My daughter is what I call a "chocolate hound". She LOVES chocolate, and I swear she can smell it from a mile away... or maybe she just has a seventh sense. A chocolate sense? Is that possible? It doesn't matter if it's dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with nuts, crunch, or peanut butter. It just doesn't matter. She will devour it all within seconds if you let her. So, what better place is there to bring a chocolate lover than to Hershey?!
We had the opportunity to visit Hershey's Chocolate World this past weekend "on assignment". We were given attraction passes to their Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Adventure, Hershey's Great Chocolate Factory Mystery 4D Movie, and Create Your Own Candy Bar. Of course Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour Ride is always free, so we obviously sneaked that in between the other attractions. I have been to Hershey's Chocolate World at least three times in the past. I went with my parents, my grandparents, and some church group YEARS ago. Those times we didn't do any of the paid attractions, and I can't even say that I remember their existence.
The staff at Hershey's Chocolate World is super friendly! Because our tickets were at the Will Call desk, we hadn't set up times to go to the attractions. She was super nice and quickly set up our activities for the day, and even allotted an hour in between the 4D movie and Create Your Own Candy Bar knowing we had little kids. She was right. We were happy to have that extra hour to wander around, do bathroom breaks, and check out the Great American Chocolate Tour Ride.
My husband and I commented on how smoothly Hershey's Chocolate World is run. You have to decide on what times you want to do each attraction. This keeps it from getting overly full, and makes sure you get into each attraction at the time you wanted to go. You have a ticket for a specific time, that's when you go. Love it when attractions are organized. There's not real rushing to see which spot in line you can get, and you know that as long as you're there on time for the doors to open, you're in. Awesome!
The first thing we did was the Hershey'S Chocolate Tasting Adventure. They suggest you get in line 10 minutes before your time starts, but since we had nothing to do until then, we got in line early. We were the first ones in line which meant we got to sit in the FRONT ROW. That was super cool. My daughter was ridiculously excited, and spent the entire 20 minutes dancing around saying, "Hershey! Hershey! HERSHEY!!!!" The experience was fun, educational, and mildly interactive. We learned where chocolate comes from, a little bit about how it's made, and how to taste it. They provided five different types of chocolate to taste and a small bottle of water. When the session ends they give everyone a "Master's Certificate" of completion that you can sign and keep as a memento. On your way out, you get a full size candy bar! My daughter got a kick out of answering the "professor's" questions, and constantly raised her hand to talk.
After the Hershey's Chocolate Tasting Adventure, we went straight to the Hershey's Great Chocolate Factory Mystery 4D Movie. This was a lot better than I expected it to be. The glasses were of decent quality so they fit nicely on your face. The film was also interactive. While waiting to get in, a woman was asking the crowd some questions. Once the film started, you could tell a live person was actually talking for part of it because it was remembering names of some of the kids who were answering questions out in the lobby. Questions were asked of the crowd, and responding by clapping, or booing, or cheering was also encouraged. The entire film lasted about 30 minutes, and was done really well. It was entertaining, heart warming, and just an overall good time. The best part, it ended with a pop of streamers and bubbles! Hubs and I said we'd consider it more of a 3.5D movie instead of a 4D (because the seats didn't actually move), but it was still super fun, and both of the kids loved it. Oh yeah, they also give each person a mini chocolate bar on the way out.
When the 4D movie was over we decided to take that hour we were so kindly given to just chill out a bit. We did potty breaks (NICE bathrooms), and took a smoking break outdoors in their designated smoking area. Then we went back in and got in line for the free Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour Ride. I LOVE that they keep the line moving quickly. The tour only takes about 15 minutes, and it's constantly moving. You do have to be a little careful getting onto the ride because the floor is rotating in a circle as you're walking to the cars. Another nice feature is that the cars are so big, a relatively large group of people can fit in one. A small family or even an average size family doesn't have to be split up.
During the ride you get to see some of their machinery in action including parts of the mixing process, and how the Hershey Kisses are made. There's fun music periodically with animatronics. I love that they kind of keep the moving creatures at a decent distance from the cars. My kids normally have issues with big moving robotic animals and people, but because they weren't right in their face, the ride went super smoothly and the kids enjoyed themselves the entire time. When you're done with the ride...along with another mini chocolate bar we were all given. As we were walking out of the ride we ended up with a really pretty birds eye view of the gift shop area.
Finally it was time to head over to the Create Your Own Candy Bar attraction. This was the one we were all looking forward to the most. (I still can't bring myself to eat my creation. Just seems too cool to have something relatively unique!) After showing our tickets to make sure we had the correct time, we were given disposable aprons and hair nets. Poor hubs also needed a beard net and I couldn't keep myself from laughing at him. Shortly afterward, we were brought into a room with a bunch of touch screens to start designing our candy bars. First, you get to pick which sort of chocolate you'd like. Then you get to add your inclusions. It looked like the inclusions might change every now and again, but out of the six they were offering that day, you can choose up to three. Then it was time to decide if you wanted sprinkles on the top or not and you were on to the next round. Your tickets have your name on them specifically for this attraction so when you scan your ticket at each station they have your name and can keep your choices organized.
After choosing what you want in/on your candy bar, it's time to head into the Factory. Scan your ticket again, and the entire process starts. Watching the machinery was one of the neatest experiences! You can watch the entire line as it happens. To the machines places the bar on the belt, to your inclusions being added in, and then your bar going under the chocolate fountain to cover it. (I've included a video below of the entire conveyer belt process. It takes about 5/6 minutes total.)
Once your bar has been made, it's time to head into another room and scan your ticket once again. This time you're designing your packaging! Put your name on it, different images, select the color you want, and even your text. They've even gone so far as to tell you the percentages of how many people have made the same bar that you have and other various statistics. Once you've designed your packaging, you can walk back in and watching it all happen. There are some lovely employees at the end who finish packaging it inside a nice tin, and put your label on it, and you're ready to head out! This is definitely one of the longer attractions so make sure you're not in a rush to get anywhere when you sign up for your times.
I think we spent a good 4.5 hours inside Hershey's Chocolate World. And of course we hit up the massive gift shop on the way out. While the clothing, and other souvenirs are a little pricey, the candy is priced fairly and they have some great deals... not to mention the fact that they have EVERYTHING you could ever want or imagine. We're usually the type of family to bypass paid attractions like this, but I think it's definitely worth it especially if you've already planned to go. And, if you can only pick ONE paid thing to do, definitely do the Create Your Own Candy Bar. That was definitely our favorite thing out of it all (but it was still all pretty great). If you're feeling adventurous, Hershey Park is right next door! (Parking is free up to 3 hours for Hershey's Chocolate World, and after that it's $12. WAY cheaper than any parking you'll find in DC .)
*My family and I were provided with complimentary attraction tickets courtesy of Hershey's Chocolate World in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.