Hershey, Pennsylvania, and Halloween have one very important thing in common: They're both synonymous with chocolate. Naturally, the city's confectionery-themed amusement park takes its October celebrations especially seriously, offering a host of special programming—extra-spooky rides, jack-o'-lanterns, and trick-or-treating among them—during the annual Halloween extravaganza that is Hersheypark in the Dark.
Hersheypark in the Dark 2020
In 2020, Hersheypark in the Dark will take place over five weekends—its longest Halloween season ever—from October 2 to November 1. Due to a restricted schedule, Hersheypark will be open only on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 9 p.m. The Boardwalk (a Hershey-fied water park) is closed for the season, but ZooAmerica remains open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. (or 8 p.m. on weekends). Guests must reserve a time slot via the online reservation system before attending.
This year, Hersheypark in the Dark will be even bigger due to the addition of Hershey's Chocolatetown, a section of the park that now includes its biggest roller coaster, Candymonium, and a Kisses-themed fountain.
All guests over the age of 2 will be required to wear face coverings during the event, but attendees are not permitted to wear costume masks. Adults can wear costumes, too, so long as they're modest and don't include weapons or face paint.
Every weekend in October, the Hershey Lodge and Hotel Hershey will also be putting on their own free activities—scavenger hunts, movie nights, s'more campfires, pumpkin decorating, and more—and kids will receive complimentary goodies with a special Kids Treat Free Package.
Hersheypark in the Dark is a combination of candy, thrilling coasters, and animal encounters.
- Hershey's Trick or Treat Adventure: For kids 12 and under, there are three trick-or-treat stations in Hershey's Chocolate World—for which you must reserve a time—and 10 stops in Treatville, located at The Boardwalk.
- Rides in the dark: This is a once-a-year opportunity to ride the trio of Hersheypark "roller ghosters"—Wildcat, Lightning Racer, and Comet—with their track lights turned off, an extra-spooky experience.
- Creatures of the Night: ZooAmerica offers a chance to observe its nocturnal residents (bats, owls, various reptiles, etc.) by flashlight. Guests can also attend a nightly mythbusting "Truth or Tail" show.
- Special treats and libations: The best part of visiting Hersheypark is, of course, the food. During the Halloween celebration, the regular chocolatey treats are elevated to even more scrumptious pumpkin roll-topped shakes, plate-sized pumpkin donuts, and on-season funnel cake sundaes. There is also a seasonal menu at Spring Creek Smokehouse and fall beer flights at the Yuengling 1829 Patio & Pavilion.
Permanent Hersheypark Attractions
Hersheypark has rides and attractions for all ages, including the iconic "Thrilling Thirteen," 13 roller coasters ranging from tame to terrifying.
- Roller coasters: The park's fan-favorite rides include the Comet, the colossal wooden one; Fahrenheit, a "vertical lift inverted loop coaster" that begins by climbing 121 feet and then free falls down a 97-degree drop (the second steepest in the U.S.); and Storm Runner, a steel coaster that catapults riders from 0 to 72 miles per hour in two seconds, then climbs 18 stories before executing a 135-foot cobra loop, barrel rolls, and flying snake dive. However, its newest—Candymonium, located in Chocolatetown—is its largest, fastest, and longest.
- Hershey characters: Expect to see life-sized, personified Hershey's Bars, Kisses, Jolly Ranchers, Rolos, Twizzlers, and Milk Duds roaming the park.
- Dining: There are more than 60 restaurants, kiosks, and food trucks serving up meals, snacks, and sweet treats throughout the park. Beloved culinary staples include the funnel cake from Founder's Way, macaroni and cheese from Spring Creek Smokehouse, loaded fries from Tower Fries, and sugary drinks from BBLz.
- Entertainment: Hersheypark puts on a host of regular performances, some held at the massive Hersheypark Stadium, the most prominent in Central Pennsylvania. Scheduled concerts in 2021 include Rod Stewart, Motley Crew and Def Leppard, and Maroon 5.
- ZooAmerica: This 11-acre zoo is home to more than 200 animals, from alligators to pronghorns. Entry is included in the price of a Hersheypark ticket.
- Hershey's Chocolatetown: Chocolatetown is Hersheypark's new region. It's home to the park's biggest and fastest coaster, a vintage carousel, a Kisses-inspired fountain, and a full-service restaurant-slash-confectionery kitchen slated to open in 2021.