It's time for the final 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
Part 4 The Food
Part 5 A Comparison between the three for an overall opinion (You are here!)
As I've thought about each park carefully, one thing strikes me. Each park has it's strengths, and it's weaknesses. Each of the three parks is unique in different ways. I'm not sure there is a winner.
Disney World and Dollywood seemed the most family friendly. Their rides were designed where they were an experience, not just a county fair style, like most of the not coasters were at Hershey Park.
The clear winner when it comes to entry method and staff is Disney. It's always easy to get the help you need when you need it, the lines are well managed and not chaotic, where no one knows where to stand, and they move easily. By comparison, we felt like Dollywood was similar, but Hershey Park, there were no staff members around at all. While it's possible that's a covid staffing problem, it's hard to say.
When it comes to food, Hershey Park and Disney knocked it out of the park for counter service treats of all kinds. It's kind of hard NOT to fall in love with a bucket of French fries, but the food was pretty blah and basic tasting. Meanwhile, Dollywood, they sure do have their home cookin down pat! Our meals were tasty and the service was great. We never felt rushed, a contrast to Disney and Hershey Park.
One thing Magic Kingdom didn't have that we really enjoyed at Dollywood and Hershey Park were the midway games. We loved the games where kids win every time, and Hershey Park was our favorite for the games, midway and arcade.
At all three parks, parking is ample. If staying at the park owned resort, transportation is offered.
As you see, pros and cons for each. So, who won?
Planning a trip to one of these parks might need to go a little deeper based on these questions.
1. Do you need to drive out of your way to get there?
2. How epensive is it?
3. Is there enough to do for several days?
For us, Dollywood was fun, because we happened to be nearby. I don't think we'd ever go out of our way to go there again. Hershey Park is pretty close by, and their cost is fairly reasonable. It's likely we will go again, but oddly enough...not really for the rides. We didn't enjoy the ride choices, and the problems with it being at the ride operator's discretion who got on. We would return for the games, and the Disney Outlet nearby, plus the fact it's just a few hours away. Disney...now Disney, we make that 13 hour drive for. We are always excited to plan and go. There's that sparkle of magic that we got there, we just didn't feel elsewhere. Not just because Tinkerbell is flying around, but because they really do make you feel welcome and valued at Disney.
As I think back over our last trip to each park, I realized I only rode three rides at Hershey Park. My youngest was either too scared or too big to ride wat he wanted, so the ones he could do, I spent the two days standing out so he could enjoy himself. At Dollywood, I rode maybe a half dozen. At Magic Kingdom, I don't do the coasters, but you have to pull me off of some of the others! I love them so much!
Dollywood and Disney are similar in pricing, and Hershey Park offers discounts that make the tickets quite reasonable. You've followed along and seen my thoughts...but the best way for you to decide is to visit yourself!
If you've been to all three, which did you like best? Or, like me, did you feel like each had good things and bad?