I am lucky to have a family who shares at least one of my passions: theme parks. Since I can remember, I have LOVED the thrill of the rollercoaster. ANY rollercoaster. Along with that, I have a fondness for amusement parks and theme parks (there is a difference.) I remember the old Ocean View Amusement park in Norfolk, Virginia. I grew up going to Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. I recall going to a now forgotten theme park called Storybook Land, though there were no rollercoasters there, much to my dismay. Along the way, I married and had a child…Chase. Chase shares my love of the thrill ride and, as he grew, we began to venture outside of our confines and went to places we had not gone…Carowinds in Charlotte, NC and Six Flags America in Maryland. There were small amusement parks in or near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Included in them is the now defunct Hard Rock Park.
When I remarried, I gained another enthusiast. Actually, I gained two…her son also likes the thrill ride. And, now, we have a four year old who also loves the parks, but…his love of thrill rides has yet to develop. I am sure it will, though.
Over the last couple of years, Chase and I have gone to parks in Pennsylvania and Ohio. One park, though, to our west, had remained elusive: Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
An opportunity arose, recently, that would bring us to within a 45 minute drive of that park, so…we spent a day at Dollywood, though, ironically, Chase was not able to be with us. We did, however, have a great time there. We rode all but one of the rollercoasters and the kids did many of the ‘flat’, non coaster rides.
The kids LOVED it.
Which is both interesting and amazing.
See, one of the kids, Preston, is autistic and the four year old has sensory issues. While Xander eschews the rollercoasters, he loved the spinning rides. Interesting as he hates wind in his face. With the associated noise, light, crowd and wind, the amusement parks can be overwhelming. Even for neurotypical people, parks can be a bit too much. Neither child had a significant problem, though, by the end of the day, they were done.
Preston rode several rollercoasters, each of which present sensory issues, yet, he rode them like a boss. I think that without certain influences and the lack of a real crowd at the park, he was able to soldier on and not let it get to him.
The long drive back to the Richmond area was a real challenge as we picked up a Dachsund puppy-the real point to the trip-who was worse than either child. He is adorable, so all is forgiven. The kids? Awesome.
Aside from Chase not being with us, it was a fantastic trip.
Seeing Dolly would have been the icing on the cake.
Maybe next time.