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Hersheypark or Hershey Park?: Sweetness by Any Name

Hershey Park Pool Circa 1920.

Hershey Park Pool Circa 1920

Hersheypark was once Hershey Park

Chocolate lovers around the world are familiar with an amusement park that boasts a delicious and famous name—Hersheypark. Yes, as in that Hershey! What you might not have realized is how far back the history of this park actually goes. In fact, there’s an entire background you might not be aware of. 

Back in the day, Hersheypark went by the name Hershey Park. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it wasn’t simply a change in spelling. Come 1970, the entire image and idea of Hersheypark was reimagined. 

Hershey Park’s early history

We think prior to 1970 is pretty interesting, and you will too. The park, known as Hershey Park, was first intended as a leisure spot for Hershey’s chocolate factory workers. It was created as an area where the town’s workers could enjoy time with their family via picnics, boating, entertainment on stage and more.

Milton S. Hershey created an environment to build community and give back to his employees. It formally opened in 1906 on Memorial Day, though the process had started earlier. 

After a few years, the park introduced activities and attraction venues to help entertain their patrons, offering this such as a stage for theater and singing. The other attraction was a merry-go-round.  Over time, the idea was to expand the options available to the public. By 1909 he’d added treats such as bowling alleys and a tennis court, along with a few other attractions. The Miniature Railroad was completed in 1910 and offered leisurely rides.

Hershey Park Aerial View Circa 1950

Hershey Park from the Air, Circa 1950s. The Comet, at the top, is still running in 2021!


Through the years, more areas were added for continuing entertainment value such as a larger stage, and an immense and grand, new carousel. Hershey continued to invest in the park and added features such as a zoo, a café, and a museum. The new expanded attractions continued to draw crowds.

Through the 1920’s, more rides enhanced the park. It grew from its once humble beginnings as an open air picnic ground to an amusement park which housed a rollercoaster and Ferris wheel. The park’s footprint continued to grow. 

From the railroad put in back in 1910 all the way up to the Kiddie Turnpike, which was added in 1955, things were doing well, and Hershey Park thrived. In fact, in 1946 a new rollercoaster “Comet” brought in crowds wanting to enjoy the new experience, which replaced “The Wild Cat” rollercoaster.

While it’d been a popular haven for decades, things were changing, and not always for the better. In an effort to build on the past popularity of the park, a continual stream of new attractions was added—until the 1960’s. 

The shine of the park was becoming dull, there were issues with vandalism, and a lack of new entertainment. Something had to change. 

Sooper Dooper Looper

Sooper Dooper Looper: One of the Key Attractions of Hersheypark's 1970s Revival. And Still Running in 2021!

Hershey knew they’d need to invigorate the amusement park and make changes to help boost the now sagging popularity. They first big move was to change the park’s name from Hershey Park to Hersheypark—a rebranding of sort. Later, they’d gate the park and charge an admission for entry. It was a turnaround that they adapted over the course of five years.

Milton S. Hershey’s fascinating history

When you look back at the amazing history and growth of the park, it’s hard not to mention the man behind the park and town, Milton S. Hershey. Did you know, he only completed a few years of schooling? In fact, he only completed the fourth grade, because his family moved a lot. That didn’t stop him from becoming a household name! What you may not know is that he wasn’t an instant success story. 

It was his training at a candy company that inspired him to build a candy business. Unfortunately, his first efforts weren’t a success, and after multiple attempts in the regional areas of Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago, he headed back home. It was there that he finally launched with success years later as a caramel company! 

And while his candy company did well by him, he decided to sell it and focus on one aspect. He’d found himself fascinated with a chocolate making machine that he encountered at the world’s fair. It was that single moment that started him on his new path. So, after selling his caramel company, he focused solely on chocolate. 

This is where it all comes together. He built a massive chocolate plant, which was completed in 1905. Not long after, he created the park for his factory’s employees. Thus, Hershey Park was born.

In fact, he built multiple other amenities to help his employees. It made working and living in the area more enjoyable. He added things such as easy transportation, affordable housing, and more. In essence, Milton S. Hershey was all about creating a happy, thriving community, not simply a business. 

You can see more about Hershey Park’s/Hersheypark’s history at the Hershey Archives.

If you’re looking to enjoy a great day out with the family, be sure to show your Pennsylvania pride with a new shirt declaring your county pride. When was the lats time you visited Hersheypark? Don’t forget that in 2020 a new Chocolatetown area was added and is ready to explore.

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