Saturday, July 07, 2012

Annual Lagoon Pilgrimage

Our family (part of us anyway) made our annual trip to Lagoon amusement park yesterday. Our two oldest are long done going to Lagoon with the family. Also, we didn't go to the park last year, so it has been a couple of years since we last visited. We may not have gone this summer either, except that the two youngest begged us to go and my employer offered a special deal that made it affordable.

To be quite honest, it's pretty expensive to go to Lagoon without some kind of discount or else a season pass. More on my opinion of season passes later. Heck, it's even expensive to go to Lagoon with a discount.

The weather yesterday was grand, except that it started out rather humid from the previous day's rain. It was clear and warm without being scorching hot.

We tried to dress family members in clothing that could dry quickly, knowing that we'd end up participating in some activities designed to get us wet. It can be fun to get wet, but sloshing around in wet shoes and walking around with wet underwear chafing against the skin for hours really isn't much fun.

I was pleasantly surprised that the ride lines weren't that bad. The longest line we waited in was for the Wicked ride. Even then we spent only 15 minutes from the time we arrived at the line to the time we walked away from the ride. Trust me, that's pretty quick.

We rode the recent ride additions, Air Race and Bombora with minimal waiting. These are among some of the lately added "family ride" genre that aim to appeal to a broad age range. Air Race spins riders upside down, but it's nowhere near as harrowing as the Samurai. The Bombora ride lasts just over a minute. It banks and turns, but it's not a terribly fast roller coaster. It is certainly more tame than Colossus, Jet Star 2, or even the White Roller Coaster.

As far as wet rides go, Cliffhanger was closed due to a mechanical issue. But my family loves to ride Hydro Luge, the Log Flume, and Rattlesnake Rapids. The first two have pretty low hourly throughput, meaning that even relatively short lines can make for a long wait. We have learned to hit these rides early after entering the park because lines get longer as the day progresses. Also, the tunnels in the Hydro Luge get hot and stifling later on, especially on sunny days. (Several other rides, such as the Flying Aces and the Rocket also have low hourly throughput.)

All of the damp rides mentioned above, as well as the interactive fountain can get you very, very wet. I have walked away from each of these rides with little moistness, but I have also come away as drenched as if I had jumped fully clothed into a swimming pool. (That was the case yesterday with Rattlesnake Rapids.) It's best to be prepared. I stow my wallet, my electronic key fob, and cell phone in my pockets in zip tight plastic food bags.

Anytime you go to an amusement park you can be certain that the food and drinks are going to be expensive. Luckily for us, the deal offered by my employer included one junk food meal for each of us. We still spent plenty of money on other treats. Unlike some amusement parks, Lagoon allows patrons to bring their own food. That can help save a lot of money.

Yesterday's crowd seemed somewhat different than those I have often encountered at Lagoon. There were quite a few families. Some of them were extended families. Many parents were obviously trying to be good parents for their kids.

Of course, it is impossible to go to Lagoon without also seeing a fair number of people that would have qualified to be performers in carnival freak shows a couple of generations ago. Bizarre tattoos, piercings, and gauges are ubiquitous. Some folks clothe and groom in a manner that may not break any legal statutes, but that certainly violates the laws of good taste.

Then there are the ever present young teens and tweens that roam the park unsupervised. Many of these are season pass holders. It is jarring to watch these little boys and girls engaging in the rituals of a hyper sexualized sub-culture of irresponsibility. I personally couldn't imagine thinking that it would be a good idea to get my kids season passes to Lagoon and then to dump them off there on their own on a regular basis. It reminds me of watching parents drop their scantily clad youngsters off at a rave party last winter. What are these people thinking?

All in all, we had a great day at Lagoon. Our daughter looked nostalgically at the kiddie rides, many of which she is now too tall to ride. But having no younger children actually made our trip to Lagoon much easier than in past years. We still dress everyone in bright clothes and make sure that we know what each family member is wearing so that each can more easily be spotted among the throngs of people.

I no longer ride any of the rides for my own benefit. I will ride a ride for the benefit of a child or for the benefit of the family. But I could live and be happy without ever riding another amusement park ride. Actually, I think I could live and be happy without ever visiting an amusement park again. But I will continue to go as long as is necessary for the kids.

Perhaps someday I will, as my father happily once told me years ago, reach a stage in life where I will never have to visit an amusement park again. Then again, I did see extended families with grandparents at Lagoon yesterday....

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