Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Hershey Thanksgiving

We just completed a fantastic few days of fun following our Thanksgiving feast with the family!

Thanksgiving itself was great.  Mom made a wonderful meal with all the trimmings, and the rest of the day was spent in fun conversation with football playing in the background.  Everyone parted late in the evening and Melody and I headed home.

Friday morning, we both got up early and packed and prepared for a getaway for a couple of days.  Destination:  Hershey, PA.  We left the house at around 11:30, made a stop at Chick-Fil-A to grab some lunch, then continued up the road to Hershey.  First stop was at Chocolate World.

Hershey's Chocolate World contains a lot of different fun activities that, as hokey as it sounds, really are for the whole family.  First of all, there's a free ride-through attraction that takes you through a mock chocolate factory, giving one a nice overview of how Hershey makes their chocolate.  It's informative and fun, with the smell of chocolate wafting through the air as you ride along.  At the end, a free sample of chocolate is given to every rider.  On this day, they gave us a Kit Kat bar.

There is a very large retail area with every kind of Hershey product available, including the basic Hershey Milk Chocolate Bars, Special Dark Chocolate bars, Mr. Goodbar bars, Krackle bars, Hershey's Kisses, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Reese's Pieces, Twizzlers, Whoppers, Mounds, Almond Joy, Payday, Kit Kats, plus shirts, bags, stuffed animals, banks, hats, and so much more.

There is a fun movie that Melody and I watched last year, where the audience gets to interact with the characters on the screen.  There is a chocolate tasting class, which teaches you the differences in the tastes of the various chocolates.  There's a make-your-own-chocolate bar activity that allows you to do that very thing, adding your favorite ingredients to customize the bar to your tastes.

Finally, there's a trolley ride through the town of Hershey where you get a sense of the history of Milton Hershey, his chocolate, the factory, and his contributions to the town he founded.  For the Holidays, there is a true Christmas theme to the ride, with a visit by Santa Claus along the way, and singing Christmas carols.  It's a lot of fun.

We did it all, and loaded up with chocolate gifts for the whole family, too.

The highlight of the trip, though, is Hersheypark, the adjoining amusement park, which opens for the Christmas season with lights and decorations.  We spent the rest of the evening running around the park and riding several rides.  It was really crowded, though, so the more popular rides had really long waits.  We ended up only riding five rides before calling it a night and heading for the exit.

The last thing we did for the evening was a ride through a spectacular light display called Hershey's Sweet Lights.  If you live in the Columbia, MD, area, this is very similar to the Symphony of Lights Holiday display at Merriweather Post, except much larger.  It was very festive, and was a great cap to the day.

After a great night of rest, we had breakfast at our favorite diner, the Soda Jerk Diner, in Hummelstown, PA, just up the road from Hershey.  The food is great, and the ambiance is even better.  There's just something about diner coffee...

We returned to Hersheypark after breakfast to ride the few coasters that were open, since we missed them the night before.  The park was not crowded since it was raining lightly, and we were able to ride Laff Trakk, a new coaster for 2015, for the first time.  It was fun, but the 20 minute wait really wasn't worth it.  The ride is kind of similar to a Wild Mouse, with a tight track and turns and 4-person coaster cars, but it's in the dark, like a fun house or dark ride, and the cars spin as the ride goes along.  It's also very short.

We also rode the Wildcat, a rickety old wooden coaster that my daughter, Melody, didn't really care for in the past.  However, this time, riding in the front seat, in the cool weather, it was fun.  We enjoyed it.  Finally, we rode the Sooper Dooper Looper, an older steel coaster that goes upside down.

We had some lunch, then headed for home.  It was an uneventful drive home, and it felt good to be home on Saturday, which allowed us all of Sunday to relax and gear up for the Holidays, and prepare for another week of work and school.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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