Visiting Hersheypark has been on our families list for a few years. So when my son suggested a trip to Hersheypark for his birthday, I jumped at the opportunity to check our Hersheypark and avoid planning a birthday party. Birthday parties are 3 hours of fun but they are also expensive, so I was thrilled that rather than spend our money on 3 hours standing around a kids gym, eating cold pizza and watching kids fight over who gets to sit next to the birthday boy we were going to go away for a weekend at Hersheypark.
Plan a Hersheypark Vacation instead of a Birthday Party
Located about 2 hours from Philadelphia and about 3 hours from Southern New Jersey, Hersheypark is a great place for kids of all ages to celebrate their birthday. Since this trip was taking place instead of a birthday party we decided that we wanted to immerse ourselves in the Hershey experience and since chocolate is there game, I had no problem getting the family on board. To add to the fun of our trip we invited along our friend Jessica, from Mommy University, and her family to celebrate with us and show us around since they are Hersheypark pros.
The Hershey Lodge
Whenever I travel I love to stay on property, so that I can experience everything that the park has to offer. I often find that staying at a great hotel is half the fun and can come with added benefits. That was certainly true on this trip. Hershey Lodge is the perfect place for kids to have fun.
When we arrived I was immediately taken by the beautiful lobby and large fireplace. The lobby is truly the heart of this hotel and the type of place you just want to hang out and gather. We quickly realized that there was no reason to leave the Lodge that day because there was so much to do. We visited in early December and the lobby was full of holiday activities. Hershey Lodge also offers kids check-in and character visits on select nights.
We then visited Water Works, Hershey Lodges indoor waterpark open only to guests of the Lodge. Water Works is just the right size where parents can get in on the fun or sit on the side with a drink and watch the kids play. There are plenty of lifeguards, 2 waterslides and lots of places to swim and splash. The kids could have easily stayed all day.
We spent the rest of our evening in the lobby. We dined at Fire and Grain. If you are visiting during a busy time of year, you will definitely want to make reservations for dinner. If you can’t get a reservation, mention that you just want to do Happy Hour. This got us a table quickly and we enjoyed half-priced drinks and appetizers. The cheese plate, scallops and mussels were all a hit.
It was nice to sit at the lobby bar and enjoy a drink while the kids waited for Santa and visited with Hersheypark characters. Santa was at the Hershey Lodge to light the Christmas tree and meet guests.
Hersheypark Place – Character Breakfast
Our first day was so much fun that I found it hard to believe that we could top it. I was quickly proven wrong. We got up early for breakfast at Hersheypark Place. Located at the entrance to Hersheypark it’s easy to overlook Hersheypark Place but you won’t want to miss it. The breakfast was good but the entertainment was the real highlight. Our breakfast featured Santa, Mrs. Claus, 2 Elves and a musician along with Hershey characters. On non-holiday weekends the breakfast features live music and Hersheypark characters. This breakfast was definitely a highlight of our trip.
Since the park did not open till noon we decided to visit Chocolate World. Chocolate World has interactive activities and a ride showing you the story of how Hershey’s chocolate is made. It has a food court and a gigantic gift shop which is your best place to find all things, Hershey.
Then it was time to visit Hersheypark. We got lucky and it was a really mild day for December and the park wasn’t too crowded. I liked how easy it was to get around the park and that while many of the rollercoasters were closed there was still plenty of other rides. I was really happy that Hersheypark offers a variety of rides for kids of all heights. We didn’t have to spend much time worrying about who could ride what.
Jackson, John and I rode the Laff Trakk, this was Jack’s first rollercoaster of this kind and he loved it, it is unlike any other coaster I’ve been on and it’s a fun, fast, whirling ride. Jessica said riding the Kissing Tower at sunset was a Hersheypark must do and I have to agree the view from the top was beautiful. John and Jess rode the Hershey’s Tower, the tallest of the Triple Towers which shoots you high into the air and drops you, I was happy watching them with my feet firmly on the ground.
For our last night, we had dinner at the Bears Den. It’s a sports-themed restaurant and was the perfect place to watch Sunday Night Football. The food was also really good. I had a grilled cheese with pulled pork and mac and cheese, I might have dreamed about it for days later.
Hersheypark is a very manageable theme park. Unlike some of the bigger parks, at Hersheypark, you can just show up and enjoy yourself. I didn’t feel stressed to see it all, I didn’t feel like we were missing something by enjoying the Hershey Lodge as opposed to being in the theme park the night before.
Our time at Hersheypark was so much fun that my son never mentioned missing having a party. As we packed up to leave he suggested that we make Hersheypark a tradition for his birthday and I have to agree. I would definitely rather spend the money vacationing as a family rather than on a party that is over in under 3 hours.
We were provided with passes to Hersheypark and a media rate for Hershey Lodge. All thoughts and opinions are my own.