After an evening of rides, zoo animals, and of course plenty of chocolate, we realized Hershey Park was the perfect place to take three year olds. Initially we weren’t sure they would be big enough to enjoy it since they obviously couldn’t ride the roller coasters or many of the other rides. But we found plenty to do and they absolutely loved it. Taking them to the park, ZooAmerica, and Chocolate World turned out to make for a perfect weekend together as a family.
I grew up with numerous family trips and later school ones to amusement parks. Between Dorney Park, Hershey, and Six Flags, I was no stranger to roller coasters and tilt-o-whirls. I even remember a time when I was just big enough to go on the coasters at Busch Gardens and thanks to an impending storm that kept people away, we were able to ride one coaster ten times in a row without even getting off. A ton of my early years were spent waiting in lines for rides under the summer break sun.
It’s not that I specifically wanted to give my boys the same experience with amusement parks, but I was running the Hershey Half Marathon anyway, and since we got tickets to the park from that anyway, we opted to bring the boys and give them a sweet taste of their first real amusement park. I was surprised that the park had so many rides the boys could go on, even without one of us riding with them. Just around the carousel we found balloons, spaceships, and trucks to ride around. I couldn’t believe that they even decided to pilot the spaceships themselves, choosing to make them go all the way up in the air instead of getting scared.
We also took a ride across part of the park on the cable cars which may have turned out to be their favorite ride. At first they were a little scared of having their feet hanging over the park, but once we went over a pond with geese, they loved it and quacking at the ducks, didn’t want to get off. Ever since, they’ve regularly asked to go back to the cable cars, even when they see overhead power lines that they think are the cables.
We also loved the zoo which is included in the same admission to the park. Focused on North American animals, there are big exhibits for the bison and elk as well as for several massive brown bears. For once, we actually saw them walking around rather than dozing, and the boys were so impressed. They even sang bear related songs as we kept traveling around the park. They also loved the dark cave-like house for nocturnal animals and enjoyed searching for them in the dim enclosures.
Back in the park, we continued riding the various rides that they could go on like the sleds and swings, and enjoyed quality time together. With twins, almost all of the time we spend together is together all at once, so it’s rare to get one on one time with just one child. Riding the rides had us split up with a kid each, so we actually got to spend time together. We didn’t have in depth conversations while whizzing around the rides, but it was very nice to get to interact one on one.
Once they were exhausted from the rides and walking around, we left the park and went back to the hotel. They were asleep in the car before we got out of the parking lot.
The next morning before we left town, we took them on the Chocolate World tour. The ride has changed a lot over the years with some newer updates, but the overall theme has remained the same. The store has also greatly expanded with every single offering the entire Hershey range covers and some unique to the store. We still loved riding the tour ride together, and loved the pretty generous samples handed out at the end as well.
For a family weekend getaway, Hershey ended up being the perfect place. I thought the boys would need to be a bit older to really enjoy it, but I was surprised to find that there is actually plenty to do in the area and at the park even at a younger age. As a running addict, I’m sure to run the race again and now we know it will make another perfect weekend with the boys. It’ll actually only be a few more years before they’re ready for their first roller coaster trip too.