Once Upon a Time…
We left the land of Nursery Rhymes and entered the Land of Princesses and Castles and Fairy Tales.
We knew it wasn't any ordinary place, because right away we saw a giant pumpkin drawn along by two hover-horses. Hover-horses, you say? Yes, that's right. They didn't have wings, so they weren't flying, but their feet never once touched the ground, so I guess you could say they hovered.
Julia reeeeeeeeeeally wanted to ride in the pumpkin, but the line waiting for it was just way too long.
We tried to console her by letting her ride on this festive pony:
It wasn't quite as magical as the pumpkin and the hover-horses, but it sufficed.
Alex took a gallop around the field as well.
We did, however, stand in line for the Swan Boats.
The nice thing about waiting in line at Storyland, as opposed to waiting in line at other parks, is that a good portion of the line is sheltered, so you're out of the sun. We watched the people in line ahead of us get in the little boats (2 adults and 2 children max, or 1 adult and 3 kids max, according to CEO and SpokesEgg, Humpty Dumpty.)
We put life jackets on the kids, just in case (even though Alex is plenty tall enough to stand up in the 36" deep water and Julia does a mean dog paddle), and I told myself over and over that plenty of people larger than I had managed to get in and out of the swan, and that I most likely would NOT tip the whole thing over when I boarded.
Bill and Alex sat on the little bench in the front and handled the steering.
Julia sat behind them and I sat at the stern. Or tail. And took pictures, when I wasn't dizzy from Alex's talent for making our swan spin in a tight, clockwise circle. Ugh. Julia didn't like that either.
The swan boats were fun – kind of slow-moving bumper cars without the bumping. At least, without intentional bumping. Lots of young captains piloting the swans, so a few bumps were unavoidable. I liked the swan boats. I could have done without the spinning part, but otherwise, it was sort of nice and peaceful to be floating around on the water.
Again with the horses.
Bill took the kids on the merry-go-round. Julia, especially, was SO excited.
The horses, as you can read in the sign above, were all hand-carved, and most interestingly, they are on springs, rather than on poles that move up and down.
You can have as rough or as smooth a ride as you want.
Both kids (and Bill, though he won't smile in any kind of relaxed manner if he knows the camera is on him) had a great time…
Julia seemed to think she was in a parade…
She wasn't so much waving to me as she was waving to EVERYONE along her personal parade route.
(Is it a bad thing to be jealous of your daughter's hair? Mine used to be like hers…back before pregnancy hormones went and changed it. I'd read somewhere – some list of old wives' tales – that baby girls "steal" their mothers' hair. I believe that one.)
I love it when my kids are having fun together.
After the carousel, we were all hot and thirsty (horseback riding will do that to you) (so will standing nearby snapping pictures in the sun) so we headed over to one of the many snack bars and got beverages for the four of us.
Next, we started to head off to the next section – "A Child's Visit to Other Lands" – but Julia spotted a creature in need of assistance and stopped to help.
It was a little green and fluffy caterpillar. Or "paterkillar" as Julia called it. She had to save it from probable death-by-footsteps.
Here is the entrance to the international portion of Storyland:
As you can see, the focus is all on the caterpillar. Shortly after this shot, Julia and Alex took it to a nearby tree and released it back into the wild.
Standing right at this entrance to the other lands, we could hear the voices of a chorus of children singing some sort of happy "we're all children even though we're different" kind of song – something like "It's a Small World" only not, because that's the property of Disney, isn't it?
Bill said it reminded him of the scene in Shrek when Shrek and Donkey arrive in Dulac (sp?) and there's that little song sung by those little wooden puppet-like children "Welcome to Dulac/it's a perfect town/here we have some rules/let us lay them down/know your place/stay in line/and we'll get/along fine/Dulac is a perfect place…" (Scary how I was able to just reel the lyrics off without a thought, isn't it. I could recite everything from The Jungle Book, too, but it's not applicable here.)
We entered the Many Lands section and basically headed straight for this place:
Woo hoo! Competing against your own children for prizes! We were the only ones in there initially, and in order to move your horse along the race track, you roll a ball up a slanted surface so it will drop into one of a bunch of holes at the other end. The holes have a numeric value – 1, 2 or 3, and that determines how far your horse will advance. It took a while to kind of get the hang of it, but it was fun – all four of us sitting there, rolling little balls like our lives depended on it. The best part was the kid running the game. Just some high school kid, this is his summer job, you know, and he's just there for the paycheck. But he actually got into it – calling the race like a slightly self-conscious sports commentator. He was funny, and the whole experience was probably my favorite part of Storyland. Nothing big, just a simple game that all four of us played together.
Oh, and I won. Heh heh. But that doesn't have anything to do with my fond memories of the game. Not at all.
Actually, we played a second game. I gave my winnings (I could choose a frisbee, a clown (I think) or a little horse. No brainer. I picked the horse and gave it to Julia. We played a second game so Alex could get something, too. I know, I know, you should actually have to WIN to get a prize, but…well…we were just having fun.
The second game was more tension-filled than the first, however, because some other girl came in and played, too. Bill had figured out that his long arms were an advantage – he could roll the ball from closer to the holes and have a bit better chance of hitting the holes he wanted. I had horrible luck that round, so it was up to Bill to win for the family, as I didn't think we could convince the girl to give her toy to Alex if she won. I kept one eye on the horses as they advanced across the track above, and I actually found myself NEARLY screaming at Bill to HURRY UP! because the girl's horse was catching up to his.
Thank goodness he won. Alex got a purple monkey. They had those at the other end of the room – I hadn't seen them when I won. Not that I would have picked one anyway.
So, yay, each kid had a little toy, and the family honor was intact.
They also had a "shooting gallery" right next door to the horse race building – but – I don't know, I realize we don't want to encourage our children to go around shooting things…but somehow a shooting gallery where you are shooting PHOTOGRAPHS of things is quite as fun as pinging the targets with a real pretend gun. Which is probably why no one was playing.
Okay, one more adventure for this post.
The next ride anyone went on was the Polar Coaster. Yes, you guessed it, a rollercoaster with an arctic theme. Bill went on with the kids and I ran around to different spots to find the best vantage points for my pictures. I could have gone on, but then I wouldn't have been able to SEE their faces.
Here they are, on board, coming out of the underground loading dock…
All three were excited as they slowly chugged up the first rise. They didn't know I was there, peering through the fence above them. As they rode upward, I ran around to the "observation deck" area.
Up they went, and Julia was doing fine…
until about now. When the ride started getting, um, rollercoastery. You can see Bill leaning down to give Julia a pep talk of some sort.
It's not working.
Nope. She's not having a good time at all, poor thing.
Alex, on the other hand, had a blast. And he spotted me standing here, so I've got a whole series of his delighted face as he swings by. I don't know who Mr. Boston Red Sox hat is, but he kept pointing at me. Unless someone he knew was right behind me. Oh well. He seemed to be having fun, too.
And then I raced down from the observation deck and around to the other little area where I could probably get a couple shots.
Here they come…
I see two "oh, man, the ride's over" faces and one "it's almost over, it's almost over, it's almost over" face up above.
Guess which is which.