I’m glad you decided to join us today at Busch Gardens. Just remember we have two Aspies in the family, so our day will be scripted.
We want to be at the park when it first opens. There we will pay the extra fee to park close. We used to do this for a quick and easy getaway when Jonathan melted down. Although he hasn’t melted down in awhile (at an amusement park, let’s be clear), it has now become part of the Busch Gardens script. Buckle up and we’ll be on our way.
Although we park as close as we can, we still have a little bit of a trek from the parking lot to the turnstiles. Please excuse us while we read from our script.
“Jonathan, are you going to ride the Loch Ness Monster today?
“Are you going to ride the Big Bad Wolf Today?”
“Are you going to ride any roller coasters today?”
Over the years we have decoded “Maybe tomorrow” as meaning, “No. Not in your lifetime. However, I’ve learned if I pretend I’m thinking about it you’ll get off my back.“
Once we are in the park, we let the photographer vultures gather up the children to take a picture. It has actually worked out to be a good tradition.
We’ve been coming to Busch Gardens for six years now at both Spring Break and Halloween. So we can see how the kids have grown in six-month increments for the last six years. If we were home, I’d show you the very first picture so you can see how much the kids have grown. I don’t blame you. I don’t like my picture taken either.
Pardon us while we stop and pick up the park map. We know how to get around the park without a map, but again we have two Aspies in the group. We have to follow the “rules.” To give Scott the benefit of the doubt, the map usually publishes show times for the day and any other important information about the park.
Jonathan just needs the security of having something to hold onto throughout the day. Next stop, the world-famous Clydesdale Horses.
When we first started coming, there was a horse named “Josh.” Since we have a “Josh” in the family, we thought this was very funny. Especially to get a picture of the family standing by his cage and his rear end inevitably facing us.
Alas, Josh “moved on to another park” we were told several years ago. (The staff told us this in such a way that the kids were okay but the adults knew what it really meant.) This year “Zipper” the donkey has also moved on.
So, this year while the horses are still our first stop, it is more about lamenting our favorites. We come in and talk about how they are no longer here. We take our obligatory picture, but our hearts just aren’t into this any more. We haven’t become attached to the new horses. Let’s move on out of here as apparently the smell is getting to my oh-so-sensitive Aspy.
Now, you need to make a decision. You can either split off with Scott and Josh to ride the roller coasters and scary rides or you can stay with the kids and me. We generally hang out at the kid-friendly places.
Great, I’m glad to have your company! I don’t do amusement park rides, so I’m usually sitting at the exits of the rides or taking pictures. Don’t worry, we’ll meet back up with the men at lunchtime at the Festhaus.
This year the park opened an Elmo’s World section. I don’t know what Elmo has to do with Busch Garden’s Old Country theme, but the kids are happy to play here. I guess this came at a good time. Usually, the first ride was the miniature Clydesdale merry-go-round, but the kids are getting too big for it. So for the first time in five years, our Busch Gardens script changed. Let’s head on over to Elmo’s world. It has the only roller coaster the kids will ride.
Now it is off to Land of the Dragons where the kids can climb in nets high above our heads. Oh, there, Jonathan and Faith are above us now trying to get our attention, “Hi, guys! Are you having fun? Well, don’t forget we have to meet Daddy and Josh in about 15 minutes. Remember, I only want you coming out of the nets over by the slides so I can see you.”
Yes, we always eat here. Scott’s family is from Wisconsin. He grew up with traditional German foods. He relives his childhood tastes, smalls and noises here. As you recall, we had German Exchange students around us in my teens and I’ve been to Germany twice. So I love the foods too. Our favorite is German potato salad. Oh, look! Here comes the Oktoberfest dancers and band.
These are the sounds of Scott’s childhood. I guess it will be for our kids too since they hear all these songs at least twice a year.
I hope you don’t mind us participating in the fun. We do the hand motions to “The Happy Wanderer” and “Ticky tocka, Ticky tocha, Oy, Oy, Oy!” and the beer stein songs.
What’s that? Where did Jonathan and Faith go? Oh! I know, the dancers are out trolling the audience for kids to join them center stage for the “Chicken Dance.” Faith did it the first year, but ever since, Jonathan and Faith dive under the table at this point. They’ll come back up after the Polka dancers are done. You are in for a treat if the dancers pick Scott. He learned the polka as a child. The ladies are usually impressed he knows the moves.
Oh, by the way, remember I told you yesterday about the “chips and salsa” meltdown. Well, Jonathan’s grown out of that too. He’ll eat the hot dogs here and will eat the chips without salsa. You see six months visiting Kennedy Krieger’s Behavioral clinic has helped to make some areas of life easier. What did you say, Josh? You’re upset that the new stage runway took over our usual place to eat? Do you have some Aspy in you too? I can say this to you, but not Jonathan, “Get over it! If he’s not complaining, then you shouldn’t either.”
After lunch, we all stay together. If you want to leave your stuff with me, you can join Scott and the kids on all the rides that spin. I make the guys stay with us for a while. I can’t take the kids on these rides and the kids aren’t tall enough to go on their own yet.
Oh, no! The Big Bad Wolf roller coaster ride is closed forever? It was the first roller coaster ride that Jonathan ever went on. Scott, did Faith ever go on it? Oh, yeah, that’s right. She only made it all the way to the actual ride before she changed her mind. She said the constant videotape playing tales of the Big Bad Wolf made her change her mind. Faith, I don’t understand why you are so upset. You would never get on it anyway. Oh, you might have when you were older? Well, I’m sorry. Maybe they’ll build a better ride here instead.
I’m sorry, what did you ask me? Oh. Yesterday it was a little bit warmer and less crowded here. No one had to wait in any lines. In fact Josh and Scott road all the roller coasters in the park before they met us here at the Tea Cups. So, even though the lines aren’t bad today, yesterday we didn’t have to wait. In fact, the family had opportunities to stay on a couple of different rides to go again.
I know, I’m getting ready to go too. The kids will be ready after they ride the Katapult, Tea Cups, Bumper Cars, Elephant Ride and Large Swings. Fortunately, all the rides are in the two adjacent areas, Germany and Italy. I’m sorry we didn’t get over to France or England. There isn’t really anything the kids like over there. Every once in a while, if we eat at the park two days in a row, we’ll eat in France. They have a really good smoked grill selection.
I’m sorry about not seeing any shows either. About the only time Jonathan melts down at the parks any more is if he’s forced to see a show. I think he avoids these shows for the same reason he avoids the movie theaters, sensory over stimulation. Oh, and he gets cranky when it is hot and humid, which wasn’t a problem today, was it?
Okay, are we all back in the car? Is everyone present and accounted for? We didn’t lose anybody along the way, did we? Once the seat belts are on we’ll head back to the unit. Okay, Howe family, you know the drill. What was your favorite part of the day? Each person takes a turn sharing.
Now it is time for our guest to share. We will be returning home tomorrow, so this will be your only chance to tell us your favorite part of spending time with us in the last three days.