Christmas Candylane at Hershey Park
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Hershey Park at Christmas
Hershey, Pennsylvania, is “the sweetest place on earth” at any time of the year, but at Christmastime it is also the most magical place. Hershey really knows how to mix childhood excitement for candy and childhood excitement for Christmas and synergistically make it spectacular.
Hershey is known most as the location of Hersheypark, an amusement park. It is a real draw for people in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, its( a great day trip from Washington D.C.) and has recently undergone a $150 million dollar renovation! That alone makes Hershey worth visiting, but there is even more to do in Hershey at Christmas. Read on to find out more!
Hershey holds their Hersheypark Christmas Candylane in mid November through December. It takes an ordinarily charming park and turns it into a fantasy land. Over 4 million lights are wrapped around trees, rides and buildings, and they even have a light show choreographed to Christmas music.
Yes it can sometimes be cold, but as long as you are prepared with your best winter gear you will be very comfortable. Plus, it’s a small price to pay for such a jolly experience.
Many, but not all, rides are open during Christmas Candylane at Hershey Park. The good news is that all the rides in the kiddie area are open, so your young ones will be very well entertained. Six roller coasters are open for adults or the really brave young ones. Family favorites like the Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl, the Swings and more are also open. Forty five rides are open and you can check to see if your favorite one is open here. You will be able to spend hours at Hersheypark with kids of all ages.
We always catch the Christmas show at Hersheypark. There is a 45 minute song and dance show performed multiple times a day. I always find that their production values are better than many theme parks, and we always thoroughly enjoy it. We also enjoy the chance to warm up in the indoor theater!
Visit the Reindeer
Santa’s reindeer visit Hersheypark every year for Christmas Candylane. You can visit them all including Rudolph. There are many of Santa’s helpers around to answer questions about the reindeer and teach you some new facts about what reindeer eat and what they like to do to relax.
Zoo America is a small zoo within Hersheypark that is included in your Christmas Candylane admission. There are lots of animals to see and learn about including bears, lizards, birds, snakes, alligators, deer, fox, and even a roadrunner. There are some petting stations for kids to be able to interact with the animals as well.
Hershey Chocolate World
Hershey Chocolate World is part factory, part store, part movie theater and a whole lot of fun! The building houses all kinds of chocolate experiences for all ages of visitors.
Entrance is free to get into Chocolate World and to ride the chocolate ride. There are other experiences inside Chocolate World that charge an entrance fee. However, there is a discount when you buy multiple entrances at one time. Make sure you buy any experiences online before going in order to get the times that work best for you and to guarantee availability. Click here for tickets.
This ride takes you around an imaginary factory and teaches you about processing chocolate from cacao to a Hershey bar. The ride is individual cars that go around on a track. It isn’t particularly fast, so even timid kids will be comfortable on it. My kids rode it 5-6 times on our last visit, mainly to get the free mini Hershey Chocolate bar at the end!
If you only pay for entrance to one thing in Chocolate World, it should be this one! The 4D movie is a mystery movie centered in the Hershey factory where you become part of the show. You will help the detective solve the mystery. The movie itself is very basic but the 4D is what makes it fabulous. There are times when it rains, smells like chocolate and other fun surprises.
Chocolate Taste Test
This was a new experience for us this last year and one that was more fun than expected. For the chocolate taste test you are ushered into a room with long tables and chairs. At each seating spot there’s a bag of chocolate and a placemat. You are then treated to an interactive demonstration about how chocolate is made. Throughout the presentation you are directed to try different chocolates and note the different flavors in each one. The results of everyone in the room are tallied and then displayed. It was amazing to see that people will find different flavor notes like sweet, fruity, caramel, or savory in the exact same chocolate.
This would not be a great choice for very small kids, but kids 8 and up will enjoy it.
Make Your Own Candy Bar
Making your own candy bar is harder than it looks, but it is super fun trying. Here you are able to pick out different ingredients to go in your candy bar, make your own label, and watch your new creation be made on a conveyer belt. The kids always make the strangest combinations of flavors, but happily eat them anyway. I find that even my creation is never as good as I want it to be, but it is fun to try again and again.
Hershy Sweet Lights
Just beyond Hersheypark and Chocolate World is a large field filled with Christmas lights and Christmas displays. It is a drive-through experience that will take you through 2 miles of lights. You will recieve 2 pair of snowflake glasses when you enter Sweet Lights and when you put them on they make a cool snowflake effect. We tune our radio to the station that syncs with the lights and set off on a festive ride.
The kids really enjoy looking for the 12 days of Christmas lights and the animated lights. Grab a cup of hot chocolate from your hotel and make an evening of it!
Price is $20 per vehicle on weekdays and $27 on weekends so pile everyone in one car!
Hershey Story Museum
We all enjoyed this museum much more than we thought we would. The museum examines the life of Milton Hershey as a chocolate pioneer. You will see original chocolate machines, original commercials, some of Hershey’s biggest flops, and lots of amazing chocolate. In addition you will learn about how Hershey mechanized his factories and promoted charitable work with his wealth.
Although this isn’t super Christmassy, we were able to talk to our kids about the responsibility of giving back when you have been given a lot. That tied into our Christmas beliefs really well!
Tip: If you happen to visit on New Year’s Eve, like we have before, the museum offers kids the opportunity to count down to “midnight” at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. They have Hershey characters, noise makers and bubble wrap to stomp.
Plan on 2 hours.
The Spa at the Hotel Hershey
Does a cocoa massage sound heavenly? How about a peppermint facial? The services at the spa range from traditional to unusual and festive. It’s a great way to relax during the busy holiday season. For their current offerings visit their website.
Turkey Hill Experience
Although this is not technically in Hershey, it is fairly close and another fabulous attraction. If you have never had Turkey Hill Ice Cream you are really missing out. In the East it is a regular grocery store staple, and we always have a few cartons of the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor in our freezer.
The Turkery Hill experience is similar to the Hershey Chocolate World for many reasons. They are both simulated factories; they both give lots of free samples; and they both offer fun experiences centered around their brand. At the Turkey Hill experience you learn tons about how ice cream is made and play fun games in the museum to learn where Turkey Hill gets their milk, how it is pasteurized, and how they come up with their flavor combinations. They have many interactive displays. You can milk a cow, play a video game like space invaders where you defeat bacteria in milk, design your own ice cream flavor, and sit in a milk truck. There is also a great scoop shop in the museum that serves unlimited free samples of Turkey Hill.
The Taste Lab at Turkey Hill
We also opted to do the Taste Lab. There’s an extra fee for this experience, but in my opinion well worth the money. You will sit in a lab and learn about what makes good ice cream flavors, how taste-testing works and how to make your own flavor.
We felt like mad scientist adding hard and soft mix-ins and using droppers of highly concentrated flavors. The kids just loaded theirs with every type of candy and lots and lots of hot fudge! I made a caramel raspberry swirl and my husband made an extreme chocolate.
Plan on 2-3 hours at Turkey Hill.
Where to find discounts for Hersheypark
On the Hersheypark website
Check the official website starting in late October. They often run a buy two get one free to Christmas Candylane, or they offer a combo ticket with Sweet Lights. Be aware, that these deal are normally gone by mid to late November.
Giant Grocery Store
The local Giant grocery store often sells discount tickets to Christmas Candylane at Hershey Park. The discount for 2018 was $4 off per ticket. We were able to pick them up at customer service in mid December.
Hershey Park Hours
Christmas Candylane is open starting November 27th 2019 through December 31st 2019.
Hours from November 27th – December 22nd are:
- Monday -Thursday hours are 5 pm to 9 pm
- Friday hours are 5 pm to 10 pm.
- Saturday the park is open between 12 pm and 10 pm.
- Sunday hours are 12 pm -9 pm.
The 22nd-31st have extended hours and can be found at www.hersheypark.com
We hope you enjoy Christmas Candylane at Hershey Park as much as our family does. It is a really special experience that the entire family enjoys.
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