Get your kids ready, your tickets purchased and your parking sorted out, because summer is almost here, and that means amusement parks will be back in full swing.
Most amusement parks spent last season adjusting to the ever-changing state of the COVID-19 pandemic. But even without the ever-moving target of COVID-19 safety, there are still a lot of changes coming to the parks closest to our area. New rides, new deals, new food and more are headed to Hersheypark, Knoebels, Dutch Wonderland and Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom this year.
One of the major changes for several amusement parks is altered hours for their seasons. Many parks have struggled to reach their full staffing numbers throughout the pandemic, and earlier this year had continued to offer new incentives during various job fairs and hiring events. This has led to several parks opening a bit later and/or closing slightly earlier compared to previous seasons.
If you’re planning a trip to any of them, here are a few things you should know before you go!
Tickets: One-day tickets are $54.95 for all ages until May 31, with ages 3 and under still able to enter the park for free. After May 31, one-day regular admission tickets go up to $76.95.
Hours: Hersheypark is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now through May 26, and daily starting on the 26th. The park opens at 11 a.m. each morning, and hours extend until 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 p.m. on certain weekends until July 1, when the park will be open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Parking: To get the best prices on your Hersheypark parking, make sure you plan out your visit a bit in advance. Parking is $20 for standard size vehicles, but only if you pay before you arrive, by adding a parking voucher to your online ticket purchase. If you buy parking when you arrive, it will be $25. Prices go up for larger vehicles. You can check out our story here for more details.
Keep in mind that season pass holders get discounts on their parking. Visitors with a Bite Size season pass only pay half for their parking fees when paying through their Self-Service Account, and guests with Full Size and King Size passes park for free. Get more info about Hersheypark’s season passes here.
What’s new: Two new Jolly Rancher-themed rides will open on May 28. The first, Jolly Rancher Remix, is a reimagining of the park’s Sidewinder roller coaster with new features including a tunnel with sounds, lights and even smells that will alternate between Jolly Rancher flavors. The other new ride, Mix’d Flavored By Jolly Rancher, is a set of spinning arms which will lift, drop and rotate 360 degrees. Read more about them here.
Also, take note that Hersheypark is now operating cashless. For those without credit or debit cards, the park will have kiosks where you can convert your cash into prepaid debit cards. Click here to read more about their new policy.
Tickets: As in previous years, admission to Knoebels is free. However, they do sell tickets in order to ride rides, with various rides costing different amounts. You can buy tickets in books ranging from $5 to $50, with special deals on $150 and $500 ticket books (costing $135 and $400, respectively).
Knoebels also offers all-day ride passes for $48, and $32 for those under 48 inches in height. The passes must be purchased at least a day in advance and don’t include admission to the Haunted Mansion attraction.
Hours: Hours have been reduced this year, with the park operating from noon-8 p.m. each day this summer.
Parking: Parking is free.
What’s new: A few changes have come to the park this year. Cesari’s Pizza won’t be found at Knoebels this season, as the owners have closed up the shop. But worry not, as pizza can still be found at Oasis Pizza and other kiosks in Knoebels. The ball pit attraction is also being removed from the children’s play area.
The park is working on a new ride, the Bayern Kurve, but that won’t be ready until 2023. However, if you didn’t visit in 2021, the park’s newest ride, Tornado, is ready and waiting. It features eight cars with four passengers each, and riders can control the spin of their own cars for added effect.
Another change to Knoebels this year will affect the staff, rather than the guests. The park is offering numerous new incentives for employees, including a shuttle service for Team Knoebels members to and from work from Mount Carmel, Shamokin, Sunbury and Bloomsburg.
Tickets: Tickets are $61.99 foran any-day admission to Dutch Wonderland. However, if you know in advance which day you’ll be going, you can buy tickets for a specific date for $49.99. Children under age 3 will be admitted free of charge.
Hours: Dutch Wonderland is currently open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and daily starting June 3.
Parking: General parking is $15 and preferred parking is $25.
What’s new: Dutch Wonderland is also cashless as of April 16 of this year, as are the neighboring campground Old Mill Stream and the Cartoon Network Hotel. Guests can convert cash to prepaid debit cards at the park’s Cash to Card Kiosks. There is also a new show this year at the park’s Aqua Stadium, “The Fantastical Flute.”https://1f11e7f593ccadabd0d129e667580074.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom
Tickets: Daily admission tickets begin at $39.99 online, with additional offers for meal passes and Fast Lane tickets. Ticket prices go up to $70 if you buy them at the gate.
Hours: Dorney Park is currently open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Hours extend until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays, starting on May 27. Wildwater Kingdom opens for daily operations on May 28 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and remains open until 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Parking: Pre-paid parking is $25.
What’s new: There are no new major rides or additions opening this year at Dorney Park, as a potential proposal for a new ride planned for 2021 was withdrawn near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to Behind the Thrills.