My pre-teen daughter and I were invited to spend a day at the family theme park, Hersheypark. Here are our top tips for navigating an amusement park without the appearances of our alter-egos: Stressed-Out Mommy or Grumpy-Annoying Kid. Any small thing or random blip can lead to frustration, and with a little prep, we had a fabulous time together without any drama.
Plan the fun. Do you know what everyone likes to do at an amusement park? Hersheypark has something for everyone: fast rides, slow rides, water rides, and even a zoo! Customize your day around your favorite Rides, Food and Things to Do. Hersheypark has an extremely detailed and informative website: http://www.hersheypark.com/
Sensory-Issues Note: my daughter can be sensitive to certain sounds, crowds or other environmental stimuli. When she feels uncomfortable, nervous, or upset, we both become miserable. Hersheypark Customer Service is highly knowledgeable either by phone, or at the park. At http://www.hersheypark.com/park-info/accessibility.php, I was able to locate Quiet Areas, just in case we needed a break from Amusement Park and Crowd Chaos.
“How to enjoy an amusement park, as a sensory-sensitive family” [future article]
Download the Official Hersheypark Mobile App. Make sure to grab this free, time-saving app before you leave home! There is free Wi-Fi throughout the park, so you will have no problem using this incredible tool to locate: food, bathrooms, and charging stations as well specific information about Ride Wait Times, Height Requirements and MORE! Long gone are the days of lost time, running around a park frantically searching for a toilet or missed musical performances. The entire Hersheypark map and resources are at your fingertips.
Weather. Check the weather forecast, and bring layers or change of clothes. Being too hot or too cold, can easy bring out the grouch in anyone. Leave that green monster at home. Hersheypark includes one of my favorite water parks, so anyone can utilize those lockers for extra items you do not want to lug around with you all day.
Meal Plan. You will be spending most of the day at the park, so to maintain your energy-level, there are several dining options to fit anyone’s appetite. http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/ includes lists of restaurants, menus and a full-range of dietary needs. Chick-fil-A joined the food line up as well.
For added bonus, a stress-free Meal Plan Program is useful and economical for folks who prefer ‘all you can eat’ fries, burger, nugget or pizza-like options throughout the day! On the ALL-DAY DINING DEAL, you can stop by any of the designated-locations every 90-minutes for a bite, before you head out for more rides and fun. http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/dining-and-drink-programs.php
Ride Guide. The handy-dandy Mobile App will give you details on all the rides that are available to those of certain heights. When you arrive at the park, stop at the Hershey candy characters for a quick snap. That picture is a fun memory marker as our kids grow. PLUS, it can also provide you with a current photo of your child if you happen to get separated that day in the park.
Parking. There is a handy shuttle bus that takes you from the parking lot to the park, so no worries about walking too far when you first arrive.
Parking Notes: Either take a photo of your car and the numbers posts around. OR, use the ‘Find my car’ GPS feature in the http://www.hersheypark.com/park-info/mobile-app.php
Hospitality Services. When you enter the park, go straight to the Hospitality Service desk on the right-hand side, and talk to the friendly folks there.
We described all of the types of rides that we enjoy, and representative, the amazing ‘Shannon’ magically selected several attractions that fit perfectly. Speed, height/drop, dizziness factor all add to (or can disrupt) our fun day at the park.
Stay Hydrated. Being outside and walking around all day is an easy way to become dehydrated, faint or ill. Pre-order your All-Day Drink Deal, or purchase it at the park. We like having a convenient portable drink, as well as the Souvenir Cup at home to remind us of our visit to the park.