Christmas At Hershey Park
Everything you NEED to know about Christmas at Hershey Park
Drumroll please….Let me introduce you to my to OCD way of strategically planning and executing my family vacations. I’m a nutjob. I am not a “let’s wing it” type of mom. If you travel with me, bring sneakers and a snack ‘cause it’s on! I make lists, I pre-book months in advance and I make sure I get my damn money's worth. You should see my current excel sheet for our Disney trip in May!
HERSHEY PARK CHRISTMAS CANDY LANE & SWEET LIGHTS was a friggin blast! Let’s just settle one thing first – every single trip I write about also comes along with complete and utter exhaustion, meltdowns, the sweats, questioning “whyyyyyy we do this” and in the rare moments of not running after someone, heavy (fast) drinking; BUT you know this already, right? No need to go into it. Moving on….
I booked the Hershey Lodge for our stay. I have never stayed at the Hershey Hotel so I cannot speak on it. The Lodge during Christmas is the definition of cozy. I wouldn’t expect anything less with the price tag that comes along with it. As soon as the lobby sliding doors open, you are overcome with all the Christmas feels. Multiple gorgeously lit Christmas trees, 4 open wood fires burning (good luck getting a seat in front of one) and the obvious smell of Chocolate tingles your nose as you step into the Lodge. I PRE-Checked into our hotel room prior to arriving (you can do this on-line) so I walked right up to the front desk and was handed my key along with 4 chocolate bars. A lump grew in my throat and I felt the tears. “How magical! My kids are going to love this. I friggin’ love Christmas!”, I screeched in my head. For a split second, I had images of my kids hugging me, telling me I’m the best while we sip hot cocoa by the fire…… then I snapped the hell out of it. I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old, feel me? That shit doesn’t go down.
Our room was in section Reese’s which was slightly a pain in the ass of a walk to the lobby. The rooms are cute and roomy. Just enough room for a family of 4. After settling in and wiping 4 little hands clean of melted chocolate, we decided to walk down to the lobby and explore. Tip #1 – Bring wipes! A shit ton! Bring a stylish fanny pack filled with just wipes. You will be wiping chocolate off faces and hands all day long!
Of course, 5 min. into the trip my woman friend (Let’s call her Betty the B*tch) showed up. Luckily, they have a cute gift shop will all the essentials in case you forget something. I switched our dining reservations at The Forebay restaurant for an earlier time of 6pm. This is key! Hershey offers a PREVIEW NIGHT which means you can explore the park the night before your full day ticket entry. I believe it is 2.5 hours before the park closes but just check with the concierge. I’ll get into the preview night shortly. Side note- give yourself some time to explore the lobby. They have an adorable kids check-in area where the kids get special badges and cute coloring books. They also have tons of activities for the kids to do.
The Forebay Restaurant was fan-friggin-tastic! It was so good we actually ate there both nights. Ask for Samantha! She was a doll and a fellow mommy! Holy shit, holy shit….you need to get the Chocolate Martini! Dayuuum! Delicious. They serve pretzel bread with homemade mustard complimentary which the kids loved! The food was really good. It is definitely a steakhouse worth hitting up.
After dinner we decided to take the shuttle over to the park to get some rides in. Our schedule was jammed packed for Saturday so I wanted to make sure we got a head start. Good thing I did! I must say, everyone from the hotel staff to the shuttle drivers and ride operators were beyond nice and helpful. A+ in my book for service.
When we entered the park around 7:30pm it was empty! We literally hit up every single kiddie ride. The park is tricky – it is big. Kiddie rides and Santa are on the right and larger coasters and Santa’s stable are on the left. In my opinion, hit up the right side the night before. They even had Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup walking around. Bring a stroller into the park with tons of blankets and hats. It’s freezing out! After we rode about 10 rides and met Santa, we decided to call it a night.
CHOCOLATE WORLD DAY! We started our day with breakfast at Fire & Grain. It was mehh. The food was ehh – nothing special. I was hoping for a little more here. I did not book the breakfast with Santa because we are doing so many visits with them this year, I did not want to overload my kids. I hear great things about this though. After breakfast we decided to drive to the park (you have to pay for parking) because we planned on being there all day. TIP # 2 & 3 – DO NOT bring a stroller into chocolate world. It will be a nightmare. Actually, thinking back on it I only saw maybe one or two carrying newborns. Do yourself a favor and leave it in the car. We also left our jackets in the car. If you shuttle it, be prepared to carry them – they do not have coat check. Bring a backpack (stylish one of course) with anything you need…like wipes!
I planned this day perfectly. You NEED to pre-book these activities. Otherwise, when you walk in, you will be like a deer in headlights. Here is a map of chocolate world.
Here was our schedule:
- 9am breakfast Fire & Grain
- 10:30am Ride The chocolate Tour ride
- 11:30am Hershey’s Unwrapped (show)
- 12:15pm 4D Movie
- 1pm Create your own candy bar
As you can see, I lined up our reservations perfectly so when one ended, we walked right to the next one. OMG! Each one was cuter than the next. I don’t want to give away too much because there are some fun things that happen in each. The unwrapped tour was adorable! You enter the Hershey Academy and learn all about how to make the perfect chocolate bar. You get this adorable taste testing box where you get a sample of all the key chocolates. Try and get the front of the line. Adults didn’t give a shit that we had small kids with us and sat right in the front row (with no kids mind you). It is not stadium seating so it can be hard to see.
The 4D chocolate movie was equally adorable and relaxing. Very entertaining from start to finish. My daughter (2 years old) was entertained the entire time. I have to say the whole experience was very Disney-esq. Hershey got game! Each activity was worth the price tag. I bundled it – you can save money. Pick and choose your activities. You get somewhat of a discount. Kids 2 and under are free.
Last stop was creating our own candy bar. This was really cool. They hand out a special apron and head cap which makes you really feel like you are about to step into a factory. The kids got to create their flavors and customize labels for the front of their tins. Once you step inside you see how the entire bar is made from start to finish. Everything is computerized and done with insane machinery. If your kids are like my son, they will go nuts for this. My son Dominic is 4 and loves anything that has to do with science, building or engineering. Definitely a cool experience.
After we finished our first half of the day, we decided to sit for lunch. Enter food court nightmare. It is jammin’ at this point and finding a table is tough. My husband went to search while I rounded and cornered the cattle. After he got us a table, we literally waited about 45 minutes for food. It took forever! It is your typical tenders, salads and wraps type of deal but the amount of windows and different areas make it super confusing and chaotic. You may want fries and a shake but they are in two separate areas so you need to wait on line double the time. We wound up eating soups (in bread bowls) and a banging loaded bake potato. This food court situation was the most chaotic part of our trip. Hershey is unveiling Chocolate Town next season which will be tons of new shops and dining along with an insane coaster. I think they desperately need something like this to alleviate the chaos in Chocolate world. Oh, and did I mention you are surrounded my tons and tons of bright shiny product and candies out the wazoo for your kids to torture you into buying? Be prepared!
At this point me and my husband are half dead but in true Cabral fashion, we buckled up and carried on. We grabbed our coats and stroller from the car and got ready for our second part of the day. Our first stop once we were back in the park was to hit up the stage show (located to the right of the entrance) The Littlest Tree. Must see! It was adorable, the cast was beyond talented and the amount of sparkle and bling in the costumes set my boujie lovin’ heart on fiyaaa! It was also a great time for my daughter to nap, in heat. After the show, I begged, lied and forced my son to ride Laff Trakk. I had been on this ride before and knew he would love it. It’s indoors so he couldn’t see the ride which freaked him out. It is a blast and I didn’t want him to miss out on it. Of course, he rode twice with both me and my husband. TIP #4 – My NY sassy ass walked right up to the “fast pass” line or exit and asked the kids if there was a baby wait (so Disney of me). They told me that we can all go on line and then swap out at the front. My daughter was sleeping in the double stroller so there was no way we were going to fit on the line. So…they let my husband wait outside while they let us skip the line (to a smaller line) and then swap out after the ride was done. YAS! I got my thrill. Does anyone love when shit like this goes down for them? I’m talking about skipping the lines – not the ride itself! HA!
Onto SWEET LIGHTS! This experience was nice because you get to sit in your warm car and drive through it. Give yourself time for this. We went during the first week. It was busy but not crazy busy. I can definitely see this being a good 1hr 30min excursion as the season pics up. It is pretty much exactly what you think. A bunch of beautifully lit lights bouncing and blinking to a set music station. The station kind of crapped out so we wound up playing our satellite holiday station.
We ended our whirlwind of a day back at The Forebay Restaurant and I nose dived (dove – whatever) into yet another Chocolate Martini. The night ended with my son throwing up all the chocolate he consumed the last 24 hours and my daughter ordering a $26.99 movie we never watched (Hershey Lodge graciously refunded me the re-donkey donk rental fee). All in all, I got the exact mini family vacation I wanted along with some really pretty “put together” family pics. I highly recommend this weekend getaway. It is not relaxing by any means but we signed up for this. We live for this, for these kids. The memories we got, they got, it’s all worth it! Thank you, Hershey, for giving the Cabrals a sweet memory!
Hope you enjoy your stay!
The Boujie Mama