How Theme Parks Almost Ruined My Summer

IMG_0951.jpgAs the summer comes to a close and those long anticipated vacations we had planned all year for have now been reduced to fleeting Facebook memories, what I’ve discovered is that I love that my kids are older and we can do things we can all enjoy:
We rode bikes along the boardwalk in Manhattan Beach, CA
We went tubing down a fast moving current in Oqunquit, Maine.
We spent time with harmless grizzly bears at the San Diego Zoo and whales who were all named Shamu at Sea World.
We attended a Dodgers game where we stalked celebrities life Danny DeVito and two cast members from “Modern Family” who waved at us from their SUV.
We went hiking in Maine.
We read great beach reads
We dined at fabulous restaurants and breakfast joints
We laughed a lot
We also visited two amusement parks.
And that’s where my family fun time fizzled.
At Universal Studios in California, I learned a very important lesson. If you visit the theme park without any feminine hygiene products, there’s not a single store on the premises that sells anything to help relieve your situation. I found out the hard way when we searched several stores to find tampons and came up empty. In fact, one store worker told us there used to be tampons in the ladies room but they replaced them with Dyson air dryers. Obviously, the people making important decisions about the bathroom supplies are not women.
After leaving the park to find the nearest drug store, it took us nearly an hour to get back. We then headed down four steep escalators and arrived at the rides. A few minutes later, my husband and son met us and filled us in on their master plan to not get caught on any lines. If you sign up for the “single rider” slot, you’ll literally go on the ride immediately. Sure you won’t be riding with anyone you know, but at least you won’t be stuck on a line for more than an hour.
While I wasn’t that thrilled with their idea, I followed their lead and hopped on the Jurassic Park ride where I was placed in the front of the boat with a family from another country. Little did I know that in addition to forgetting to bring tampons, wearing white shorts would also be a really bad decision. After being thoroughly soaked by the waves, I bid my seat mates adieu, climbed out of the ride and was informed by my kids who were laughing their sides off that my shorts were filthy. Not only was I sopping wet, I had black smudges all over my backside.
After throwing a fit in front of my family and several foreign tourists, I stormed into the bathroom and searched in vain for paper towels. Due to the green effort by Universal, they did away with hand towels in exchange for those revolutionary Dyson hand dryers. And so, my daughter grabbed a couple of squares of toilet paper and proceeded to help me wipe the dirt off my shorts. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
I then informed my family that they could go on the rest of the scary rides without me and proceeded to buy a pretzel with mustard (staining my shorts once again) and then sat down in the hot sun for another hour as they cut the lines and rode on several roller coasters.
After waiting on two gi-normous lines, we took the Universal Studios tour and went on the Simpsons ride – both good choices. The last thing we decided to try before we left was the haunted house. If you get freaked out by people other than your spouse touching you in the dark, then take my advice and don’t go in. When some creep disguised as Chuckie jumped out of nowhere and scared the beejeezus out of us, my son had had enough and demanded we find the exit.
Fast forward to Maine where we visited Orchard Beach, an amusement park that offers good old fashioned scary and unsafe rides that last about 90 seconds each. I opted for the rusty metal roller coaster, a pirate ship that turned my stomach upside down and the swing ride where you can lose your Fit Flops if you don’t grip your toes tight enough. My daughter and son went on several more death defying rides and then afterwards, we indulged in lots of junk – caramel apples, turkey legs and pizza. Yum, or shall I say, Tums.
As the crowds finally dissipate and some of those seasonal parks shut down for the summer, all I can say is I’m glad we are free of rickety roller coasters, water rides and never-ending lines. While I look forward to our annual family vacations, I have a dream that one day, my family will be free at last of theme parks. I know. Keep dreaming.