What is Hershey’s Chocolate World ?

Since posting my article recently where I poked around backstage at Hershey’s Chocolate World, I have gotten several inquiries as to what exactly the attraction is. Today, we take a look at this one-of-a-kind candy filled paradise.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Hershey’s Chocolate World was actually built to solve a problem. Back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the chocolate factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania was turning people away. Oddly enough, when Milton Hershey built the factory back in 1903, he had no idea that years later the town would not only be named after him, but they would be giving factory tours to people around the world. The factory couldn’t handle the demand for the tours, so the idea was to create an attraction that showed the public what the process was like and Hershey’s Chocolate World was born in 1973.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Chocolate World is a totally separate attraction from Hersheypark, even though they are merely steps away from each other. You do not need admission to Hersheypark to enter Chocolate World and you can even park in a separate lot for free while visiting. They are two completely separate entities. Hersheypark is filled with roller coasters, thrill rides and even a water park. Chocolate World is an indoor attraction that takes a few hours to see everything.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Since the beginning, Hershey’s Great American Factory Tour ride has been the marquee attraction of Chocolate World. In essence, it solved the problem the factory was having. The omnimover attraction was built by Arrow (who also helped build Disney’s Haunted Mansion as well as many roller coasters back in the day). It can accommodate over 24,000 people on a busy day solving the capacity problem the factory was having. Even though the ride itself has seen several changes over the years, the theme has always been the same: Giving guests a simulated tour through Hershey’s Chocolate Factory. The most recent update was in 2006 and the folks at Chocolate World told me that this version is due for an update.

The Factory Tour ride is relaxing, informative and charming. Most importantly, it’s free. You read correctly. This attraction has always been free and it even comes with a Hershey’s Miniature Chocolate Bar treat upon exiting. Personally, as a fan of dark rides, omnimovers and “edutainment,” The Great American Factory Tour ride was the highlight of my entire visit to Hershey. It’s a one-of-a-kind and definitely worth at least two ride throughs when you’re there. Why not? It’ll cost you nothing and they pay you in candy to ride the thing. You can’t lose.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

All of the other attractions at Hershey’s Chocolate World will cost you, but are relatively inexpensive. You can bundle the rest together or pay for the ones you want individually. Once your group decides what you want to experience, the folks behind the ticket counter will help plan your visit based on availability as all of the other experiences have a specific capacity and you are given a time to visit the ones you select.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Adventure is a bit like taking a class in chocolate combined with a unique tasting experience. Guests play students while a “professor” teaches the class the process and history of making Hershey’s most famous confection.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Then, much like a wine tasting seminar, we try various types of chocolate from milk to dark.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

In front of every “student” is a placemat with a flavor wheel. Instead of biting down on the chocolate, we let it melt on our tongues, really soaking in the flavor. We then compare what we taste with suggestions on the wheel, perhaps an oak or a hint of fruit even. You also learn some fascinating facts along the way.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

For example, have you ever listened to chocolate? Next time you are eating a bar, break off one of the squares next to your ear. With a piece of dark chocolate you will hear an actual “snap”!

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery in 4D is the most technologically advanced show of its kind in the world. On the surface, it’s an interactive adventure designed for families. It seems that security cameras in the Hershey factory have caught some unusual goings on and they enlist the help of the audience to help solve a mystery of what’s going on. Click the video below to see the pre-show.

One of the great features of the show itself is no two shows are ever the same. Thanks to live interactive puppeteering of the characters combined with variable plot points where the audience decides where the story goes next, there are literally dozens of versions.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Every time you visit Hershey’s Chocolate World, the show will be different, giving guests a great reason to come back. Personally, I think the real magic is behind the scenes seeing the live performer create the characters via a rig created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, which I have detailed in a previous article.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Hershey’s Chocolate World is the only place on the planet where you can Create Your Own Candy Bar. Guests don an official Hershey’s apron and a hairnet and watch a small instructional video on how the process works.

Next, through a completely automated system, guests scan their ticket at an interactive touch screen kiosk. From there they decide what type of Hershey chocolate bar they would like to create: milk, dark or white.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

You can then select what ingredients you would like added to the bar: pretzel pieces, butterscotch chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, crisp rice, chocolate cookie bits or butter toffee crunch. Finally, if you’d like, you can add sprinkles to the top of your creation if you so choose.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

After that, the magic begins when you actually watch your chocolate bar go down an automated assembly line. The bar starts off as a hollow shell and stops by each filling station.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Depending on the selections made at the kiosk, a small amount of fillings goes into the shell. After your bar is filled, it goes under a chocolate waterfall to coat and fill it.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

During the next several minutes, your bar enters a cooling tunnel, letting the bar harden. During this time, you are directed to the packaging area where you can design the box your Hershey bar will come in. You can personalize it by adding your name, selecting colors and choosing from dozens of clipart pieces designed for this experience. You can place the art wherever you like on the box and even adjust the size.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Finally, your bar enters packaging where a laser printer scans the design you just made onto your box of chocolate and slips the freshly made bar right inside.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

This the only place in the world where you can not only decide the ingredients of a Hershey’s chocolate bar, but also design your own custom box.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

The final big attraction at Hershey’s Chocolate World is the Trolley Tour. These snazzy trollies take guests throughout the town of Hershey and give you the history of how the company was founded. While the 45-minute tour is roundtrip, there are stops along the way, including Milton Hershey’s original home, the site of the old Hershey chocolate factory, the Milton Hershey School and Hershey Gardens. If you’re looking for the nickel tour of the city and an educational look at the founding of the Hershey company, this tour is perfect for you.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

In addition to all these attractions, there is a bakery with items that naturally use Hershey products. Also there is an entire food court that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had lunch there on my last visit and really enjoyed the food.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Not to mention, they seriously have the best cookie on the planet. A peanut butter cookie with a full size Reese’s cup baked right in and drizzled with a touch of icing. It’s heavenly.

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

Needless to say, there is also a gift shop where you can buy all sorts of Hershey logo merchandise as well as candies, Christmas ornaments and even dog toys. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my visit to Hersheypark. However, in my opinion if you want to get the true Hershey chocolate experience, Hershey’s Chocolate World needs to be your first stop. For more information visit http://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/

Photo by Josh Young

Photo by Josh Young

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