Tuesday, December 30, 2014

HersheyPark's Christmas Candylane - Here's What You Need To Know

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that my kids go to HersheyPark every summer or else they moan and whine and complain that "they're childhood is RUINED" – they love the park THAT much! (Learn more about our yearly pilgrimage and what you need to know here). But for the first time after Christmas, we decided to combine a visit to Hershey with a weekend in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Let me tell you about our trip to “The Sweetest Place On Earth.”

Noel! At HersheyPark Candy Lane

The park tends to be understandably crowded in the Summer, with tons of rides and walking.  Make no mistake - this is a big venue.  The terrain is hilly, which makes it difficult if you're pushing a stroller or the weather is 90+ degrees. 

During the Winter, it's far more manageable, since not all areas of the park are open.

At Christmas, about 30 rides are running (weather depending) and the pace is much less frenzied, which as a parent, made it more enjoyable for me. Because we'd shown the kids the Hershey website, they knew that many of their summer favorites would not be running, but there were still enough thrill rides to keep the 14-year-old and his younger sister (9) happy. In fact, the park was so calm, they were able to do many rides two or three times without a large wait! They even got to try some that are impossible (Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge, for example) to do during the Summer because of the long, long lines.

There were two shows running while we were there; we opted to skip A Music Box Christmas, honestly, because we were having so much fun, but since I LOVE Christmas lights, did see the Noel! Light Show. The show contains hundreds of lights in the trees, on bridges, and a walkway lighting up to the beat of Christmas carols. The show lasted about 15 minutes or so and was...okay. If you're at the park and it's freezing, walk through it and don't stand there for the full performance. Oh, and the best place to see it is from the overhead bridge.

Santa wasn't there, since it was after Christmas, but his reindeer were and are not to be missed. I never realized that reindeer are actually quite small, but they were adorable and their antlers are incredibly intricate.  In chatting with the handlers, you can tell that these are animals that are cared for with affection. Apparently Santa will be coming back for his team after he, and they, rest a bit. 

There's also ice skating on a synthetic surface. The surface isn't very big, so be forewarned if your kids are experts because they WILL get bored, however, if your children have never skated before, this might be a great introduction.

Some restaurants are open with many offering hot chocolate and coffee for around $7 with refills at, I believe, $2. We opted not to buy any beverages since it wasn't that cold, plus the park does permit you to bring one bottle of water in per person.

The Hershey characters walk around and, as with the rest of the park, the staff is quite friendly. 

As I've said before, this is one of the CLEANEST amusement parks you will go to and although they do, disgustingly, permit smoking in areas of the park (WHEN will they completely ban it!), Hershey is one of the best. Do NOT expect major discounts on Hershey products or you will be sorely disappointed. Trust me: save your money and buy the products at home where they will be cheaper.

Hershey also offers, for an additional fee, the Sweet Lights Drive-Through Spectacular. Since money is tight, we opted not to do that.

One of the displays from HersheyPark's Christmas Candylane - WHEN is this park going to ban smoking!

If you can make it to HersheyPark's Christmas Candylane for a day, go because, honestly, it's not worth a 2-day pass. If it's too far to justify a one-day trip, then plan on a weekend; do the park, go to ChocolateWorld, and then investigate some of the other attractions in the area. The AACA Car Museum is a blast as is The Turkey Hill Experience where you can learn how ice cream and iced tea are made by that company – the unlimited samples are worth the visit alone!

I'm happy we visited “the Sweetest Place On Earth” as a post-Christmas vacation. The kids had fun and my husband and I found it enjoyable, too. Many times when we visit amusement parks, we're basically just the kids' chaperones while they flit from ride to ride. On this visit, because of the pace and lack of crowds, we were able to talk and bond.

If you can, visit HersheyPark Christmas Candylane. And enjoy some sweet time with YOUR family!

Some of the lights in the trees at HersheyPark - they make it magical at night!

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