Milton Hershey, like Walt Disney, was more than just a businessman. He was a man with a vision – a vision that incorporated much more than just producing and selling a product. Hershey invented his own town, complete with Chocolate Kiss-shaped street lamps. He invented his own school. And, of course, he invented his own theme park, built especially for the families of his employees. Long before Disneyland was a twinkle in Walt’s eye – in 1908 – Hershey had installed his first carousel. And, by 1909, he’d installed his own scenic railway.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Hersheypark has many of the best qualities of Disney parks – on a much smaller scale, and at a much lower price point. At just 110 square acres, it’s a lower cost, more manageable experience that Disney fans are likely to love.
1. It’s all about the Founders and Their Visions
Both Hershey and Disney were Great Americans. Each founded a corporation that has become a legend. Each essentially invented a town (Hershey and Orlando). Each envisioned and created a family-oriented amusement park with trimmings, which has far outlasted its creator. Each has his own museums dedicated to his life and work. Each provides extensive opportunities for young people. Each has left an untarnished legacy of doing the right thing by the American people and their own employees.
2. Be “Edutained”
Edutainment – education that’s fun – is part of both the Disney and the Hershey experience. You can learn all about animation, explore full scale art and history museums, or “meet” American presidents at Walt Disney World. At Hersheypark, you can visit Chocolate World – a fun, engaging ride that’s really an educational introduction to the history and process of chocolate making. You travel to the rainforest to collect cocoa beans, watch and smell chocolate being processed, and then (of course) you’re treated to a fun-sized chocolate bar on your way out of the ride. Not surprisingly, you exit directly into a vast (and highly themed) chocolate and souvenir shop where you can also sip a chocolate soda or enjoy a chocolate sundae!
3. Enjoy a Truly Family-Oriented Park
Disney and Hershey shared a belief in the importance and power of the American family, and both men designed their parks with the entire family in mind. Like Walt Disney World (and unlike most typical amusement parks), Hersheypark offers a wide array of family-oriented experiences, rides, and venues that make it easy and pleasant to bring multiple generations to the park.
Entertainment is similar in style to the type you’d find on Main Street USA: All American barber shop groups, choral groups and bands from American high schools and colleges, country western acts, and more. Trees, gardens, and shady groves make it easy and pleasant to sit back, relax, and even allow the little ones to nap. A lake with live fish and birds offers a mellow place to hang out; you can even buy a handful of food for the fish and ducks. Rides like the Cocoa Cruiser and the Kissing Tower make it possible for very young children and older visitors alike to have mild fun on “grown up” rides.
4. Roller Coasters for Every Taste
Disney offers coasters for the timid, the curious, and the reckless. So does Hersheypark. The Trailblazer is a small, “pioneer” themed coaster that’s just right for the younger (or more nervous) rider. For a Disney comparison, think Barnstormer. The Comet is a world-class, old-fashioned wooden coaster – similar in intensity and style to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but with less theming and more history. The Sooperdooperlooper and several other steel coasters offer even more intensity than Space Mountain, and are only for the truly fearless.
5. Climb Aboard a Train
Both Walt Disney and Milton Hershey were huge train fans. At Disney World, you can ride The Walt Disney World Railroad that takes you around a good portion of the Magic Kingdom; at Hershey Park you can experience the Dry Gulch Railroad. Both are low-key trips aboard a steam train; Disney’s train belches real steam, while Hershey’s is a true themed experience. Prefer a more modern, streamlined train experience? Both Disney and Hershey offer transportation via “futuristic” monorails!