Disclosure: I received free passes to Christmas Candylane in Hersheypark, and a one-night stay at Hershey Lodge, in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own, and that of my family who came along for the trip!
It’s always difficult to take my kids to parks in warmer months. Both kids get overheated easily, making the whole experience a nightmare within minutes of arriving at a park. Our best times to get out, and experience outdoor fun, is when the weather is a bit tepid. What’s a mom to do with easily overheating monkeys who still want to experience the outdoor fun at theme parks? Well, this mom found Christmas Candylane in Hersheypark! Christmas in Hershey is magical, and definitely not going to cause any overheating problems for my sunflowers!
Where to stay with your family at Hersheypark at Christmas time?
The Hershey Lodge is a beautiful place to stay during a visit to Hershey at Christmas time. It’s decorated for the season, and since it is a lodge, it’s decorated with amazing stone, as well as wood, throughout the lobby. There’s different options for people who want to stay at the lodge:
- rooms within the lodge’s main building
- outer building rooms, where doors open onto the parking lot for easy access to your car
Our family stayed on the fifth floor of the lodge, and it was perfect for us. We were able to leave the room, explore the hotel gift shop, and restaurants. We scored photos with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in front of the huge Christmas tree. My kids’ favorite part of the whole hotel? The indoor pool.
Save when staying on property at Hersheypark
If your family wants to save a little money, the Hershey Lodge gives the most bang for your buck. The Hershey Hotel is going to run you twice as much per night, and is all about luxury. It’s also home to the famous chocolate spa. It’s crazy high end, and you PAY for all the high end happening around you.
Eating at Hersheypark
Our family enjoyed eating at Hershey Grill for dinner. We didn’t have a reservation, but we chose to sit at the counter since there were four seats available upon arrival. Otherwise, we would have waited until after 9pm. Reason being? The place is tiny + churns out great food = fills up fast. My major tip when visiting Hershey Lodge for your theme park adventures at any time of the year: Pick your restaurants for your meals, and make your reservations at the concierge desk. The concierge desk is in the middle of the Lodge’s huge main floor, and the staff is super friendly!
Hershey Grill has great burgers, and chicken fingers for the kids. The Caesar salad Mr. Sunflower ate was delicious, and came in a deep bowl! The Boy enjoyed a very large bowl of french fries, and shared his sister’s chicken fingers. My burger was juicy, and served at the perfect temperature. The waitress, Karen, was attentive and filled my pink lemonade up every time it got low. The kids loved sitting at the counter, and the place is CLEAN.
A way around reservations? Go to the Cocoa Beanery. It servers breakfast, as well as, lunch-type items. We hit this one up the morning of our check-out day! Delicious stuff, even the bagels weren’t bad – and let’s remind you, I’m from New York. Bagels are a staple in my diet! Cocoa Beanery was also clean, especially for a place that is basically self-serve.
Hershey Lodge room
Speaking of clean…..our room was spotless. Every inch of the room, and bathroom: super clean. I’ve been to many hotels when traveling to theme parks over the years, in all parts of the country. Hershey Lodge has to be the cleanest one I’ve ever been to. We stayed in the main lodge, on the fifth floor, and it was impeccable. I kept saying “I can’t believe how clean this place is, can you believe it?”
Mr. Sunflower probably thought I was insane, but even he commented on how pristine the bathroom was. Listen, I’m not a super clean freak. However, when I stay at a hotel, I want to feel like I’m not going to leave with some kind of disease from walking barefoot on the floor…..you’ve been to places like that, right? Well, I walked around barefoot, with confidence at Hershey Lodge.
Around Hershey Lodge
The kids loved the pool, and the characters, however, the best part of their visit in the #HersheyLodge has to be the Sweet Memories gift shop. They got to pick out some goodies to bring home to remember our trip! But enough about the hotel……let’s learn more about the main attraction!
Hersheyparks’ Christmas Candylane
If you stay at any of the Hershey properties, there’s a free shuttle service to get you to the main attraction: Hersheypark. Hershey Lodge isn’t super far from Hersheypark, but driving there would mean losing our parking spot, and pay for parking when we got to the park. Plus, walking some major parking lot distance from the car to the park. NO THANKS.
Sign me up for the free shuttle coming to the front of Hershey Lodge. It picks up passengers, and then drops off at the park entrance. Super fabulous. If you stay at the campsite, or The Hershey Hotel, it’s the same service. It’s part of the perks of staying on property!
Fun at Christmas Candylane with kids
Christmas Candylane is the perfect theme park experience for young kids like my two. Little Miss and The Boy are seven and five years old, and smaller than other kids their ages. It all worked out for most of the rides the kids were interested in, as a lot of them allow an adult to ride along with youngsters too small to ride alone. We spent a chunk of time in the Founder’s Circle, which has the bulk of rides my little ones wanted to ride.
We skipped a long wait over in Music Box Way, to get on the Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge. If you’ve got kids who love roller coasters, this is not the time of the year to come and hang at Hersheypark. The bigger rides were not offered, so roller coasters weren’t happening in the winter. The day we went was beautiful, but they don’t have the bigger rides like that working during the Christmas Candylane. It all worked for us!
More to do than just Hersheypark Theme Park
Obviously, the water rides aren’t happening during the winter season, but Hersheypark’s ZooAmerica is open. It’s a perfect start to the day when you purchase your passes to Hersheypark, because it’s included in the ticket price. It’s only open until around 4:30 P.M. during this time of the year, so hit it as soon as you get your tickets. If you’re also into chocolate, which I assume if you’re heading to Hershey, Pennsylvania, you must love chocolate – there’s also Chocolate World. BIG HIT.
Just the smell of chocolate when you enter the building is worth a visit! There’s tons of activities to do there, including making your own Chocolate Bars!
Missed opportunity thanks to poor planning
Make sure the kids don’t tire out before you get the chance to hit up the Pioneer Frontier. Our kids were exhausted after a full day of riding all the stuff in the Founder’s Circle, and the ton of walking around for everything else in the park we hit up, so we missed the amazing AMTRAK Candylane Twilight Express experience. I truly wish we had done it, but with cranky kids, it wouldn’t be as magical as one would hope!
If we had two days to spend at the park, we’d have had a much better time of it.
Recommendations for a fantastic experience at Christmas Candylane in Hersheypark
- Go for two days. You can’t hit everything with little ones, without some meltdowns. Avoid the meltdowns, enjoy the time there for a couple of hours, head back to the hotel/lodge and enjoy the indoor fun. You can re-charge, and head back later in the day (just make sure you get your hands stamped to be able to re-enter.)
- Best thing to do with kids? If you can only afford to stay for one night at the Hershey Lodge, I’d recommend checking in at your hotel, lounging around and using the pool. Then head out to the park late. There’s a fantastic offer: purchase tickets two hours before the park closes, and you can come back the next day with full access to the park again! PERFECT for families who are budgeting. Hit the Twilight Express, and some smaller lines the night you arrive, and then the following day, go and enjoy the run of the park, including ZooAmerica!
- Do not miss out on Chocolate World.
- Stay at the less expensive Hershey Lodge if you need to save money. It’s beautiful, clean, and the restaurants are fantastic. There’s an indoor pool, a gym, and a game room. The kids will have a blast, and the service is top notch.
P.S. – My absolute favorite part of Hersheypark? Check this out for all my fellow writers out there……