Visions of sugar plums danced in our heads, as we prepared to experience Christmas at Hershey for the first time ever. The joy of the holiday season is brought to life in Hershey Park at its annual Christmas CandyLane and SweetLights attractions. Our trip was all that we dreamt it would be and more. I was blown away by all that there is to see and do.
I know it sounds odd to go to a theme park during the winter; however, let me assure you it will be sweet. If you haven’t heard of Christmas CandyLane at Hershey Park; let me take a brief moment to explain it. This holiday celebration that runs for eight weeks starting late November until the New Year fills the park with holiday joy. The entire park is decorated with festive lights and holiday décor. Surprisingly there are over thirty different amusement park rides open for guests to enjoy. A great amount of the rides and shows are indoors. But even the ones that aren’t are still a lot fun even in cold weather. I would love to walk you through our families experience and share tips and tricks for making your visit memorable!
We got to the park an hour before it opened to avoid traffic in the parking lot. Once we got there we took advantage of photo ops before the park filled up. Since we arrived before the gates were opened; we decided to visit Chocolate World (located across from the ticketing booth.) One of the best parts about Chocolate World is you can visit for FREE! Once entering the building we made our way to the factory tour, where you will get a chance to go on ride that tours the factory. It is a fun way to teach kids about how Hershey’s chocolate is made. Everyone was excited to get a mini Hershey bar once we exited the ride. If you have the time and want to expand your experience there are other fun activities available at an additional cost.
Once we entered the park we headed straight for the monorail so that we could tour the park from above. It was a great way to view the different rides so the kids could make suggestions for which they wanted to test out.
Our next stop was at the height chart to see what rides our kids were tall enough to par take in this year. My oldest son who’s four was a Hershey’s Kiss, while my two year old measured at a Hershey’s Mini. Little man and I watched and waved as daddy and my oldest jumped aboard a few Hershey Kiss rides (big boy rides.) They went on the classic pirate ship and lady bug ride. We all took advantage of a bathroom break while by the restrooms. Just a useful side note, there are tons of great bathrooms with changing stations. I love that they also have family style bathrooms available.
Since it was a little chilly we decided to step indoors to see the Christmas show Music Box. I highly recommend sitting in the first row of seats in the second section on the left side of the audience, next to the exit. This places you in the ideal location to get out after the show ends with least wait time. Which gives you first dibs at photo opts with characters that are ready to greet you after the show. No one is sitting in front of you for a whole aisle length so your view is ideal. You will also have ample leg room. This is also a great chance to enjoy a snack. There are a few venders walking around with drinks, popcorn and other treats. The story line is about a mysterious music box found in Grandma’s attic that brings the magic of Christmas to life. The show itself is upbeat and entertaining. It isn’t too long which makes it great for kids. They will also enjoy tradition Christmas songs and dance numbers such as All I want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth and I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas.
My favorite ride was the Kiss Tower. You sit back in a seat and watch out a window shaped like a Hershey Kiss as you are lifted up in the tower. Once you have reached the top it’s tradition to give your sweetie a kiss! I got smooches from all three of my boys. The ride is meant for guests of all ages. It is not a scary ride, the flight and descend are gentle and slow.
I think my sons favorite ride was the Classic car ride because he could drive a real car all by himself. With the help of dad pressing the pedal of course but little dude got to do all the steering. His other favorites were the train rides, of course! There were three train rides: the Monorail, Dry Gulch Railroad and Tiny Tracks. Not to mention a really awesome toy train layout. We spent a while at the train display, especially since there are plenty of buttons to push.
The miniature train layout is right by Santa’s workshop. The signs are clearly labeled for you to find Santa. If your little ones want to see the jolly old elf himself there are great photo opportunities. Don’t forget to stop by and see the reindeer!
After this excursion everyone was starting to get hungry. Let me tell you the aroma of sweet and savory foods overcome you! So don’t forget about food glorious food! I think my favorite food there was Tower Fries, board walk style fries that are heavenly. Tower fries is located outside by the toy train layout. When it comes to chili weather eating indoors is more idea. You can head over to Founders Kitchen or Overlook Food Court. Both are cafeteria style dining and offer foods that children love like hot dogs and pizza. Make sure you splurge and get the popular sweet treats like hot chocolate and kettle corn! While on the food topic, I was excited to see that Chick-fil-a is being built and expected to open in 2017!
Following dinner we bundled up and headed back outside. By now the sun was setting and the twinkling lights were growing brighter. We made our way to the Hollow around 5pm to enjoy Noel, a breathtaking display of lights that features over two hundred thousand of sparking lights synchronized to your favorite Christmas tunes. Noel was breathtaking, a truly enchanting show that illuminates that night. Just simply strolling through the park is entertaining. There are so many lights displays to admire. Our family enjoyed walking past the twelve days of Christmas as we sang the song. The boys were feeling tired around 8pm so we headed to the car. Despite feeling tired they got a second wind when we told them we had one last surprise.
We followed the signs to Hershey’s Sweet Lights to enjoy their winter wonderland of lights. Hershey calls itself the sweetest place on earth with good reason. So turn on your holiday tunes and sit back and enjoy a cheery and vivid display. The first section featured traditional Christmas images such as; candy canes, wreaths, Santa and his reindeer, etc. As you round the bend you will make your way to the 12 Days of Christmas. The next section was everyone’s favorite! You will enter a two-mile drive of Enchanted Forest; where many of your favorite fairy tale characters are showcased. The last section is the Victorian Village segment that features carolers and traditional scenes. If it is a crowded night I recommend entertaining the kids with Christmas Carols, offering them a special sweet treat or presenting them with their own glow sticks for fun.
PLAYFUL PARENT TIPS AND TRICKS
Dress your family in bright colors; consider fun hats or light up necklaces to make it fun!
Dress in layers and prepare for the weather. The day we went was chili. Everyone was bundled up in warm clothing, winter coats, paired with hat, scarf and gloves.
Purchase your tickets in advanced online to save time and waiting in line. Or purchase your Christmas Candylane tickets at a participating Giant Food Store and receive a discount on general admission rates.
Add Sweet Lights tickets to your order. When you purchase admission tickets to the SweetLights paired with Christmas Candylane you’ll pay a reduced price for Candylane. Did you know if you want to return for a second visit you can present your tickets at the Ticketing Services Building the next day and pay just $7 for admission to Christmas Candylane the following day.
This park is stroller safe and very accommodating with providing places to park your stroller. We braved the park without a stroller and did okay. Our preschooler was able to walk and the toddler got some cuddle time in our baby carrier when he needed breaks. However, if you are at the park and decide you need one you can rent a stroller for $12.
HERSHEY PARK INFORMATION
100 W. Hershey Park Dr,
Hershey, PA 17033
Check site for prices and hours:
For more information on planning a Train-cation please read The Playful Parent Article: CHRISTMAS TRAIN-CATION 2016