Tuesday 31 January 2012

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Entertaining the Non-Rider: Get There First

I have a couple of daredevil kids in my family. We spend plenty of time in theme parks, and these two are usually looking for the biggest, fastest, most turbulent ride they can find. Their method for choosing the next ride they want to go on is to bring up the name of the ride, and then see if either Mom or Dad hesitate. If they sense even the smallest amount of fear, that's the ride they want to go on next. Those two kids are fairly easy to deal with in theme parks. The problem, of course, is that I have three children.

My youngest isn't in to the thrill rides yet. She's tried a few, but at this point in her life, they're not really her thing. We try to do rides that she likes, but while I may think twice when my older two mention the Death Drop 2000 roller coaster, I go into full-on retreat when the words "teacups" or "Tilt-a-Whirl" are brought up. Even worse is the thought of riding It's a Small World over and over all day. Obviously the family will have to split up, but how do I entertain my non-rider for an entire day while her siblings attempt to terrorize themselves?

I'm sure your kids aren't competitive, but mine have this drive to beat the other two at something. It's not universal, as despite my best efforts I can't get them to compete for the best grades in school, but when it comes to seeing new things, the first one there wins, so the first thing youngest and I do is go visit all the rides that we won't be going on. This didn't go over so well the first time we tried it, as for some reason this child, whose favorite line used to be "You can't make me!", now thought that I was going to grab her and strap her in to some monstrous thrill ride without anybody acknowledging her howls of complaint. Once we conquered that completely rational fear however, we got on with the real purpose of going to rides that we're not planning on trying, and that's getting there first

My older two children are probably going to spend the first hour of their day at a theme park in line for a major attraction. During that time, youngest and I walk around and check out all the other big rides and attractions. We take pictures as we go, so that when we join back up with the others, they can tell us all about the ride they went on, but my youngest can tell them all about the rides they still have coming, complete with pictures of her at each one. This makes her the "go-to" source for information on rides that she has no intention of coming within a hundred yards of (Seriously, in the picture of her at the Superman ride, that is as close as she was willing to get. A hundred yards might be generous.) and let's her feel involved in the discussions of the big rides without ever having to set foot on them.

This is just the beginning of our day obviously, but it gets everything started on the right foot. I get to see all the rides in the park, and decide if there are any worth begging my wife to let me ride with the kids; my youngest gets to be involved in the discussions about the big rides and has information that my other kids actually want; my older two kids get the lowdown on any rides that are closed, have long/short lines, or look particularly lame; and my wife, well, she gets to be married to me! See...everybody wins! For the first hour of the day anyways. After that, even being married to me isn't enough. Fortunately, I have more tips. You'll just have to come back for them...

Up next: Entertaining the Non-Rider: Rides You Usually Skip