We started this morning with the Trolley Tour, which (as we found out) sells out quickly during the summer months. Turns out hoards of families with lots of kids descend upon Hershey, Pennsylvania during summer vacation. Maybe that’s why the first time we came was in October – after the rush was over and we could enjoy “The Sweetest Place on Earth” under more relaxed circumstances. Not that this trip in August 2016 was like Disney World on spring break, but it was very busy. They have added lots of activities since our last visit over 10 years ago and each additional activity, with the exception of the Chocolate Tour, requires a ticket.
The top photo above indicates the fun things to do at Chocolate World, the most anticipated portion of our trip to Hershey, PA. Tickets were more expensive than we expected, but we opted for the full experience (Adventure 1) anyway, and had a delightful day! That package gave us a slight discount over buying each separately plus free parking for the day. You can park for a short time for free, so if you forget someone on your list back home, you can always run in and grab another pound or two of Reese’s peanut butter cups and be on your way quickly.
There’s a food court with some healthier options and lots of variety for even the pickiest eaters in your group, so you don’t have to leave to get lunch, leaving more time for fun. There is also a bakery with some beautifully decorated (and delicious) cupcakes and other delectable creations, a photo studio just in case you haven’t already spent enough and gift shops galore, with lots of chocolate at discounted prices so you can stock up. One more heads’ up: don’t leave your chocolate in the hot car if you stop for dinner on your way back to your lodging. If you think you are coming to Hershey as a relatively cheap vacation for the fam, think again. It adds up pretty quickly. But it was a blast!
First up was the Trolley Tour, which gave a great history of Milton Hershey, his bankruptcies before making it big and his generosity to his employees and to orphaned children in the area.
“The M.S. Hershey Foundation is committed to keeping Milton S. Hershey’s vision alive.
Milton Hershey didn’t just build a town. He built a community. As a non-profit foundation dedicated to cultural and educational enrichment, The M.S. Hershey Foundation operates The Hershey Story, Hershey Gardens, Hershey Theatre and Hershey Community Archives. Through countless volunteers and generous contributions, the Foundation continues to enhance the community he built.” – Learn More about the M.S. Hershey Foundation.
There are several tours from which to choose, and ours gave us a great tour of the city, including a drive-by of Milton Hershey’s house – otherwise not available for viewing – and a fun little sing/play-along with our tour guides. We had many guests on the trolley that day as the story of the history of Hershey continued. Our grandson got suspicious when each of the guests looked a little bit alike and took note of each leaving and going alongside the trolley. He later figured out that he was hopping on the back of the trolley and changing costumes! We sang some silly songs and learned some more history of Hershey and Evan thought he was pretty smart for figuring it all out. It was a lot of fun.
The photo below was taken from the highest point of the tour and overlooks Hershey Park and many other recognizable landmarks of the city.
Next up was the Chocolate Tour. This was FREE and a great time for the grandkids. This was a riding tour, where talking and singing cows helped tell the story which all starts with cocoa beans from West Africa and milk from dairy farms in central Pennsylvania. Animated candy bars and chocolate kisses help as well and there are videos of the chocolate-making process in action. As we walked through the queue area while we’re waiting for our tour, there are some wonderful old photos painted onto the walls and a mission statement that tells of “supporting programs that improve the quality of life for the cocoa farmers”.
“Reimagined for 2016 and now even SWEETER! Follow cocoa beans on a delicious journey in this immersive & FREE chocolate making tour. See, feel, hear and smell the transformation of cocoa beans to HERSHEY’S famous chocolate on this fun tour. Then, enjoy a FREE Hershey’s product sample on us!” – READ MORE about the Chocolate Tour
After the tour, we got a small chocolate bar as a sample. Later when we had a little time between activities, we took the tour again, this time some of us saved our sample for another day (or at least later in the day).
Then it was time to Create Your Own Candy Bar. Using touch screens, we chose white or milk chocolate, our favorite ingredients (up to three) and we designed our own wrapper. Donning hair nets, booties and aprons and looking oh, so lovely, we watched our choices come to life, actually seeing our bar head down the line and end in a silver Hershey tin, wrapped in our newly created box. It was all very exciting!
Last, but certainly not least was the 4D Chocolate Mystery, which didn’t excite us too much but it came with our package, so we gave it a try. This was probably the most fun for the kids, because they were able to interact with the characters to solve the mystery of what was happening to the chocolate! If you like 3D, then you’ll love 4D and some of the characters actually seemed to jump right out of the screen at us!
Well, that was quite a day! We got to witness the painstaking process of creating something that we all know and love – CHOCOLATE!! Time to shop!
Next up: Philadelphia, PA