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Hersheypark, view from Ferris Wheel
Slogan HersheyPark Happy
Location Derry Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Theme Hershey's Chocolate, Pennsylvania's heritage[1][2]
Owner Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company
Opened May 30, 1906 (1906-05-30)[3][4]
Previous names Hershey Park
Operating season Easter Weekend, May-September, Halloween and Christmas
Visitors per annum 3,180,000 (2013)[5]
Area 121 acres (49 ha)
Total 74 (as of 2015)
Roller coasters 13
Water rides 14
Website Official website

Hersheypark (known as Hershey Park until 1970) is a family theme park situated in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, United States, about 15 miles (24 km) east of Harrisburg, and 95 miles (153 km) west of Philadelphia. Founded in 1906[3][4][6] by Milton S. Hershey,[7] as a leisure park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company, the park is wholly and privately owned by Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company as of 2013. The park has won several awards, including the IAAPA Applause Award.[8]

The park opened its first roller coaster in 1923, the The Wild Cat, an early Philadelphia Toboggan Company coaster. In 1970, it began redevelopment plan, which led to new rides, an expansion of the park, and the park's renaming. The 1970s brought the first looping roller coaster on the East Coast, as well as a 330-foot-tall (100 m) observation tower, the Kissing Tower. Beginning in the mid-1980s, the park rapidly expanded. Between 1991 and 2008, the park added eight roller coasters and the Boardwalk at Hersheypark water park. As of 2011, the park's area covers over 110 acres (45 ha), containing 70 rides and attractions, as well as a zoo called ZOOAMERICA - North American Wildlife Park. Adjacent is Hershey's Chocolate World, a visitors' center that is open to the public and that contains shops, restaurants, and a chocolate factory-themed tour ride.


  • History 1
    • Name 1.1
    • Amusement rides and attractions 1.2
      • Roller coasters 1.2.1
      • Pools 1.2.2
    • Themed areas of the park 1.3
  • Attractions 2
    • Rides 2.1
      • Height categories 2.1.1
      • Thrill ride ratings 2.1.2
    • Entertainment 2.2
    • Dining 2.3
  • Themed areas 3
    • Founder’s Way 3.1
    • The Hollow 3.2
    • Kissing Tower Hill 3.3
    • Music Box Way 3.4
    • Pioneer Frontier 3.5
    • Midway America 3.6
    • The Boardwalk at Hersheypark 3.7
  • In popular culture 4
  • Gallery 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


In 1903, Milton S. Hershey, founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company, surveyed the town that would become Hershey. Included in his plans was a site along Spring Creek that would be suitable for his park. In 1905, a pavilion was built on the hill overlooking Spring Creek[9] and a bridge was built over Spring Creek.[10] While the bridge was able to be constructed, the land on the banks of Spring Creek, from Derry Church to Union Deposit, and areas further north of the creek (including the area currently occupied by Hersheypark Arena and Stadium) was actually owned by J.H. Nissley. In February 1906, Hershey purchased all but two tracts of land, near Union Deposit, from Nissley.[11] In early spring, the Hershey baseball club staked out an area for a baseball field; a baseball diamond, with a track surrounding the field, as well as grandstands were built. The first game was played on May 5, which was a 4-0 loss to Felton Athletic Club.[12] This is also noted as the first open-air event in Hershey.[13]


On May 30, 1906, as part of Memorial Day celebrations,[14] Hershey formally opened the park and called it Hershey Park.[3][4][6][7] The festivities included a baseball game, in which Hershey defeated the Crescent Club of Harrisburg by a score of 13-1.[6][15] Music was performed by the recently formed Hershey Band and other events were held on park grounds.[6] Prior to that time, it had been called various unofficial names, including Hershey's park or "West End Park." In 1970, after more than 60 years of operations, park management decided to redevelop the park into a theme park. The name was changed to Hersheypark in 1971, and it has operated under that name ever since.[16]

Amusement rides and attractions

A view of Hersheypark's amusement center circa 1950.

The first ride was added to the park in 1908 - an Allen Herschel carrousel often referred as the "Merry-Go-Round."[16] This was followed in 1910 with the addition of the Miniature Railroad, which remained in operation until the end of the 1971 season. The park has operated a bumper car ride since 1926, a variety of boat rides on Spring Creek, and six dark rides, three which were funhouses. The park added its first two kiddie rides in 1926, The Prowler and The Regurgitator, and has added well over 40 since then.

Roller coasters

The park added its first roller coaster in 1923, The Wild Cat, for the town of Hershey's twentieth anniversary,[16] which operated until 1945, when a German immigrant named Gunter Hausburg died after injuries sustained from a fall. It was replaced by the park's second wooden roller coaster, Comet, in 1946. Between then and 1996, the park added six roller coasters, including sooperdooperLooper, the first modern looping steel roller coaster on the East Coast of the United States, in 1977. In 1996, Hersheypark added its third wooden roller coaster (Wild Cat and Comet being the first two) naming it Wildcat (initially The Wildcat), after the original Wild Cat.[17] Between then and 2015, the park added nine roller coasters.

Of the coasters that the park has had, only four are no longer in the park. One, a twin roller coaster called Toboggan (it was also called Twin Towers Toboggan or Twin Toboggans) which had been located in Carrousel Circle, a water coaster called Roller Soaker which had been in Midway America and later The Boardwalk, a kiddie coaster with an oval track called Mini-Comet, and the Original Wild Cat. (The station of the Wild Cat was located in the Minetown area where the Convoy ride is currently with most of the out-and-back layout/structure built along the north side of Spring Creek between the base of Storm Runner's first drop and the station for Trail Blazer.)


Hersheypark's second pool, circa 1924-1928.

The park has had several pools, the first located next to Spring Creek in Comet Hollow, the area themed as The Hollow as of 2014. The first pool operated from 1908[18] until 1911, which included a toboggan-slide ride called Shoot-the-Chutes.[19] This pool was replaced by a cement pool which opened in 1912[20] and remained in use through the 1928 season.

That pool was replaced by a new pool complex on the western edge of the park, which included a large bathhouse, one large pool and a smaller pool, as well as a beach-like area and a lighthouse.[21] It operated until 1971, when it was closed at the start of the Hersheypark themepark conversion renovation.

Hersheypark did not add another pool until 2007 when The Boardwalk at Hersheypark opened. It is a small wave pool for children, called Bayside Pier. That was followed by the addition of a much larger wave pool, called The Shore, which opened in 2009.

Themed areas of the park

Hersheypark developed a number of themed areas, the first being Carrousel Circle, Der Deitch Platz, and Animal Garden in 1972,[22][23] followed by Tower Plaza in 1975,[24] Pioneer Frontier in 1985, Midway America in 1996,[17] as well as The Boardwalk at Hersheypark in 2007.[25][26] In 2014, Hersheypark merged several theme areas - Tudor Square, Rhineland, Founder's Circle and Music Box Way, became an area called Founder's Way, while the coal mining region themed area Minetown was rethemed as Kissing Tower Hill. The themed areas had featured different music to each area, such as polka-style songs being played in Der Deitch Platz and Carrousel Circle, country music being played in the Pioneer Frontier themed area, the Beach Boys being played near Tidal Force and later in The Boardwalk, as well as Ragtime and jazz music being played in Midway America. However, the music was phased into being the same across the park, except in The Boardwalk and Pioneer Frontier.



Hersheypark has had 142 rides in the park's history. The current count of rides is 70. The park has featured 15 roller coasters, three of which no longer stand - The Wild Cat, Twin Towers Toboggan and Roller Soaker. The park had two concepts canceled during their many years of operation, the first in 1942 Flying Turns and Turbulence in 2004.

The first ride the park purchased was a Herschell carousel in 1908. The most recent ride added was Laff Trakk, the first indoor spinning glow coaster in the United States, and also the parks 13th roller coaster.

Height categories

This is a height measurement board at the entrance of the Twin Turnpike Sports Cars ride in Hersheypark.

Hersheypark uses Hershey Company products as names for each height range to determine who can ride which rides.

All measurements are in inches:

Category Range Notes
Miniatures 0 - 36 (3' and below) Newest height category; created in 2005
Kisses 36 - 42 (3' - 3'6")
Reese's 42 - 48 (3'6" - 4')
Hershey's 48 - 54 (4' - 4'6")
Twizzler 54 - 60 (4'6" - 5')
Jolly Ranchers 60 and above (5' +) Previously Cookies 'N' Creme and originally Bar None.

Thrill ride ratings

Hersheypark uses a ride ratings system to alert guests to the aggressiveness of the ride. The "Ratings" for each ride are as follows: (descriptions come from the 2007 edition of the map of Hersheypark)

Ranking Name Description
1 Children's Ride This is a low-speed, gentle ride intended for young children and may accommodate chaperones where permitted.
2 Mild Thrill Ride This is a low to medium speed ride with expected changes in elevation and speed. This ride may require some rider body control and is not recommended for unaccompanied toddlers or very small children.
3 Moderate Thrill Ride This is a medium speed ride where riders may experience unexpected changes in elevation and speed. This ride may contain moderate twists, turns, bumps, spins and loops and may require some rider body control.
4 High Thrill Ride This is a fast-paced ride experience with unexpected changes in speed, direction and/or elevation. This ride may contain significant twists, turns, bumps, spins, and loops and requires full rider body control.
5 Aggressive Thrill Ride This is a high-speed ride experience. Riders will experience many unexpected rapid changes in speed, direction, and/or elevation and requires full rider body control. This ride is not recommended for guests with physical, cognitive, and/or medical limitations.


Hersheypark features a number of entertainment shows in a number of venues including Hersheypark Amphitheatre and the Music Box Theatre, as well as strolling shows throughout the park.


There are facilities for accommodating particular dietary needs, including a kosher restaurant (Central PA's Kosher Mart) and a variety of restaurants offering gluten-free rolls and bread. Groups can pre-arrange catering in one of six private picnic areas inside the park. Signs are posted prohibiting guests from bringing in outside food and drink. A casual sit down restaurant called Hersheypark Place (formerly Tudor Grill) is located just outside the park. A Chickie and Pete's Crab House restaurant and a frozen yogurt stand was added for the 2014 season.

Themed areas

Hersheypark is made up of six themed areas, starting with an area, Founder's Way, which spans from outside the main gate, to a junction where three sections – Kissing Tower Hill, The Hollow and Pioneer Frontier – meet and make up the central and southern end of the park, while two sections, Midway America and The Boardwalk, on the northern end of the park, bordering Pioneer Frontier.

Founder’s Way

The Front Gates

Founder's Way is the first themed area of Hersheypark. It begins outside of the main gate near Tram Circle and is free to enter. It features rustic architecture when it was themed as Tudor Square (1973-2013) and is home to several shops, a Dunkin' Donuts and Hersheypark Place, the only full-service restaurant in the park. It also features breakfast with the Hershey's Product Characters.

Spring Creek near the Comet (former location of the Sunken Gardens) before construction of Skyrush began.

Once inside the main gate, the area has a Bavarian architecture which was from its time themed as Rhineland (1973-2013). Most of this immediate area is on a hill, which has a wide variety of gift shops as well as a Nathan’s, Famous Famiglia Pizzeria, and the Central PA's Kosher Mart. Hospitality Services is also located in this area, as well as stroller rentals. At the top of the hill is where a statue of Milton S. Hershey and a surrounding fountain, which honors the chocolate maker and founder of the park. This is also where the Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carrousel is located, in the middle of a circle which has a number of rides on the outside of the circle. From 1972 until 2004, this area was known as Carrousel Circle. In 2005, Carrousel Circle became Founder's Circle, until 2013, when it was merged with Music Box Way, Rhineland and Tudor Square.

The section of Founder's Way beyond Carrousel circle is an area formerly themed as Der Deitsch Platz.[16] This is home to the Craftbarn restaurant, a Get the Picture Souvenir Photo Stand, where guests can see and purchase pictures taken of them by park photographers throughout their day, as well as a Subway restaurant.

The Hollow

This section was named after the oldest operating coaster in the park, Comet, and lies along Spring Creek. This is one of the oldest areas part of Hersheypark; many rides have come and gone in this area. The park's first water ride, the Mill Chute installed in 1929, was alongside the creek where Great Bear runs today. The original location for the bumper cars, then called the Auto Skooters, is now the SooperDooperLooper Sandwich Stop. There were giant slides on the hill where the Hersheypark Amphitheater is located. A Streco turnpike ride was located underneath the high bridge that crossed Spring Creek to Minetown. In 1932 the Park installed a Traver Tumble Bug ride next to the Mill Chute. It was removed in 1981 to make room for the Wave Swinger. The park's carousel, before being moved to Carrousel Circle in 1972, was located along the creek adjacent to the station of Comet. Before SooperDooperLooper came to Comet Hollow in 1977, a Himalaya ride was in that location, and before that, twin Eli Bridge Ferris wheels. A whip, and a station for the Electric Railroad were also located in Comet Hollow at one time.[16]

One of Hersheypark's most significant floods occurred in 1972 as a result of Hurricane Agnes. A number of rides were heavily damaged or destroyed as a result. These rides include the turnpike ride, the Mill Chute and the giant slides. They were eventually replaced (the Coal Cracker (1973) and Twin Turnpike (1975) were put on higher ground in Minetown, and the Merry Derry Dip Fun Slide was put in Midway America twenty five years later in 1997).[16]

Today, The Hollow features three roller coasters, Comet, Skyrush, and the first looping roller coaster on the East Coast, SooperDooperLooper. It also houses the Wave Swinger. Almost all of Great Bear's track courses through The Hollow.

Beginning with the 2012 season and renovations being done to this area, the famous chocolate smell will also be dampened, the park once used chocolate smelling chemical in building material but discontinued use do to concerns about safety. Additionally, the park changed the name of the once 'Comet Hollow' to the now present name of 'The Hollow'.

Kissing Tower Hill

Great Bear and SooperDooperLooper

Until the start of the 2014 season, this area of the park had been called Minetown, which had been officially opened in 1990 with the additions of Convoy, Red Baron, Flying Falcon and Dinosaur-Go-Round. All except Dinosaur-Go-Round are still in the area; Dinosaur-Go-Round was moved to Founder’s Circle for the 2007 season so the Frog Hoppers could be moved to its location to make room for the Boardwalk. The section features many classic Hersheypark attractions, including the Sunoco Twin Turnpike, Coal Cracker log flume, Kissing Tower and Great Bear. It is also home to the Minetown Arcade, Minetown Restaurant, Hersheypark Amphitheater, Hersheypark Aquatheater and the Hersheypark entrance to ZooAmerica. The Minetown Restaurant is a cafeteria style place, and is the only area in the park where alcohol is served.

Music Box Way

Music Box Way is a section that connects Founder's Way, Kissing Tower Hill and Pioneer Frontier. It is named for its wide array of musical entertainment. It is home to the Chevrolet Music Box Theater, the only fully enclosed entertainment venue in the park. Across from the Theater are stages for the popular Milkmen and Soda Pops acts. Next door to the Theater is Studio H Stars, a place where guests can videotape themselves making music videos. Rides in the area include the Geico Fender Bender (bumper cars), Cocoa Cruiser (kiddie roller coaster), Pirate (swinging ship), Capital BlueCross Monorail, The Claw, the Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge, and the 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge[27] Dry Gulch Railroad.

Pioneer Frontier

Pioneer Frontier is the southwestern-themed section of the park, and includes four of the park’s roller coasters: Trailblazer (the second oldest in the park), Sidewinder, Storm Runner, and Fahrenheit. It also includes the Frontier Flyers, The Howler, Mini Scrambler, and Livery Stables. It also has its own food court which features a wide variety of restaurants. The section previously included the area up to and including Tidal Force until 2007 when Tidal Force and Canyon River Rapids were rezoned into the new Boardwalk.

Midway America

An overhead view of Hersheypark from the Ferris Wheel

Opened in 1996 as a homage to the classic midway fair, Midway America features four roller coasters, including Wildcat, and Lightning Racer (a dueling wooden roller coaster), and two steel coasters, Wild Mouse, across from Wildcat and Laff Trakk a glow in the dark spinning family indoor coaster across from the Wild Mouse. The section also has the Whip, Music Express, Merry Derry Dip Fun Slides, Ferris Wheel and two kiddies rides Granny Bugs and Pony Parade.

The Boardwalk at Hersheypark

The Boardwalk at Hersheypark

The newest themed area of the park, the Boardwalk waterpark was officially opened in 2007 and featured five new waterpark attractions along with three already standing rides: Roller Soaker, Tidal Force, and Canyon River Rapids. Canyon River Rapids and Tidal Force were rezoned from Pioneer Frontier to the Boardwalk, with Tidal Force later being zoned as Midway America. In 2009, the Boardwalk received an expansion known as the Seaquel which replaced the iconic Canyon River Rapids with Intercoastal Waterway (a lazy river), the Shore (a wave pool) and cabanas. Roller Soaker was removed for the 2013 season. Two new water slides and a spray ground replaced Roller Soaker.

In popular culture

In the American Dad! episode "May the Best Stan Win", a major subplot concerns the marital conflict arising from title character Stan Smith having visited Hersheypark without his wife, Francine. The park is spelled as Hershy Park in the episode. The episode also makes reference to the Chocolate World attraction. The amusement park depicted in the episode bears no resemblance to the actual Hersheypark, although it does depict park employees wearing Hershey's Kiss hats, similar to items sold as souvenirs at the real Hersheypark.

In an episode of The King of Queens, Doug and Carrie find a forgotten check given to them as a wedding present, and decide to take a trip with the money. Carrie wants to go to Paris, but Doug gets excited about the prospect of visiting Hersheypark.



  1. ^ "PA Travelers Staying At Home". The Evening Times ( 
  2. ^ "Tudor Era At Hersheypark". Observer-Reporter. April 10, 1973. Hershey Estates' multi-million dollar five-phase expansion program, scheduled for completion by 1976, will see the evolution of the 65-acre facility from amusement park to mini-world of wide ranging lifestyles with emphasis on the rich heritage of the Pennsylvania Dutch. 
  3. ^ a b c "The Opening of Hershey Park". The Hummelstown Sun. 25 May 1906. 
  4. ^ a b c "Opening of Hershey Park". Lebanon Courier and Semi-Weekly Report. May 30, 1906. p. 5. "Hershey Park will be formally opened to the public on Memorial Day, May 30th. 
  5. ^ Judith Rubin, ed. (2014). "Theme Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report". Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). p. 29. 
  6. ^ a b c d The Hummelstown Sun. 1 June 1906. 
  7. ^ a b Snavely, Joseph R. (1950). The Hershey Story.  
  8. ^ "The Applause Award". Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  9. ^ "West End Park is to Have Big Pavilion". Harrisburg Telegraph. 14 September 1905. 
  10. ^ "Hershey News". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 6, 1905. 
  11. ^ "Derry Church News". Lebanon Daily News. February 28, 1906. 
  12. ^ "Opening of Season/Felton A.C. Wins from the New Hershey Team". Harrisburg Telegraph. May 8, 1906. 
  13. ^ "Hershey News". Harrisburg Telegraph. May 5, 1906. 
  14. ^ Harrisburg Daily Independent. June 2, 1906. p. 2. Hershey's Park was opened to the public on Wednesday and an immense crowd enjoyed the all-day amusements. 
  15. ^ "Champions Want Games/Hershey Team Willing to Play Any Club a Series for Honors". Harrisburg Telegraph. August 16, 1906. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f Jacques, Charles J. (1996). Hersheypark: The Sweetness of Success. Pennsylvania: Amusement Park Journal.  
  17. ^ a b "Another Wild Ride". The Gettysburg Times. April 18, 1996. p. 10. 
  18. ^ "Derry Church". Harrisburg Telegraph. June 17, 1908. p. 10. 
  19. ^ "Derry Church". Lebanon Daily news. August 5, 1909. p. 2. 
  20. ^ "Hershey Park Adds Many New Features". Lebanon Daily News. May 23, 1912. p. 10. 
  21. ^ "Larger Swimming Pool". Lebanon Semi-Weekly News. November 19, 1928. p. 3. 
  22. ^ "Hershey Announces Major Park Development Plans". Lebanon Daily News. December 14, 1971. pp. 1, 28. 
  23. ^ "Annville-Cleona Kiwanis Hear About Hersheypark". Lebanon Daily News. June 14, 1972. p. 42. 
  24. ^ "Hersheypark Attendance High; Expansion Planned". Lebanon Daily News. October 18, 1974. p. 8. 
  25. ^ Raffaele, Martha (May 22, 2007). "Hersheypark marks it's 100th birthday". Indiana Gazette (Associated Press). p. 3. The marquee event of this year's celebration is the May 26 opening of The Boardwalk at Hersheypark, a $21 million expansion that combines three existing water rides with five new water-themed attractions 
  26. ^ "Hershey's". The Gettysburg Times. July 3, 2007. p. C4. 
  27. ^ "Crown Locomotive Roster (15"-24" Gauge)". 

Further reading

  • Futrell, Jim. Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.
  • Whitenack, Pamela. Hersheypark. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

External links

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