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Part One: Chocolate World

I’m a wimp. I didn’t dare measure Jeremy before we left on our weekend trip to Hershey Park.

I had heartbreaking flashbacks of his older brother Jacques at about that age, giddily walk-running on a slippery poolside only to be sent back from the waterslide inconsolably crying. I went to talk to the sullen teen standing guard at the foot of the slide and he pointed to his measuring stick and said without a hint of sympathy: “48 inches is 48 inches.” And as mightily as Jacques tried to stand, he couldn’t break the 47-inch barrier.

So yeah, I wimped out on 7-year-old Jeremy. We embarked on our trip without knowing his height, trusting that fate would take pity on him and he would be able to go on the rides he wanted.

To make matters worse, I also wasn’t sure if Jacques, who is now almost 12, would be able to ride the best and most awesome rides his 14-year-old brother Julian had described to him in detail after his middle-school orchestra trip last year. How tall did you have to be for that? 54 inches? 58? How tall was Jacques again?

Most important, did Hershey offer enough to keep the whole family entertained?

I didn’t share these fears with the family but my heart was beating just a little fast with apprehension as we pulled into the Chocolate World parking lot on a clear sunny morning.

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Chocolate World

We started the day off with a visit to Chocolate World, which is within easy walking distance from the entrance of the amusement park.

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Ride through the world of chocolate making.

We all settled in for a slow-moving ride through singing-cow narrated demonstrations of making and packaging the different Hershey products. Sadly, the chocolate was behind glass and you couldn’t actually reach out and grab one. Not that I tried to grab a Kit Kat and wound up with a bump on my head or anything.

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Chocolate tasting

The chocolate tasting takes place in a make-believe classroom with long tables facing a “professor” in a lab coat—she even had a globe so you know she’s legit. She taught us some interesting facts about the history of chocolate, the provenance of the beans, and the manufacturing process. We then tasted a handful of miniature chocolates, using a special tasting technique that involves swirling the chocolate around the roof of your mouth and detecting different flavors or notes.

I learned that sometimes “swirling” and “drooling brown liquid out of the corners of your mouth” mean the same thing to a seven-year old and was glad we had tissues for wiping Jeremy’s face. I also learned that those little Bliss chocolates have a serious note of excellence. The boys listened with unusual intent. It’s amazing how quiet they can be when they’re eating piece after piece of chocolate. Who knew?

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4D movie

Besides the readily available chocolates everywhere you looked, the movie was probably our favorite Chocolate World experience. It’s a whodunit featuring an evil guy intent on ruining a batch of chocolate, some Hershey characters, and little yellow creatures reminiscent of the beloved minions from Despicable Me. At various times throughout the movie, different scents wafted through the air and a very silly ankle slapping mechanism would activate in the seat. Julian and I slapped each other’s arms a bit for extra effect.

So far so good. Chocolate World definitely delivered for the whole family. Now off to the park de résistance.

We’d like to thank Visit Hershey Harrisburg for their generous support of our family trip.