Hershey for Teens
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5) Wild Mouse: My 15-year-old niece lobbied hard for this one to make our top five. It’s her first stop whenever she comes to Hersheypark, and her ardor for it convinced me to go on it. After all, the word “mouse” is in the name and the cars are little and there aren’t any big drops--how bad could it be? Well, here is the shtick with this one: It moves quite nimbly, making extremely hard, sudden, and tight corner turns, which makes you feel certain the entire while that your car is going off the rails.
Tips for Visiting Hersheypark with Teens
Chocolate World is optional. My advice: Don’t bring it up. They won’t really get too excited about the slow-moving ride with its talking dairy cows, or the movie starring a Hershey Kiss with Kardashian eyes, or donning a paper hat to fashion a custom chocolate bar. What they will get excited about is you buying candy. So. Much. Candy. And really, they have nothing special there you couldn’t get at home, and cheaper, in Costco. What is different is the fancy packaging, but a Twizzler is a Twizzler is a Twizzler, whether it’s in its usual plastic bag, a gold box, or a metal pail. Trust me: If you enter that store with a teenager, you will leave with a giant Hershey Kiss bedecked with a “Let’s celebrate with a big Kiss!” sticker.
If you are up for that risk, then I suggest going first thing in the morning, when it’s much less crowded. You’ll pass it on your way to the park. But then you’ll have to carry your purchases with you, or stash them in your car, provided it’s cool enough out. Parking is free if you’re there less than three hours, which I assure you will be the case.
Wear sneakers. This may seem obvious, but if your kids always wear flip-flops unless there is snow on the ground, like mine, it’s worth saying. Hersheypark is hilly. You’ll all be going up, then down, then up again. And you know as well as I do that they’ll be running at least half the time. Even if they manage not to lose one on a ride, flip-flops will still not end well.
Consider scrimping. My savvy sister-in-law booked us in Harrisburg, instead of right at the park in Hershey. What’s the difference? About 40 percent cheaper, well worth it in my book for a 15–20 minute ride.
Then, consider splurging. Full disclosure: Some of the teen favorites (especially Fahrenheit and Storm Runner) had interminable lines. You might think that kids this old are better able to take a wait. But when I asked mine what they didn’t like about our trip, if anything, all they had to share was their disdain for the lines. Granted, this may well have been due to it being Labor Day weekend. But it may be worth it to ante up for a Fast Track Pass, which lets you skip the line for one ride on each of 10 coasters. When my kids asked about it, I pulled up the info on my phone, and saw “starting at $60,” which promptly ended all discussion. I know, it’s a lot. But in hindsight, I wonder if it might have been worth it to keep them from having any downside at all to our mini vacation.
Take advantage of twilight. When you have a one-day ticket, you are allowed to “preview” the park the night before, from 7:30 pm to closing, for free. You just show your ticket for the next day and you’re in. This is a good opportunity to get on the most popular rides when the wait tends to be shorter. You won’t pay twice for parking, either. You pay the $15 when you park for your preview evening, then show that stub again the next day.
Think outside the main gate. Adjacent to Hersheypark is Giant Center, a full-on event arena that hosts major performers. My sister-in-law, who lives on the NJ/PA border, told me that during their last Hersheypark trip, she and her husband dropped the 15-year-old and her friend off for a 5 Seconds of Summer concert, while they enjoyed a dinner date. Point being, it’s worth checking the schedule before you leave home, especially if you have older teens.
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