amusement park
Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
Status Operating
Opened May 30, 1906
Owner Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company
Area 121 acres (49 hectares)
Website http://www.hersheypark.com/
Park map
Click to expand

Hersheypark is an amusement park located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA. The area that became the park was initially designated to be a leisure park for the employees of Hershey Chocolate Company. On May 30, 1906, the park was formally opened to the general public, welcoming travelers and groups from across Pennsylvania and other states to hold picnics and reunion events. After 65 years of operation, the park underwent a renovation program: in 1971, the park was gated, and under a plan created by R. Duell and Associates (later modified due to economic conditions of the mid-1970s), converted into a theme park. Today, the park's area covers 121 acres (49 hectares), with over 70 rides and attractions, including 14 roller coasters, and 15 water rides.

History[edit | edit source]

Creation of Hershey Park[edit | edit source]

On February 19, 1903, Milton S. Hershey, founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (originally named Hershey Estates), announced that he had purchased 800 acres of land and had begun constructing a chocolate factory in an attempt to build a new town just outside of two small towns, Derry Church and Spring Creek. Of the 800 acres, one portion that was surveyed was a site along the small creek named Spring Creek that would be suitable for a park. An area to the northwest of the town square, just beyond the railroad tracks, was designated for the park.[1] Little work was put into the park at that time, as focus of most of the work was on completing the chocolate factory. Once the factory was considered complete in 1904, construction within the new town of Hershey was able to begin in earnest.

During the summer and fall of 1905, several bridges were constructed over Spring Creek,[2] connecting land Hershey owned with land which was owned by John ("J.H.") H. Nissley. This land was what later became known as Comet Hollow, as well as the land from where Hersheypark Arena and Stadium were built up to the base of Pat's Hill. (Pat's Hill is where The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Gardens were eventually constructed, as well as Catherine Hall (previously known as Senior Hall) of the Milton Hershey School.) The park's first pavilion, a building which existed until 1989, was constructed and opened in the fall of 1905. It was built on the edge of the hill, overlooking the Spring Creek hollow, and several paths were constructed to connect the pavilion to the roads closest to the center of town.[3][4]

In February 1906, Hershey and Nissley came to an agreement in which Hershey purchased nearly all of the land along Spring Creek, which included the land the park occupies today.[5] The newly formed Hershey Athletic Club's baseball team quickly staked out a location for a permanent athletic field; a grandstand was built and the field opened on May 5, 1906.[6] On Memorial Day (also called Decoration Day), May 30, 1906, Hershey Park formally opened to the public. While no rides were yet installed, amusements included music in the pavilion dance hall and band stand, two baseball games on the athletic field, and tennis courts to play various games.[7][8][9][10]

The Hershey Park Years: 1906-1970[edit | edit source]

Renovations were made to Wild Cat in 1935 to build up the dips and to more steeply bank the curves.

More attractions were added to Hershey Park each season, and by 1945 the park contained more than two dozen rides. The Dentzel carousel was replaced in 1945 by a carousel built by Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1919, which still operates in the park today. In 1946 the wooden roller coaster Comet replaced Wild Cat.

The Hersheypark Years: 1971-present[edit | edit source]

A five-year redevelopment plan was started in 1971 to convert the regional amusement park Hersheypark into a large theme park called Hersheypark, as it is known to this day. A one-price admission plan eliminated the pay-as-you-ride policy. This five-phase project was orchestrated by Randall Duell.

SooperDooperLooper opened on July 4, 1977, just a year after Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain opened as the first modern looping coaster. Twin Toboggans, Hersheypark's third roller coaster, built in 1972, was removed in 1977.

1980s-present[edit | edit source]

The 1980s brought big changes to Hersheypark. Smaller sized rides, including the Cyclops (replaced by The Claw), Pirate, Wave Swinger, Conestoga (replaced by the Frontier Virtual Theater and later the Howler), and Timber Rattler (replaced by Rodeo) were added. Canyon River Rapids was built and added in 1987 (replaced by Intercoastal Waterway and The Shore wave pool in 2009).

Storm Runner with the Kissing Tower in the background

The 1990s started off with the creation of Minetown, which is currently known as Kissing Tower Hill. The old penny arcade was replaced by a massive three-story building, housing the Minetown Arcade, Minetown Restaurant, and games. The Flying Falcon replaced Himalaya, and three kiddie rides replaced the Coal Shaker. Four roller coasters were added to Hersheypark in the 1990s. Sidewinder, a Vekoma Boomerang coaster, was added in 1991. In 1996, the wooden coaster The Wildcat was added and was named after The Wild Cat that previously operated from 1923 to 1946. Great Bear opened in 1998, the park's most expensive single ride to date. Wild Mouse opened in 1999. Several rides were also added during this decade. In 1994 the water plunge ride Tidal Force opened. A Ferris wheel and Whip ride were added in 1997. Four other new rides were added in 1999. These include the Merry Derry Dip fun slide, Music Express, Chaos (since removed), and the Frog Hopper.

Six more roller coasters were added in the 21st Century – Lightning Racer (2000), Roller Soaker (2002), Storm Runner (2004), Fahrenheit (2008), Skyrush (2012), and Candymonium (2020), continuing the rapid expansion of the park from the mid-1980s. For the 2020 season, a new entrance area was built and named Chocolatetown.

Roller coasters[edit | edit source]

Present (14)[edit | edit source]

Name Manufacturer Type Opened Status
Candymonium Bolliger & Mabillard Hyper 2020 Operating
Cocoa Cruiser Zamperla Kiddie 2014 Operating
Comet Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, Inc. Wooden 1946 Operating
Fahrenheit Intamin Sit-Down 2008 Operating
Great Bear Bolliger & Mabillard Inverted 1998 Operating
Laff Trakk Maurer AG Enclosed 2015 Operating
Lightning Racer Great Coasters International Twin 2000 Operating
Sidewinder Vekoma Boomerang 1991 Operating
Skyrush Intamin Hyper
2012 Operating
SooperDooperLooper Schwarzkopf Sit-Down 1977 Operating
Storm Runner Intamin Launched 2004 Operating
Trailblazer Arrow Dynamics Mine Train 1974 Operating
Wildcat Great Coasters International Wooden 1996 Operating
Wild Mouse Mack Rides Wild Mouse 1999 Operating

Past[edit | edit source]

Name Manufacturer Type Opened Closed
Wildcat Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, Inc. Wooden 1923 1945
Twin Toboggans Tower #1 Chance Rides Sit-Down 1972 1977
Mini-Comet B.A. Schiff & Associates Kiddie 1974 1978
Roller Soaker Setpoint Suspended 2002 2012

Cancelled[edit | edit source]

Attractions[edit | edit source]

Operating[edit | edit source]

Name Manufacturer Type Opened
Claw Chance Rides Frisbee 2003
Coal Cracker Arrow Dynamics Log Flume 1973
Dry Gulch Railroad Crown Metal Products Miniature Railway 1961
Fender Bender Reverchon Dodgems 1997
Ferris Wheel Chance Rides Ferris Wheel 1997
Frontier Flyers Larson International Flying Scooters 2003
Hershey Triple Tower S&S Worldwide Drop Tower 2017
Howler Wisdom Rides Tornado 2008
Kissing Tower Waagner-Biro Gyro Tower 1975
Merry Derry Dip Fun Slide Frederiksen Industries Astroglide 1998
Merry Derry Dip Fun Slide Frederiksen Industries Astroglide 1998
Monorail Universal Mobility Monorail 1969
Music Express Moser Rides Superbob/Musik Express 1999
Pirate HUSS Pirate Ship 1983
Reese's Cupfusion Sally Corperation Tracked Dark Ride 2019
Scrambler Eli Bridge Company Scrambler 1972
Skyview Universal Design Ropeway 1966
Starship America Kasper Klaus Jets 1962
Tidal Force Hopkins Shoot The Chute 1994
Tilt-A-Whirl Sellner Manufacturing Tilt-A-Whirl 1983
Twin Turnpike - Sunoco Speedway Arrow Dynamics Juvenile Track Ride 1975
Venetian Carousel Bertazzon Gallopers 2019
Wave Swinger Zierer Waveswinger 1982
Whip Rideworks Whip 1997

Closed[edit | edit source]

Name Manufacturer Type Opened Closed Fate
Cyborg HUSS Enterprise 1980 2002 Relocated to Calaway Park
Flying Falcon HUSS Condor 1990 2016 In Storage
Lost River Philadelphia Toboggan Company Scenic Boat Ride 1929 1972 Scrapped
Magic Carpet Slide Aero Mar Plastics Astroglide 1969 1972 Scrapped
Timber Rattler C.A.H. Polyp 1984 1987 Relocated to Bellewaerde

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "A New Town Near Derry Church To Coast A Million." Harrisburg Daily Independent. February 19, 1903. p. 1
  2. "Hershey News." Harrisburg Telegraph. October 6, 1905.
  3. "West End Park is to Have Big Pavillion." Harrisburg Telegraph. September 14, 1905.
  4. "Hershey News." Harrisburg Telegraph. September 18, 1905.
  5. "Derry Church Items. [M.]S. Hershey Purchased Property of J.H. Nissley Estate." Lebanon Daily News. February 28, 1906.
  6. "Hershey News." Harrisburg Telegraph. May 5, 1906.
  7. "The Opening of Hershey Park." Hummelstown Sun. May 25, 1906. p. 1.
  8. Harrisburg Daily Independent. May 28, 1906. p. 4. "Hershey's Park at Hershey will be opened to the public on Decoration day."
  9. "Opening of Hershey Park." Lebanon Courier and Semi Weekly Report. May 30, 1906. p. 5. "Hershey Park will be formally opened to the public on Memorial Day, May 30th."
  10. Harrisburg Daily Independent. June 2, 1906. p. 2. "Hershey's Park was opened to the public on Wednesday and an immense crowd enjoyed the all-day amusements."