Hersheypark’s most well known entrance was Tudor Castle. The castle – constructed between 1972 and 1973 – opened on May 20, 1973. It operated for its final time on January 1, 2019.
Why a new entrance?
Tourism was growing quickly in Hershey. The Hershey Company, then Hershey Foods Corporation, anticipated that they would have one million visitors touring the chocolate factory by 1973. Hersheypark was busy, but management believed the park was looking tired compared to new theme parks that were opening up in the region. This led to Hersheypark management reaching out to R. Duell & Associates.
When R. Duell & Associates and Hersheypark worked to create a modern Hersheypark, a major consideration was where people would enter into the renovated park. Hersheypark did not have a gate, so anyone could enter the park anywhere. However, the park did have a main entrance at the corner of Park Avenue and Park Boulevard. The idea was to relocate the main entrance to the west end of the park, partially in the Sunken Garden adjacent the old Hershey Park Pool and the Hershey Museum.
With Hersheypark being gated in 1971, the plan was to transition to having a new main gate, placed between two themed regions – Tudor Square and Rhineland – by having five gates in 1971, one temporary main entrance in 1972, and then the new main entrance as part of Phase II of the R. Duell & Associates renovation plan in 1973.
Early concepts included a Sky Ride to be attached to Tudor Castle, but that was scrapped, and a Sky Ride building opened in central Rhineland in 1974.
To read more about this transition, click here.
Why Tudor style?
Hersheypark and R. Duell worked on a plan for the park. The concept was for Hersheypark to become a local cultural history themed park. The idea of this came from the success of Pennsylvania Dutch Days, an event that occurred at the park from 1949 to 1979. Der Deitschplatz, a Pennsylvania Dutch themed region, was added to the park in 1972, along with two contemporary themed regions, Carrousel Circle and Animal Garden (which was a petting zoo) for Phase I of the renovation project.
For Phase II, two new theme regions were to be added – the aforementioned Tudor Square and Rhineland regions. Tudor Square harkened back to local English roots while Rhineland connected back to local German and Swiss roots. The concept of making the entrance in the style of a castle was always the consideration for the design of the gate.
Tudor Castle opens
On May 20, 1973, Hersheypark opened for its new season to much fanfare. The new main entrance was named Tudor Castle and served as the dividing line between Tudor Square and Rhineland. On the Rhineland side of Tudor Castle was Tudor Court. A small information booth was located in this area.
Tudor Castle itself hardly changed through the years it operated, although the Tudor Castle name had fallen by the wayside. The new main entrance was designed to handle approximately 2 million visitors per season – a mark the park was expecting to get to by 1980. At the time, the R. Duell plan did not anticipate the park expanding to hold over 3 million visitors, which was a significant downside to their concept.
Since the Tudor Castle didn’t change very much in its’ 45 years of operation, it was bound to have some drawbacks in present day. This led to the necessity for Hersheypark to construct a new entrance.
The need to replace Tudor Castle
The primary drawback was that it was only designed to handle roughly 2 million visitors per year. In the last decade, Hersheypark has hit the 3 million visitor mark. While the park has a much longer operating year with the inclusion of shoulder season events in April, October, November-December, with the additions of Pioneer Frontier, Midway America, and The Boardwalk at Hersheypark, substantially more people visit Hersheypark in the summer time then ever could have been anticipated by the R. Duell plan in 1971.
Park security was another factor that the R. Duell plan could not have envisioned in its time. An event such as the attacks on September 11, 2001, were unfathomable. The security measures that became necessary in the wake of those attacks and others subsequently were not well suited for a bottleneck entrance as Tudor Castle was.
Removal of Tudor Castle
Tudor Castle was taken down in early 2019, shortly after work on constructing Hershey’s Chocolatetown began in earnest. Photos from January 9, 2019 surfaced online shortly after demolition of Tudor Castle began. Credit to the person who took these pictures are currently unknown.
Several bricks from Tudor Castle were reclaimed and used in the building where Starbucks is now. It is very near the exact location that Tudor Castle stood. Next to the bricks is a plate commemorating not only Tudor Castle but the entire transformation of Hersheypark between 1970 and 1977.
…A Happy Experience
Tudor Castle served as a unique entrance for Hersheypark. While the theme regions Tudor Square and Rhineland were replaced by the theme region Founder’s Way in 2014 and later Hershey’s Chocolatetown in 2020, it was a striking piece from an old era. It served as an early first impression for park-goers, which while queue lines were necessary as many visitors were making their way into the park, they had a beautiful place to wait.
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