Sometimes in the rush of daily activities, you can temporarily forget some of the best times of your life.
Recently, fellow blogger Typical Tracy published a post about a water ride at her local amusement park.
That post brought back some fond memories. A number of years ago, my husband and I took out a second mortgage on our home to pay off some horrendous credit card bills. (That’s what desperate people often do, and while it provides relief for the moment, most of the time those bills just pile up all over again. That will be the subject of a future post.)
After paying off the bills, we found we had just enough money left over for our first ever out-of-town family trip. I let my girls choose any location they wanted within a 500-mile radius of Buffalo, NY, and after several days of online research, accompanied by giggling and occasional I-don’t-want-to-go-THERE! disputes, they ultimately chose Hershey Park, Pennsylvania.
I think I was as excited about the upcoming trip as they were. We never had much money as the kids were growing up, and therefore our previous family outings had been limited to local attractions. (Well, there had been one overnight trip to Toronto, but that’s only an hour and a half away, so I consider it to be local.)
Anyway, our Hershey Park trip was planned and reserved, and hubby and I scheduled vacation time from our respective jobs.
For our Hershey Park trip, we opted to stay in a hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, rather than face crowds in the Park’s own onsite facilities. There was enough money left over from the refinance that we were able to put our daughters into their own hotel room across the hall from us. As teenagers, they didn’t want mom and dad sharing a room with them, and as, ahem, consenting adults, hubby and I didn’t want them in the room with us. Win-win for everyone.
I won’t go into a day-by-day vacation playback (you’re welcome, readers!), but do want to touch on a few highlights:
♦ Hershey Park was wonderful. I’ve never seen such a clean, well-run amusement park. Unlike many other amusement parks, Hersey had an abundance of trees to provide shade on hot days. The park was definitely family-oriented, and I felt very comfortable letting my girls wander off on their own at times. I would highly recommend a trip there for anyone.
♦ Traffic to and from the park was not as bad as I would have expected, even though we were staying over a weekend in August. There was plenty of parking, although shuttle buses were used to get to and from the outer parking lots, and trust me – on the way back to the car at the end of the day, those shuttle buses were a welcomed sight!
♦ The concessions were very reasonable – no gouging of the customers at Hershey Park! When the temperature dropped in the evening, we all bought Hershey Park sweatshirts, and the prices were the same as if we had bought the items at our local mall. (Well-made sweatshirts, too – I’m still wearing mine many years later.)
♦ And the rides! So many, and so much fun! I think possibly the best part of the two days for me was when my girls agreed to let me join them on the water rides while WEARING A BATHING SUIT. As we waited in line, I thanked my middle daughter – but she couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t want me with them. What a sweetie! At her age, I was embarrassed to even admit I had a mother, much less be seen in bathing suits with her!
♦ My favorite water ride was the same one that Typical Tracy refers to in her post – an 8-person inner tube raft which went around the course and under numerous water falls. Bathing suits were not required for this ride, but smart riders wore them. The ride itself was fun, but my favorite part was the 70+ year old English lady who shared our raft – she wore street clothes, but every time she got drenched by a deluge of water, she just laughed and laughed. Everyone else in the raft laughed with her. During the slower portions of the ride, we chatted, and she told me she was on her once-of-a-lifetime trip to the States and was enjoying every, single minute of it. Funny how a 10-15 minute encounter with a total stranger can leave such strong memories.
I’m sorry to say that I checked the Hershey Park website, and it looks like they no longer have that particular ride. What a shame – it was perfect for older patrons who wanted to go on a water ride but were reluctant to risk the slides, and it was still fun for the younger riders.
♦ Beyond the rides, there were numerous other activities for both young and old. We loved the chocolate factory tour – yum! Towards the end of the day when everyone was approaching exhaustion, it was nice to jump on the monorail and enjoy viewing the entire park from an elevated position. Unfortunately, we never did get to the zoo area of the park – the kids opted for more rides instead, and we only had a two-day pass. Ah well, maybe next time…
♦ And, of course, it was a unique experience for my girls to go to Denny’s after being at the Park all day. Dinner at midnight – imagine that!
And so, after two driving days (to and from) and two days at Hershey Park itself, we returned to our humdrum home in Buffalo. But to this day, everyone one of us smiles when we recall that trip. It was worth every penny to know that I was able to give my girls at least one really nice family vacation.
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Images by: Noé Alfaro, and Ed Kennedy, and Anna Fox, respectively
Special trips like that leave wonderful memories, CM.
They do. I’ve never once regretted the cost.
What great memories. Sounds like so much fun and excitement. I would love to go and visit there one day with my kids
Ha ha great the kids got to enjoy Hershey. Great memories for them. As I mention in my About, I grew up in NYC. I left for Bryn Mawr College, then Univ of PA, and taught in Philly and Cheltenham. Managed to miss Hershey in the 10 yrs in PA. It’s a big state. =) I’m glad I was by the colonial sites, though.
I understand completely. We’re within about 20 minutes of Niagara Falls, one of the world’s wonder spots, and I haven’t been there in years. When I do go, I feel like I’m just walking in a local park (which, basically, I am). But it’s fun to watch the faces of the tourists who are seeing the Falls for the very first time – brings back a little bit of the excitement for me.
LOL Growing up in NYC, my friends and I”d complain over the phone, “there’s nothing to do.”
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So much for all, CM. (Almost) Our region’s Disney, if you will. And I love that your girls so enjoyed a midnight meal at Denny’s, too. ❤
Sometimes I think Denny’s at midnight was the highlight of the trip. Restaurant meals were always a treat because they were so rare – and staying up past bedtime to eat dinner? Priceless.
People today are surrounded by such horrible customer “service”, and so many attempts to take advantage of us that I felt some weight lift from my soul merely by reading your post about a place that demonstrated another path. I hope it still has that caring quality.
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I haven’t been there in a number of years, but I imagine customer service is one of their top priorities, along with customer safety.
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