From Our Daughter: Hersheypark During a Pandemic With Anxiety

Earlier this week our family took a socially distanced visit to Hersheypark.  There was general nervousness as parents.  The risk was really low that someone in our family would contract COVID-19. But, we didn’t have to go to a theme park.  We took lots of precautions and came up with strategies to help manage our daughter’s anxiety.  The more we talk to folks about her anxiety, the more we hear from other families who deal with something similar.  To that end, a friend asked if our daughter would share what she thought of our visit.  So, in her words…..

Hersheypark During A Pandemic With Anxiety

This morning my Dad asked to write my experience of entering Hershey during a worldwide pandemic, while dealing with my anxiety. So… here it is!

The days leading up to heading off to Hershey were terrifying for me. I was scared that I would get sick, that it would be crowded, that I would be hot with a mask on, that I would feel the need to get on a ride, even if I didn’t want to, because everyone else wanted to go on.

I was worried that I would need to eat in the park with a mask off and so much more. Leading up to our visit, I had come up with so many scenarios and as we entered the parks I was nervous about everything surrounding me. When we first got there, it was pretty crowded and lines were stacking up everywhere. We got our temperature checked and headed in and I am sure I was starting to hyperventilate. We got in line to have our tickets scanned and many people were not being cautious staying 6 feet apart. I was already having a panic attack and was scared the guy behind me would touch my arm by accident.

We finally got up to the ticket counter, and I was so glad they didn’t have to check our bags, although some people did have to stop. Our tickets were being scanned and the lady scanning them told us there was a problem with our tickets and we would need to leave and go to guest services. I could see the line from where we were standing and had seen it when we arrived. It had to be it least an hour long and no one was even trying to stand 6 feet apart. I stood there stunned and nervous that we would have to wait in that line.

But my Dad told us to go sit on a bench and he would take care of it. I was truly thankful and the situation was resolved and we were on our way. There were people everywhere and I was pretty scared, still having a panic attack. Then we got to the Hershey train ride. The line was essentially empty and my brother wanted to go on. I had already got it in my head that I was not going to get on any rides, but I wanted to make him happy.

We got in line, got a seat near the back so we wouldn’t be near to anyone and surprisingly, I didn’t freak out.

I was now calm and felt better about being in a park. I think I just needed to push myself that little bit to know it was okay. Although I became stressed when coming close to others, I learned how to avoid people for the most part.

One thing I can say is, even though I spent a good amount of the day stressed and panicked, I had a lot of fun and the fun in this situation definitely pushed my anxiety out of the picture. I found the good in the situation and lived with the little bit of fear I still had, but overall it was a very memorable and amazing day. 

The Final Two Pennies

I’m proud of our daughter for going to Hersheypark and fighting her anxiety to help make her brother happy.  But, I’m even more proud that she took a few minutes to write down her thoughts, in the hopes that it might help someone else.  I’ve never really dealt with anxiety on a personal level, so her interactions are foreign to me.  Listening and reading how she describes her fears helps me figure out how to plan our next steps in a COVID-19 travel world.  I hope they help you as well.

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  1. Cat, you are such a good writer. My younger daughter dealt with anxiety for years, but now that she is in her 30’s, and even in her 20’s, it has pretty much gone away. I think you will be a wonderful support for others who can learn from your coping strategies. Thank you! Evelyn Walsh

  2. Way to push yourself through the anxiety! As someone who’s been there, doing the hard stuff is what it takes to get through it! 🙂

  3. Why in the world would you make your anxiety ridden daughter travel to such a stressful place right now? Amusement parks can be overwhelming at the best of times- which is this not.

    1. We didn’t make her go. We had a lengthy family discussion over a couple of weeks where we outlined strategies as well as conditions that would cause her to want to leave. Then, we gave it a try, with no pressure or obligations for her to stay.

  4. This is among the stupidest, most negligent thing I’ve read a parent do during the pandemic. People like this is why the US is the worst hit. Shame.

    1. We devised a plan that would allow us to socially distance and we also wore masks the entire time. There was plenty of hand washing and sanitizing throughout the day. Our daughter was in closer contact with her dentist and doctor in the past month than she was any park visitors at Hersheypark.

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