Monday, August 3, 2009

Big Weekend: Water Country and Busch Gardens

Last weekend we had a big trip. This was a pretty big deal.

We took E to two amusement parks; one per day, with her good friend A. They also got to spend a night in a hotel--a first for E, and they even got to sleep in the same bed! E's first sleepover!!

We went to Water Country USA as our first park. I wasn't sure how that would turn out...E can't swim (like most 4 year olds, though, so that's not a big deal) but she also would be without her shoes on for the entire duration of our time at the park. No AFOs, no shoes, no crutches (she can't really use them yet barefoot)...which either means a lot of floating, or a lot of carrying. Turns out, it was a pretty good day! Even though E isn't the most confident sometimes, she is a thrill-seeker.

Before getting wet

We started on a ride called the Hubba Hubba Highway. It's a "river"-style attraction with a medium current, where you just plop in with or without a life vest (we all wore ours) and float along. There are different styles of jets and sprinklers along the way. It was great fun for everyone--but I noticed something VERY QUICKLY: E cannot right herself in the water while wearing the life vest. We planned on staying together, but literally we needed to be holding her the entire time (or she was holding on to us) b/c otherwise she could not reliably keep her face out of the water. She won't stay "up and down" like the other kids. Not right now, anyway.

Really, any (age/height) appropriate attraction that involved a handhold was fine for E. This means any raft-type of ride, she could do, and loved it--even the fast ones! But any activity that involved no hand holds--slides, a mat-style ride, or straight up swimming was a no-go. We tried her on a small kiddie slide, with Jason helping her start sitting up at the top, and me at the bottom to catch her. At the bottom of the slide, since she was lying down, she slid under the water and got gushed in the eyes, nose and mouth. I caught her the best I could--but slides were a definite NO after that

Here is E on a smaller raft ride.

E "swimming" in the shallows--looking pretty good here.

Overall Water Country was great. Stay close to E, no slides--once we learned that, a fun time was had by all. The highlight (not shown) was when we all got to ride a BIG slide, where all 5 of us got to ride together in one big tube. The girls had a blast, and were pretty exhausted by bedtime.

Mr. Ben reading the girls a bedtime story

The next day we all went to Busch Gardens. Our first stop was to inquire about a Ride Access Pass, where Elena could have the opportunity to go on the rides without waiting in line terribly long. We actually didn't use this too often, but when we did, it really made the experience easier. People who have the RAP wear bracelets on their wrists--one to signify they have "priority access", and the other to inform the ride operator if there is a height restriction (in this case, E wore an orange band b/c she is shorter than 40 inches). This made for very little hassle getting to the front of the line. Everyone was quite nice, no one gave us any fuss, and no one who was waiting in line for an hour made any mean comments. Here are E and A on some rides!

Glider Girls

White Baronesses

At the entrance to DragonLand (a big playground, with some kiddie rides)

On the rope bridge at DragonLand (YES I am very tired!)

Interestingly, they have two large metal slides at DragonLand. I posted above how slides are a problem for E; she really wanted to try these. Jason took off her shoes (to let her slide better), and let her go. Turns out, the slides aren't so slippery; it was more of a inclined tunnel, as everyone had to "scoot" their way to the bottom. E can do that--and it was great exercise for her.

And last, the highlight of the weekend: Das Festhaus!! Ben thought the girls would like the show. That is a GIANT UNDERSTATEMENT--E was so excited, she started stiffening on her bench while clapping and yelling. Seriously, I have not seen her this excited EVER. Not Christmas, not her birthday, not having grandparents visit--Das Festhaus trumped ALL! One of the dancers--a VERY tall, handsome gentleman, came right up to E to see if she wanted to dance. ADORABLE!

ein Gentleman, wie er im Buche steht

One of the last dances was The Chicken Dance. A was very excited--she had been practicing before our trip! E knows the dance too, but has problems with the shimmy part, and when the dance speeds up. Still, she had a FANTASTIC time, I was just tickled to be there to witness it. I know the video is shaky, but hopefully you get the idea.

Thanks to the staff at Water Country, Busch Gardens, and Ben and A for a suPER FUN WEEKEND!

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