Hershey’s New Great Candy Expedition Ride Review: A Full Sensory Ride Through Hershey’s History
Disneyland may stake the claim of being the happiest place on earth, but Hershey, Pennsylvania, is definitely the sweetest. The town was developed by Milton Hershey himself, who built his candy empire from scratch. Situated in the middle of Pennsylvania, Hershey brings people in with its unique attractions, including Hershey’s Chocolate World, the largest Hershey’s candy store in the world.
Hershey’s Chocolate World first opened in 1973 as a visitors’ center. Now, it is no more a regular visitors center than Disney is simply an animation studio. Hershey’s Chocolate World is nestled right outside Hershey Park, the candy-themed amusement park, and is an experience in itself.
To celebrate the store’s 50th Anniversary, Hershey added one more reason to come to the chocolate-filled wonderland — Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition, opening May 19, 2023. This attraction combines animation and adventure to bring families into the fold. With so much history and so many attractions available, we wanted to experience what Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition had in store and see if it is worth a stop on your trip around Hershey.
Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition takes its inspiration from the company’s 100-year-plus confectionary history. The premise of the ride is a train journey through several unique Hershey’s product-inspired lands. These include Jolly Rancher Junction, Kit Kat Timbers, Twizzlers Forest, and Almond Joy & Mounds Cove. Each world comes with its own sensory experiences and aims to tell the story of the candy.
The experience is designed in an Art Deco fashion, a throwback to a time when train travel was one of the most luxurious and efficient ways to get around. It is specifically a call back to Milton Hershey’s own travels as he searched for new ingredients and flavors to bring to his ever-growing candy line.
When you first enter the ride, you are loaded onto Hershey’s Chocolate World train station and then to Sweets Expedition Co. Platform 73, a nod to Hershey’s Chocolate World’s founding date. We have to admire the commitment to the theme here.
The retro design might feel out of place if not for the fact that much of Hershey itself has a similarly retro vibe. Hershey’s Chocolate World offers trolly rides on vintage trolly carts, and Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor features similar Art Deco-inspired designs.
Tickets and timing
Hershey’s Chocolate World is one part visitor’s center, one part candy store, and one part attraction. As such, it is free to enter Hershey’s Chocolate World. There is even parking available for those who just wish to visit Hershey’s Chocolate World, and not Hershey Park or Hershey’s Chocolatetown. That being said, not everything is free.
Within the series of attractions within Hershey’s Chocolate World, there are several that charge for admission, and Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition is one of them. Individual tickets can be purchased for $19.95 both online and at the ticketing desk. All adventurers three and up will require a ticket. However, if you are planning to enjoy multiple attractions, Hershey’s Chocolate World does offer three different "adventures," which bundle Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition with other experiences. The larger the package, the more money you save overall.
Tickets are timed, so plan accordingly. Getting in line approximately five minutes before your entrance time will minimize the amount of time you spend waiting and allow you to explore other parts of Hershey’s Chocolate World. The attraction takes about 30 minutes to complete.
The entrance to Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition is near the front of the store. You are greeted by a brightly-colored candy bar sign with a train and conductor on it. The line wraps around the side behind the cash registers and has a colorful mural of candy displayed on the wall.
When you walk through the doors, you first enter the train station. The station features Hershey’s Kisses and Art Deco-inspired metal-like archways, Art Deco departure boards, clocks, and other design elements. In addition, each of the candy worlds is displayed on a colorful poster on the wall.
From there, you go to Sweets Expedition Co. Platform 73. The lighting is noticeably darker here, with heavy use of blue hues. The entrance to Hersheyland Express is made to look like the side of a train door. They even went so far as to have faux vintage bags of sugar, cartons of milk, and boxes to give the feel of a candy train station.
The train itself is not a real train but a large theater with screens on each side to help give the illusion of a train ride while staying safely in Hershey’s Chocolate World. The wrap-around theater stays totally on theme, with complimentary Art Deco design and wood paneling carried throughout.
Hershey’s Chocolate World does its best to engage all of your senses. This starts the moment you enter, as you are handed a small cup filled with fresh Reese’s peanut butter. It is thick and sweet and holds its form without being cagey.
In addition to the impressive visuals, train sounds are piped into the experience to really round out the train feel. The theater includes broad screens that wrap around three sides. Adding to the experience, bursts of air are blown during departures to make it feel like the train is moving. But the senses do not stop there. Smells that correspond to each of the candy destinations fill the air. For example, coconut is piped in for Almond Joy & Mounds Cove.
Finally, each passenger is put in control of the adventure. While there are six lands, on each trip, you only get to visit three. Each seat is equipped with buttons that allow viewers to vote on which location they wish to visit. From there, Sweets Expedition Co. Engineer Ginny takes viewers through the brightly-colored candy worlds. Each rider is given a passport with activities and information on each candy stop. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Hershey’s without candy. At the end of the ride, each rider is given a goodie bag containing candy from each of the six lands.
How it compares
The Great Candy Expedition attempts to offer new experiences that are not already covered by the other experiences available at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Each candy experience focuses on a different aspect of confection. For example, Hershey’s Chocolate tour explains how Hershey’s chocolate is made, and Hershey’s Unwrapped explains the different flavors in chocolate.
Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition focuses more on the history of the individual candies and what aspects make them unique. It is also the only experience that highlights non-chocolate candies such as Jolly Ranchers.
It does, however, share some similarities with the park’s other attractions. As with all experiences, there is candy involved. It simply would not be Hershey’s if they were not actively giving away chocolate. The show is also interactive, similar to many of the other attractions. It would have been easy for Hershey to offer a simple video explaining its product histories; instead, much thought was obviously put into keeping all participants engaged, which is again something found throughout all Hershey’s activities.
Our final verdict
It is clear that a lot of effort was put into this attraction to not only distinguish itself from other attractions at Hershey’s Chocolate World but to engage every sense without ever having to leave the building. We were impressed by the lengths they went to encompass all the senses and offer audience participation. However, we were a little disappointed that you only got to see three of the candy worlds during Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition. Allowing your fellow viewers to vote means you are at the mercy of others for what you get to see, and it may take two or more viewings to see all the features. At nearly $20 a person, this 30-minute experience is not cheap.
That being said, the animation is bright and colorful. It will no doubt capture the attention of children but does nothing to lessen the experience for adult participants. While the lands we saw were enjoyable, we would have liked to get a little more history from the tour. The explanations of how the candies were made were fun, even if they seemed simplified for a younger audience.
Overall, we found that Hershey’s Great Candy Expedition is a great addition to Hershey’s Chocolate World and offers a wider experience for visitors. It pairs beautifully with the other attractions to give a full view of what makes Hershey’s chocolate so special.