HERSHEY, Pa. - Chocolate World is one of the main draws in this central Pennsylvania community.
Admission to the facility, located to the right of Hersheypark's entrance, is free.
So is the factory tour ride, which features singing cows (and their catchy chorus: "It's the milk chocolate; moo, moo, moo..."), an aroma of chocolate, a ride photo that can be purchased later, and a free package of Kissables (Hershey's version of M&Ms) at the conclusion.
During our initial ride, Valerie, 4 1/2, was very concerned as the car went from room to room with a narrator explaining the chocolate-making process. She feared a big hill or some sudden surprise. Upon completion, though, Val was ready to do it again. By the end of our vacation, we had ridden it at least seven times (that's seven bags of Kissables for each of us). Two-year-old Elaina loved the cows (and chocolate, of course) and quickly learned to sing the chorus.
Another Chocolate World feature is Factory Works, where children help operate a Hershey's Kisses packaging line. The paper hat, name tag and right to participate are free; the package of Kisses they assemble can be purchased for $4.95. There are three stations, so all three of our girls were able to work the line at the same time. While the attendant was assisting Madeline, 8, and Val, Elaina tried her hand at quality control, unwrapping and eating a Kiss. (I don't think they normally allow that, but Elaina was coming to expect free chocolate.)
Chocolate World also has a movie theater featuring "Hershey's Really Big 3D Show," although this costs extra $19.80 for two adults and two kids (2 and under are free). The movie is a blend of history and comedy and includes special effects more than just visual and complimentary chocolate at the end (noticing a theme here?).
Movie-goers exit into the food court, so we ate lunch there. While a bit pricey, the food is standard American fare and good pizza, sandwiches, hot dishes such as chicken and noodles, chili, soup in a bread bowl, and so on. Fresh-baked goodies and ice cream are among the desserts. The facility also has a deli-style caf and bake shop with chocolaty desserts and pastries.
The store at Chocolate World is fun to explore. Sure, there are T-shirts and other apparel, plush toys (cows and cartoon Hershey bars, Kisses and Reese's), coffee mugs and various gadgets and tokens all with chocolate themes. But there are unique items as well a candy bar with your picture on the wrapper, chocolate greeting cards, a personalized message on the plume of a giant Kiss, make-your-own sundaes. And then there's the section that resembles a grocery store with aisles of Hershey's confections and candies, in various sizes and forms. The prices are comparable to other stores, but the selection is second to none.
Trolley tours depart from Chocolate World, and we took one. The driver and guide are dressed in turn-of-the-century attire, and the sites and stories are enjoyable. Tins containing samples of various chocolate products are passed throughout the ride. Although this isn't free (about $65 for a family of five), the trolley tour is a good way to become acquainted with the area and its fascinating and feel-good history.