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Archive for October, 2012

Building an Audience: ZooAmerica’s “Creatures of the Night”


ZooAmerica's "Creatures of the Night" event offers close encounters with a variety of the zoo's residents.


After ZooAmerica opened in 1978, funding was limited for the development of new exhibits.  To promote interest in the zoo, ZooAmerica undertook a variety of novel marketing ventures to build a zoo audience.


"Creatures of the Night" was first held on October 31, 1980

“Creatures of the Night” was first presented on October 31, 1980


On Friday, October 31, 1980 the zoo launched Creatures of the Night, an educational alternative for Halloween.   Visitors were invited to bring a flashlight and experience the zoo by night.



ZooAmerica staff offered opportunities for guests to interact with some of the zoo's residents.

ZooAmerica staff offered guests opportunities to interact with some of the zoo’s residents.

The following year Creatures of the Night was offered on two nights:  Friday and Saturday, October 30-31, 1981.

In 1992, "Creatures of the Night" expanded to the two weekends leading up to Halloween.

In 1992, “Creatures of the Night” expanded to the two weekends leading up to Halloween.


In 1992, Hersheypark wanted to join ZooAmerica’s Halloween celebration.  That year visitors could cross the Zoo bridge into the park and enjoy 6 rides:  Flying Falcon, Kissing Tower, Antique Cars and the Red Baron, Dinosaurs and Convoy kiddie rides.  That year the event name was changed to Creatures of the Night . . .PLUS.


Creatures of the Night billboard, 1996.

Creatures of the Night billboard, 1996.

Over the next several years, Creatures of the Night began its transition to a Hersheypark oriented event.  In 1997, visitors were directed to enter through Hersheypark gates.  Today the seasonal event is held over the 3 weekends leading to Halloween and is marketed as Hersheypark in the Dark.


Today, a visit to ZooAmerica’s  Creatures of the Night event is included with admission to Hersheypark in the Dark.  Guests can also choose to experience ZooAmerica’s Halloween celebration on its own, by using ZooAmerica’s entrance.


Traveling in Style: The Reading Crusader

The Reading Crusader arrives in Hershey during its inaugural trip.  November 29, 1937

The Reading Crusader arrives in Hershey during its inaugural trip. November 29, 1937

In 1937 the Reading Railroad Company launched the “Reading Crusader,” a half million dollar streamlined train built by the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company.  The Reading Company promoted it as the “World’s most modern train.”  The train was noted for its streamlined appearance and stainless steel construction.  It featured insulated cars with heating and air conditioning, direct and indirect lighting, and comfortable reclining chairs in each lounge car.   In its inaugural debut, “The Crusader” made the run from Philadelphia to Hershey on Monday, November 29, 1937.  More than 150 people were passengers on the train’s first run.  When it arrived in Hershey, the passengers disembarked and had lunch at the Hotel Hershey.  During this time the train was taken to the Rutherford yards, watered, and then brought back to the Hershey countryside so that film makers could get various shots of the engine and the train in motion.  The train then returned to the Hershey Station for its first public exhibition.  Several thousand people gathered at the Hershey Train Station to inspect the new train.