Sunday, July 10, 2016

A World Made of Chocolate

We went to Hershey Park today, one of the two group Saturday trips that we will be taking during the program. I was excited to go to an amusement park that I'd never been to before. I always have a lot of fun at Six Flags, Great America, and Disneyland, of course, but I was glad that I would get to go on new rides and take in a new atmosphere. All of my east coast friends told me that Hershey Park was really fun, and I relied on them to give me information about it and guide me around.

All of the Summer Discovery students met outside the Quadrangle at 9:30 AM. Before that, however, I walked with my friend Lizzy to Wawa to get breakfast. 1920 Commons is closed to us on the weekends. At Wawa I picked up a donut and some fruit. Some of this fruit spilled later in Lizzy's room, but what was left was enough to tide me over during the two hour bus ride. When we went outside to the line of buses, I was happy to discover that in addition to being on the same bus with Lizzy and our friend Jana, who are both in my RC group, our friends Sehar, Sam, and Jack had been placed with us as well.

The bus ride was long, but we managed to entertain ourselves by playing games, talking, and singing. I was lucky to be surrounded by most of my close friends. As we got closer, I saw that Hershey Park was surrounded mostly by farmland. Then, the roller coasters started to come into view and eventually we pulled into a large parking lot. It had been supposed to start raining at 9:00 AM, but when we stepped off the bus we found it to be a beautiful sunny day.

The RCs passed out our tickets and told us to meet back at the carousel at 6:30 PM. That gave us around 7 hours, which seems long but actually went by pretty quickly. We started off by meeting up with our friends who had been on different buses, Reva, Helen, Serena, and Arthi. Then we wasted no time getting in line for our first roller coaster. We stood in that first line for a few minutes before we realized that the ride was not running, and went to find another. Our strategy was to start at the back of the park and work our way forward to avoid the crowds. It worked; these morning lines were only about 5 minutes long each. We got on our first ride right away, Storm Runner. This was probably the fastest roller coaster I've been on in my life, or at least it seemed that way. Luckily, I love that sort of thing.

After another roller coaster, we decided to settle down for a bit and get something to eat. I got nachos from a restaurant in the food court, which were really good but made me hesitant to get on any of the bigger rides so soon afterwards. Instead, we left the main park and went to Hershey's Chocolate World. Inside the large building, there were stacks upon stacks of colorful candy and Hershey's merchandise. There were also several attractions, including a chocolate tasting. We got in line for the Chocolate Tour, a slow-moving ride in which you are shown and explained to how Hershey's makes its famous chocolate. The tour is not of the actual Hershey's factory, but simulates different steps in the chocolate making process. It also included singing cows and talking Hershey's products, so it wasn't the most realistic, but it was enjoyable.

After the tour, we claimed our free samples, took a few group pictures, and left. At this point, we had lost several members of our group, but we kept trucking on. We managed to get on a few more rollercoasters, for which the waits had now extended to 20 or 30 minutes, before a few more people decided they wanted a break. The four of us who wanted to keep going went on two more rides, then we started winding down and getting ready to leave. While we had been gone, Lizzy had won many stuffed prizes from the boardwalk style games there. I was pretty impressed! The last thing I did before we went to the carousel was buy an ice cream and ride the teacup ride with Sehar, which was identical to the one at Disneyland.

Our timing in leaving could not have been better, as it began to pour rain as soon as we got on the bus. It was coming down hard, and I was so thankful that we didn't have to be hanging out in that. As I'm sure many of you know, spending the day at an amusement park can be exhausting. On the way back to Philadelphia, nearly everyone slept for some amount of time. I myself took about an hour long nap. We got back just before 9:00 AM. I had about five minutes to change out of my sweaty clothes and get ready for the dinner that Jana's father had invited me to. He had told Jana to pick three friends to come out with them during his visit, and she'd chosen myself, Jack, and Lizzy. I felt honored that I was special enough to meet the parents!

Jana's father took us to Pod, a sushi restaurant a few blocks away from the Quadrangle. I'd heard really good things about Pod from Lizzy, Jack, and many of the other people in my program, so I was excited to try it for myself. The decoration and music inside the restaurant seemed very trendy. We got several types of sushi and some entrées to share, all of which were very tasty. The company was good as well, Jana's father was very nice and we made conversation about our classes and our lives back home. It was very generous of him to take us out and be so kind to us. Dinner was a good way to end the fun day.

Hershey Park was not so different from the amusement parks I've been to in the past, but I'm happy that I got the opportunity to see it for myself. I had a lot of fun trying out as many rides as I could, and just relaxing with the friends that I've made in the past week. It was a good day, one of the best memories that I've made at camp so far. I know that there will be many more to come!

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