Fabulous day yesterday at The Great Escape (nee Storytown, for those of us who go back to the days of Wild Windy Bill McKay, the Marshal ’round those parts. Oh, wait, he’s still there). Held off on telling the girls anything until morning, just in case. Then as we kinda rushed them around in the morning, they knew we were up to something, but couldn’t guess what. Hannah’s best guess was the Shaker Museum (I think the Shakers would have made fabulous rollercoasters, with stackable, ladderback cars that hung up next to the track at the end of the day). I ended up making them play Charades to figure out what it was — I gave them “sounds like 8” and “x” and then ran around with a blanket draped over my shoulders, pointing at it, which they finally figured out was a “cape”. They nearly wet themselves. I don’t know why I resent the gigantic moneysuck that is the Great Escape — I gleefully accept the moneysuck that is skiing. But resent it I do, and so we have only been there once before, and it was just Hannah and me. This was vastly better, because the grownups could do the rides they wanted to do, and the girls could take on the others by themselves. (I have an irrational fear of heights, and an entirely rational fear of cheap steel bolts maintained by minimum wage carnies, though the fixed nature of the rides and the fairly tattooless state of the operators at the Great Escape gives me more comfort than I get from the traveling midways.) (These parentheticals have got to stop.) (Now.)
We had an incident at a wonderful little amusement park in Montreal, LaRonde — which, if I had any parentheses left, I would point out is also now owned by Six Flags, as is the Great Escape — several years ago. I think Bekah was only three, and the greatest trouper in the world, for we had her walking all over Montreal. We went to this little park and they were riding “Chats et Souris”, cat and mouse bumper cars. Grownups were not allowed to ride, and Hannah really wanted a car to herself, so we let Bekah ride by herself. We told her what to do to get going, and she seemed to get it, but after a minute she had banged into someone and couldn’t get going again, and I don’t remember anymore if she had just decided to change cars or if she was scared and trying to get out, but she just got up out of her little cat car and started walking across the bumper car floor. The music was very loud, so she couldn’t hear us calling to her, and the attendant was yelling to her in French, which was perfectly reasonable on a ride called “Chats et Souris,” but it didn’t make much impression on her. She got scared and we had a little bit of a scene, and we had to calm her down and then get her to go on it again so she wouldn’t be afraid anymore. (I think Hannah agreed to ride with her the second time.) She’s a tough one, and she did it and was thrilled with herself once she figured it out.
Since then, because we are parents and cannot remember particulars of what happened but cannot forget what it is like to watch your daughter running between bumper cars, just waiting for her to get crushed, we have a certain concern about her and amusement park rides. It’s never happened again, but still, that fear lingers. So, yesterday, after we’d already done one big scary ride (a giant pendulum thing that swings you over the top and scares the daylights out of me — I got out my Lamaze breathing exercises for that one) and a couple of lesser ones, they wanted to go on the thing where each rider is in an individual swing, and you just get raised in the air and swung out in a circle. Not a big deal if you place your faith in chains, but the kind of thing where we were nervous she might suddenly change her mind mid-ride and get scared or worse. But the memories of the incident de la chats et souris were wiped from our consciousness as she sat up in the swing and screamed as loud as she could, “FASTER! FASTER! IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT??!! BRING IT ON!!!”
Other highlights: The new Canyon Blaster coaster. Fun, no upside-downs. Stops quick, though, and Bek bonked her nose the second time through, but they brought her ice right away and treated it very seriously, which impressed me. About all the coaster I can take. The Comet looked like it went way too fast for me, way too high in the air. The dive show was really good. The waterpark was a little limited, having lost a lot of its lifeguards to the opening of college, and a number of obnoxious patrons were giving Long Island a bad name by acting like Long Islanders and berating a poor lifeguard at the top of the tube slide who was just doing her job. (Nothing against my Long Island readers, but you know what I’m talking about.) All the old Storytown stuff is still there, the Alice in Wonderland walk-through, the cow jumping over the moon, Moby Dick . . . all of it a little lame but very sweet to those of us who grew up with it. They’ve actually done a nice job integrating the old with the new, keeping the park a reasonable, walkable size, and, most miraculous of all, maintaining shade trees throughout the park. On a day like yesterday, that was critical to enjoyment. That and a big-ass Camelbak.
So, a delightful day. We were there 10-7 with nary a complaint or breakdown (well, a couple of little ones), and then we had a lazy supper on a patio down the road, and both my little wonders fell asleep while I listened to the latest Weakerthans on the way home. What could be better than that?