responsible rider

If you are parent who has two ore more children who want to ride a ride but each needs a responsible rider to go along – like the bumper cars or the Sunoco Speedway, the Kiddie Swap will allow you to take all the children on the ride individually.

Enter the ride queue as a family and when you reach the ride entrance tell the attendant you’d like to use the Kiddie Swap  The parent takes the first child on the ride while the second child waits in a safe spot near the attendant.  Once the first child returns the children switch spots and the parent rides with the second child.

Apr 032014
 
Engine Janelle of the Dry Gulch Railroad

Engine Janelle of the Dry Gulch Railroad

Last Updated 4/13/14 – Added photo of Barber

I love trains so the Dry Gulch Railroad at Hersheypark is one of my favorite rides, but I’ve ridden enough times with small children to know that some of the props can be scary to them and even to some adults.  Even adults who are now Marines.  :-)

This post contains spoilers so if you don’t want to know what is on the ride, stop here and go search for hmmm, pressed pennies. Yep that’ll keep you busy.

SPOILERS BELOW!

All of the items that seem to cause problems with adults and children will come up on your LEFT if you are riding in a forward facing seat – meaning you are facing the engine.  If you are riding a backward facing seat (with the engine behind you) then all these things will be on your RIGHT.

To avoid them, sit on the other side of the seat.  (Right if you are riding forward, left if you are riding backward.)

The thing that bothers some adults, some children and even one Marine I know (Hi Skeetr!)  is a large (fake) rattlesnake.  He spits water most of the time and you will get a little wet and he moves forward toward the train.

The Spraying Rattlesnake

The Spraying Rattlesnake

The other two things that often bother small children are a crazed barber with a razor that moves out of shadows of the barber shop and a skeleton that swings from a rope and moves toward the train.  These items come up just past the tipis so if your children don’t like that sort of thing, distract them by having them look out of the train the other way to the rest of the park.

Mr. Skeleton

Mr. Skeleton

 

The Barber

The Barber