It's time for another installment in the differences between Disney World, Dollywood, and Hershey Park. If you've been following along, and need a reminder of what's already been covered, or if you are just joining, here's the links to get caught up!
Part 1 An overview of each park.
Part 2 Entry methods, fast passes, staff and maps
Part 3 The Rides, games, and app (you are here!)
Part 4 (Coming soon) The Food
Part 5 (Coming soon) A Comparison between the three for an overall opinion
Though these are theme parks and share some similarities, each is different.
When you go to Disney, you are going to get more rides than you might be able to do in a day, especially if you go to Magic Kingdom, which is the park we are using for comparison in this series. You'll have a wide variety of rides. Some will be indoors, some outdoors. There's a great mix and so many that just about everyone can go on. In fact, when you are little, there isn't much you can't go on! If you are Pooh sized, there are some seat styles that fit better, but again, not too much is off limits. As I said, there's a fantastic mix of rides.
Dollywood was similar. There were many for the small ones, thrill rides for the big ones, and a good family mix in between. I admit, it was a little strange at first, to see all of these rides among all the trees and natural setting, a stark contrast to Magic Kingdom's themed worlds and concrete, but it was a relaxing atmosphere, and in our party, there were rides everyone enjoyed. Additionally, while there were country style fair rides, there were also rides on par with Disney, rides where time, effort, and thought were put into them. Wait times at Disney World are usually longer.
At Hershey Park, the rides are done based on what size you are. Additionally, it is at the ride operator's discretion if you can ride. My 8 year old, who doesn't like thrill rides was heartbroken when on our first day there, the operator refused him a ride on the kiddie swings. It happened several times, though other children taller than him got to ride. The following day, guess what? He was allowed on those rides by a different operator! It was frustrating and upsetting, and other parents and children had the same complaint. Wait times were not too bad, except for the roller coasters.
Rides at Hershey Park were primarily country fair style rides or roller coasters. There was no in between. The one and only Disney-esque ride was Cupfusion, it was a very short track, and the switchback warned it was two hours wait once it was filled. For the most part, other than the roller coasters there was no wait time, however, the lack of in between rides meant that I went on a grand total of three rides at Hershey Park, the merry go round, the small cars you drive, and the scrambler, because the rest of the time I was either waiting for someone at a ride everyone else was too big to ride, or else waiting with my youngest at a ride he was too small to ride.
Magic Kingdom doesn't really have games, but Dollywood had several midway games. If there was an arcade, we never found it, and usually we can sniff those out! The games were a bit pricey, but there was one that for $5, one turn per day, it's play til you win. MY youngest was able to get a nice plush, which made him happy.
Hershey Park goes over the top with games! There were two arcades, one quite massive and filled with vintage arcade games. Most of them started at a quarter to play, and we spent quite a while in those arcades. The midway games got some attention too, and while you got a fair number of tries, the only games we had success at were those that were play to win. There were a few, and I was glad the prizes were fairly good.
The app is sorely needed at any of the parks. At Hershey Park, they have NO paper maps! Prepare to get lost and miss part of the park without a map to navigate by. It's hard to find your way around with a small screen and people running through the park. Hershey Park's app is quite strange, almost our entire trip there, it shows that all the rides were closed, which wasn't true, but made seeing wait times impossible.
From an allergy standpoint, I did apprecate being able to see the menus and ingredients for everything before ordering.
Dollywood's app is just fine. It's nothing special, it's factual, and gets you around and shows wait times.
Disney's app is standard, the wait times, where things are, very similar to Dollywood. I do with that I could see ingredients on Disney's app. Hershey Park's app was amazing, and is my favorite of the three.
Over all, who won this round? For rides, I'm a Disney girl. Dollywood would be second place. Hershey, yes, little wait times, but it's hard to navigate and most of the rides aren't ones we liked. The games? Hershey Park was a winner there! We'd go back just to spend a day in their arcade. The app winner is a tie. Each had good aspects and bad.
Next time, we talk about...the food!
Stood in the kitchen recently with dinner time fast approaching and too exhausted to cook? Me too! Tempted to order take out? Yep, same! But that money you might spend on enough pizza for the family takes a big chunk away from what you could be depositing into your vacation savings account! What to do?
Having a dinner back up plan is crucial. Especially when it's a back up plan that doesn't cost a lot, is quick and easy, and is something everyone likes. In this instance, I always have a few frozen pizzas in the freezer. At $5 each, two pizzas and some stray lettuce and carrots to toss into a salad makes for an inexpensive dinner. That $11-12 costs a LOT less than ordering from the local pizza place, it's a crowd pleaser, and practically effortless. I don't have to dip into the budget and risk taking away from our vacation account.
Okay, you say, but how does that really add up? After all, it's only $30 to buy pizza... True. But lets say that $30 is a once a month habit, on top of your other dining out expenses. That extra $19 spent on take out pizza versus frozen is $228 after 12 months. That's a night at a value resort. That's a lot of refillable mugs! That's a lot of souvenirs!
What if you do that twice a month? In a year, that's $456!
Now, I'm not saying never enjoy take out, but chances are, you already do! This would just be extra and on top of what you already spend. And if that's the case, frozen pizza to the rescue might be a great plan! If you aren't a frozen pizza family, look for other great meals that are effortless, like pasta meals in a bag or frozen meatballs cooked in sauce and served on a bun for meatball subs.
Quick, easy, and more money for the DIsney vacation of your dreams!