Full disclosure: I am not typically the parent who makes Halloween a month-long event. I don’t generally let my children wear costumes before October 31 (otherwise they get lost) and we don’t hit up Halloween parades on the 30th. Honestly, I don’t even put out candy before the first trick-or-treater rings our doorbell. It’s not that I’m some lame mom. (Forgetful, maybe. Lame, no.) It’s just that in my experience, starting the holiday early leads to a Halloween hangover by the time the big day rolls around.
That is, until we visited Hersheypark during “Hersheypark In The Dark,” a Halloween-themed celebration in Hershey, PA. taking place over three weekends in October leading up to the October 31. That’s when the park turns into a “spooktacular” wonder world, complete with all the rides fans know and love, plus ghostly decorations, eery fog machines, scary music and a host of ghoulish activities. The park even goes totally dark during the last hour of operation so thrill-seekers can enjoy their favorite rollercoasters like Lightening Racer, Wildcat and Comet in total darkness. I get it. When your brand is based on Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats, Halloween is kind of your thing.
It wasn’t all thrill rides. My children were obsessed with the park’s Treatville, a Trick-or-Treat trail throughout the park with 10 themed stops. They were also totally creeped out – in a good way, of course – by ZooAmerica’s Creatures Of The Night at the park’s zoo, where guests can bring flashlights and observe animals at night. There’s also a Shake, Howl and Glow Character Dance Party, where my daughter boogied with her favorite chocolate-themed characters.
When we weren’t wading through fog or screaming our faces off on Candymonium, we channeled Willy Wonka at Chocolate World, Hershey’s indoor, experiential Mecca featuring chocolate tours, scavenger hunts, “make your own” activities and more. We donned hairnets and aprons and spent an hour in a special chocolate lab creating our own candy bars. We selected everything from the filling, to the chocolate, to the packaging and watched it all come together through some pretty nifty machinery. We also helped some very savvy chocolate characters unearth a secret villian in a fun 4D movie. Chocolate World was a nice alternative to the park, especially since Hersheypark doesn’t open until 2pm on weekends.
Spending the weekend at Hersheypark was a festive way to usher in Halloween, even if it goes against my usual instincts. But if you happen to be a holiday early adaptor, its Christmas Candylane holiday attraction is open to the public on select dates starting November 12, with daily operations from December 3 through January 2. It features more than five million twinkling lights, including the dazzling NOEL light show with 250,000 dancing lights synchronized to Christmas music. Over at Chocolate World, you can meet Santa Claus, decorate a chocolate house, ride a “holiday jolly trolley” and more.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll meet you there.