I love rides! I love roller coasters! I love anything that goes fast! You get the idea…
In this post I will talk about my three most visited amusement parks: Hersheypark, Dorney Park, and Knoebels. All three have unique features and experiences for guests, and are worth a visit if you are ever in northeast Pennsylvania.
Hersheypark is located in Hershey, Pennsylvania and was originally created by Milton S. Hershey as a leisure grounds for employees of the nearby Hershey’s Chocolate Factory. Since then, the theme park has expanded to include roller coasters, rides and other attractions, the boardwalk – a section of the park containing water rides, and Zoo America – an 11-acre walk-through zoo. The park also has themed events in the spring, during fall for Halloween, and during winter at Christmas.
Hersheypark is great because it has rides for all ages and thrill-levels. They have fun kids rides, alongside of some of my favorite roller coasters. Every year they seem to add something crazier to test my daredevil spirit. The park is divided into six areas: Founders Way, The Hollow, Kissing Tower Hill, Pioneer Frontier, Midway America, and the Boardwalk. Zoo America can be seen on its own, or as part of your day at the amusement park. The layout makes navigating the park easy, although it is 121-acres, so be prepared to walk a lot. Before you enter the park you can determine your height category which is divided into six classifications: Hershey Miniatures, Hershey Kisses, Reese’s, Hershey’s, Twizzlers, and Jolly Ranchers. All rides are coded based on what candy height is allowed to ride. There are also food & beverage choices throughout the park.
When you hear the name Hershey you automatically think of the delicious chocolate, and that is definitely the theme of this park. Chocolate is all around, and you can even visit the nearby Hershey’s Chocolate World to find out how the famous chocolate is made. Chocolate World also has a Create Your Own Candy Bar, a Chocolate Tasting Room, a 4D interactive show, and a food court.
The greater Hershey area also offers a lot for those who want to explore beyond the park. There are two beautiful hotel options, the Hershey Lodge and the Hotel Hershey. The Hotel Hershey is also home to a world-class spa for those looking to relax and leave smelling like a chocolate bar (really, all of their products smell like cocoa!). There is also outlet shopping adjacent to the park, as well as a concert venue and sports arena. Downtown Hershey also offers shopping and dining opportunities, and the street lights are made to look like Hershey’s Kisses. There really is so much to do in Hershey, Pennsylvania, “The Sweetest Place of Earth”.
Dorney Park is located in Allentown, Pennsylvania and actually features two parks in one: Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom. Dorney Park traces its history to 1860, when Solomon Dorney built a small summer resort and fish hatchery on his estate. In 1870, Dorney converted the estate into a public attraction and it slowly grew into a destination theme park. Ownership changed hands a few times before Cedar Fair Entertainment bought it in 1992.
This theme park has a good selection of rides for both adults and children. Small children will enjoy Planet Snoopy, an area in the center of the park that contains all child friendly rides. In recent years, Dorney has added more thrill-rides for those of us looking for an adrenaline rush. This includes Steel Force the eighth-longest steel coaster in the world. Dorney Park also has a Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit where guests will come face-to-face with an assortment of animatronic life-sized dinosaurs. Just an FYI, entrance to Dinosaurs Alive! requires an extra fee. Food vendors are also available throughout the park.
Dorney Park is also a great place to visit in the fall when it transforms into The Great Pumpkin Fest during the day, and Halloween Haunt at night. The Great Pumpkin Fest is a celebration of all things Halloween in a non-scary environment. They even set-up a section for pumpkin painting and trick-or-treating for young children. The Halloween Haunt converts the park into a huge Haunted experience, complete with ghost and ghouls jumping out at you as you walk around the park. Guests are also encouraged to dress up in their Halloween best!
Dorney Park doesn’t have the charm of the other two parks I mention in this article, but you will have a fun time here if you enjoy amusement parks.
Knoebels is a family-owned and operated amusement park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. It is and has been America’s largest free-admission park since it opened in 1926. Knoebels is definitely more of a family park, and has fewer thrill-rides than either of the other two amusement parks I talked about here. What Knoebels lacks in thrill-rides, it completely makes up for in character. It is a joy to walk around this park for the day, riding many of the classic attractions we have grown up with. There are also many food options and craft vendors throughout the park, as well as an area to enjoy a picnic lunch if you prefer to bring your own food.
Knoebels offers free admission, free parking, and free entertainment. Visitors are able to ride the park’s attractions by purchasing either a pay-one-price, all-day/unlimited-access wristbands or individual tickets. I prefer to go on days where you can purchase the wristbands, otherwise it’s difficult to know how many tickets to buy for the rides.
Many people choose to pair a visit to Knoebels with an overnight stay at the nearby campgrounds. This makes for an affordable family-friendly vacation option for those who appreciate the outdoors. I have never stayed overnight here since Knoebels is within driving distance for me, but I have visited friends at the nearby camping grounds. The grounds were nicely kept, although definitely on the rustic side when it comes to comfort. Of course, this is to be expected when you choose to camp out!
Overall, Knoebels is a fun day out for the whole family. Everyone will be able to find rides and attractions they enjoy here.