We recently visited Hershey Park for the first time with our crew: 2 toddlers and 2 young children. I had not been to Hershey Park since I was a teenager and mainly remembered rollercoasters and chocolate. I wasn’t sure it was the place to go with 4 kids under 7 but a lot of our friends were visiting and having an awesome time, so we decided to check it out. We loved it. It was the perfect theme park for our family and we’ll defiantly be going back. Here are my 10 tips for visiting Hershey Park with toddlers and young children:
Hershey Park with Toddlers and Young Children
1. Stay at The Hershey Lodge
2. Take Advantage of the Early Hours at Hershey Park
If you are staying at a Hershey Park property or are a season pass holder, you can access part of the park an hour early. The part of the park you can enter early is where ALL of the little kid rides are. The park opened at 10am, the early hours started at 9am… we arrived at 8:45am. So we were the first people in the park. It was awesome – no lines anywhere. Most of the rides we went on, my 4 kids were the only ones on the rides. Toddlers do not want to stand in line for rides. They also want to ride “again and again” when they like a ride…. so having a crowd free hour to go on all the kiddie rides is key. Also, if you’re toddlers are like ours and up at 6am, they are ready for the day at 9am. So the early hours were great. By the time the park opened to the public and it was getting crowded, they were ready to take a snooze in the stroller.
3. Focus on Pioneer Frontier at Hershey Park
Pioneer Frontier is where most of the little kid rides are. Start there and honestly, even if you only do rides in this area, they’l have plenty to do and have a blast! We also found a lot of the characters were in this area.
4. Great Games!
We found the staff at Hershey Park to be incredibly kind to toddlers and little kids playing the games. They explained what to do, were really patient and we left with some fun prizes. This is not always the case with amusement park games, so we were really impressed with the games at Hershey. This made for fun breaks in between the rides
5. Places to Eat At Hershey Park
As for places to eat with little ones at Hershey Park: there’s a Chick Fil A INSIDE the park now. In the Hershey Lodge we liked The Bears Den and offsite (across the street from the Lodge) there is a Friendly’s.
6. Chocolate World Reservations
Chocolate World is a lot of fun for little kids! There is so much to see and who doesn’t love chocolate? It’s free to enter and then there are some things that you can pay for. I would highly recommend the Create Your Own Chocolate Bar. Make a reservation ahead of time online OR you can stop in when they open in the AM before you enter the park and there should be reservations left (depending on how busy it is). It seems costly, but that was the one souvenir they all took home. It was fun, interactive and they really felt like they were “in a factory” with the aprons and hair nets. It doesn’t take long to do and you are moving around the whole time (no waiting). I would not recommend the Chocolate Tour with toddlers or young children. It is free but it’s 30min and when we were there, it stopped quite a few times – which means if you are on it when it is “stopped” you are stuck on it. One family told us start to finish (time waiting in line and stuck inside) was 2hrs. Not many toddlers are going to enjoy that wait.
7. For the “Little Kids” that like BIG Rides
My oldest went on her 1st upside down roller coaster at Hershey Park. They have the SooperDooperLooper which is a really fun roller coaster for younger kids that goes upside down (so they REALLY feel like big kids). My suggestion is to get into the park with the “early hours” (see above) and then as soon as the main part of the park opens, walk to the SooperdooperLooper. We did that and were able to ride it 3 times in a row with no lines!
8. Parking at Hershey Park
Personally I think driving and parking is a lot easier than the free shuttles if you are going with toddlers. The shuttles we saw were very crowded and I didn’t see how we’d easily hop on and off with a stroller. Plus, you could get stuck waiting around for a shuttle for a long time with very cranky “post amusement park melt down” kids. My suggestion is definitely to park. My friend wrote a guest post about Hershey Park on our site last year and she had great tips for parking. Click here for her parking tips and where/when you can even park free!
9. Hershey Botanical Gardens
Two days in a row at an amusement park can be a lot for toddlers and young children, so if you’re looking for something else to do, check out the Hershey Botanical Gardens. There is plenty of room for little ones to run wild there!
10. Don’t go on a crowded day!
I know this is not always easy to predict but if you are going with toddlers and young children try and plan your trip for a time that the park will not be as crowded. We went on a weekend but it was a cold, rainy spring weekend. It wasn’t a holiday weekend or anytime near a school break. I think part of the reason we had such a wonderful time was that it was not crowded. From the parking lot to the rides to places to eat – I think we would have had a much different experience had it been a really crowded day. Toddlers and little kids don’t like waiting in lines. Also, I find I am much more stressed and nervous someone is going to get lost at an amusement park when it’s terribly crowded. Picking the right time to visit Hershey Park is definitely important with toddlers and young children.
Enjoy your trip to Hershey Park, “the sweetest place on earth”!
Disclosure: We were not compensated for this post. We did receive tickets to the park for the purpose of review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.