I grew up a relatively short distance from Williamsburg, Virginia. This meant that summertime often included trips to Busch Gardens. Being a thrill seeker, these trips have left some awesome lasting memories. As an adult, I still enjoy the thrills and now I get to share them with my kids. But, over time I stopped going as often. Eventually it became a thing for the kids to do with their dad. They would take off early in the morning and come back with pictures and souvenirs and I’d enjoy the stories they would tell me about riding the little Clydesdale horses, the tea cups, and whatever awesome new coasters have been added.

This time, however, I had the chance to tag along. When your kids’ ages range from 6 to 14, you expect to split your time between the smaller rides and the larger ones. Otherwise, someone is not going to have such a good time. We were able to kind of ‘tag-team’ the rides. Maddie got the unlimited quick queue pass and we got 2 one-time quick queue passes. This meant that we could each ride the big coasters with her at least once. It worked a lot like the kid switch at Disneyland.

Maddie and I started out on Escape from Pompeii. It was a fun, albeit wet, start to the day. I lost my beloved orange Roxy hat in the last big wave though, so I ducked into a shop and bought a pink BG hat. No biggie.

Carousel at Busch Gardens

The kids ride the carousel with their dad at Busch Gardens

The first BIG surprise of the day was when David talked Maddox into riding Pompeii with them. At first he wanted nothing to do with it but then decided to give it a try. I tried convincing Lexxie to ride but she wasn’t having anything to do with that one. She and I waited in the glassed-in viewing area. The little goofball would walk out to the railing to play chicken with the splash. It finally caught up with her and splashed her from head to toe. She was more soaked from that splash than I was from riding the actual ride.

We watched them come down the drop and then ran over to check out their picture. It was priceless. I should have bought it. There are no words to express Maddox’s face…it would have made a meme…I’m sure of it.

After a few more rides for everyone, we convinced Maddox and Lexxie to give the Roman Rapids a try. It took a lot of convincing to get her onto the ride and in the end, she thanked us over and over. In fact, when we were leaving the park later, she said it had been her favorite ride of the day. It seats six, so she sat with her daddy and Maddox sat with me. Maddie got to ride without anyone directly beside her. Lexxie and daddy ended getting the most splashes AND the waterfall part…but we all came off there pretty darn wet.

Our visit landed on the Food and Wine Festival dates, so as we made our way around the park, we were able to sample some pretty delicious food. We passed a crepe stand in France and took notice, but didn’t stop. As the day was winding down, Maddie was getting a henna tattoo and Maddox was considering riding a roller coaster with his dad (something he has NEVER done before). And Lexxie was “starving.” So, she and I went back up to France so she could try a crepe. They had 4 options – 3 dessert crepes and 1 savory crepe. To my surprise, she chose the Poulet Cordon Bleu Crêpe. I honestly thought there was no way she was going to actual eat it but it was her choice so I let her order it. We had to wait at least 40 minutes but if you ask her…it was worth it. She devoured it like nothing I’d ever seen before. Afterwards she laughed and said “I tortured that crepe!”

Airplanes at Busch Gardens

Lexxie and Maddox at Busch Gardens

During our 40 minute wait for the crepe, Maddie was still waiting on her henna and David’s phone was dead so I really had no idea if they were sitting down the hill waiting for us or if they had found something else fun to do. It was a HUGE surprise when I got to the bottom of the hill just in time to hear Maddox tell me all about riding the Loch Ness Monster! No, seriously…Maddox rode a REAL roller coaster…and with two (not ONE) loops! (Ok, compared to other coasters these days, the Loch Ness Monster is pretty tame…but when I was a teenager, it was one of the most sought after rides in the world.) He told me all about how he wasn’t even scared to go upside down. I’m just sitting here thinking “who is this kid?!”

We all convened there as Lexxie was torturing…err, consuming…her crepe. The kids were steadily coming to the end of their fun meter. Legs were tired, little ones were sleepy…well, I’m sure you know the story…so we made our way to the car and headed back to town. Between the road construction and detour (thanks to the closed Veteran’s bridge in Chesapeake), it was a little past 12:30am when we finally got back into town. They dropped me off at home and the kids went on to enjoy the rest of their weekend with dad.

The entire day reminded me of our once frequent trips to Disneyland. It was nice to sit back and think about those days. Much has changed…no more strollers or diaper bags…no more finding quiet, cool spots to nurse babies. A part of me misses the days of the littles but mostly I’m excited to see how they will continue to grow and discover their own favorite thrills and chills in the park.