Hershey, Pennsylvania – often called Chocolate Town USA – sure has grown over the years. When candy magnate Milton S. Hershey set up shop in the early 1900s, just 14 miles east of Harrisburg, he envisioned the ‘sweetest place on earth’ and thus created a model town for the workers at Hershey’s chocolate factory. Chances are; however that he never envisioned it eventually would be named as a Heritage Site and would grow into the tourist attraction it is today. Hershey these days contains a massive multi-ride theme park, a zoo, 2 hotels and a campground, botanical gardens, a butterfly conservatory, an 18-hole golf course, a museum, a stadium, and several other touristy destinations would bear his name, not to mention that his chocolate factory manufacturing procedures have become a theme park-like ride contained within Hershey’s Chocolate World.
Located adjacent to Hersheypark, Chocolate World contains a massive food court, several stores containing Hershey merchandise, chocolate and more, the FREE Chocolate Tour, and 4 pay as you go attractions. No doubt, children will love being greeted by the Hershey characters that sit atop the building’s entrance – essentially, the same characters that stroll the grounds of the theme park next door.
The attractions include ‘Create Your Own Candy Bar‘, a 45-minute experience at $19.95 per person (8 and under are free if accompanying a paid adult); an animated film called the ‘4-D Chocolate Mystery‘ at $7,95/adult $6.95/child ages 3-12; the ‘Chocolate Tasting Experience‘ at $10.95/adult $7.95/child ages 3-12; and the ‘Trolley Works‘, which incorporates an old fashioned San Francisco-style trolley that takes visitors on a narrated excursion of the historic town of Hershey, with a cost of $15.95 Adults (13-61) and $12.95 Children (3-12).
Parking rates for Hershey’s Chocolate World are based on the length of one’s visit, with anything under 3 hours as FREE.
The building is undeniably chaotic with tourists traversing the open concept in every which direction in order to access the attraction or food outlet of their choice. Not to mention that photo ops throughout the building – more Hershey characters, world’s largest chocolate bar, a mini rainforest and waterfalls area, etc. – cause tourists to jam up and bump into each other while trying to point cameras and cell phones.
It goes without saying that the most popular of all the attractions is the free Chocolate Tour, which emulates how the Hershey factory works by placing visitors in moving carts that travel through a series of exhibits and videos. Narration is provided on a screen inside the cart. Singing cows kick off the tour as the chocolate process begins at the dairy, then visitors move through various cocoa bean procedures including roasting – at this point, carts move through a noticeably heated area to simulate the roasting experience. The tour ends with samples of Hershey chocolate bars handed out to visitors as they exit. For an overview of the tour, check out our video below.
PROS: Chocolate Tour is free. Animation is cute. Chocolate World is a great place to rest your feet and cool off, especially if visiting Hershey on a hot day. The food court offers a wide variety of meals, from deli to hot meals to items like hamburgers and hot dogs, so there is something to please everyone. As for the pay as you go experiences, they are excellent if you have a sweet tooth
CONS: Chocolate World is chaotic. The free tour is simplistic and, outside of the singing cows and Hershey characters, it’s doubtful that very young children would find the factory process interesting. With the exception of the trolley, pay as you go experiences are pricey for what they entail.