When my daughter asked if we could go to Hershey Park for her 13th birthday, there was no way we could say no. Turning 13 is a big deal and we needed to celebrate in a major way, even if it meant navigating Hershey Park with teenagers in tow!
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Hershey Park has always been one of our favorite theme parks. It’s only a two hour car ride from our house, clean and family friendly. But I’ll admit, it has been a couple of years since we have been there and I was curious if it would hold the same appeal now that the kids are older.
So we let the kids invite a couple of friends and set off to see if visiting Hershey Park with a group of tweens and teenagers would be amazing or a total disaster. To set the scene in your mind, my husband and I had 2 fifteen-year-old boys, a 13-year-old girl, a 12-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy with us. I’m still not sure if that makes us ultra-cool or incredibly brave and stupid.
We loaded up the kids with sunscreen, grabbed some coffee and left bright and early. The ride through Lancaster and the surrounding farmlands is always scenic and peaceful. The kids loved seeing the Amish out in their buggies and were entertained by all the cows, horses and goats we passed on the way.
Parking was a breeze. There are plenty of signs and people to tell you exactly where to go. We pulled into the lot about ten minutes before the park opened and there was no line at the booth to pay. Parking was $15, which is completely reasonable for a theme park.
There is a tram with convenient stops to take you to the park. It came by every few minutes and was clean and easy to get on and off. The employees on the tram even give you a little history of the park and surrounding area. The ride was short (maybe three minutes), but we were so thankful for the tram at the end of the day when we were tired from all the walking!
Getting into the park
We got off the tram and stopped at the Will Call booth to grab our tickets. Again, the process was easy and the employee working there was friendly and helpful.
They do check your bags before they let you into the park, but it was super quick and there is a separate line for people entering without bags. Then, we scanned our tickets and set off for a fun day of adventure!
If you are visiting the park in 2019, you should be aware that the walkway to the entrance is under construction because they are building a new ride. It’s not a big deal and doesn’t affect getting into the park, but the pathway is not as pretty as it normally is.
The Hershey Park app
Make sure you download the app before you go! It was great being able to see the map of the park, along with the wait times at every ride. There are also sections on the app to tell you about the shows, characters, games, shops and restrooms. Even a directionally challenged person like myself could figure it out, which says a lot about the ease of use.
Hershey Park with teenagers
As soon as we entered the park, we gave the two 15 year old boys some spending money and set them loose. They agreed to stay together, stay out of trouble and meet back with us for lunch.
The boys were very strategic with their day. They started at the back of the park because they thought most people would start at the front. They were right and they were able to walk right on the first few rides.
The 15 year olds were really only interested in the roller coasters and rode almost every one within four hours. The only one they missed was Skyrush, which was shut down for the day.
Storm Runner was their absolute favorite and they rode it a few times. This roller coaster launches from zero to seventy-two miles per hour in two seconds. It also has loops, barrel rolls and a huge drop. They were raving about it!
We tried to get the older boys to meet up with us for some lighter rides, but once they were done the roller coasters, they just wanted to grab some food and people watch.
They did end up purchasing the Souvenir Drinking Cup, which is a great deal at only $16.75. This includes free drink refills all day.
If you do the math, you need to purchase about 4-5 drinks to break even on the souvenir cup. On a sunny day in July, you will definitely get your money out of the purchase!
Hershey Park with tweens
My husband and I explored the park with an 11, 12 and 13 year old. Yes, I know that technically the 13 year old is a teenager, but I’m lumping her in with the pre-teens.
We started at the front of the park and worked our back toward the back (the opposite of the boys). However, we were lucky and had short wait times for almost every ride. Most were 5-15 minutes (this was a Wednesday at the end of July).
Our group was a little different because the 13 year old loves roller coasters and wanted to go on all of them. The 11 and 12 year old would go on some, but also wanted to try some other rides.
The roller coaster fanatic’s favorite ride was Fahrenheit, which has a 97 degree drop. I swear, my heart sped up just looking at this ride. It looks like the car is going to flip off the track, but through some feat of engineering it manages to stay on there. The 13 year old and my husband both said it was the best ride at the park.
The 11 and 12 year old liked Great Bear better because your feet dangle. I also liked this coaster because it makes you almost feel like you are flying.
The younger two were also big fans of Laff Trakk. At about 35 minutes, this was the longest line that we waited in all day. This roller coaster is indoors and involves lots of spinning. They loved it because you go forwards and backwards, plus everything is glowing.
The latest ride
My 11 year old was a little disappointed with Hershey’s Park newest ride, Reese’s Cupfusion. No, there is nothing wrong with the actual ride, but the line was over two hours long the entire day. We kept thinking the line would die down and we would try it later, but it never did. I’m sure this is because it is a brand new ride and everyone wants to try it. I guess this means we have to go back next year so we can check it out!
Chocolate World, ZooAmerica and the Boardwalk
We have visited these attractions in the past, but did not have time to get to them this year. However, all the kids said that they wanted to check them out so we are definitely planning another visit for next summer.
When you buy tickets, you get a “sneak peek” bonus, where you can enter the park for 2 1/2 hours the night before. We have never taken advantage of this before, but I think that next year, we will spend the night and maybe check out the Hotel Hershey. This way, we can do the sneak peak and have time to squeeze in the zoo and water park too.
I think I would also get the kids more involved in the planning process next time. They are old enough to use the Hershey Park app in advance to help plan the day
Overall impression of a day at Hershey Park with teenagers
We had a blast and will definitely be back! Hershey Park has rides, games and shows for people of all ages, from babies to seniors.
The five kids that we had with us all had different tastes in rides and every one of them had fun. For that matter, my husband and I have very different tastes too and we both had a ball!
The employees are helpful and the park is neat and conveniently located. I would highly recommend a visit to Hershey Park to anyone, especially if you are looking for an amusement park to visit with your tweens and teenagers.
Updates for 2020
The long awaited Candymonium roller coaster officially debuts this summer! It is the tallest (210 feet), fastest (76 pmh) and longest (over 4,000 feet) coaster at Hershey Park. For now, you can watch the video to get a feel for the ride.
Hershey Park is taking steps to ensure that the park will be as safe as possible for all guests. You can see all the details and FAQ’s here, but here are the basic changes.
The park will enforce increased cleaning protocols and install hand sanitization stations throughout. Masks will be required for all guests over the age of two and there will be touchless temperature screenings done at the entrance. Social distancing will be in place and reservations are required because the park will not be operating at full capacity.
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