Hersheypark traditionally has its biggest crowds of the season between mid-July and mid-August, so the park is normally jam-packed in the absence of any extra events. Because of all those "extras" this weekend, expect longer lines at Hersheypark attractions on Friday, Saturday and early on Sunday.
If you're heading to the amusement park, you may want to employ some of our time-tested Hersheypark strategies!
I'd suggest arriving at the gate before its official opening (or, if you're staying at the Hotel Hershey, the Hershey Lodge or at Hershey Highmeadow Campground, take advantage of the "Hersheypark Sweet Start" — an extra hour to enjoy many of the park's rides before the official opening.) Remember that it takes time to get from the parking area to the gate—at least 15 minutes.
If you're planning on enjoying the Boardwalk waterpark area, walk there directly and get your locker quickly. Then do the Whirlwind, the Vortex, the Waverider, the lazy river and the wave pool in the morning. Lines can be prohibitively long there between noon and 6:00 p.m.
If your priority is rollercoasters, you'll want to be at the Hersheypark gate for opening as well. Head for the top coasters on your list immediately, and you'll be able to ride without the hour-long waits that develop later in the day.
If you have small children, walk to the Midway America section of the park first and ride the kiddie rides there first (this is contingent on being able to convince your kids to walk past all the great rides in Founder's Circle, of course). Then work your way back to the front of the park. By the time you get back to Founder's Circle, lines there will have measurably decreased. I've taken my kids to Hersheypark late in the afternoon many times this season — they've been able to walk on most of the Founder's Circle rides at that time. Conversely, don't expect to ride the Carrousel quickly at 11:30 a.m.
Don't forget about the Hersheypark preview plan: you can use your prepurchased Hersheypark admission ticket to preview the park the evening before at no extra charge. Just arrive at the gate at 7:30 p.m. to get a head-start.
If you have a trust fund, or you saved that Christmas money from Grandma, consider spending the extra cash for the Hersheypark Sweet Access Pass. Time is money, y'know! Along with other perks, the pass features five hours of V.I.P. concierge service, which gets you front-of-the-line access to many popular rides.
Hersheypark does have cabanas at the Boardwalk area, and they're a good deal for groups of four who want a little extra privacy and a few extra waterpark perks. While the cabanas are reserved for Hershey's resort guests first, I've seen the "Cabanas Available" sign up every time I've arrived early at the Boardwalk this season.
Don't forget to take in a show — when the weather is hot and your dogs are barkin', there's no better place to be than the Music Box Theatre. It's a cool refuge in the afternoon, and the "Lightning Strike" show is well worth seeing.
Finally, two of my most important tips:
- Don't forget the sunscreen
- Drink plenty of water
Those last two tips will put you in a better position to enjoy the rides all the way to closing (and they'll help you stay in a better mood all day long!)