Hola, everybody. This is Andrew. Andrea roped me in to doing a guest post to capture our zany family happenings at Busch Gardens. And because I love my wife, here it goes....
9:15 - Andrea likes to get an early start to things like this, so we arrive at the park 45 minutes before it officially opens. I'm pretty sure in the resurrection Andrea will not only be among those in the first resurrection, she will be the first one out of the grave, ready and eager to stand in line to ride roller coasters.
9:22 - There is a station where your height can be officially measured and you are given a color-coded wrist band that corresponds with the rides you are tall enough to go on. The kids get measured and their heights are printed on their wrist bands. My wrist band just says, "FREAK OF NATURE!"
9:24 - Andrea notices Brandon's pants look a little tight on him. And they look like floods too. Upon further inspection, B's pants also have a girly floral pattern printed on the back pocket. We quickly determine Brandon accidentally put on a pair of Whitney's pants in our rush to get to the park two hours before sunrise. Both B and W packed their clothes in similar-looking black bags and he pulled a pair of jeans from the wrong one. To make matters worse, I accidentally wore Andrea's girdle to the park.
9:32 - Our first official attraction - a horse's rear end! Welcome Busch Garden's, kids!
9:44 - Busch Gardens is divided into countries and we begin our fun in Scottland. Caroline gets on a kids' ride and the male attendant has flaming red hair. The poor guy was pigeon-holed into working in Scotland based on his hair color alone. He had no chance of working in France or becoming part of a song or dance troupe at the park. I can just imagine how his job interview went:
HR Rep: "So what talents would you bring to our team ,other than your red hair, of course."
Red Head: "Well, I'm a classically trained vocal performer and went to Juliard on a dance scholarship where I learned ----"
HR Rep: "Yeah, yeah. That's nice. Will you pass a drug test?"
Red Head: "Of course!"
HR Rep: "Great. You're working in Scotland. Here's your kilt."
9:52 - Carloine is wearing a pull-up diaper today since she is 97.3% potty trained and we really don't want any accidents at the park. We walk past an extremely high, twisty, death-defying roller coaster called The Loch Ness Monster that causes my insane fear of heights to give me vertigo just looking at the thing. I ask Andrea if she happened to pack any adult-sized male pull-ups. I'm going to need one.
10:12 - I take Caroline and Brandon to the kids' zone while Andrea and Whit go ride the Loch Ness Monster. The Sesame Street-themed area has a ride called St. Elmo's Spire which is a tower that takes you up about 30 feet then goes up and down on the tower. About twenty feet up my stomach drops to my ankles and I start to feel queasy. It's a good thing I'm wearing shades because I have to close my eyes as we go to the pinnacle. I feel like calling Andrea on her cell phone and seriously asking about that pull-up.
10:30 - Brandon, Caroline and I are standing in line for the Burt & Ernie water boat ride when we suddenly see two of Brandon's friends from school walking past the kids' zone. One of B's friends plays tackle football and the other was on his basketball team. There are few things more awkward for a 9-year-old boy than seeing his friends at Busch Gardens as he waits in line for a toddler ride wearing his little sister's pants, but Brandon handled the whole episode pretty cool.
11:12 - We take the train to the other side of the park but misread where it will drop us off. In all we spent nearly 30 minuts waiting in line then getting dropped off nowhere near our final destination. And yet the whole experience still made more sense than light rail in the United States.
11:55 - One of the games at the park is a regulation-sized basketball hoop and three point line. There are three ball stations with four balls per rack and you shoot 12 three-pointers a la the NBA three-point contest. The final ball on each rack is a money ball worth two points. The record is 7 points so I pay my five bucks and start launching shots in front of the small crowd of people watching. I miss all four shots on the first rack then make 4 of 7 including a money ball. As I go for my last shot I have 5 points and can tie the record if I hit my final money ball. As I pick up the ball it feels like a nerf ball crossed with a helium balloon - this thing is not regulation! I lauch the shot and the ball floats away like a kite without a string, landing somewhere in Kentucky. Air ball! I have flashbacks to every big shot I missed in Jr. High and High School (Layton, Benion, Kennedy....) and go into a corner and weep like Adam Morrison.
12:05 - I walk past a woman wearing a "Y" t-shirt and I say, "Go Cougars!" as we pass each other. She completely blows me off, ignoring me like I was a flight attendant or something. She must have either been hard of hearing or the "Y" was for Yale. After all, we live in a part of the country where we see more NYU t-shirts than BYU, and ASU stands for Appalachian State, not Arizona State. But if she was a BYU grad and blew me off, she was probably one of those rich girls who lived at The Riviera (or "The Riv" to the cool people) and would never lower herself to associate with a Glenwood person like me.
12:15 - Whitney and I get in line for The Curse of Darkastle. The massive line spirals around and around without actually going anywhere. The famous picture of The Infinite Staircase is actually a photo of the line at Darkastle.
12:20 - While getting in line at Darkastle, Andrea and I take advantage of something called a "Child Swap." Andrea gives me the details and it has something to do with a spouse watching a smaller child (i.e. Caroline) to not have to wait in line and can immediately ride the ride after the first spouse goes through the line. I'm fuzzy on some of the details and think I might end up with different kids at the end of the process, swapping them out for some kids at the front of the line or something. There is a boy with a henna tattoo on his arm and a South Park t-shirt. Oh, man, I hope he doesn't end up as my new son at the end of this Child Swap thing.
12:29 - The guy behind us in line is speaking on his cell phone and his entire conversation goes like this. "Hello. Who? Who? Who? Matt Fletcher? Who? Who? No. No. Maybe. No. Bye." I feel like I'm living in the movie Joe vs. The Volcano. "I'm not arguing that with you. I'm not aruging that with you. I'm not aruging that with you..."
12:41 - There is a group of 5-6 good-looking young guys in line behind us. They might be models. I haven't seen this many high cheek bones, angular jaws, and flat stomachs since Zoolander. I suddenly feel old and flabby. That's it! Not more extra-extra tartar sauce on my Filet 'O Fish. It's time to get healthy and only get extra sauce going forward.
12:50 - The warning for Darkastle says, "Guests who are adversely affected by fog should not board this ride." Fog? Seriously? I mean, what's that disease even called? Fogatosis? I'm dying to know who in the world is adversely affected by fog! Who? Who? Who? Matt Fletcher? Maybe it's Matt Fletcher!
1:56 - We spend $30 for a lunch consisting of 3 trays of nachos with cold cheese, 2 pretzels, 1 corn dog, and 5 cups of water. I demolish my nachos and corn dog, smothering it with extra extra mustard. Somewhere at Busch Gardens the Zoolander boys are smirking.
2:41 - Caroline rides the bumper cars and our insurance premiums jump 45%
3:42 - I do the Child Swap with Andrea so that we can ride Apollo's Chariot, one of the insane rollercoasters that goes up 90 feet and almost drops vertically from the apex. I ride by myself while Andrea has the kids and spend most of the ride with my eyes closed. Andrea rides after me and looks like she is in heaven. She absolutely loves roller coasters and her smile is priceless as she finishes the ride.
3:44 - I use this Child Swap to finally get rid of the kid with the South Park t-shirt I've been stuck with since Darkastle and re-claim my sweet, sweet Whitney.
4:30 - Brandon and I go to the Europe in the Air ride and we soar over England, France, Germany, and Italy. I think Greece was included on the tour when the ride first opened but they've defaulted on their payment to renew their spot. By the end of the ride I'm suddenly more comfortable with socialized health care, smoking, and showering less frequently.
5:12 - We go to watch Celtic Fire, a river dance musical performance. We have to park our stroller outside, and the stroller parking is co-located with the designated smoking area. This is very convenient for all of the toddlers who need a quick nicotene fix before watching the show.
5:46 - Celtic Fire is exactly what I thought it would be - a lot of dancing and singing. At one point in the show two Irish men and two Americans nearly come to blows over a woman. I'm praying for some action. But instead of throwing haymakers the four men engage in a heated dance-off. After all four guys dance they smile, shake hands, and become BFF's. Aw, man! I thought somebody was going to get shanked!
We ended up staying at the park until it closed at 8:00. Major thanks to Andrea for being the default vacation planner and making life so much fun for our family. I hope we can do this again soon.
But next time we are getting non-matching luggage for Brandon and Whitney.