Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Friday, January 2, 2009

Busch Gardens--disappointment turned to exhausted fun!

We decided to check out Busch Gardens on a Tuesday (surely there won't be many people there, right?), so we went on the 30th. Not New Year's Eve, where it would surely be packed, so the day before should be fine, right? Not so much! There were so many people at the park, you couldn't stir them with a stick! It was difficult just to get in. Okay, lets tell the truth, it was difficult for us to get there. I have to confess (and its not even Monday yet!) that I forgot to pack the tickets when we were loading up for the trip. We had planned to be there around 10:30 am and the park is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from home. About half an hour into the trip, Jo nonchalantly asked if anyone had the tickets. We turned around and drove back to the house. Very aggravating! We hit TONS of traffic near the park and had a terrible time getting there (bad sign) and parked in the absolute furthest corner from the park in a grass lot (bad sign),and then were surprised to see the crowds! Every ride had LONG lines. We felt a lot like this:

Holden and Alayna got to ride the first ride (since the wait was reasonable on a kiddie ride) and actually enjoyed it, contrary to their looks in this picture! We wandered around a bit trying to come up with a plan of attack. We finally decided to split up. I took Gabe and Riley and Jo and Mom took Holden and Alayna. We went to a roller coaster to wait the 90minutes so we could say we did something with our day there. We rode the Shiekra. It was SCARY! It had two 90 degree drops, went upside down and went over 60 mph. At one point during the biggest drop I had to stop screaming to take in more air to continue the scream! It was worth the wait that ended up being only 60 minutes. I think I am getting too old for this stuff because while we were climbing to the top, I was asking myself what in the world I was thinking and wondering if it was too late to get off!! We still had some time before we were to meet up with the rest of the clan, so we managed to ride another roller coaster, the Gwazi. Its a wooden roller coaster and it went fast but not upside down. It was fun and the wait was only 30 minutes. We left for our meeting place outside the ice rink where the other crew had gone to watch the show. They had the camera:

By the time we met back up, it was 4:45 and some were starting to leave, and the sun was going down and it was starting to cool off (in Florida terms, that's below 70 degrees), so the lines for the water rides were short. Gabe, Riley and Holden rode the Tidal Wave and the rest of us watched. I managed to catch them at the top of the big drop (you can see Riley and Gabe in the very back row, Holden was in front of them and must have ducked down):
Alayna ran to meet up with her brothers on a bridge that goes over the water and another boat came down the hill and splashed water up all over the bridge and her:
We left at sundown and endured a long line for the tram (which we couldn't bypass because we had no idea how to get to our van without it), and a LONG, cold tram ride! We tried to figure out what we did manage to enjoy in our 6 hours at the park: Travis: Shiekra, Gwazi. Gabe and Riley: Shiekra, Gwazi, Tidal Wave, Holden and Alayna: Gwazi Flyers, Log ride, ice skating show, Grammy and JoJo: ice skating show, log ride. Pretty pathetic. I know the only thing that kept me from totally losing it was knowing we can go back ANYTIME we want. The cost difference between a one day pass and a year long pass was $5, so we did the year passes (Christmas gift) and knew we could come back all year long. We have the Miller family coming to see us in March and we will return with them too! Hopefully we will know the place well enough to show them around!

So, the time came to take Grammy and JoJo to the airport :o( They had to be there at 7:30 on Friday, just a few minutes away from Busch we went. Just me and the kids. I really had no idea how this would go. I wasn't sure if they would stay by me or if I would be freaking out all day when one of them wandered off. But, we have passes, so we discussed the expectations and off we went. After dropping at the airport, we went to breakfast at Bob Evans (because I had a coupon for a free meal) and got to the park at 8:58 (the parking lot opened at 9 am). Here is the line of cars we were near the front of (and that is my ticket in the lower right corner blocking the picture...oh yeah, I have a long way to go in the photography department!): We parked so close to the front that we were able to walk to the entrance.
The park opened at 9:30 and we were one of the first ones in the gates. We rode the Montu roller coaster first thing and were able to ride multiple times in a row since there were not many people there yet. It was my favorite roller coaster in the park. Next was the skyride. This gave us a view of the entire park, lots of the animals that are there (we didn't enjoy this attraction at all, it is really a mini zoo and looked like lots of fun), and also took us to the opposite side of the park, to an area we didn't make it to at all earlier this week. We couldn't all go together, so Gabe and Riley went and I went with Alayna and Holden. It was hard to let them get on without me:
A view of the Montu (tall roller coaster at the very back of the park)
We rode the Kumba (another roller coaster), this is the one that you dangle under the track and nothing is under your feet. It was fun, but you couldn't see where you were going, so not my favorite. Alayna and Holden were so patient at the rides they were not tall enough for, so we found lots of rides they could enjoy in the Timbuktu area:
The Cheetah chase was one that A wasn't tall enough for, but H was, so the boys went together, then I swapped with Riley and G and H got to go again with me. THIS WAS A FUN RIDE!! I screamed almost non-stop!
Next we went to the Land of Dragons which is an area for babies to bigger kids. I am sure they could have stayed here all day!
They posed for a picture and then the boys promptly disappeared to climb and jump. Alayna checked out the water feature:She thought the streams of water were perfect for her time we'll take a swim suit!
Finally, we rode the train. This was the only thing Alayna felt strongly about doing, so we did it on our way out. The train took us through the animals and told about their lives at Busch Gardens and fun animal facts. Here are a few of our favorites:
We waited for the train longer than any other attraction today! We only waited 20 minutes!!
From the train we had a nice view of the rollercoaster we ALL went on. I couldn't believe Alayna was tall enough for this ride, OR that she wanted to go on it. I kept asking her if she was sure and reminding her that she will not be crying if she didn't like it half way through. She did GREAT! She didn't even mind that her head got slammed repeatedly against the (padded) side of the car since it was a rough ride. She screamed a couple times, but out of pleasure, not terror! I watcher her as we went upside down and she wasn't strong enough to keep her head up with the centrifugal forces. She was almost folded in half, but still laughing!
We loved seeing the rhinos
We rode the tram to the van, leaving after 3 pm and couldn't believe what we got to enjoy this time around. We really got to do everything we wanted. We rode all the major rides and tons of others. I was EXHAUSTED! The kids were SO good, they stayed with me, never wandered off, listened and took the news that they were too short to ride some rides in stride (mostly). The Cheetah Chase was the one Alayna really wanted to ride and she cried the entire time her brothers were on the ride and then blamed me for having her last, making her too young and short to go on the ride! That still makes me giggle! I told her she would have to take that one up with God. It was His plan after all!! I hope this has made all of you decide you will come visit and go with us next time!


JoD said...

Man, do I wish we could have been with you for round 2. Sounds wonderful. I would have loved to have captured Sug-Sug on her first roller coaster ride! Glad she did get to see the animals. I LOVE her logic about having her last so she couldn't go on the rides...ha! That's my girl!!! BTW, it is COLD here!!!

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