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How Sweet It Is: Hersheypark Opened its 2020 Season on July 3

Hershey Park Opened its 2020 season on July 3
Due to limited capacity, guests are required to reserve a day to visit the park.

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Masks are required as are reservations, but just like its chocolate empire namesake, the reopening of Pennsylvania's Hersheypark is tasty indeed.  Debuting their $150 million Chocolatetown, the expanded new area of the park that includes the amusement park's tallest, longest, and fastest roller coaster, Candyomium, is 23 acres. That ground is put to good use, with a new entrance area, as a home for the park's carrousel. There's several new retail experiences as well, including the Hersheypark Supply Co. flagship shopping experience, and the park's first Starbucks.

Along with all the fun, guests will find the coronavirus response solidly in place, from cleaning and sanitizing by park employees to sanitization stations throughout the park.

To visit, guests must first make reservations at the park. Capacity on the July 3rd opening day appeared to be about 50% according to visiting guests. Once in the park, social distancing is reinforced with signs, ground markings, and guest spaces. And, everyone over the age of 2 is required to wear masks.  As of July 10th, the park is removed the requirement for advance reservations to the park for season passholders, however.

Along with the standard safety bag checks, the park now has touchless temperature screening required before entering that park.
Temperature checks are required before guests enter the park

And, once on the rides, social distancing in queues as well as on the rides themselves, are required. Guest reviews stress short ride wait times, and frequent cleaning.

COVID-19 Signage

Along with the amusement park, the waterpark is also open. The Boardwalk at Hersheypark does not require guests to wear face coverings in the water, but it is required at all other times. Social distancing is required at wading pools, wave pools, and the Lazy River Intercoastal Waterway alike. From tubes, to mats, to cabanas, sanitization is frequent.

While both parks have canceled indoor live shows and strolling performers this summer, the outdoor aquatheatre seal and sea lion show will be running. The Storm Runner ride will be closed for the summer due to maintenance issues.

The park is still considering how or if to offer the HersheySM Character experiences this summer.

In a chocolate-themed themepark, naturally dining is something guests expect, and to fulfill both guest desire and safety guidelines by the National Restaurant Association COVID-19 Reopening Guidance and the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health guidelines, Hersheypark has installed plexiglass barriers between staff and guests; reduced seating; and is encouraging pre-ordering cashless transactions. Self-serve condiments and utensils have been removed, and paper menus and menu signs for single-use have replaced long-term use items. Some restaurants are not open as of press time.

What about the games? Some open, some closed with playing gear from balls to water race guns frequently sanitized.
Safety boxes checked, guests found a bevy of new experiences and old favorites for the park's reopening.

Candymonium is perhaps the splashiest attraction, with its much-touted lift height of 210 feet and a speed of 76 miles per hour. The length of the track at 4636-feet and airtime are both the largest of any roller coaster in the park. The candy-themed train traverses a 123-degree hammerhead curve.
NEW Candymonium Coaster built by B&M

Hersheypark general manager Vikki Hultquist said that the park staff and management were excited to “kick off our 114th seasons with familiar favorites and exciting additions like Candymonium.” She stressed the importance of health and safety at the park as ongoing over time, with of course, a special emphasis this year in light of the pandemic.

Along with the chocolate-colored track of Candymonium, designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, and the most touted new attraction at the park, Chocolatetown will also be home to the virtual reality experience of Hyperdeck.

Created by Majormega, the Hyperdeck experience is entirely immersive. Multiple players enter one of two 300-square-foot play areas, offering a virtual world enhanced with a full-motion floor, and wind, heat, and other movements. Outside, onlookers can help or challenge players using provided tablets to interact with them.

Hultquist notes “we have always focused on providing our guests of all ages with fun and innovative entertainment experiences …We're excited to debut Hyperdeck as a first-of-its-kind immersive VR game and the first on the Northeast”. She terms the attraction just one part of a “transformational experience” in Chocolatetown.

Merchandising and dining have not been forgotten in Chocolatetown either. The flagship retail experience of the Hersheypark Supply Co is joined by dining spots that include Chocolatier, the largest themed full-service restaurant and bar in the park. The latter will open in 2021, along with Milton's Ice Cream Parlor and The Sweeterie Confectionery Kitchen.

This year, along with the new rides, the Kisses Fountain will also open. Candomonium will ride a banked curve with a grand park view around the fountain.

Open earlier this summer, in late June, ZooAmerica also welcomes guests in Hershey. Lodging is open as well, offering accommodations for guests at both Hershey Lodge and the Hershey Camping Resort. Hershey's Chocolate World tours are also open, but require free online timed passes to take a tour. Tickets are digital to avoid contact with staff; and guests receive a two-hour window to explore. Capacity is reduced and social distancing enforced. Food will be offered with a take-out menu that features “best of” regular menu choices. As with the park itself, temperature screening and face coverings are required.
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