[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]
Day 2: Sunday, July 23rd (continued)
Our next stop after Alligator Alley had been preplanned months in advance. Our only previous water-park encounter was the single time we remembered to bring swimsuits to Kings Island, but didn’t gidet around to putting them on till two hours before closing time. We’d enjoyed what little we could in such a short timespan, but we yearned to enjoy a water park without hurrying. Besides, we’d have to be complete fuddy-duddies not to visit the self-styled Water Park Capital of the World and not visit at least one lousy water park. Our choice was an ancient Greco-Roman theme park called Mt. Olympus. For my son, it seemed a winning combination. He likes pools. He likes amusement parks. He likes Greek mythology. (He and I were among the half-dozen people in America who got a kick out of Disney’s Hercules.) All three combined should’ve been a winning ticket.
Little did we know.
Somehow, at some point prior to this day, my son turned into a teenager without telling us. That which seems an obvious win-win to us isn’t so obvious to him now. Once we paid admission and entered, his interest level in Mt. Olympus — which had ridden high for the previous several months — turned on a dime into apathy. Nothing seemed enticing or even noteworthy to him: not the large Trojan horse with a multi-level go-kart track running through it (one of the park’s too-numerous go-kart tracks, but certainly the most photogenic); not the outdoor water slides; not the junk food and snacks; not the cute ride names like the Hades, the Poseidon, or the Atlantis; not even the Simpsons-esque restaurant names like (not making these up) Greek Tycoon Gyros and My Big Fat Greek Pizza Joint. No dice. Suddenly he was ready to leave, no explanation offered.
We grown-ups didn’t care. The plans were already made, the money was paid, the swimsuits were already dragged out of our luggage. We hoped this would be one of those cases (and this was a common occurrence with him) where he was convinced to go through with something that he’d dismissed at first, but ended up enjoying once he got into it. So we plunged into it anyway despite his apathetic protests.
For a while, it clicked. He got off to a bored start on a spinning ride called the Opa — not exactly a machine that turns riders into flaming cheese, which would’ve been ten times cooler.
When we moved on to the indoor water slides, then we had a rowdy good time. That’s discounting the part where one water-slide landing gave me a nasty scrape on my back. In my book, that was acceptable collateral damage. After that came my son’s favorite part of the day, the requisite wave pool. The wave pool at Kings Island was his first such experience, whereupon he immediately fell in love with the concept. The only drawback to this particular wave pool was a forbidding red line at the four-foot mark that warned weaker swimmers not to dare paddle beyond that point. We rolled our eyes even as we minded our manners in obeying The MAN.
Once we were done with all that, it was late afternoon. My lack of suntan lotion and impatience with the boy’s own fast-rekindling impatience motivated me to cut our day short. On our long trek back to the entrance, though, we noticed a log flume ride we’d overlooked before. Still determined to get our money’s worth, my son and I got in line while Anne stood by the outer perimeter. (Mt. Olympus will grant a greatly reduced admission price if you choose to ride nothing. Mt. Olympus will grant a greatly reduced admission price if you choose to ride nothing. Anne, not the biggest fan of great heights or high speeds or general centrifugal force, had elected beforehand to save us many dollars and opted for the bystander ticket. She carried our bags and watched our stuff instead.) The lines for the slides and even the Opa had been thin earlier in the day — access to each attraction had been almost instant. We expected similar results here.
By the time a full eighty-five minutes had passed, the sun had had ample time to cook my skin lobster-red, slather me in my own sweat for butter, and melt chunks off me for easier sampling. The line finally advanced enough by then that we got a turn in a log. The track itself was nothing special — a few hundred feet of level track shaped in the gentlest of hairpin turns, leading up a middling hill, around a standard log-flume curve, toward an identical middling hill, and then, y’know, log fall down go splash.
But our log jammed before it could ascend the first hill, allowing me another minute or two of broiling. The attendant had to walk over and kick our log free. My rating of the ride was downgraded from “nothing special” to “needs bulldozed”.
Behold one hot, wet, burning writer.
And then we fled Olympus. Nothing short of a firing line of trained firemen’s hoses could’ve possibly impressed us after that.
To be continued!
[Historical note: my son, who’ll be 20 next month, is feeling much better now.]
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]