Top Tips for Visiting Hersheypark Christmas Candylane and Hershey Sweet Lights

Monday, December 4, 2023
The Christmas season is one of my favorite times to make a weekend getaway or family trip to Hershey, PA. Hersheypark Christmas Candylane is Hersheypark's festive seasonal event, and there are so many fun things to do, experience and eat when you visit!  I've compiled a list of tips to help you maximize your visit to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane! You're not going to want to miss it.

Disclosure: I was chosen to be a part of the Hershey Sweetest Families Panel, which means I am sometimes provided with passes to Hershey events, programs and activities in order to share them with you. Please check out all of my Hershey posts on my Hershey Insider Page

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Take Advantage of the Preview Plan

Hersheypark Christmas Candylane is open on select dates through January 1, 2024. Hours vary depending on the day you visit, so be sure to check the hours of operation here

A "sweet sneak peek" is included with every ticket to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane  Present your ticket at the main entrance before your full day visit and enjoy a fun-filled evening! Guests of Hersheypark resorts can enter after 6:30pm and all other guests can enter after 7:30pm (keep in mind that the park closes at 9pm). 

Crowd Tip: If you're visiting during regular hours, crowds began lining up about an hour before the gates open. If you want to be "first inside," then consider arriving well before opening! We arrived a few hours after opening and strolled right in- no lines, easy ticket scanning, it was a breeze!

Use the Hersheypark App

Not all rides are open during Christmas Candylane (many rides can't run during colder temperatures, plus there are obviously no Boardwalk water rides) but there are still plenty of rides and attractions to see. Use the Hersheypark app to find out exactly which rides are operational during your visit, as well as wait times. You can also check out this page for a list of what rides and attractions are offered during Christmas Candylane. 

Ride Tip: rides and attractions are subject to change and that's just something you have to deal with! Weather, temperatures and unforeseen circumstances can all cause closures or delays. Some of the more popular rides have the longest wait times, so hit those up first or last (right before closing) for the shortest line times. Reeses Cupfusion, Laff Trak and Candymonium always seem to have the longest lines. Visit during the week (check the calendar for operational weekdays in December) if you want to experience a lighter crowd.

Visit Santa (and His Reindeer, Too)!

See the big man himself at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane! Not only that, his special worker elves will put on a little show for you, too, complete with singing, dancing and festive costumes at Carrousel Pavilion. After visiting Santa, head over to see his live reindeer, located near Farenheit. You can also stop to see your favorite Hershey characters on the way! They're located in Music Box Theater. *New for 2023 is a special Dance Party with Mrs. Claus (also at the Carrousel Pavilion).

Holiday Tip: You need to wait in line to see the reindeer.  I do recommend waiting, since it's pretty exciting for the kids to see Santa's live reindeer up close.

Make a Reservation at The Chocolatier

You really need to visit The Chocolatier if you're coming to Chocolatetown. From their fun, chocolate-inspired menu to their signature desserts and cocktails, it can't be missed! Make reservations in advance- tables fill up quickly and you might not be able to eat there if you don't reserve ahead of time (and by that I mean now- yes, go make your reservations ASAP).  You can read more about my experience at The Chocolatier here. New this year, check out The Chocolatier's Holiday Spirits Rooftop Bar! Easy accessible from inside the park (open Friday-Sunday), you can pop in for a hot chocolate, signature cocktail or even some s'mores! Read more about it here. On Saturday evenings, they play holiday movies at this bar, too!

Menu Tip: Venture outside of your comfort zone and try something unique here, like the Reese's Crunch Burger or the cocoa-dusted ribs. If you like cocktails then you MUST try one of their signature drinks (like the Hershey's Signature Martini or Reese's Cupfusion Old Fashioned). If you can't get a table, ask if there is room to sit at the bar (this is especially possible around lunch time). 

Splurge for Sweet Lights

Hershey Sweet Lights is a separate experience from Christmas Candylane. It requires a separate ticket purchase and you must drive to the site (which isn't far from the park). It's one of the best drive-through light shows around! Grab some cookies and hot cocoa, wear your PJ's and make an experience of it.

Arrival Tip: Sweet Lights is extremely popular, especially on weekends. If you're visiting during a busy time (closer to Christmas), or on a Friday or Saturday, I recommend getting there early (it opens at 5pm).

Try the Treats

One of the best parts about visiting Hersheypark Christmas Candylane is the FOOD!!! From the King Shakes to the signature hot chocolates, this is not the place to count calories. Go and enjoy yourself and try something, anything. You won't regret it! Check out their full food guide for the season here

Treat Tip: East Coast Mini Donuts are my absolute favorite. I highly recommend getting a box so you can take some home. Also, if you're planning on buying a King Shake and you want to keep the mug to take home, bring a gallon sized ziploc to transport it. It's sticky and gross when you're done with it in the park. Love adult beverages? Then make a special trip over to 1906 Brews and try the Sloshies!

Stop to See the NOEL Light Show

Did you know that more than 5 million twinkling lights deck the halls of Hersheypark in celebration of the season? It's hard not to feel festive here. Be sure to stop and watch the NOEL light show, which features more than 250,000 lights dancing to classic holiday tunes (you can also walk by and see it, but it's worth stopping for a few minutes to check it out). Then, stop by the Kissmas Tree display, and don't forget to see the beautiful Kisses Fountain decked out in its holiday best (near Candymonium).

Attire Tip: wear your favorite holiday garb! Grab those light-up lanyards, put on your fun Christmas tree hats, or don the holiday leggings. Guests get really creative here- I've seen families wearing matching Christmas pajamas, sparkling Christmas suits and dresses, light-up sweaters, reindeer hats, Christmas blankets over heads- you name it, they've worn it! Just don't forget to dress for the weather because it can get chilly, especially at night. Read Hersheypark's weather policy here.

Warm Up in the Arcade

Hersheypark has more than one arcade but the best one is located near Santa's reindeer and offers a fun collection of classic arcade games, pinball, air hockey, modern games, ticket earners and so much more. 

Just for Fun Tip: Can you find the creepy marionettes? This is a joke amongst many Hersheypark regulars! There is a coin-operated marionette machine. Scavenger hunt and see if you can find it! Many thanks to Erik Niel for pointing this gem out to us.

Walk Through Treeville

Treeville is located in the Boardwalk area of Hersheypark and it's a joy to walk through it and see all of the beautifully decorated trees. Each one has a theme and they're wonderful photo ops for holiday cards! This year the Kissmobile was also in Treeville, beautifully decorated in white lights. And don't miss the Hersheypark ferris wheel as you head towards the Treeville Walk. It's decked out in amazing red and green festive lights that constantly put on their own show of changing colors. 

Tip: see if you can find the giant sand castle decorated with lights this year in the Boardwalk area! Chances are you won't be able to miss it. 

Stay at a Hershey Resort (if You Can)

There are so many great reasons to stay at a Hershey Resort (Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, Hersheypark Camping Resort). Not only can you purchase discounted park tickets at the resorts, but you get free shuttle service that drops you off at an awesome VIP entrance right next to Hersheypark's main gates. You also receive complimentary tickets to Hershey Gardens and Hershey Story Museum. Guests of Hershey Resorts can enter earlier than regular guests during park preview times, too. I always feel like staying at a Hershey property is part of the whole Hershey experience! For my special tips on how to get the best rates at a Hershey Resort, read this.

Overnight Tip: Book early. Rooms fill up quickly, especially during holiday seasons or when there are special concerts or shows. Staying during a weekday will get you better rates but just be sure Hersheypark is open when you want to visit (check park operating times here). 

Enjoy your stay at The Sweetest Place on Earth! I know I always do.  

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