We love Hersheypark. We visit often, usually once a week, and I have amassed a wealth of knowledge over the years that I am happy to share with you. Most of these tips are true for any water park, so read on.
On Monday, I shared my best tips for season passes, planning a visit, and eating at Hersheypark. Head over there for more general amusement park tips.
This is not a sponsored post. Everything we've done in Hersheypark has been on our own dime. I've never been paid or comped for any visits.
The Boardwalk at Hersheypark
The Boardwalk is our favorite favorite thing about Hersheypark. (Except not for Joe who prefers to ride the rides, but the girls and I love to swim. It's usually the very first thing we do when we get to the park.)
Wear your bathing suit under your clothes so you don't have to change when you get to the Boardwalk. Getting a swimsuit over a sweaty body is not the easiest, and if you're already wearing it, you can be in the pool faster! We usually wear our suits with shorts over top and bring along underwear and a shirt to put on after.
If you are going with young kids, consider this plan for the Boardwalk: Start out by walking the whole way to the back of the Boardwalk and visit Sandcastle Cove and Bayside Pier. Sandcastle Cove is a splishy splashy place for little kids, and it has two mini waterslides to enjoy. We usually start there. The deepest water is less than 2 feet. Bayside Pier is a mini wave pool where the waves never stop, and the deepest water is only 3 feet. This is usually our second stop.
The East Coast Waterworks is nearby, and it can be really fun, too. It's huge with lots of opportunities for splashing and playing and some nice waterslides, but my kids have never really been into it. The other kids we've gone with have really liked it, though, so check it out.
There is also a splash zone nearby, by my kids aren't into that either. If your kids like running through sprinklers, they'll enjoy that area.
There is also a lazy river if you're into that. My best tip for that is to bring your tube into the shallowest area at the mouth of the waiting line to get yourself and your littles into it more easily. You can go around as many times as you want, too. They don't make you get off after one trip around the river.
After those areas, we head to the main wave pool. The waves in the main pool are continuous for 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of calm then another 10 minutes of waves. The girls don life jackets, and they float along as the waves toss and turn them around. We like to hang out in the 4-feet deep water during the waves (it goes up to 6 feet at the deepest). We also like to hang out in the edges of the pool, around the 3-feet deep area. The waves crash here, and it's fun to jump into them and get pushed towards the shore.
Unless your kids are really strong swimmers, I would advise you to put life jackets on them in the big pool. The waves can get intense in the middle.
The best place to stand during the waves is dead center in the pool. There's a sign in the center that you can keep your eyes on to stay lined up in the middle. The waves always seem to be less intense in the center of the pool, but I'm not sure if that's my imagination or if there's a real reason for that.
When we're finished swimming, we head to the showers. The main wave pool has the best showers in the Boardwalk, so we always end there. Just one caveat though. There is an area in the showers that can be seen from the lazy river, so look out for that and keep your curtain closed. Soap is free, and you can rinse off and get dressed right there in the shower area. It's open to the outside, so it doesn't get hot or stuffy like some of the changing rooms sometimes do.
If you're in the Boardwalk on a really busy day, the lines for the pools can get quite long. They move pretty fast, though, so don't let lines deter you from enjoying the water.
Make sure you have shoes that are easy to slip on and off for the Boardwalk area. The part of the park that's made to look like a real boardwalk is really dark and gets scorching hot in the sun. You won't want to walk around without shoes. Fortunately, this pavement doesn't go everywhere, but there is enough of it to make walking difficult.
Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and drink plenty of water (not from the pool!).
Swimsuits with buckles, rivets, zippers and metal ornamentation are not allowed in The Boardwalk because they can damage slides and other features.
Swim diapers are for sale in the gift shop in The Boardwalk, but they are very expensive. Make sure you have an adequate supply before you leave home.
There's no need to bring floaties or life jackets. Only Coast Guard approved floatation devices are allowed, and The Boardwalk has an adequate supply of kids and adult-sized life jackets available in the three pool areas. We've always been able to get life jackets for both the kids.
If your kids tend to get cold in the water, make sure you park your stuff in the sunshine. Spread out your towels on a chair and they will be warm when you get out of the water. A nice, warm towel will make even the coldest of kids warm in no time.
The best times to visit The Boardwalk are the first two hours the park is open and in the evening. I guess that's true of all the park, but it's especially noticeable in the pool areas. The Boardwalk closes two hours before the park, so plan for that.
There are lots of lifeguards in The Boardwalk, but you still need to carefully watch your child. Be alert and know what drowning looks like.
We've never done it, but there are cabanas available for rent. You can get on the lazy river with no line, and there is direct access to the big pool area. I've gawked in, and they look really nice. There are chairs and a table and a nice shady spot where you can enjoy the shade on a hot day. If we were planning to spend all day in the water, I would consider one as a special treat. Usually, though, we swim for a couple of hours and then ride rides for the rest of the day, so it's never seemed like a worthwhile expense to us.