Growing up in Cincinnati as a child, there was at least day a year when your whole family loaded up on sunscreen, sugar, and maybe a few tears and went Kings Island! It is about a thirty minute drive north of town and anyone who lives within an hour's drive has been there, flirted there as a preteen, owned a season's pass or even worked there. Every kid in Cincinnati remembers that lucky day with their father would say, "kids, we're going to Kings Island." You could barely sleep with anticipation of the event.
Questions kept you awake at night, Will I be tall enough to ride the "big" rides, or will I just be shy of making the cut for the coasters (praise God I was too small most years because truth be told, I was terrified). We would load in the car (the drive felt forever) and hit the gates as soon as the park opened, ride, eat, ride, eat and stand near the fountains for the fireworks show that closed the park at night. Complete with a glow necklace, and clothes saturated with sweat, it made for the perfect day. Plus as a bonus to mom and dad you were asleep before you even left the parking lot.
Recently, while we were in Cincinnati, a generous family member gave us some tickets to take the kids. We thought they might be a bit too young, but figured it was worth a try if nothing to have something to do. We figured that it could go a few different ways. Kids terrified and too small, mom and dad envying the days of childlessness and taking turns riding rides with strangers, rain and disappointment, some good family fights or someone wetting their pants or vomiting. Thankfully, hardly any of this transpired.
We got there as soon as the park opened, and almost on que, the rain that had led us there stopped. Ellie qualified for the first level of rides and sweet A Mills was off by nearly six inches (despite Tom trying to explain to the 16 yr. old worker that it was just because she was not standing up straight). Not much had changed in the entrance of the park. The smells of funnel cakes, LaRosa's Pizza, and cotton candy hit you in the face, as well as people wanting to take your picture and characters ready to hug your kids (Unfortunately, Sponge Bob was, "too scary!")
We went straight to the kids portion (long ago was Hannah Barbara Land, not to age myself, but now it is Nic Kids or something) and loaded Ellie up on a Back Yardigans Swing. I put her in the seat and walked away fearing for the worst. At one point I even wanted to scream, "my baby!", but she did great. She was SO proud and looked so grown up. A boy sitting behind her broke down and had to be removed before the ride even started and we thought good, Ellie doesn't know to be scared yet. As she was swung around and around (please don't get sick) her grin widened. When the ride stopped she shouted, "next ride" and she had the Kings Island bug. Ansley Mills watched her big sister depressed so we quickly had to find rides they both could do.
While we were there I was very aware of the absence of our son. Most of the rides accommodated three small children per car, and my heart was warm with the future of our three kids sittin' buns to buns on these rides. The girls were literally squealing with delight, and we heard a joy coming from them that made our day.
We can't wait to go back with the three of them and watch them light up and share this experience together. I get it now, why these parks suck in families, why folks make it to the big Disney World with small children even though you never know what you may get. We didn't even care that we did not ride any adult rides. It was just as fun to see them run from ride to ride, and watching Ellie be a big sister holding Ansley Mills and reassuring her that it was okay.
Before we finished our time there I did manage to take Clelia on The Beast (only the greatest roller coaster in the world) and eat some LaRosa's Pizza. I mean she did come all the way from France, so she had to experience at least that much.