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.


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

Apr 032014
This horse is a stationary horse - I know this from the outside position and the thinner pole - but how can YOU tell?  Look up.

This horse is a stationary horse – I know this from the outside position and the thinner pole – but how can YOU tell? Look up.

Last updated 4/13/14 with more pictures.

This might seem like a strange post but I’ve encountered numerous people who do not know how to tell a stationary horse from a “jumper” (one that goes up and down.”)  This is a big deal for parents of small children who have to make sure the child can stay on the horse either by themselves or that they are going to be tall enough to hold onto the child if they need assistance at the highest point of the horses jump.

Parents of really small ones take note:  only one person per horse is allowed, no exceptions. You and your child can’t ride together.  Infants who cannot be held on a horse by their parent (hand-held infants) must ride in one of the two chariots.

If you have two unsure riders like I do right now you can stand between them as they both ride jumpers or stationary horses (only place you can get two stationary horses next to each other is next to the chariots.)  It is hard to get one on a jumper and one on a stationary horse since they are staggered on the ride.

Hersheypark’s Carrousel has 66 total horses and of those 66, 42 of them are jumpers.  If you want your child to be on a stationary horse, choose the horses to the inside of the chariots or in the outside row.

Stationary horses have thinner poles than jumpers, but to know for sure if your horse is stationary or a jumper you have to look up.  The stationary horses have a straight pole anchored to the top of the carousel.  The jumpers have a straight pole attached to a twisting mechanism – 3 horses will be joined together and will alternate between high and low points.  See the photos below for what you will see on each when you look up.

Pole of a Jumper

Pole of a Jumper

Pole of a stationary horse

Pole of a stationary horse



Apr 032014
ZooAmerica's "Secret" slide

ZooAmerica’s “Secret” slide

Updated 4/12/14

If you are traveling with young children at Hersheypark it is good to have some sure fire activities for them to enjoy when the sights and sounds of the park get to be too much.  I actually spent the majority of my Hersheypark trips when my children were younger doing these 3 things and only these 3 things.

1.  Visiting ZooAmerica and going down the slide

Kids love animals and they usually have a good time at ZooAmerica.  It is much quieter than Hersheypark and often less crowded.  But my kids’ favorite thing to do was go down the slide which is located just before you get to the Bobcat house. You can see it in the picture above. It isn’t marked on the map really other than with a picture which the blue arrow is pointing to in the snippet below from the 2013 park map.


2. Feeding the ducks and fish in ZooAmerica and Hersheypark

All my kids - even the teenager - feeding the ducks and geese at ZooAmerica

All my kids – even the teenager – feeding the ducks and geese at ZooAmerica

This never gets old with them so bring lots of quarters since there aren’t change machines nearby (and watch your pressed pennies – see my warning here.)  The Canada Geese will also eat as will the fish in Spring Creek at Hersheypark.

3.  Splashing in Puddles at the Tidal Force Viewing Area

Splashin' in the Tidal Force puddles

Splashin’ in the Tidal Force puddles

A lot of times the Boardwalk is too much for toddlers, even the sections just for them. Or maybe it is not open or maybe you forgot your swimsuit. Whatever, this is a nice alternative.  Either use shoes water won’t hurt of strip down to the bare toesies and jump in the puddles near Tidal Force.  Now you have to be careful here because some of the areas do get splashed and kids can get REALLY wet.  Our favorite place to do this is in the viewing area next to Tidal Force.  It is a large walkway with benches leading to Famous Famiglia and Decades. Update 4/12/14 – this area is full of tables now, still room to splash though. It is fairly contained so the kids can’t run far and there are benches to sit on too.  Plus Coastal Creamery is nearby and you can take advantage of the good kids cone prices I talk about here.

Yes it might drive you crazy to know how much money you spent on tickets and what your toddlers love most about the park is the ducks and puddles, but really having fun is what matters.  Hersheypark is a huge park for little kids and taking time out for these types of simple activities can really brighten their day.


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.

Apr 022014
Duck Food Machine at Dutch Wonderland

Duck Food Machine at Dutch Wonderland

Here is one of those things I would never have known to share with you if it hadn’t happened to me.

On a recent trip to ZooAmerica we stopped to feed the ducks.  I gave each of the kids a quarter for duck food (corn) and we sat back and watched them throw it to the happy ducks.  I decided to give myself a quarter to feed the ducks too.  When my daughter came over and asked for another quarter I told her I didn’t have any more, this was when my 4 year old son piped up “Put in your penny, it works!”

The penny he was referring to was his snake pressed penny we had just spent 51 cents on by the black bear exhibit.

Yes folks, they are just about as wide as a quarter and apparently the machines take ‘em just fine.

I warned you.

(My thanks to Sterling for giving me this topic to write about. I love you son.)