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Sunday, August 24 2014 09:00

The Great American Road Trip: A Sweet Adventure at HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD...

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I love to think that there was a time - a time not long ago, just over a century ago - when you could build something in America that was able to become such a success, that an entire town could be named in it's (and your) honor. That happened when Milton S. Hershey created a "company town" that became known as Hershey, Pennsylvania, or "The Sweetest Place on Earth" back in 1894. Now, in addition to boasting the birthplace and main manufacturing hub for the Hershey's brands of chocolate-based goodness, Hershey, PA also includes a ballpark, arena, a theme park, and the original HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD. As part of our first Great American Road Trip series, my wife and I took the girls the Chocolate World last month to experience it as a family.

Open since 1973, HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD was created after daily visitors to the Chocolate Factory began to exceed it's daily capacity for plant tours. Able to serve up to 20,000 visitors per day, Chocolate World welcomes over 3 million visitors a year, each able to experience the making of their favorite chocolates on The Great American Chocolate Tour, check out the all-new HERSHEY'S GREAT CHOCOLATE FACTORY MYSTERY in 4D, learn about flavors in the Chocolate Tasting Adventure, and put everything they've learned into action in the Create Your Own Candy Bar attraction. These adventures and more are accented by a fantastic company store and food court, along with a Bake Shoppe and Trolley Works.

The day we went was busy - impacted by an afternoon rainstorm that sent visitors from the neighboring Hershey Park looking for a little indoor fun... and there's a lot of fun to be had.

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HERSHEY'S GREAT CHOCOLATE FACTORY MYSTERY in 4D was the big hit of the day, an interactive film (with 3D elements) that crossed over into the physical realm with 4D features involving the senses - from lights and sounds, to wind, motion and scents, Hershey's partnered with the crew from JIM HENSON'S CREATURE SHOP to craft the elaborate branching adventure, that allows audience participation to determine over 100 possible variations. It's sorta like SCOOBY-DOO meets DESPICABLE ME, but in the Hershey's Factory. Check out a trailer below...

The Great American Chocolate Tour is a historical "dark ride" that takes families through the process of chocolate making from sourcing to production and through packaging and beyond - focusing on the things that make Hershey's special.

While the kids really enjoyed that, the Create Your Own Candy Bar attraction was a more hands-on approach, as families go through a working, yet scaled-down assembly line to craft their own custom candy bar, complete with toppings, fillings, and even custom packaging. 

Sprinkles on a Hershey's Bar? Not my bag, but my girls love it, so almost anything goes in this one. 

Personally, I went really basic with a chocolate-on-chocolate creation of Hershey's Milk Chocolate encasing tiny chocolate chips. 

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On the way out, we picked up some Jumbo Hershey's Kisses for gifts, along with some cool pillows for the girls, a shirt for my wife, and for me - a pair of cool diecast vehicles to add to our collection. They were a big hit on Instagram...

HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD has locations around the World, but the original location in Hershey, PA is a must-visit for anyone that's planning to pass through the area. Next time, we'll do Hershey Park, too! Visit the official site to plan your visit.

Disclosure: While the folks at HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD knew that we were coming and were kind enough to hook me up with family passes for the day, we bought quite a few add-ons and souvenirs that enhanced an already-fantastic experience.

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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