This weekend we finally did it…
We bit the bullet and took the kids to an amusement park.
No, we didn’t do one of the expensive, mouse-related ones since half of my family wouldn’t be old enough to remember the trip anyway. Instead, we thought Adventureland seemed like a good choice this time around, with a good number of rides for younger kids and prices reasonable enough that I wouldn’t have to sell my car or first-born to cover admission for six.
Like anyone vacationing with four children under the age of 7, I was a little scared going into it. Not that there is anything wrong with the park or the concept of the vacation. No, it is merely the following formula that concerns me:
Summertime heat + lots of people + awesome rides +/- height limit on said rides = awesome experience (or) epic fits.
Fortunately, our vacation turned out to be an awesome experience for everyone, but I did learn a few things along the merry way that I thought I’d share.
First, for all of the dads out there, just because the park sells beer and chili cheese fries doesn’t mean it is a good idea to consume said items. Go ahead and do it, then ride a psychotic Silo immediately following and tell me I’m wrong.
Next, know that the experience you had on rides as a child will be markedly different as an adult. For example, water slides: as a kid I remember rocketing down the tube and skimming gracefully into the water. As an adult I displaced so much water on the slide that my back against the fiberglass made a sound similar to someone rubbing a latex balloon… for 300 feet. The doctors are conferring as to whether I’ll need a skin graft or not. Either way, it’s time to lose a few pounds before considering another launch.
A note on those overpriced ride photographs: don’t dismiss them immediately.
I had one son who wanted to ride everything and one who was terrified of all things twisting, turning, or high. I never forced the scared one onto anything major, but I didn’t exactly give him the full description of the log ride either before strapping in behind him. The resulting photo is a priceless reminder of just how petrified he was.
On a side note, he ended up loving it.
Also, I can say with certainty, when you get to that point in the day when you think or say, “We’ll just ride one more and then leave,” just don’t. Skip the ride and just call it quits because your family is already tired and the half-an-hour wait for a 4-minute ride won’t have made the walk to the car any more pleasant.
Not very pleasant at all, in fact.
On a final note, the greatest advice is to just roll with it.
I tend to have Griswaldian expectations for how the experience should be, but sometimes the best moments are imperfect and unplanned.
Chris Donnelly is a working dad with four children. You can read him every Thursday on momaha.com
* * *