Why amusement parks are family glue

I took a long weekend from work so we could escape to our favorite amusement park for a few days. Little did I know that it would be more than roller coasters and a few trips down some water slides.

This was a big weekend. The weekend. The one before the kids catch a plane destined for a location across the country to spend summer with their father. It had to be right. It had to be awesome. Alright, it had to be awesome to the kids.

And it was.

It was more than awesome. It was family bonding and moments that can not be taken back.

Alright so in true fashion here’s what happened the last couple days …
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Friday morning we scrambled to gather our backpacks and overnight necessity stuffs. Just a couple backpacks for the park and water park and a hotel bag each. We left at the crack of dawn. Alright maybe it just felt like it, with my love rushing me to get out of the bed. It’s easy for her, she just showers and miraculously is put together. I on the other hand need a team of experts and a barista to get me to look alive.

I gathered my things quickly and waved goodbye to the dogs. I explained that everyone was waiting for me in the car but the dog sitter would be by later. I gave them each the “don’t eat the sitter, just burglary suspects” look and hoped they understood. I think the little one winked. I’m not sure why but it seemed like a good sign.

Our drive was easy, our passes from last year had indeed been renewed and scored us free parking. We even found a spot right near the entrance of the park. I love when that happens. Even getting the kids past security was a breeze. So far so good.

The first day we split our little family into pairs and the bravest amoung us went to ride the brand new giga-coaster. I won’t lie, it was intimidating and I wasn’t sad to be taking on smaller rides with the scaredy cat child.
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After a few thrilling and a couple little less than thrilling rides we made our way to the water park and took a leisurely stroll ran like newly released zoo rhinos to the wave pool.
I don’t think I have ever seen more excited faces.

It’s not as if I have never taken my kids to this amusement park.
I have.

This time was the first with our little family as it is now. The first time ever for teams of 2 and a family of 4.
My love and I were called out equally, to watch new dive moves and to ride water rides with my offspring.

It made my mommy heart swell with such pride.

The kids announced that they were having such a great day, a perfect day. I danced a happy dance in my head.
I mean it.
I broke it down like nobody’s business.

I was ecstatic that my kids were having such fun. That our little family unit, on this little family outing, was so sucessful.

There wasn’t a fight, there was no whining, no complaining no sarcasm. Okay, there was sarcasm.
Lot’s of sarcasm. It was epic.

On day 2 I didn’t want to get up. Suprise, surprise. So I was rushed. Hair in a messy bun and everything from the hotel room thrown quickly into our bags.
Again, everyone was waiting in the car for me.

We got to the park at the same time but didn’t get as great a parking spot. It still wasn’t terrible and we were grateful to not have to walk from the next town to the park entrance.

Like the day before, we split in pairs so that the adventurers could use their season passes for early ride privileges on the new coaster. The more level headed child and I went straight to the water park so that we could get in and get our favorite location claimed before the masses came.
We were met at the gates with a very colorful family. The mom may or may not have been a star on that show “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” I’m not totally sure but there were some clear similarities to the mother. They seemed polite but eager and we waited in the #1 and #2 spots at the gate. I was worried I might have to kick a leg and trip a reality TV star but they headed a different direction once inside the gate.
Lucky break.

I secured our prime location, some drinks and snacks and we were soon joined by the adventurer crew. I listened intently to tales of the feeling “the free fall” and “almost coming off the tracks.” Whatever that means.

It didn’t take long before the sun beating down and the intense crowd began to take their toll. My sweet, happy family started to get cranky, sunburned and begin to turn on each other. It was time to ride some more coasters and consider the drive home.

We left the water park and began to notice the sky was becoming dark. Ominously black.
Then it started to rain. I began to second guess trying to ride any more rides as we took shelter in a vine tunnel. with about 50 other people.
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We waited out the storm and then ventured out, damp but our spirits were unbroken. We found a cute diner and the kids ran off together to ride a neighboring coaster.

Finally, a moment alone.
It was short lived but long enough to chat and we collectively decided to head home after the kids exited the last ride.

It was not our first trip, with,the 4 of us, but it was so much more meaningful than any other.
There was bonding.
I don’t just mean the sticky dried coke on the souvenirs cups kind of bonded. I mean actual love and good energy and laughter.

I didn’t just get a killer tan, I got family time. I don’t know which I’m more excited about. In fairness red heads don’t tan like this.

The thing is amusement parks really aren’t just coasters and crowds. It’s a chance to bond, reconnect, and fall in love. I am pretty enamoured with my crew right now … and my tan.

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