I had heard about a pizza joint at Root's Country Market in Manheim, PA, about 30 minutes from Hershey, and it was only open once each week on Tuesdays. So, after a very nice breakfast at the Comfort Inn we were staying at (for FREE using my Choice Reward points), and being entertained by the ducks who lived at the little pond next to the parking lot, we headed out.
Roots had the look and feel of a flea market, but it had the flavor of a Dutch farmer's market, if you know what I mean. There actually are Pennsylvania Dutch selling food, and it appears to be a great place to get some really good fruits and veggies, as well as butchered meat and other goods. The seedy flea market side was also present, however, and there was a lot of junk being peddled. But we had fun looking around, and we did buy a few items, including a nice hat for Dad (his birthday was that day!). It was just a little too early for lunch, but we found the pizza place: Norma's Pizza. I'm guessing it was Norma herself who was making the pizzas. It really didn't look quite as good as I expected, and since we weren't quite hungry, we passed on the pizza. We spent a couple of hours at the market, all told, and then we decided to go find lunch somewhere nearby.
We ended up in the little picturesque town of Manheim and our GPS directed us to Francesco's, a little pizza joint right off of Main Street. We were craving pizza anyway, so we tried it. And it was good. Melody likes her pizza plain, with just cheese and sauce. I usually go with the veggies, but the "special" intrigued me, and that's what I got. They were personal sized pizzas, but really filling. And while the special was really good, it was just a little too much (it literally had every standard pizza topping). After finishing our nice meal, we headed back to Hershey.
Even though Hersheypark didn't open until 5, Hershey's Chocolate World was open all day. Chocolate World has a free ride through a simulated chocolate factory, and Melody enjoys going through it at least 3 or 4 or 11 times on each visit. They also give everyone a free piece of candy at the end of the ride. It's actually pretty cool, and is something I've experienced since I was a kid. Chocolate World also has a "4-D" movie, a trolley ride through the town of Hershey, a chocolate tasting class, and a make-your-own-candy bar experience. We've done them all, and this time the only thing we skipped was the make-your-own candy bar. By the time we were done, Hersheypark was opening. We had intended to go back to the hotel to change into warmer clothes, as the temperature was dropping significantly, but since we were already parked, we put on a few layers of jackets and braved it.
Hersheypark was decorated very nicely for the Christmas, and we couldn't help but be impressed with how nice everyone was. All of the employees seemed to be feeding off of the Christmas Spirit. The only negative, other than the cold temps, were the rudeness of some of the patrons. This is something we've encountered before at Hersheypark, and is indicative of much of the Northeast, unfortunately. I don't care for it, but I don't begrudge those who are just that way. It just seems like it's ingrained in their DNA. I mean no offense. I just don't care for it.
An example of this is while waiting in line for rides. At most parks, throughout the whole country, it's understood that if you want to ride with your friends, and they're in line somewhere behind you, you allow other people behind you to go ahead of you until your friends catch up, so there is no cutting in line. At Hershey, people seem to have no issue with cutting in line to get ahead of others in order to ride with their friends at the head of the line, despite signs prohibiting this. I guess it's up to other patrons to say something to these people, but I realize that no one wants to create an uncomfortable situation or confrontation. It's really unfair, though.
We had dinner at the park, getting one of Melody's favorites: Nathan's Hot Dogs. Ever since our trip to Coney Island in New York City, Melody has loved Nathan's. Usually, the dining area is outside, but fortunately and smartly, the area was totally enclosed and heated, which was appreciated on this cold night. After eating, we enjoyed walking around the park. It was a lot more crowded than we expected, but we had fun and rode a few more rides. Soon, though, the cold was just too much for us, and we left at around 8 p.m., an hour before they officially closed for the night.
We had one more activity for the night: Hershey's Sweet Lights. This is a drive-thru Christmas lights display, very much like Columbia's Symphony of Lights. It's a little ways out of town, a few miles from the park. I was concerned it might be just as crowded as Hersheypark, and while it was pretty well packed, we were able to drive right in. The only other concern I had was the amount of gas I had left in the Jeep. The low fuel light came on earlier in the day, but we never did see a gas station between then and when we arrived at Hersheypark, and since we didn't return to the hotel (when I had planned to get gas), we were getting pretty low. As we drove through the light displays, and I realized just how long the drive was, including a rather hilly area with huge changes in elevation and stop-and-go congestion, it occurred to me that we might run out of gas. Fortunately, we made it, and we filled the tank without issue. And I began to relax, because I do overly worry about this kind of thing. We were pretty well exhausted by this time, and we crashed at our hotel.
|A woman is overwhelmed attempting to feed the ducks...|
The next morning, we took our time getting ready and packed up, and after checking out, and being entertained again by all of the ducks, we went to one of our favorite diners: The Soda Jerk Diner, in Hummelstown, just down the street from our hotel. It was delicious, as usual. I was feeling kind of bad, though. I had some pretty intense cold symptoms, and wasn't as geared up for the things we had planned to do that day. We did return to Chocolate World one more time (with a couple more rides through the chocolate factory!), then we stopped at a mall in Harrisburg to get a few more gifts for Dad. I was feeling pretty crummy, though, and we started our drive home.
It was a great trip! We had a wonderful time, and it was fun to experience Hersheypark during the Holidays. I still think Busch Gardens Christmas Town is much better, and I wish we could've gone there instead, but this was a pretty nice trip for a Plan B.
The rest of our Christmas Break can be summarized as a typical New Year's Eve for the two of us, and lazy New Year's Day, lunch and a movie (NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3, Robin Williams last movie) the day after that, Dad's big 70th birthday bash on Saturday with the whole family, followed by a very depressing showing by our Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wildcard Round of the NFL Playoffs, and a quiet evening at home by myself (and Faithful Pup Scout, with Melody staying at Mom & Dad's) on Sunday to complete our vacation.
And THAT is how we spent our Christmas Break! Have a great evening, everyone!