Friday, June 21, 2013

Kings Dominion (Where's the Apostrophe?)

So, I've become a wuss in my old age.  I mean, we all suspected it, right?  But there's no better way to PROVE it than a visit to an amusement park.  It really didn't hit me at Disney World several summers ago, but so many of the activities there are kid-oriented that I probably just fit right in.  Yesterday, however, the hubby and I made our first visit to Kings Dominion in 21 years (holy crap, we're old), and took Andrew for the very first time.  And boy, was my wuss-dom ever obvious there! 

We all started the day with smiles on our faces.  The weather was beautiful, the park was immaculate and shiny, and the smell of funnel cake and cotton candy was so thick in places that we really didn't need to buy any--we could taste it!  (And at almost 10 bucks a pop for funnel cake, I wasn't buying any anyway!)  I was, as always, a little nostalgic for the old days of Kings Dominion, before the awe-inspiring, loop-dee-loops coasters that are now ubiquitous; back in the day of the Scooby Doo Roller Coaster (redubbed The Woodstock Express to fit the Planet Snoopy theme in the kids' section) and the Land of the
Dooz in the artificial mountain.  I'm so old, I can actually remember when there was a lake (now partially filled in) with a water-skiing show--I vividly remember the Hatfields and the McCoys feuding it out on waterskis in the hillbilly attire of cutoffs and plaid.  I also mourned the loss of the safari monorail...those train cars used to be the best way to get cooled off as they trekked us around the park to look at lions and antelope.  (Perfectly natural in a Richmond suburb, yeah?)  Also gone are the cable cars that crossed the park...but there are still plenty of the "old" attractions combined with the new that I didn't feel the loss too much, the Eiffel Tower being one of them. 

After much protesting because he was too old/too cool, we managed to coax Andrew into the Planet Snoopy area to start the day, and it actually became a big hit.  He managed to sucker me onto a tame little "hot air balloon" ride that damn near made me throw up...I actually cried a little bit, I was so scared.  It didn't help that Andrew used the spin control with abandon until I told him that I was really close to puking...I survived, but it didn't bode well for the rest of the day.  A snafu in line for the Woodstock Express (also calm/designed for YOUNG kids, mind you) left me riding with Andrew and screaming in terror as Andrew watched with amusement.  I left that ride with shaky legs and pounding heart, wondering what the hell happened to the fearless girl I used to be. 

Heading out around the rest of the park, I had the inevitable flashback to the Brady Bunch episode where the kids lost Mike's blueprints on a ride.  That also ages me significantly, I realize...but at one point, watching a girl run to catch up with her family, I could swear it was Marcia Brady running with the poster tube across the park.  (That was, of course, Kings Island, NOT Kings Dominion, but when I was a kid, I thought it was really impressive that I recognized so many of the park features.)  Writing this, though, I realize that other than the log flume and the White Water Canyon, I didn't ride anything else the entire day.  Good thing the boy got his money worth and is still brave enough for the Rebel Yell (which I used to LOVE!), the Grizzly, and the huge ferris wheel (and that his father was willing to ride with him). 

At the end of the day, though it was the kids' area, Planet Snoopy, that drew Andrew back, and we spent the last several hours there as he rode and re-rode things that were just his size.  I could see that he enjoyed being able to be independent in the short lines and riding things as many times as he wanted, and with just enough fun and thrill that he wasn't scared to death.  Unlike his mom, that is. 

Notes to Self for the Next Trip: 
  • Ugly, sturdy sandals are not kind to my feet.  Give me my flip-flops any day.
  • Knowing that dinosaurs are robotic does not lesson one's hesitation to turn one's back to them (especially after seeing Jurassic Park recently).
  • Pack at least one meal to avoid having to sell a kidney to buy lunch.  (We bought lunch, but had dinner packed in a cooler in the car.) Ignore the rule about bringing in snacks and pack some granola bars!
  • Buy the refillable "souvenir" cup.  $10 seems like a lot at first, but when you can endlessly refill it, it's worth it, and way more preferable than $3.79 for a 20 oz. bottle!  It was a lifesaver!
  • Rent or borrow a kid for the day to ride things you're too much of a chickenshit to ride with your only child. 
  •  Your kid will be more impressed by driving the "Model T" cars around the wooded track than by anything else.  Save money, and let him drive the riding mower around the yard. 
  • Figure out why there's no apostrophe used in "Kings Dominion."  (You know that drove me batshit crazy all day!)
  • Steal some of the dog's Dramamine. 

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