Three singing cows.

Hershey's Chocolate Factory Tour

Field review by the editors.

Hershey, Pennsylvania

We're sugar-addled enough to admit that enjoying a fake chocolate factory tour is better than lamenting the long-ago loss of an actual factory tour.

Hershey's has been refining its fake chocolate factory tour since it opened in 1973, the same year the real factory tour closed. It's inside Hershey's Chocolate World, a sprawling bazaar of sweet souvenirs and snacks just outside Hershey Park. The tour is free (you can get back in line as many times as you like) and it's on a continuous chain of amusement cars, in the style of a classic World's Fair or Disney ride (think "It's a Small World"). You sit the entire time.

Chocolate Syrup.

A long ramp leads from Chocolate World to the boarding area, setting the scene along the way with cargo netting, murals, and corrugated tin walls to suggest the commercial docks of a tropical waterfront. Once seated, you're carried through the doors of a barn while a robot puppet bull in overalls leans from the hayloft to tell you of the importance of milk in Hershey's chocolate.

The point is driven home like a chocolate spike in your skull as you round the corner into a simulated barnyard with three sassy, singing, robot puppet cows. Their call-and-response gospel-style song follows you through the rest of the tour:

It's the milk chocolate! (Tasty treat!)
Hershey's milk chocolate! (Can't be beat!)

Bean Blending.

From the barnyard you're immediately propelled into the fake factory. It is what we want a chocolate factory to be -- a cross between reality and Willy Wonka. It's dark, but spot-lit like a vintage tourist cave in rich purples, blues, reds, yellows, and greens. A chatty narrator describes the sorting, cleaning, roasting, milling, grinding, pressing, drying, blending, and refining of the cocoa beans -- and occasionally utters leading lines such as, "Mmmm, mmm! What's that wonderful smell?" Industrial music underscores the action; chocolaty aromas come and go.

The ride carries you past mysterious whirring machinery, endlessly moving conveyor belts, and through a metal tunnel where you feel a brief kiss of personal roasting. Cryptic processes occur in silhouette behind opaque windows; CCTV multi-screens fill in the action with video filmed in a real Hershey's chocolate factory, we guess. Who knows? Flashing strobes and spinning self-destruct-in-30-seconds-style lights add drama, and remind us of countless chase scenes in sci-fi and action films. Is this factory on the moon? Could be; there are no people in it.

Roasting Tunnel.

The tour ends with a vision of a magical psychedelic America, with Elvis, Dracula, and lots of Hershey's products projected onto the walls. An invisible chorus serenades the tour:

Wherever you go, no matter how far
You're always near a Hershey's barrrrr....

The puppet bull reappears to snap your picture and you're disgorged onto the exit ramp. You're left with vague impressions of stuff being mashed together to make chocolate, and that catchy cow song that won't leave your head (People on our tour were clapping along at one point).

You're given a free mini-chocolate-bar as you walk past the Hershey's "Corporate Social Responsibility" bulletin board, with brief mentions of Sustainable Business Practices and Environmental Stewardship and other things that would probably just slow down the factory tour. Then it's back into the maelstrom of Chocolate World, where you can buy a 25-pound crate of peanut butter cups or an XL denim jacket with Hershey's Kisses in rhinestones.

Hershey's Chocolate Factory Tour

Hershey's Chocolate World

Address:
251 Park Blvd., Hershey, PA
Directions:
From Hersheypark Drive turn south at the traffic light (big Hershey Park sign) onto Park Blvd. Get in the left-hand lane and bear left when the road splits. Drive a half-mile. Turn left at the small sign into the parking lot for Hershey's Chocolate World (The tour is inside Chocolate World). Parking in the lot is free for three hours.
Hours:
Daily 9-8 (Call to verify)
Phone:
717-534-4900
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Boy and the BootBoy and the Boot, Hershey, PA - < 1 mi.
Building Under GlassBuilding Under Glass, Hershey, PA - < 1 mi.
AACA Museum and Museum of Bus TransportationAACA Museum and Museum of Bus Transportation, Hershey, PA - 2 mi.
In the region:
Ike at the Office, Gettysburg, PA - 43 mi.

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August 18, 2017

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