THE HISTORY OF HERSHEYPARK
Hersheypark is one of many top rated theme parks that features a unique history. Here you will be able to see what happened since the opening of the original park in 1907, what rides were removed and are still existing today and so much more.
1907: Hershey Park opens to the public as a place where workers from the nearby Hershey Chocolate Factory could relax during breaks from work. It was also a recreational facility for the residents of the town of Hershey. There were playgrounds for the kids and benches for the adults to sit and talk. A pavilion also opened which was later enclosed and used for dancing and roller skating.
1909: a dance pavilion was built which would be enlarged and remodeled many times until the 1970's. An amphitheatre was also constructed along with bowling alleys and a carousel.
1910: a narrow-gauge miniature railway was added to the park. I transported guests from the railroad bridge at Park Avenue, over Spring Creek, and ending up over at the baseball field.
1913: the famous deer statue is erected at the entrance to Hershey Park. It would later become the centerpiece of the entrance to ZooAmerica in the early 1990's.
1914: a bandstand (or bandshell) was constructed in 1914.
1915: a huge Convention Hall was constructed. It had four towers, in which Milton Hershey had planned to install chimes, but the chimes were never added. This building was used to house concerts and would later become the home of the Hershey Museum.
1916: the Hershey Park Zoo opens on May 26 as eventually grows to become the largest free private zoo in America. The park's pavilion, which had been enclosed several years before, became the Hershey Park Cafe and was famous for it's "chicken and waffle" dinners.
1923: Hershey Park installed it's first major ride, the Joy Ride a wooden out and back roller coaster. It was designed by Herbert P. Schmeck who would design the famous Comet roller coaster twenty three years later. The name was eventually changed to the Wild Cat.
1925: starting in the winter of 1925, the Convention Hall was converted into an indoor ice skating rink and became the Ice Palace.
1927: the chocolate company refinanced to liquidate the remaining debt left from the 1920 sugar crisis and get more money for future expansion. To deal with this problem, two corporations were created: The Hershey Chocolate Corporation and Hershey Estates (which would later become Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company).
1929: the Hershey Park swimming pool opened to the public. Four pools, a bathhouse and a lighthouse (which still exists today) were constructed. Swimmers received the use of a locker and the loan of towel for 25 cents.
1930: a new water ride, The Mill Chute opened to the public. It featured a mill wheel, which moved water through the channel and a covered portion of the channel (old mill section which featured four animated scenes), followed by a lift hill where the boats were pulled up by a chain and then sent down the chute into the pool of water. It would later be remodeled with a Jurassic theme well into the early 1970's. The Hershey Parkview Golf clubhouse was constructed which would later house HERCO's main offices.
1931: a water toboggan slide was built next to the ballroom. It was located on the other side of Spring Creek from the Hershey Park swimming pool. People could rent wooden sleds for fifteen cents for a half hour.
1932: the Bug was added along with the Pretzel indoor dark ride. Both served the park well into the late 1970's and early 1980's.
1934: the Hershey Park Zoo opens a new bird house, a round build with skylights. This building is still in use today.
1936: the Hershey Sports Arena (now known as Hersheypark Arena) opens with the Hershey Bears hockey club. The structure is built next to the old Convention Hall which was no longer used for roller skating.
1937: Hershey Park purchases a Whip ride from W.F. Mangels Company, Coney Island , New York.
1938: new Auto Skooter bumper cars make their debut.
1939: the Hershey Sports Stadium (now known as Hersheypark Stadium) opens.
1940: the Ariel Joy Ride opens after being brought to Hershey Park from the 1939/1940 New York Worlds Fair.
1941: a new souvenir and administration building opens replacing the main pavilion (which housed roller skating and dancing when the park first opened). This building now houses the Wok and Roll, Boardwalk Fries and the Kissing Place in the Minetown section of the park.
1942: The Hershey Park Zoo closes and would reopen after the war. The whip is covered and becomes the Whiperoo.
1944: to celebrate the park's fortieth anniversary, the park purchased a Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel. It would be the last ride that Milton Hershey would add to his park. This beautiful masterpiece still serves the park today.
1945: the Wild Cat roller coaster ran for the last time in September. In it's twenty-three years, it carried millions of passengers and had been the park's signature attraction since 1923. About a month later on October 14 Milton Hershey passes away.
1946: the Comet roller coaster opens. This magnificent ride still continues to thrill riders today.
1947: Hershey Park purchases a Cuddle Up ride and places it where the Wild Cat's loading station formally stood.
1949: the park's Pennsylvania Dutch Days promotion made it's debut.
1950: the Hershey Park Zoo reopens. The park purchases the twin ferris wheels that operated in tandem.
1955: the Areo Jets opened replacing the Ariel Joy Ride.
1957: the Hershey Park Ballroom is remodeled and becomes the Starlight Ballroom.
1959: the miniature railway celebrates it's fiftieth birthday.
1961: The Dry Gulch Railroad and the park's original Turnpike debuts. The railroad looped at both ends and crossed a trestle bridge which was built over a hilly terrain. The turnpike featured cars that were pedaled by the drivers and had rails on each side of the road to prevent the drivers from driving the cars off the road.
1963: the Mill Chute is remodeled and becomes the Lost River.
1964: the Pretzel was remodeled and became the Golden Nugget.
1966: Hershey Park opens the Skyview, a gondola ride over Spring Creek and the midway by the Comet. The station was constructed on the hill above the Comet's loading station. Skyview still provides guests with ariel views of the park today.
1967: Hershey Park installs the Paratrooper, a spinning ride. The Hershey Park swimming pool closes after the 1967 season due to high maintenance costs caused by much cracking and leaking.
1969: The Hershey Park Zoo closed in 1969 due to the fear of vandalism and high costs of properly protecting the animals. The monorail was built in 1969 as a ride, and a shuttle, which transported guests from the station by the arena over to the factory tour. A Rotor is purchased and placed next to the Comet. By the late 1960's old theme parks, like Cedar Point, were fencing in the park and adding new themed areas. New parks, like Kings Island and Walt Disney World, were in the planning and construction stages. Plans were unveiled to fence in the park and start adding themed areas and new rides to compete with other parks. It was here that the name was changed from "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark".
1970: the last dance is held in the Starlight Ballroom. This would also be the last season the park would be an open park. The famous pinwheel design was introduced.
1971: For the 1971 season, Hershey Estates fenced in the park's grounds and moved the main entrance across Spring Creek to the northeastern end of the arena, by the Monorail Station. Admission was $3.50 for adults, $1.75 for juniors (ages five to eleven) and children under four were admitted free. There was also a plan with a small general admission charge and ride tickets. The park was open seven days a week and mostly everything (rides, food, shops, and games) remained the same. Daily entertainment was the biggest change. The parking lot configuration changed from parking cars in and around the park grounds and downtown Hershey to the current parking lots around the Stadium and Arena and traffic was shifted from Chocolate Avenue to Airport Road (later renamed Hersheypark Drive).
1972: the Carrousel was moved from it's location along Spring Creek, to the "Carrousel Circle" area of the park, where it is located today. Several rides, kiddie rides including the Scrambler, the Monster, Helicopters, Traffic Jam, Space Age and the Twin Toboggans, and a fast food restaurant were constructed. The Aquatheatre also started presenting dolphin and sea lion shows. The Lost River closes after being destroyed by tropical storm Agnes.
1973: the park relocated it's main entrance to it's present location and the entry area was named "Tudor Square". It resembled an old English Style Village. After passing through the "English Style Castle" admission gate, you walk up the hill to Carrousel Circle through "Rhineland", an area themed after the region's German heritage. The GIANT Wheel was also added next to the Carrousel Circle area and the Coal Cracker flume ride debuted as the first log flume of it's kind in the world. The Amphitheatre also debuted on the hill where it is located today. HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD opened, replacing the original factory tour. An entrance sign in the shape of a train first greeted guests as they entered the parking lot.
1974: The Trailblazer and Sky Ride debuted for the 1974 season. The Sky Ride took you from the station in Rhineland to the area near the Coal Cracker flume ride. 1974 also marked the final season for the twin ferris wheels. The Trailblazer Theatre opened as a small open aired theater and was expanded in the early 1980's.
1975: a Reverchon Himalaya opened at the site of the twin ferris wheels (later moved to future site of Flying Falcon). 1975 was also the first year for the Kissing Tower and Twin Turnpike (which was the replacement for the original Turnpike removed in 1972). These rides were added to a new area "Tower Plaza" which also included a fountain and benches for park guests. The company's name was changed from Hershey Estates to HERCO Inc.
1976: another kiddie ride, Earthmovers opens.
1977: Hersheypark unveils the sooperdooperLooper. This coaster was the first looping coaster on the east coast with the other being the Revolution, at Magic Mountain in California. The ride opened with a tan color and orange trains, then was repainted to the current blue and green paint scheme prior to the 1988 season.
1978: Hersheypark's wildlife themed area, ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park opened, using existing buildings from the old Hershey Park Zoo and haf five areas: Grassy Waters, North Woods, Gentle Woodlands, Cactus Community, and Big Sky Country. The old Auto Skooter was replaced with the Fender Bender in 1979. The Golden Nugget dark ride was demolished to accommodate the Fender Bender. Also, the Music Box Theatre opened after being a totally open stage in years before. The Twin Toboggans are removed and replaced with the Flying Bobs.
1979: Hersheypark's Pennsylvania Dutch Days promotion came to an end. The Starlight Arcade featured it's first footprints. The Osmond family were the first to feature hand/footprints in the Starlight Arcade.
1980: Hersheypark expands it's boundaries for the first time since 1971 (except ZooAmerica which was almost a separate attraction) by adding the Pirate and Cyclops rides. The Cyclops was your typical HUSS Enterprise that started spinning horizontally and eventually rose while continuing to spin its riders. The Aero Jets are reconstructed as Starship America. The Pennsylvania Fest Haus opens near Tower Plaza in the former souvenir and administration building. Some of the older rides like the Paratrooper were removed. The company name was changed again to Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company (HERCO) and the company's offices were moved to the former Hershey Parkview Clubhouse near Chocolate World.
1981: the Bug is removed at the end of the season. "Creatures of the Night" debuted at ZooAmerica in 1981 as a one night flashlight tour of the zoo.
1982: the Wave Swinger opens on the old site of the Bug. The area by the sooperdooperLooper and the Comet was turned into Comet Hollow. The Paddleboats were added to Spring Creek. The Balloon Flite was placed at the top of the hill near Rhineland replacing the Flying Bobs. The Cinema Vision geodesic dome premiered near the Pirat and Cyclops.
1983: the park installs the Tilt-A-Whirl which replaced the Monster in Carrousel Circle. Hersheypark's holiday "free admission" extravaganza, Hersheypark Christmas Candylane debuts with Tudor Square, Rhineland and Carrousel Circle only being open.
1984: "Pioneer Frontier" was Hersheypark's newest themed area. It was accessed by a midway extending beyond the Pirat and Cyclops and another walkway using the hill near the Trailblazer. The Dry Gulch Railroad was rerouted to it's present oval configuration and a tunnel and ghost town were added to the train's route. The Conestoga and Timbler Rattler were added as well as the kiddie Mangels Whip which was renamed Wells Cargo and the kiddie carousel which was renamed Livery Stables, both relocated from other areas of the park. The Conestoga was a HUSS Rainbow ride that was re-themed by Hersheypark to fit the Pioneer Frontier area. The ride basically spun horizontally and gave it's riders a magnificent view of that area of the park.
1986: the Cinema Vision geodesic dome was converted into the Frontier Meeting House which was not too successful and was soon removed.
1987: the park installs Canyon River Rapids adjacent to the midway where the Conestoga is located.
1988: the Frontier Shootout debuts with Pistol Pete's Plunge and the Slidewinder. Hershey's Chocolate World renovates it's chocolate making tour ride for the first time since it's opening in 1973.
1989: little kiddies could get wet with Tiny Timbers, a mini log flume ride which was placed next to the Fender Bender. The Balloon Flite is relocated from area near the Music Box Theatre to Pioneer Frontier.
1990: the southeast corner of the park near the entrance to ZooAmerica and the Kissing Tower was upgraded at a cost of $7.5 million and become Minetown. The Flying Falcon was the centerpiece of this renovation and expansion. Three new kiddie rides, the Convoy, the Red Baron and the Dinosaur Go Round were also added. These rides replaced two older and outdated rides: the Coal Shaker and Himalaya. The Pennsylvania Fest Haus became the San Georgio Pasta House and the new 49,300 square-foot Minetown Restaurant and Arcade replace the old Penny Arcade which was demolished. A new entrance planter and walkway were constructed for ZooAmerica and the old deer statue from the early days of the park was relocated there as the centerpiece.
1991: the Sidewinder debuts in the Pioneer Frontier section of the park.
1992: the Barking Lot kennel opens under the west stand of Hersheypark Stadium. The Sky Ride is removed after eighteen years of operation.
1993: the area around the Music Box Theatre was named Music Box Way. ZooAmerica celebrated it's fifteenth anniversary with a new veterinary service center.
1994: Tidal Force opens as the world's tallest and wettest splashdown ride. The Tilt-A-Whirl was moved to the location formerly occupied by the Rotor which was removed from the park. Christmas Candylane expands for the first time since it's debut in 1983 with more rides including the Fender Bender and the Dry Gulch Railroad being decorated and renamed the Candylane Twilight Express.
1995: another kiddie ride, Tiny Tracks debuted in Carrousel Circle at the former Tilt-A-Whirl location. The Comet celebrated it's fiftieth birthday with a new entrance and exit configuration and new trains named "lightning" and "thunder." Creatures of the Night at ZooAmerica expands into the Minetown area of the park and part of the Pioneer Frontier area. Selected rides were opened including Bats In The Belfry (Kissing Tower), Transylvania Turnpike (Antique Cars and Icabod's Train (Trailblazer). Christmas Candylane featured an area where guests could greet Santa, Santa's Castle located in the geodesic dome.
1996: the Wildcat opens as the first phase of a newly themed area, Midway America. Hershey's Chocolate Town Cafe debuts at Hershey's Chocolate World.
1997: Midway America expanded to include the Ferris Wheel, Whip and three other kiddie rides relocated from other areas of the park: Granny Bugs, Pony Parade and Miniature Train. A pizzeria, gift shop, games stand and restrooms were also constructed. The Fender Bender received new bumper cars that are in operation today. The old Minetown sky ride station is demolished at the end of the season in preparation for the start of the construction of GREAT BEAR. Creatures of the Night changed it's entrance procedure so that guests would enter through Hersheypark's main entrance in Tudor Square instead of through the zoo. The Carrousel was also open for the event and was renamed Night Mares. Christmas Candylane introduced Santa's Stables where the park brought in nine live reindeer for guest's enjoyment.
1998: Hersheypark unveiled GREAT BEAR, a state-of-the-art inverted roller coaster. The ride swept along it's course next to Spring Creek, through Comet Hollow and over the sooperdooperLooper and Coal Cracker. A new Halloween event, Hersheypark In The Dark debuted with the popular Creatures of the Night event at ZooAmerica. Comet Hollow was open for the event for the first time with more rides including Great Scare (GREAT BEAR), sooperBOOperLooper (sooperdooperLooper), Icabod's Train (The Comet) and Swings of Salem (the Wave Swinger). A new "free admission" entrance procedure was introduced for the event. Christmas Candylane introduced Santa Claus Lane in the Minetown Area of the park. Here, Santa's Castle found a new home, special displays, entrance into ZooAmerica (during operating hours) and the Convoy, Red Baron and Dinosaur Go Round all were part of the new holiday themed area. Hershey's Chocolate World celebrated it's 25th anniversary with completely renovating it's free chocolate-making tour ride. ZooAmerica also celebrated it's 20th anniversary with minor additions and renovations.
1999: the park renovates Midway America to reflect the theme of a county/state fair. The Wild Mouse roller coaster, Frog Hopper, Music Express, Chaos, and several food and merchandise vendors all made their debut. The Hersheypark Midway Tent opened as a place for the park to hold various summer events all season long. The Frontier Shootout is renovated and becomes the Western Shootout. Pistol Pete's Plunge becomes Winding Rivers and the Slidewinder becomes Straight Shooters. ZooAmerica opened the Black Bear Encounter where you can view several of the zoo's black bears from different vantage pints.
2000: again, Hersheypark continued to develop Midway America with the addition of Lightning Racer. This major coaster was named "America's first wooden racing/dueling roller coaster". Guests could race against their opponents in trains named Lightning or Thunder. The Comet's trains which were named "Lightning" and "Thunder" received new color logos on the front of them. Hersheypark's "free admission" springtime extravaganza "Springtime In The Park" made it's debut. Hersheypark In The Dark expanded to include Music Box Way and Pioneer Frontier. Ground was broken for a new hockey arena, the GIANT Center.
2001: another style of entertainment was added to the park, Nightlights, A Musical Laser Spectacular. The laser show featured spectacular laser images choreographed to music and was projected on a huge screen. Laser shows were also designed for Halloween and Christmas. The San Giorgio Pasta House was made over into Wok and Roll and sold Chinese fare. Phase I of the parking lot configuration debuted, allowing guests to park their vehicles in diagonal parking spaces. A new tram road, picnic area and restrooms were also constructed. New exits were built to allow park guests to leave the park easier. HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD expanded to include a new entrance and exterior facade resembling the Hershey Chocolate Factory, and an expanded new lobby.
2002: Hersheypark declared 2002 another "wet" year of thrills with the addition of their ninth rollercoaster- Roller Soaker! Another new restaurant, Decades, opens. Hershey Entertainment and Resorts purchases Dutch Wonderland in nearby Lancaster and forms Wonderland Amusement Management, a wholly owned division of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company. Phase II of the current parking lot configuration debuted, which included the current entrance into the parking lot, and new entrance road, plus the removal of the old train sign, which is put into storage. The Skyview ride and Comet Hollow, along with the Kissing Tower and Antique Cars were opened at Christmas Candylane for the first time. HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD opened HERSHEY'S Really BIG 3-D Show in which the Hershey's Product Characters were featured on the big screen for the first time. The Hershey Bears HL hockey team debuted their 65th season at the GIANT Center.
2003: the Cyclops and Conestoga are removed. Music Box Way is completely upgraded and two new rides debut. THE CLAW debuts at the former location of the Cyclops and the Mini Pirate is installed where the Earthmovers used to be. The Earthmovers and Wells Cargo kiddie rides are moved to Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company's sister park, Dutch Wonderland in nearby Lancaster as Duke's Dozers and the Wonder Whip. The Music Box Theatre is completely rebuilt in the center of the renovated area where the old theatre and Starship America once stood. A new recording studio, Studio H, is constructed next to the new Music Box Theatre. A section of Pioneer Frontier is also upgraded and the Frontier Flyers and Mini Scrambler are installed there along with a new restaurant, the Wurstburg Grill. The old Pippin's restaurant in Tudor Square is renovated and became the Tudor Grill. The new Frontier Virtual Theatre opens at the former location of the Conestoga which is sold to Lake Winnie in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The bronze statue of M.S. Hershey is erected in front of the carrousel replacing the outdated celebrity handprints of the Starlight Arcade. These, plus the Starship America are both put into storage. Halloween In Hershey expands to include Midway America. ZooAmerica celebrates its 25th Anniversary by debuting the Bald Eagle and Canadian Lynx exhibits. Hershey's Chocolate World also celebrates its 30th Anniversary. Hershey's Chocolate Town Cafe closes in preparation for the construction of Hershey's Factory Works.
2004: the park debuts its tenth roller coaster, Storm Runner, the first Intamin Rocket Coaster to feature inversions in the Pioneer Frontier area of the park. The ride featured a top hat and flying snake dive. The Balloon Flite is temporarily removed and put into storage. The park switches from mamma ilardo's pizza to Famous Famigila Pizza. Hershey's Chocolate World debuts Hershey's Factory Works, a new interactive area for families and featuring a food court, the Kit Kat Gimme A Break Cafe. The Dry Gulch Railroad, Storm Runner and the Wildcat are added to the park's line-up of rides, known as the HOWL-o-ween-Express, Ghost Runner and Scaredy Cat, at Hersheypark In The Dark for the first time. Also added is Haunted Harvest, a separate attraction for teens and adults.
2005: The GIANT Wheel is removed after thirty-one years of operation. Carrousel Circle is completely refurbished and becomes Founder's Circle, in honor of M.S. Hershey, the park's founder. New landscaping and walkways as well as newly built shade arbors help give the area a nostalgic 1920's feel pulled off from the carrousel as well as the M.S. Hershey Statue. Starship America and Balloon Flite both come back out of storage and are placed in the newly renovated area. A new show called The Milkmen is produced. A new Subway is constructed at the entrance to Midway America. A new electronic sign and marquee is introduced at the intersection of Hersheypark Drive and Park Boulevard, in front of the GIANT Center. The Hershey Parkview Golf Course, adjacent to Chocolate World, is closed for good.
2006: Chaos is removed. The park debuts it's first dark ride since the removal of the old Golden Nugget back in the 70's, The Reese's Extreme Cup Challenge where riders (or competing teams) score points by shooting lasers at targets throughout the ride to determine the answer to the question, "Is is chocolate or peanut butter that makes Reese's so good?" in the first interactive dark ride to pit car against car in a high energy competition to be found no where else. The Frog Hopper is also moved to Minetown and the Dinosaur-Go-Round is moved to Founder's Circle. Hershey's Chocolate World renovates the chocolate-making tour ride including the addition of three audio animatronics singing cows, and the ride is now known as Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour. HERCO moves its headquarters from the former Parkview Golf Clubhouse near Chocolate World, to the newly renovated Hershey Press Building, located at the corner of Chocolate and Park Avenues.
2007: The park celebrates its 100th anniversary by throwing a town-wide celebration. The park is decorated and now features historical markers to show where previous rides and facilities once stood. A new waterpark, The Boardwalk, is unveiled which captures the charm of the famous eastern Atlantic coast beaches, such as Ocean and Atlantic City, Rehoboth Beach and Coney Island, along with the debut of five new water attractions, Coastline Plunge, Bayside Pier, The Waverider, Sandcastle Cove and East Coast Waterworks, the largest interactive water play structure in the world. The Paddleboats are discontinued after 24 years of service. The parking lot is expanded behind the GIANT Center to accommodate more overflow with a reconfigured parking lot entrance that feeds into the site of the old Parkview Golf Course.
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