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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Review: Hershey, PA.

Overall, I would have to say upfront that our mini-vacation to Hershey, PA was a resounding success. Everyone had a good time, and it left us in a state of not wanting to leave, or at least to return again. That may not sound like much, but TheWife and I are prone to wanting to see and experience as much as we can and very rarely tend to care to duplicate things from the past, opting instead to at the very least do things "slightly different" (i.e. different hotels).

The simple fact is, that despite what it appeared to me on the outside, a simplistic vacation where we could see it all and do everything we wanted to in a couple of days, was simply not a correct assessment on my part. There was far more to do and see than we could fit in a weekend.

Hershey Park - this is bigger and better than I anticipated it being. It may not be the same size as a Six Flags Park (at least not Six Flags Great Adventure here in New Jersey) or Disneyland (yes Disneyland, as in the California one, not Disney World in Florida which would be a total mismatch), but is certainly entertaining enough and big enough to keep everyone happy. Unlike some parks, the number of rides for the little ones competes almost one for one with the rides for older kids/adults. You can very easily spend a day (or two) here and keep everyone entertained between rides and shows. My only gripe here is the concessions. Now I understand that you have a captive market in a theme park, but this was nothing short of sad, with a hamburger costing $9.55 (plus tax). Save your money and pack a lunch, or heck you can walk across to the Hershey Factory Works and eat in their cafe, get better food and pay less.

Hershey Chocolate World - it is sad (probably only to me, but anyway), that you no longer can tour the actual factory and see the chocolate in production. Milton Hershey was proud of his factory and chocolate making process and allowed the world to see it being done. It may not be as glitzy as the new demonstrations are, but it was real and that was what people came to see. That being said, I realize that this is the 21st century and times change. Hershey Chocolate World still provides a glimpse into the world of Hershey Chocolate and how it is made on they "World Chocolate Tour", give kids a change to become "workers" at the "Chocolate Works" were they get to work on a "production line" filling a container with Chocolate Kisses. There is a 3D theater which we didn't even consider trying to attend in our short time there, a Trolley Ride that gives you a tour of the city of Hershey PA, and of course a food court and a (huge) shop to buy as much chocolate (and souveneirs) as you could possibly want. You can easily a half a day (without shopping) to a whole day (you would probably need to do some shopping to fill a full day) here all by itself.

Hershey Lodge - this was my most underestimated part of the vacation. A hotel is a hotel is a hotel. I have gotten myself hyped up about exceptional hotels before only to be disappointed. Well, this time I got to be pleasantly surprised. The rooms are nice, clean, well maintained and comfortable. The staff was incredibly (and I mean INCREDIBLY) cheerful, helpful and quick to assist you making me wonder exactly how much sugar they pump into these people everyday. There are three pools, since it is early spring the outdoor pools were closed making the indoor pool and whirpool a bit crowded, but not horribly so. A miniture golf course is right on the premises, as well as tennis and basketball courts. They had activities for young and old alike throughout the day, so basically you could spend your vacation here and never need to leave the hotel. There are three restaurants The Forebay (the "sit down" dining that required reservations, that we did not attempt), LEBBIE LEBKICHER’S which was a buffet style restaurant that had some good food, and plenty of it, The Bears Den which is a sport themed restaurant, if you have a sports fan in the family this is the place to have lunch (or dinner - but more of a lunch/snack place to me) . There is also the Hershey Grill, but that was closed for remodeling at the time we were there. There is even a Coffee Beanery right on the premises serving Coffee, Cappucino as well as pre-made sandwiches and salads plus some delectable (and quite fattening) chocolate desserts. If you put a gun to my head and said I needed to find something wrong with this hotel, the only complaint I could come up with is that everything shut down a little early for my "New Yorker" taste. Now this may have been because it is still early spring, but except to grab a bite in either the coffee house or Bears Den, or grab a drink at the bar, everything else came to a grinding halt around 9PM (now during the summer I know Hershey Park is open later, so perhaps things at the hotel match those hours.)

We planned on and never got to actually see, The Zoo, The Hershey Museum, Take the Trolley Ride, or visit Hershey Gardens. So much to see and do, Hershey lived up to and actually surpasses my cynical view of how much there is to do and see.

If you have the means and opportunity, I rate Hershey a Must See, Must Do.

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