Despite growing up in Mickey Mouse’s backyard, as a kid, I dreamed of summer vacations to Hersheypark. Sure, the drive from Florida to Hershey, PA, seemed never-ending—particularly in the era before tablets and tech—but as a child who adored Willy Wonka even more than Barbie, the idea of an amusement park redolent with the scent of cocoa (crushed beans were used as fertilizer!) brought out my inner Charlie Bucket. (And OK, maybe my Augustus Gloop.)
It'd been more than a decade since my last visit, so naturally, I wondered: Could this place hold up to my memories? Would it be sad and rundown—or maybe worse, so corporatized that it was simply a moneymaking shell of its quaint, former self?
To be honest, it’s changed….a lot. And thankfully, in good ways—the park has expanded greatly, making it worth a long weekend, just to take in it all. There’s a strong mix of rides for all ages, whether you’re a roller coaster fanatic or more of the gently-floating-along-in-a-skyride type. And some of the best attractions don’t even require park admission. Here’s a full breakdown of the best Hersheypark rides, insider tips and treats to enjoy, so you can make the most of the northeast’s hidden gem.