10 Hersheypark Tips from a First-Time Visitor
I visited Hersheypark for the first time last week. Prior to visiting, I received some tips and recommendations from friends and Coaster101 readers. These pointers were extremely helpful as I had not done as much research beforehand (aside from the park’s coaster offerings, of course).
I’ve already ranked Hersheypark’s 14 coasters, and I also wanted to share some Hersheypark tips that I compiled following my inaugural visit to the park. Below, you’ll find 10 Hersheypark tips that you need to know before you go.
2018 UPDATE: Another of the C101 writing team made his first ever visit to Hersheypark in 2018. Along with the 10 tips below, read 6 more Hersheypark tips that Eric recommends!
1. Take advantage of Hersheypark’s Preview Plan.
Note: verify with the park (online or over the phone) that this offer is still available before your visit.
I heard references to a free “preview” of the park, but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, even after seeing the graphic below on the park’s website:
Essentially, you are able to get a free “preview” of Hersheypark the night before your full-day visit. All you have to do is show your ticket the night prior to your visit. How they know you’ll actually be visiting the next day, I’m not sure. The woman at the ticket window simply looked at my mobile ticket and waved me along.
On the day of your “preview,” you can enter the park 2-3 hours before the park closes. I was able to ride six of the park’s coasters in the two hours I spent at the park. While you’ll want to avoid Laff Trakk as it will likely still have a lengthy line, popular coasters such as Skyrush, Storm Runner, Fahrenheit and Great Bear should have shorter waits (aside from super crowded days).
If your schedule permits, I highly recommend you take advantage of these 2-3 free hours at Hersheypark.
2. Don’t waste your money on a Hersheypark Fast Track Pass (but there are exceptions).
I almost spent $75 on a Fast Track pass, Hersheypark’s skip-the-line upgrade. With 14 coasters to ride on a Friday in late June, I thought that was my only hope of riding all 14. But I would have been flushing $75 down the toilet.
Not only did most of the rides have little-to-no wait, the Fast Track entrances were set farther back from the station than I expected. Had the lines been long, I still would have had to wait several trains’ worth before boarding.
Plus, the $75 (more or less, depending on the day you visit) only earns you one line skip per ride. The amount you’ll spend simply isn’t worth it.
As of this posting, the following coasters were available for Fast Track: Laff Trakk, Skyrush, Storm Runner, Great Bear, Sooper Dooper Looper, Fahrenheit, Comet, Sidewinder, Lightning Racer, Wildcat and Wild Mouse.
However, if you have a very short amount of time at the park, or it’s a major holiday weekend, the Fast Track pass may be worth the investment. You can purchase it online (quantities are limited) here.
3. Check the Hersheypark website for last-minute deals before you purchase tickets.
I nearly lost out on this deal had I not checked Hersheypark.com a couple of days prior to our visit: through July 13, 2017, the park is offering a “buy two tickets, get one free” deal. This saved my family nearly $65.
The only caveat: the tickets must be purchased online (which you should do anyway to save time at the gate).
This advice goes for any park: check the website before you go to save some dough.
4. Download the Hersheypark app (and use it on the park’s free Wi-Fi).
I’m always skeptical about park apps. Some are great, others…not so much. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the reliability and features included in Hersheypark’s mobile app, available for both iOS and Android.
The app features an interactive park map, all the ride and attraction listings and even live wait times (I can’t comment on the accuracy of the wait time listings as the lines were so short during my visit).
As someone unfamiliar with Hersheypark, the park map (with location tracking) helped me navigate through the uncharted territory.
And since Hersheypark offers free Wi-Fi, you won’t have to worry about using up all your data while at the park.
5. Get to the park early, and ride Laff Trakk first.
Laff Trakk’s queue line fills up FAST. I was at the park’s “rope drop” and ran straight to Laff Trakk, the park’s 2015 indoor spinning coaster.
While most of the people at said rope drop were headed to the Boardwalk water park to claim their lounge chairs for the day, by the time my car returned to the station, the coaster already had a considerable line.
As tempting as Skyrush may be, make Laff Trak first on your Hersheypark to-ride list.
6. …and then continue your coaster quest at the back of the park.
As soon as you’re done riding Laff Trak, shift your focus to the other coasters in that back section of the park. These include Wild Mouse (which should come second due to its low capacity), Wildcat, Lightning Racer (both tracks), Fahrenheit and perhaps even Sidewinder.
Given its also relatively low capacity, you may choose to ride Fahrenheit before Wild Mouse, but it will require some backtracking.
High capacity rides like Trailblazer, Great Bear and Skyrush can wait until later in the day, which brings me to my next tip:
7. Save Skyrush for the afternoon.
While Skyrush may not have the highest capacity of Hersheypark roller coasters, its position near the front of the park will attract many guests when the park opens.
After those guests take their rides on Skyrush and the nearby coasters (Comet, Sooper Dooper Looper and Great Bear), they will migrate toward the back of the park. And if you follow tip #6, you will have already ridden the coasters in that area once they arrive.
So while Skyrush’s bright yellow track may be enticing, hold off on riding it until later in the day when the lines will likely be shorter. On some days, you may have no wait at all.
8. See Skyrush from “off the beaten path.”
The view of Skyrush from the midway is limited. You’ll only see its towering 20-story lift and the brake run leading to the station.
Lucky for us, Hersheypark openeed a path that parallels and runs under Skyrush’s twisted layout. The walkway’s two entrances are rather inconspicuous and easily missed, so you won’t have to worry about dodging hoards of guests. The one circled below is located just beyond the Skyrush station.
The path begins not far from the park entrance, so you can also use it as a less crowded route to or from the turnstiles.
Below are some photos you’ll be able to take from the path:
It’s a very peaceful walk, even with Skyrush trains roaring overhead.
9. Don’t eat at Chick-fil-A.
Unless you’ve never been to Chick-fil-A (or have none near you), I recommend trying some of the park’s other dining options, especially since waiting in a long Chick-fil-A line can easily eat up a chunk of your day.
When we went to eat lunch, the line had spilled onto the midway, so we decided to try something else. I asked for your recommendations on Twitter:
Hersheypark lunch recommendations…and GO!
— Coaster101.com (@Coaster101) June 30, 2017
And one of those recommendations was to try Chickie’s & Pete’s:
The home of “World Famous Crabfries” is located in the Pioneer Frontier food court, which also offers Moe’s and Subway. Yes, those are all chains, too. But I’ve never had Chickie’s & Pete’s, so I thought it wasn’t as bad as going to Chick-fil-A.
I ordered the BBQ burger, which was delicious — messy, but one of the best burgers I’ve had at an amusement park. The Crabfries were seasoned perfectly and came with a free side of cheese dip: two of my favorite things.
While I had an original chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A on my mind, I’m glad we branched out and tried something new. I recommend you do the same.
Do you have any additional Hersheypark dining recommendations? “Dish” in the comments section below.
10. If you can, spend two or three days in Hershey.
While I was able to ride all 14 of Hersheypark’s roller coasters, I didn’t have time for:
- the water rides
- most of the park’s flat rides
- Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge interactive dark ride
- the Boardwalk (no loss there as I’m not much of a waterpark fan)
- Chocolate World (I am a, however, a fan of chocolate)
- the new-for-2017 Triple Tower (thanks to a late afternoon thunderstorm)
And this was a day with relatively short lines. I could easily have spent another day at the park alone.
There is so much to do in Hershey that I highly recommend you extend your visit at least an extra day. At the time of this posting, Hersheypark was offering a $39 “consecutive day” pass, while a $170 season pass was less than the price of three days’ worth of admission tickets.
Bonus tip: stay at a Hershey resort for extra perks.
A reader recommended this great tip on Facebook: stay at a Hershey resort for early access to the park and other benefits
As we stayed off-site, I was unaware of these perks of staying at one of the three Hershey resorts, including The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge and the Hersheypark Camping Resort.
These benefits include:
- One-hour early access to the park to ride select attractions (only on select dates, check the Hersheypark website before you go)
- Complimentary front-gate shuttle service
- Discounted Hersheypark tickets
To learn more, visit the resort benefits page on Hersheypark’s website.
For more tips check out our 2018 addendum from another first time visit by one of our writers. Also, don’t forget to check out my ranking of Hersheypark’s 14 coasters. And see more photos from our day at Hersheypark on Facebook.
Do you have any Hersheypark tips? Share them in the comments section below.