Today the whole gang, including Hollie's cousin Stacey from Ocala, went to Busch Gardens. I used to live right around the corner from there almost 20 years ago, but I never went because I hated amusement parks. Still do, but when you have kids and eight other people to keep happy, whaddyagonnado?
We planned to leave the motel at 11:00. We left at noon, and got to the park around 1:30. Due to the size of our party we drove separate cars. Unfortunately not all of the pre-purchased tickets made it to its rightful owner, so when the minivan portion of the group tried to get through the gates we quickly realized that we didn't have Christine's pass. She and her Grammy waited for the rest of the group (and tickets) outside, so Casey and I decided to do our souvenir shopping. What do you think ... do we look like tourists or what?
Hollie et al made it about a half an hour later and we were off.
Chris noticed the primate encounter so that was our first stop. This drove Hollie absolutely crazy, since she just saw monkeys at the zoo the week before, so the 15 minute trip through the Myombe Reserve was rather tortuous. It was quickly apparent that our mission for the day was not to spend a relaxing afternoon enjoying all that Busch Gardens has to offer. We were to run from ride to ride so that Hollie's adrenaline level never drops below supercharged. I at least got to snap this picture before we had to be off and running ... I love it. You must click to enlarge this just to see the expression on Casey's face ... she didn't appreciate the photo opp as much as I did apparently
The quickest way to get to the rides is the train, so our next stop was the Serengeti Railway, which lead us through the Serengeti Plain, past giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, and many other (very uncaged) animals. About half way through it dawned on me that we were inside the fences! I was certain that it was just a matter of time before one of these animals snapped and charged us, but we made it to Stanleyville (where the rides are) safe and sound.
First ride of the day: Congo River Rapids. The signs say you may get wet - even drenched - but we didn't think much of it. At least not until we went under the waterfall. Stacy and I took the brunt of it, and were wringing out our clothes for the next hour! (note to self, don't wear a thin white t-shirt if you plan on riding this ever again).
The rest of the day we walked, ate, rode rides ... all typical amusement park stuff. Casey rode her first corkscrew rollercoaster, The Python, and thought that was an incredibly good time (although when she was waiting in line for it we realized she had thrown her retainer away with her lunch trash). Believe it or not we found the retainer when the ride was over! After that we rode Stanley Falls (the log flume) despite my fear of heights, watched the 4-D movie Pirates (with Leslie Nielsen!), and the kids got to play in the Land of the Dragons, an awesome kid's playground! We tried to ride the Tidal Wave but it was closed :( The boys rode a couple of coasters that were way bigger than Casey was going to get on, and Casey and I posed for a $50 caricature that looks absolutely nothing like either one of us. Oh! If you've never been to Busch Gardens you are missing at least one amazing attraction .. FREE BEER at the hospitality house. Yes, you read correctly. Freeeee - Beeeeeer. They call it free samples, so I got an 8oz sample of some Surf brand beer. It was pretty good, but it was close to closing time so one sample is all us girls had time for.
Eight hours and $300 later we collapsed into bed with aching feet and severe cases of heartburn, and watched the series finale of Roseanne as the forklifts lulled us to sleep with the beep beep beep noises they make when they back up. Another day in Florida now gone.