“Let’s go away this weekend,” said my husband last Tuesday. My response was ehh. Memorial Day weekend? Traffic, crowds. There was plenty going on at home. Our town’s annual May Fair (huge street fair with kiddie rides, food, music, etc.) was Saturday. We were invited to BBQs. We could go out and buy this season’s kiddie pool/slip n slide for our backyard. We could finish remodeling our bedroom or plant flowers out front of the house. So I let his request slip to the back of my mind.
“I REALLY NEED TO GET AWAY,” he said. On Thursday. So I casually researched Hershey Park online (thinking that at least we’d be driving the opposite direction of most people, away from the beach). Next thing I knew the room was booked for Friday night and the park tickets purchased. And after a minor frenzy of packing, we set off on Friday morning.
We didn’t tell the kids where we were going. My husband told my oldest the night before that there would be a surprise the next day, so he was awake at 6 am Friday (he never does that), searching the house for a puppy. But he was definitely thrilled when we said he didn’t have to go to school, and it was hilarious watching the wheels turning in his head as we drove through Philadelphia and then west.
Meanwhile I was having a low-grade panic attack. Is this crazy? Will we have any fun? Are we destined to have a Lost Child Incident at the park? Is T. going to get an emergency business call and strand me in the Chocolate Factory? Should I even be bringing a nut-allergic child to the home of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup?
And of course, this is going to cost a small fortune! In addition to the room and tickets, I knew that we were going to end up spending a lot on eating out and buying whatever essential thing I’d forget to pack.
But thankfully those thoughts subsided, and soon we were checking in at the Hotel Hershey and collecting our full-size Hershey bars. Chocolate makes everything better.
Everything went fairly smoothly after that. Our room was ready when we got there at 12:30. We caught the shuttle to the park. The park wasn’t too crowded, and we didn’t lose any children. After a while, I wouldn’t have minded losing one of them. They were just being their normal selves, but their normal is hard to deal with in a theme park. Like when my middle guy won one of those little plastic parachute guys at the arcade, an Army figure with a flimsy plastic parachute attached with strings. That was all he cared about the rest of that day: throwing him up in the air and asking us to untangle the strings afterward. Basically, we tried to get my oldest on the rides he was interested in and placated the younger two with whatever they wanted: the carousel, ice cream, a pink fuzzy cowgirl hat, two hours in the arcade spent pushing every button on every game. It was tough the first day because they didn’t nap much on the ride there, but better on Saturday.
All in all, it was a great time. We got to get away from home for a while. We got to see those wonderful looks of delight that come over their little faces when they are being whipped around in circles. We spent lots of time just playing outside on the hilly area outside our cottage room, stalking groundhogs and shooting each other up with laser guns from the park. I also took perhaps the best bath of my life in the room’s deep fancy tub.
In terms of frugality, I have some regrets. I failed to stop by CVS for ticket coupons (I’m not sure if I could have used them anyway). I forgot to show my AAA card at check-in. I tried to time things such that we wouldn’t be eating meals at the park, but it didn’t work, and we spent a lot of money on some truly craptacular food. Even our skating rink pizza is better than the Hershey Park pizza we had on Saturday. We bought some stuff that is now just adding to the clutter in the playroom (toys from the zoo gift shop, the guns and cowboy hat). My husband even bought the FRAMED picture of him and our oldest coming down the log flume.
Still, I don’t think we did too bad for a trip that was thrown together so quickly. When I got home I immediately started thinking about our Vermont trip in August. I really want to plan that out as much as possible. Because I just love planning, but also because I know it will be cheaper that way. And saner.
What with staying at the Hotel Hershey instead of the Comfort Inn, and with finally caving and buying a giant blowup pool/slide thingy today, we are doing serious damage to our ability to visit the Shore this summer (for more than a day). And I think it’s safe to say there will be no central air this year. When I am pining to go to the Shore in July I’ll have to reread this post and remember how awesome that bath was.