This Father’s Day, we took our son to his first amusement park. (Because what do you get for the dad who has everything? LOWER BACK PAIN!)
I guess, technically, it was his second amusement park, but that’s only if you count our visit to Sesame Place when he had just turned two. But he doesn’t even remember that and I’m still doing my best to forget it. This trip was a lot more successful.
Somehow, despite the fact that “Dutch Wonderland” isn’t a cool nickname for Amsterdam, even the adults had fun!
Dutch Wonderland is a little amusement park in Lancaster, PA, situated within Pennsylvania’s Amish country (don’t worry, it has electricity) that Mom and Buried used to visit it when she was a kid. This trip was a nostalgia-laden family affair, complete with a mini-reunion, as we met up with her parents and two of Detective Munch’s older (seven and nine) cousins.
I was a little worried that, at four, he would be too young for the rides but instead it turned out that at almost-forty I was too old for them. My back still hurts from the tiny roller coaster I went on with my son, and despite the bigger coaster I rode with his cousins not having any loops or even a big dip, I think my appendix may have burst. (My favorite ride ended up being the one on the bench where you watch other people go on rides and you surreptitiously take pulls from a flask.)
It turns out the place was perfect for all three kids; the park is aimed at the younger set, and the rides were exactly the right speed for our crew. Detective Munch wanted to go on all 35 of them, but unfortunately for him, Mommy and Daddy weren’t always willing to be his chaperone. Sorry, kid, but ain’t no way Daddy’s going on anything that spins in a circle; I’m not interested in puking from anything except excessive drinking. He got his fill, don’t worry. He went on plenty of rides, and he even got to watch Goonies later that night just so he’d know that SOME rides are less about fun and more about LIFE AND DEATH.
Even better was the water section of the park, which we hit after we’d conquered the rest of the place. I love to swim, and I want my son to love it too. We put him in the water pretty early – he had his first lessons when he was about ten months old – just to introduce him to it. He’s seemed to mostly enjoy it over the past few years, even when some kid puked in the pool that one time, but he’s remained fairly apprehensive, despite his appreciation for my Aquaman t-shirt. This summer, we’re making a big push to get him over the hump so we can nap on our lounge chairs rather than watch him like a hawk every time we’re at the beach. He made some progress during our visit to a hotel pool in early June, but I wasn’t sure how it would go at the park. The kid has a strange fear of getting water on his face, and he’s only seen Zero Dark Thirty twice!
Happily, it seems he has turned the corner. He couldn’t get enough of the various water slides and spray cannons and fountains. He even loved standing under the huge buckets that repeatedly fill up and dump a ton of water on top of everyone standing beneath them. At one point, anticipating an inevitable freak-out when I saw him standing in the dump zone, I got ready to rush over with a towel, but when the water crashed on top of him, I heard high-pitched laughter instead of high-pitched screaming. (Both sounds give me a headache but I can live with the former.)
He was utterly fearless, chasing his older cousins around the entire amusement park, desperate to go on every ride he could, so much so that it even made Mom and Buried sad to see him growing up! He even wanted to ride the big coaster, but I don’t have a chiropractor on retainer and they don’t have any in Amish Country. (They may believe in a lot of weird stuff, but nothing as ridiculous as chiropractory!) His favorite part was definitely the water park, despite the fact that he needed a chemical shower to wash all the urine I can only assume was all over the damn place off of him.
You know Detective Munch had fun when he spends more time talking about the water slides than about the animatronic dinosaurs.
Funny how my son seems to be outgrowing fossils just as his father starts turning into one.