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Water park splashes into Hersheyland

Deseret News

Original Article »

May 07, 2007

In the early 1900s, before the era of super-duper water parks, chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey built a simple pool at Hersheypark and affectionately dubbed it "The Seashore at Your Door."

Now for the 100-year anniversary of the park and its chocolate Kiss, Hersheypark is dusting off its seashore slogan to herald its newest attraction — a boardwalk and water park.

The boardwalk — actually, it is stamped concrete — is a tribute to the famous East Coast beaches. It will feature a Nathan hot-dog stand, a la Coney Island, and diving horse on a Steel Pier, a la Atlantic City.

"It's nostalgic with cotton candy and saltwater taffy and french fries," said Kathleen Walter, a spokeswoman for the Hershey, Pa., park.

This old-fashioned boardwalk, which opens May 26 (the park itself opened recently), will overlook 8.5 acres of newfangled water rides instead of an ocean.

East Coast Waterworks, dubbed the world's largest water-play structure, consists of 62 tons of steel and 12,914 square feet of water area and a high point of seven stories or 70 feet. It is considered a medium thrill area.

For water enthusiasts who thrive on stomach-dropping thrills, there's Coastline Plunge, which shoots riders into a snaking tube and plunges them into pools of water with a corkscrew center. Waveriders, an interactive sports skill ride, is not for the timid, either. "Two people can go head-to-head in a surfing competition," Walter said. "It's a thrill ride."

For people who want a milder experience, there is Bayside Pier, a relax-and-float area with gentle ripple waves, and Sandcastle Cove, a sandcastle-shaped kid's area with water canyons and jets.

All told, 323,000 gallons of water will swish through the water park.

The $21 million addition is the largest financial investment in the history of the park, which opened in 1907 as a simple affair — just an athletic field, grandstand, small lake, swings and slides.

With the addition of the Boardwalk, Hersheypark hopes to attract visitors for a second day. Hershey is considered a three- to four-day getaway, with the amusement park, Chocolate World, Hershey Museum, the Outlets at Hershey and Antique Automobile Museum, Walter said. "Now you can spend a full day at the Boardwalk and another day at the amusement park," said Walter. "It won't feel rushed."

The amusement park has another nugget of nostalgia for its centennial year. It will serve up chicken and waffles, rumored to be the favorite meal of Milton Hershey.

And it is holding a naming contest for a new dessert, which would sate even the most hard-core chocoholic. The dessert is made of a big Hershey kiss, a 1930s park ticket made out of white chocolate, kettle corn — another Milton favorite — and a chocolate brownie. "No one has finished it yet," Walter said.

The park also will sell a centennial ice-cream sundae.

Alongside such amusement-park-food decadence, the park also is offering more healthful selections, including trans-fat-free cooking oil, salads and wraps. Guests can substitute the french fries in kids' meals with carrots, apple slices or side salads.

The park also will hold fireworks and other special shows for the centennial. Next to the park, Hershey Museum will hold a historical exhibit titled "Hersheypark: A Century of Family Fun."

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