This is a look at the entrances of Hersheypark in 1971 and 1972, in the transition of Hersheypark being renovated into a theme park.
The Park, gated
Hersheypark became a gated park in 1971. This decision was made for two reasons. One was for security. The park had unfortunately been vandalized a number of times in the 1960s, and in one such case, the elephant on top of the Lost River was destroyed, and Laffin’ Sal was minimally damaged. The second reason was because the park was beginning to modernize into a theme park. While Phase I of the R. Duell & Associates plan didn’t begin until late 1971 when construction began on Carrousel Circle, the park was laying down the groundwork for the changes coming to the park. 1971, in effect, was the “Phase 0” year.
The decision to gate Hersheypark occurred in 1970. When the park began planning the 1971 season, the gate was already a foregone part of their planning. However, the intention was to keep the park ticketing policy the same as all years prior – guests would pay per ride, with certain incentive days where there would be a one-price ticket to have unlimited rides on any ride.
One of the other modernization plans as part of “Phase 0” was to get higher quality performers to play at the park Bandshell. Typically, in the previous handful of seasons, a lot of the performers would play in the park for free, because a lot of the acts were local or up-and-coming. By 1971, a lot these acts didn’t exist any more, or, if they wanted better quality, they had to pay for it.
Park management understood that if they were going to have to pay for performers at the Bandshell, then the only way they could afford to do that would be to charge an entry fee for the park.
In February 1971, management decided to charge a fee to get into Hersheypark. There were two plans, One-Price Admission Plan, and General Admission Plan.
- One Price Admission Plan
- Adults (ages 12 and older): $3.50 per person
- Junior (ages 5 – 11): $1.75 per person
- General Admission Plan
- Adults (ages 12 and older): $1.00 per person
- Junior (ages 5 – 11): $0.50 per person
Children (ages 0-4) under both plans had free admission.
The park’s justification was that if you wanted to ride every ride in the park, it was cheaper to buy the one-price ticket than it was to buy a ticket for every single ride. This is true – it would have cost $4.60 to ride every ride in Hersheypark.
The argument against that was that not everyone would ride every ride. Nevertheless, the park adopted this policy, and they kept the general admission ticket for the 1972 season as well.
When management decided to gate the park, they wanted to transition to having one entrance on the western end of the park. They decided they would have 5 entrances in 1971, 1 entrance in 1972, and then the brand new main entrance in 1973.
For the 1971 season, they had five entrances, including one at the original main entrance, one across from Hershey Park Zoo, one at Hersheypark Arena, Lobby 1, and West Derry Road, one at the old Hershey Park Ballfield by the Sunken Garden, and one along Park Boulevard at Comet’s turnaround (near Hershey Park Creamery / Dairy). The approximate locations for these five entrances can be seen in the hypothetical 1971 Hersheypark map, seen above. (Author’s note: Hersheypark did not make a map of the park for the 1971 season, so I decided to make a hypothetical version.)
When the park opened in 1971, the most noteworthy news was that Hersheypark was charging an entrance fee. An article in the York Daily Record specifically mentioned the five entrances to Hersheypark, while other articles either referenced that there were five entrances, or simply: the park was now enclosed with a gate. An advertisement was printed in the Pennsylvania Labor News – a newsmagazine that many workers in Hershey would have seen – explained all of the changes coming to Hersheypark for the upcoming season.
This advertisement was either made by the Labor News itself, or it was made by one of the union members in Hershey who would have submitted this kind of information to the Labor News – it would not have been made by Hersheypark management. This explains why we see the use of an old logo in 1971, as well as Hersheypark being spelled as two words since the park had renamed itself from Hershey Park to Hersheypark this season.
After the 1971 season, Phase I of the renovation project began. A number of rides in Kiddieland were removed or relocated, and the theme regions Carrousel Circle, Der Deitschplatz, and the Animal Garden were added. The park decided to simplify the five gates to one gate this season. The gate chosen was the one by Hersheypark Arena at West Derry Road.
This was only a temporary main gate, since the new permanent main gate was going to open in 1973. There was some consideration to making this entrance permanent as well, so there was a second way to get into the park. That concept was dropped. The entrance was budgeted to get $25,000 in upgrades, but to reduce costs, this was scratched from the budget.
When the park had it’s grand opening in 1972, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony at the spot dividing Der Deitschplatz and Carrousel Circle. Dignitaries, invited guests, and others paraded down from the entrance to Carrousel Circle as part of the festivities. This is the only reference to the main entrance being at West Derry Road and Hersheypark Arena. For some reason, the changes to the entrances were not mentioned in promotional materials or news articles.
There are no pictures of the 1972 main gate – just an indirect image, seen below.
Images and video
There are very few pictures of the park in the 1971 season, currently, especially of any of the entrances to the park that year. One entrance can be seen in a picture of the Monorail (the roof of a ticket booth at the entrance is visible in the lower right corner of the image.
You can see part of the original main entrance area where two entrances were placed for the 1971 season. You can’t see the gates, but you can see the landscaping.
There are surprisingly few photographs or film showing any of the entrances in 1971 or 1972. If you have anything you would like to submit to be added to this post, mention that in the comments section below, and I’ll respond.
To read an overview of all of the entrances in Hersheypark’s history, click here.
I have a wide variety of interests, from sports to politics, music to Star Trek. I write about the history of amusement parks. Right now I am focused on Hersheypark.