Constructed in 1985, Pioneer Frontier Food Court has been a focal area in Pioneer Frontier. A number of food places, rides, a performing gazebo, and even a general store have been in the food court. This is a history of this area of the park.
The Lingle House
In 1913, the first building that is part of Pioneer Frontier Food Court was constructed. The property was sold from Milton S. Hershey to Abraham T. Heilman (Hersheypark’s second general manager) with the deed being transferred on August 23, 1913. The house was constructed shortly thereafter by Hershey Improvement Company.
This house would be sold to Harvey Curry in October 1914. Curry sold the house to Edward Lingle in March 1915 – the house remained in the Lingle family until Millard and Elsie Lingle sold the house to Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (then called HERCO, Inc.) on May 2, 1980. The property was purchased for $115,000.00 ($335,854.43 adjusted for inflation). The last address this house had (it was split as a duplex) was 71 and 73 West Derry Road.
Other developments prior to 1985
In 1972, a section of West Derry Road between Park Avenue and Park Boulevard was closed to thru traffic. Another road, Strawberry Lane was eventually closed to thru traffic as well. There were a handful of houses in this section of Hershey, and it wasn’t until the early 80s when Hersheypark was able to consolidate the lots into one property. In 1980, the first rides north of Derry Road were installed – Cyclops and Pirat. Dry Gulch Railroad was modified for the first time, the station being relocated to make way for a new pathway to connect to Cyclops.
In 1982, CinemaVision was installed further north of Cyclops. At the same time, a new catering area was introduced. Themed after Pirat, it was called Pirat Cove Catering. In 1984, this was renamed Dry Gulch Galley Catering, in part because Dry Gulch Railroad had been expanded and this catering area was now inside the Dry Gulch oval. This was part of the first phase of the Pioneer Frontier expansion in 1984.
For the 1985 season, Hersheypark planned to add a food court to the area where Dry Gulch Galley Catering was. The plan was to relocate the catering area across from the food court – which it was. Dry Gulch Galley Catering would be relocated one more time, to Trailblazer Hollow in 1991, being renamed Trailblazer Catering, when Sidewinder was installed in the Dry Gulch Galley Catering area.
An expansion study was surveyed by the park in late 1984 to consider options for continuing Pioneer Frontier expansion. Two options were proposed, one which included the installation of several additional rides beyond what was ultimately added to the food court, as well as several extra pavilions to be added to Dry Gulch Galley Catering in 1986. Ultimately the park went with the modified option that made the area a food court.
The rides in Pioneer Frontier Food Court
Two rides were placed in Pioneer Food Court in 1985 – the kiddie Whip named Whipperoo and the Antique Mini-Carrousel were placed in buildings across from each other near the General Store in the back part of the food court. Whipperoo was rethemed Wells Cargo and Antique Mini-Carrousel was rethemed Livery Stables.
Wells Cargo was relocated to Dutch Wonderland for the 2003 season and Livery Stables was relocated outside of the food court area in a newly developed area between Dry Gulch Railroad and the old general store building. Frontier Flyers was placed in this area, along with Mini Scrambler.
A third ride was added to the food court in 1986 – Trabant was relocated from its original location adjacent Fender Bender. Trabant was rethemed Rodeo. It was relocated to the former Timber Rattler location when that ride was removed after the 1987 season. Rodeo was later relocated to Dutch Wonderland, in 2009, when The Boardwalk SeaQuel was added.
With a hole left in the food court for a season, Balloon Flite was relocated to the food court in 1989, when it was relocated from the same spot Trabant had been adjacent Fender Bender. Balloon Flite was eventually placed in storage in 2003, to make way for the launch track for Storm Runner. Balloon Flite was reinstalled in Founder’s Circle in 2005.
Sidewinder was installed in 1991, in the location where Dry Gulch Galley Catering had been. Sidewinder is a boomerang rollercoaster manufactured by Vekoma. Sidewinder starts by pulling the train in reverse from the station up a lift hill. The train is then released, going through a cobra roll and then a loop. The train runs up a second lift hill and is then pulled up the hill. The train is released and you go through the ride backwards.
Food, Souvenirs, Ephemera
After the house was transferred to Hersheypark management after the purchase of the Lingle house in 1980, it was initially used for storage. When the food court was created, this house was repurposed into Spring Creek General Store. It was converted into Country Christmas Shop in 1995. In 2000, it became Amtrak Train Garden. In 2002, it was converted into Subway when Subway in Minetown was replaced with a Wok-n-Roll.
Much like there was a bandstand proposed in the 1985 expansion study, a gazebo bandstand was installed in the middle of the seating area in the food court, rather than behind the General Store.
Taco Shell probably was in Hersheypark starting in 1985, when the food court was built. It then appears on park maps beginning in 1987, as the quality of their map and brochure significantly increased from the previous two seasons. Taco Shell, a generic taco stand, would remain in the park through the 1991 season. In 1992, Hersheypark converted the stand into a Taco Bell. In 2004, the Taco Bell branding was removed and a new taco stand replaced it – Tumbleweed’s Tacos. This stand was converted into The Outpost in 2015.
Adjacent to that building was an ice cream stand. It became a Ben & Jerry’s when Ben & Jerry’s became a sponsor in 1990. When that agreement ended, the ice cream stand became a Turkey Hill Creamery. That building was split into two parts, the other half eventually being a coffee place called Latte Tude. It became Panini Express in 2010. In 2015, it was transformed into Pioneer Pete’s, a fruit smoothie stand, which was a relocated food stand that had been next to Mixed Grill.
The building that housed Wells Cargo was converted into Wurstburg Grill for the 2003 season; this food stand has been the same since. The building that housed Livery Stables became Mixed Grill in 2003. Mixed Grill was converted into Moe’s Southwest Grill in 2015.
A small building next to Livery Stables housed a glass blower and blacksmith shop, as well as souvenir etchings. This was redeveloped into Pioneer Pete’s, a fruit smoothie stand. This building was torn down when Moe’s was constructed (although it erroneously appears on park maps in 2015 and 2016).
The building next to that was also part of the blacksmith and glassblowing retailers in the food court. In 1991, it became Sidewinder Sizzler. This was renamed The Whistle Stop in 2003. In 2016, this became the second Chickie’s & Pete’s location in the park. The first location is near The Boardwalk in Midway America.
One other location in the food court is just on the outskirts next to Sidewinder – that is a Dippin’ Dots ice cream stand. This ice cream stand was simply a movable cart (these are placed at various locations around the park).
This was a history of Pioneer Frontier Food Court, which opened in 1985 and continues to exist to this day inside Hersheypark. If you are interested in other articles about Pioneer Frontier or the expansion of Hersheypark north of old West Derry Road, click here.