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FlipsidePA reporter Abbey Zelko takes on the tallest, fastest and oldest roller coasters at Hersheypark for National Roller Coaster Day. Jeremy Long, FlipSidePA

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So, if you know me, you know I go to Hersheypark. A lot.

I’ve been getting season passes for as long as I can remember, not counting the four years I spent selling ice cream and soft pretzels as a Hersheypark employee.

The little blonde girl in the over-sized shorts, ice cream-stained sweatshirt and hat that just wouldn’t stay on straight – yep, that was me.

But the point is, I’ve been to the park a time or two. And aside from mastering the art of the ice cream twirl – yes, there's a technique – I also learned a few tips along the way about how to make the most of your Hersheypark experience and hopefully leave feeling Hersheypark happy.

Here's what you need to know.

When to go

If you can, avoid going to the park on Fridays and Saturdays, which are typically the busiest days of the week. I like to go on Sunday afternoons and Mondays.

But no matter what day of the week you choose, tip No. 1 is to take advantage of the preview ticket. All daily tickets qualify for the “preview plan,” which gives you admission to the park two and a half hours before closing on the night before your visit.

Evenings are often the best time to visit the park anyway, since many park guests will have already left for the day. So, you can usually fit in a lot of your favorite rides during that time. The next day, be sure to arrive when the park opens so you can be first in line and make the most of your day.

How to avoid the lines

It’s easy to walk into the park and immediately want to ride the first thing you see. But if you want to avoid the lines, it’s best to head to the back of the park first and save the front for last.

Hersheypark’s newest attraction – an indoor, spinning glow-caster called Laff Trakk – is the most popular this year. So, ride that first before the line gets too long. Then, hit the water slides at the Boardwalk, which typically get long lines by early afternoon.

If you're a thrill seeker, make time to ride some of Hersheypark's 13 roller coasters, like Skyrush, which reaches 75 miles per hour, and Stormrunner, which goes from 0-72 miles per hour in 2 seconds. Check out the video above to get a sneak peek at the tallest, fastest and oldest coasters in the park.

And don’t forget to download the Hersheypark app so you can check wait times throughout the day.

Where to eat

If you’re looking for something other than typical park food (i.e. burgers, pizza and fries), Hersheypark has several chain restaurants, including Subway, Chickie’s & Pete’s and Moe’s Southwest Grill. And next year, they’ll have a Chick-fil-A, too!

I’d also recommend Spring Creek Smokehouse, which serves Carolina-style pulled pork, ribs and pit beef, smoked mac and cheese and Texas taters. If you take your food to Dietz & Watson Country Grill right next door, you can enjoy it while watching a country music and dancing show.

But, let’s be honest. The real question is, where do you go for dessert? They don’t call it the Sweetest Place on Earth for nothing, right? So, I’d say your best bet is to go for something chocolate-y, like a Reese’s s’more from the S’mores Cart, a hot fudge sundae topped with Hershey’s candy from Simply Chocolate, or a cocoa chiller (a chilled hot chocolate blended with whoopie pie filling) from Makin’ Whoopie Pies.

Other tips

  • Worried about your valuables? Stash your phone and wallet inside a charging station locker at The Boardwalk for just a few bucks.
  • Stay hydrated. Most Hersheypark food vendors will offer guests free cups of water on a hot day. All you have to do is ask.
  • If it rains… Don’t leave. That’s what most people do. But chances are, the storm won’t last long, and when it’s over, you’ll have the park to yourself. Plus, indoor arcades, shows and rides can keep you busy during the rain.
  • Visit ZooAmerica. You won’t find any lines at this 11-acre zoo, located inside the park. It’s free with park admission, and you’ll get to see and learn about more than 200 North American animals.
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