Thirty-five years ago, in 1983, the first Hersheypark Christmas Candylane event was held. The event was initially called Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane (simplified to the current name in 1986). It was mostly located in Tram Circle and Tudor Square, with one ride located right inside the main gate in Rhineland.
The 1983 Candylane event was a rough go for the park – on several days, the park was closed due to severely cold weather and ice. This caused attendance to be lower than expected. Despite this, public response to the event was positive. There were a couple of days with rather high attendance – this proved the need to incorporate Carrousel Circle the following year.
Here’s a look back at Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane in 1983.
The first Candylane
Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane opened on November 25, 1983, and ran through January 1, 1984. The event was located in Tram Circle, Tudor Square, and the area just inside the main gate in Rhineland. This was a free event with tickets available for purchase for the four rides at the event.
While this season in 2018 there are approximately 45 rides available, in 1983 there were only four rides that operated for this event. Two were relocated from inside the park – Dizzy Drums and Livery Stables – while two were rented for the event – Little Wheel and Miniature Train.
Since this event was a pay-per-ride ticketed event, attendance was largely based off the ride capacities of Dizzy Drums, Livery Stables, and Little Wheel, as well as the ticket sales for Miniature Train.
The most popular ride at the event was the Miniature Train, followed by Dizzy Drums, then Little Wheel, and Livery Stables. 33% of riders rode Miniature Train while 21% rode Livery Stables. Livery Stables’ low attendance may be the result of the ride breaking down on Friday, December 16 and Saturday, December 17, and not operating on Sunday, December 18.
Candylane was impacted by inclement weather on nine different days – which meant that rides didn’t operate or the park was closed, entirely. The busiest weekend for Candylane was the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, November 26-27. Saturday was the only day that ride capacity broke 2000 for the day. Saturday, December 10 nearly hit 2000 – the total capacity was 1936 riders.
On all four rides, there were a total of 15,969 riders throughout all of Candylane.
The event was successful enough to be brought back and expanded for 1984. When Candylane opened the following season, the event included a few rides in Carrousel Circle. The Little Wheel was not rented after the 1983 Candylane season.
This event also was the first time Hersheypark had reindeer on display for Christmas Candylane. The Main Gate was converted into stalls for the reindeer. The reindeer were brought back and placed in the Main Gate through 1986 Candylane. Due to increased attendance of the event, the Main Gate needed to be used for guest entry. The park did not have a place to put the reindeer, so the reindeer were not brought back to the park in 1987. The reindeer did not return until the 1997 Candylane event when the park expanded the event into Pioneer Frontier.