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SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

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SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

Post by HPCrazy on 2012-01-10, 16:33

Some of you here may remember some of my recent discussions that were brought up on Facebook chat about the configuration of the Hersheypark over the years. Well with the help of Harrison Michelson and Daniel Kiner, we were able to find out some answers, which will be clearly explained here for you in as much detail possible.

With that said, I am very proud to present our latest special feature here at All-American Thrills, “From Hershey Park to Hersheypark – A Look from 1971 to 1973”. In this two-part special feature, we will closely examine a period of time, an important moment in Hersheypark – the fencing of the park and its first years as a theme park, so let’s get started shall we:



Many of you here who may have fond memories growing up and when your parents may have taken you to the park when it was known as “Hershey Park”. Of course during this time, there wasn’t a fence around the park in which any areas could be easily accessed from any given point. There was no main parking lot or admission gate, however the park did have a “main entrance” (pictured above) that featured the famous bronze American Elk statue, which was located near the corner of Park Avenue (Rte 743) and Park Blvd., where both the Kissing Tower and Twin Turnpike now reside today. In fact, to this day one who rides the turnpike ride alongside Park Ave may be able to spot one or two of the original stone columns that were used for the original main entrance.

From the time that the park originated until 1970, this was a famous landmark greeted park visitors for years. One step towards the upcoming changes that were ahead was the installation of the monorail for the 1969 season. We’ll read up more about the monorail a little bit later.



As the 1960’s came to a close, the park was facing problems such as vandalism, structures falling into a state of disrepair (such as the old swimming pool, zoo, and ballroom closing), etc. It was no longer living up to the “clean and green” standards that they had wanted to achieve. The board of Hershey Estates (now HERCO) was faced with the tough decision either close down the park for good or to upgrade the park into a modern theme park. After the successes of parks like Disneyland and Six Flags Over Texas, along with other parks such as Walt Disney World, Kings Island, Magic Mountain, etc which were currently under construction at the time, the decision was made to develop the park into a full modern amusement/theme park.



A lot of us probably remember seeing the above rendering in books depicting the park’s history, as well as hanging in the Hersheypark Season Pass office itself. The park hired Randal Duall to be in charge of the redevelopment. Randal Duall was the leader in theme park construction and was responsible for the design and construction of other well known parks at the same time. Various themed areas were in the development and planning stages including a new English-style themed area and park entrance, an area devoted to the region’s German heritage, a New England fishing village and a PA Coal Mining Town. Of course one of the main proposals of this re-development was to fence in the park and move the main entrance to a new spot, closer to the main parking lot located by the museum, arena and stadium. Prior to this time, park visitors would have parked in and around the park grounds, as well as on nearby streets and roads. 1970 would be the very last year that Hershey Park, the small regional park, would ever be open without a fence.


The Transformation begins


Prior to the opening of the 1971 season, the entire park was fenced in and the main entrance moved adjacent to the monorail station.



As you can see, based on what information Harry and I were able to dig up, while the new themed areas of the park (such as the newly themed English entrance) would be developed in phases, a temporary entrance configuration was used for two seasons. Park visitors would now park in the parking lots adjacent to the arena and stadium and be directed to enter the park in the area adjacent to Lobby #1 of Hersheypark Arena. During this time, the monorail was still located “outside” the park and required separate admission to ride. As most of you may know, there is a ramp that goes under the monorail platform that is now only used by security and maintenance whenever issues may arise.



As you can see in the above pic, the gate that now blocks off the un-used ramp. We will dig more into this as we continue to move through time as the park develops.

During the park’s first two years as a fenced-in amusement park, the monorail still transported visitors to the second station, located at #1 Chocolate Avenue located in downtown Hershey. You can still see the un-used platform from the monorail to this present day:



For the 1971 season, the park’s main entrance was located adjacent to the (now un-used) monorail entrance ramp at what is now Gate 5 (located adjacent to the Swing Thing kiddie attraction). From other sources who I’ve talked to, there were ticket booths installed at this spot in which visitors were able to enter and exit the park. The park’s first aid station was also moved to this area and into the Chalet building, located at what was then the main entrance into the park. During this time, there were two admission plans offered:



A one-price admission option which included all rides, entertainment and picnic facilities, similar to how we now know it today was heavily promoted. Another option was a general admission option that included gate admission only with ride tickets used for attractions.

Besides introducing this major change for the 1971 season, the Sunken Garden remained open but now was inside the fence, along with the old electric railway, while the ballfield was closed and was now just a grass area inside the fence. The picnic pavilions also remained as well. With the exception of the entrance change and one price admission, everything else pretty much remained the same.





Then in 1972, the first phase of re-developing the park began.



They moved the carousel from an old pavilion built along spring creek to it’s very own newly themed area, Carrousel Circle, which was built on the site of the former ballfield, adjacent to the Comet roller coaster. On the perimeter of Carrousel Circle were the Scrambler, several children’s rides, the Monster and Twin Toboggans. Along with the new rides and re-located carousel also came a small snack stand (no longer exists) as well as the a new restaurant/pizza shop (now Famous Famiglia’s Pizza) and a gift shop building (now Hersheypark Kids).





Also built for the 1972 season was an area connecting Carrousel Circle with the rest of the park known as Der Deitchplatz, which featured the Craftbarn, a PA Dutch-themed restaurant, as well as several craft exhibitors making and selling their wares. This area was a tribute to the park’s PA Dutch Days promotion that they ran during the time.



Today, most of this area is still in tact although most of the PA Dutch theming has been stripped but remains as a reminder of the park’s first years of a redeveloped theme park.



Also built (but not pictured in the above 1972 rendering) was also the aquatheatre in which the park began its tradition of presenting dolphin and sea lion shows. This was also part of an animal petting zoo area known as “The Animal Garden,” designed to cope with the loss of the old Hershey Park Zoo. Today, the park still offers a sea lion show to its guests (even after the Animal Garden closed) in the very same facility that helped spur the park’s redevelopment in the early 1970’s.



But the most notable event in 1972 was when Tropical Storm Agnes hit the park and flooded out most of the low-lying areas causing damage beyond repair to several of the park’s older attractions including the Lost River, original turnpike and Giant Slide, as well as to the Sunken Gardens.



But during the winter of 1972 and 73, several more noticeable milestone changes occurred during this period of growth and redevelopment for the park. The Sunken Garden was closed and fenced off and the old Electric Railway was removed. Some of the train’s former rail bed still exists alongside the park’s fence along Park Blvd as a walking path. Park Blvd was also re-routed to its current configuration and Derry Road (between Park Blvd and Park Ave) was closed to traffic. All the homes along this stretch of road were purchased by Hershey Estates and were slated for demolition in the near future. What was Park Blvd between Airport Road (now Hersheypark Drive) and Derry Road was turned into the new parking lot entrance for the park’s parking area and the iconic train sign was installed to direct visitors into the parking lot.



To accommodate phase two of the park’s redevelopment was the change/realignment of Park Blvd. In order for this to happen, the old swimming pool and bathhouse (which had been vacant since 1967) were demolished and the old lighthouse was left standing as a reminder of what used to be there. The lighthouse still remains there in its original spot to this present day.



While the phase two construction and developments were very well underway over at the park, Hershey Foods Corporation (now the Hershey Company) decided to build Hershey’s Chocolate World, a tour facility, adjacent to the park. They also chose Randal Duall to develop the attraction. The primary attraction at Chocolate World would be their free simulated factory tour ride that explains how Hershey makes their chocolate. Once this opened, the original tour through the chocolate factory was discontinued and the monorail platform at #1 Chocolate Avenue was closed. At the same time, the current monorail ramp was extended into the park and the ride became a park attraction. The original ramp under the platform was closed and gated off and the ticket booths/temporary park entrance was dismantled.



1973 also saw the park’s entrance moved again, this time to its current spot.



Along with this move, two new areas, Tudor Square and Rhineland, were introduced. The focal point was the park’s brand new admission gate, which resembled an English-styled castle. At this time, the second general admission plan with ride tickets was eliminated and the park strictly enforced the current one priced admission plan. All the picnic pavilions were also removed from the park and picnic lunches were no longer permitted.















Even with minor cosmetic changes along the way, both areas appear to be pretty close to how they looked at their 1973 opening.

















Tudor Square also featured various shops, restrooms and a full service sit-down Restaurant (now Hersheypark Place). Several rides were planned for Rhineland but only a skyride station was built. This structure housed the park’s only transport ride known as “Skyride” from 1974 to 1992, which was then removed and sent to Dreamworld Amusement Park in Thailand. Today the former skyride station is now home to Central PA’s Kosher Mart and in 2008 and 09, received a new paint scheme as well as a new roof. There were also plans to bring back the old electric railway to Rhineland and rename it “Rhineland Express” but the plan was abandoned due to the train’s old age and lack of parts. Rhineland was split into two sections, lower Rhineland (area near the main entrance) and upper Rhineland (area by Carrousel Circle, which now included both the Hersheypark Kids and Famous Famiglia’s buildings).

The Giant Wheel (an Intamin Double Wheel) was also added adjacent to the Carrousel for the 1973. The ride served the park well up until its removal after the 2004 season.

The Lost River, which had closed due to the destruction from Tropical Storm Agnes the previous season, was torn down and a dancing water show was installed alongside spring creek (not sure when this was removed). The Giant Slide (also heavily damaged from Agnes) was also demolished and replaced with the Amphitheatre.

To make up for the loss of the Lost River, the park installed the Coal Cracker, an Arrow Hydoflume, that continues to thrill guests today. The ride was themed to a PA Coal-Mining Town in which the park had hoped to redevelop the nearby area with the same theme. This eventually happened seventeen years later with the development of Minetown.


Years and Several Decades Later


When ZooAmerica opened in 1978, the original American Elk Statue that resided at the original park entrance found a new home greeting park guests to the zoo. In 2008, The park replicated the original park entrance sign and placed the statue there to bring back those nostalgic times that are long gone.



As time progressed, more roller coasters and new rides would be added and older rides would be removed. In due time, things would lead up to how they are today as Hersheypark continues to be one of America’s top-rated theme parks. Again, many thanks goes out to Harrison Michelson and Daniel Kiner for helping me with the information to the best of their abilities. You guys are both awesome!


Last edited by HPCrazy on 2012-01-10, 21:55; edited 1 time in total

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Re: SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

Post by HPCrazy on 2012-01-10, 16:34

Stay tuned for “Part Two” of this special feature as we take a look at the current monorail area and have a better idea of what the immediate area was like during the park’s early years as a theme park. Expect this part to be completed sometime in April.

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Re: SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

Post by BrandonStrouphauer on 2012-01-10, 17:16

Thanks, Matt for those awesome pictures! Very Happy

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Re: SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

Post by hmich176 on 2012-01-11, 02:00

That's good stuff Matt. Thanks for the credit. Hopefully I can dig up some more information in the near future!

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Re: SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

Post by HPCrazy on 2012-01-11, 09:39

Thanks Harry. Any new info that could be added to this would be very much appreciated! Unless we get pics beforehand, the second part of this special feature won't be happening until April once I go to Springtime in the Park and can get pics of the monorail area, then we'll be able to continue with it.

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Re: SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

Post by rynsccr925 on 2012-02-09, 01:37

Where are these trains that were talked about as a walk way?

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Re: SPECIAL FEATURE: From "Hershey Park" to "Hersheypark" - A Look from 1971 to 1973

Post by HPCrazy on 2012-02-09, 09:43

What I was referring to was that the walkway that runs alongside used to be the path of the old miniature railway.

As far as I know sections the old train have been restored:

http://hersheyhistory.org/exhibits-collections/trolley/miniature-railway

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