How sweet it is..

The sweetest park with the sweetest people

By: Lauren Weaver

On June 26-27th, members of IAAPA were hosted by the great Hersheypark, located in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The 2-day event started on Sunday evening at the Hershey Museum. It was great to see so many familiar faces.

It was also wonderful to meet many Young Professionals and Interns of Hersheypark at the opening reception. You are the future of our industry!

The next morning we started with breakfast where we heard from Hersheypark president, John Long. He spoke about the new additions the park has made over the last couple of years, and a bit about what’s to come.  Then we were off to tour the park! The new entrance and expansion area is really quite breathtaking.

Hershey’s Chocolatetown is a new region at Hersheypark where guests can eat, play, shop, and gather year-round - with everything from a new arrival experience and coaster to more than 5 dining options and retail.

The goal was to create a seamless passageway for guests to the destination between Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, owned by The Hershey Company, and the park’s new Hershey’s Chocolatetown development. “A year-round destination for chocolate lovers seeking fun and unique experiences in Hershey."

Several aspects of Hershey’s Chocolatetown can be enjoyed year-round without a ticket to Hersheypark, such as the full-service themed restaurant, ice cream parlor, confectionery, and retail location. The remaining elements of Hershey’s Chocolatetown (inside the new front entrance) will be included in the Hersheypark admission price.

At the gate, you will notice a new security process that sends each visitor through a metal detector and scanner, which provides a glimpse inside purses and bags. Previously, bags were scanned by hand.  It was great to see the advancement of technology, and meet someone from the Evolv team (responsible for the new security system) at the event.

I also enjoyed seeing the entryway of Hershey characters and corresponding colored wall that designated the ride height requirements.

Upon entering the park, you can’t help but marvel at the new statement piece – the Candymonium coaster, by B&M.  Let me tell you – it is worth the ride!

We passed by Sally’s Cupfusion interactive dark ride on the way to the waterpark.  It was a drizzly day, so people were lining up for the indoor dark ride!  Of course I had to say hello to my girl, Commander Cup!  -- more on her later!

From there, we were given a tour of the waterpark and cabanas.  Everyone was impressed by the lifeguards and training routine provided by Ellis and Associates.  It was a hot and muggy day; I'm amazed that no one from our group ended up in the lazy river!

Afterward we walked through the park, heading to the recently renovated “Jolly Rancher” section.  Music bumping, colors popping – the area is pumping with activity.  Jolly Rancher Remix is a reimagined boomerang roller coaster and Mix’d Flavored By Jolly Rancher all-new family ride by Zamperla. The rides feature a distinctive color palette of bright green, pink, purple, blue and red, representing the Jolly Rancher candy flavors.

It was a special treat to hear about the new retro-fit from Ryan Cihak, Attractions Area Manager at Hersheypark, and friend of Sally’s from our time working on the Reese’s Cupfusion dark ride.

And speaking of Cupfusion… it was time to dark ride it!

Great to see a full queue and people enjoying the queue experience.  The comedic videos featuring Commander Cup and Agent 55 had everyone giggling. In line guests learn the backstory of the attraction, the characters, their mission – all of which help pass the time.  I heard one mom explaining the “League of Misfit Candy” to her son, reading each tongue-in-cheek characteristic of the villains.  (*characters and storyline designed by Raven Sun Creative).

It was really great to see guests loving the attraction.  Some people really had a competitive spirit!  Also cool to see our ride system – one of the only duel-dispatch dark rides by Sally.

Finally – our time to ride! You know what they say… a team that plays together, stays together!  😊  

… even if one team member smokes the other in an all-out Cupfusion competition.  Sorry, not sorry…

After working up an appetite, we headed to the new Chocolatier Restaurant.  Inspired by chocolate and rides, the restaurant pays homage to Milton Hershey, the original Chocolatier and founder of Hersheypark, as well as the rides in the park.

Reese’s Cupfusion dark ride even has a specialty cocktail on the menu!  How sweet is that?!

We spent the afternoon walking the park.  It really is special here.  Like a piece of Americana.  Good clean fun, quality rides, super nice people, and of course, delicious sweet treats waiting around every corner.  Did I mention our dark ride also has a themed milk shake???

Mid afternoon we met at the entrance of Zoo America for a tour.  Of my many times I’ve been to the park, I had never been to the zoo!

We enjoyed seeing animals of all shapes and sizes.  The grey wolf, loving the grass and sunshine.

A roadrunner scurried around the indoor desert.

And my favorite – a chuckwalla, a flat-bodied lizard that I became instant best friends with.

Afterwards there was a lovely reception at Great Bear Catering where we spent time networking with members old and new.  The food was good, the people were great, and the desserts were in numbers!

But we couldn’t end the evening there.  Oh no.  This group has a competitive spirit about them.  So we were off to ride Reese’s Cupfusion a few more times!

All in all, it was a truly wonderful trip and I can’t wait to get back to Hersheypark one day soon.