Friday, May 25, 2012

Hersheypark and Its Many Signs

The obligatory "we're here" photo.
After our troublesome false start last Friday, we finally made it all the way to Hershey, PA around 9:00 p.m.  Needless to say, we put Princess and Birdie straight to bed, with us to follow soon after.  The next morning, my ladies were up and at 'em only a little later than usual (a whoppin' 20 minutes of sleeping in for missing their bedtime by 2 full hours).  We were soon in the hotel's breakfast area, trying to decide which of the assorted pastries, yogurt, cereal, and "cooked" breakfast foods would give us the most stamina at the amusement park that day.

Midway through her toaster-heated French toast, Birdie hopped up from the table and announced she had to go to the restroom.  Hubby asked her if she knew where to go and Birdie replied, "I know just what to do!"  She then ran directly to the front desk in the hotel lobby and asked the attendant for directions.

Wonder how she knew to do that?  

Oh... well would ya lookey there.  A sign.  Sitting on the front desk counter, just like at every hotel you have ever been to but never noticed, was a sign that very clearly stated "Please direct all questions to the front desk attendant."  My first thought was Birdie must have been more awake than I thought when we arrived the night before.  My next thought-- I really hope that Birdie doesn't direct all questions to the front desk attendant.  The hotel may change its mind about letting us cash in our free hotel stay if she directs ALL questions to them.

For some reason, sunglasses inspire
Birdie's inner-diva when a camera is around.
Birdie returned from her trip to the restroom very proud of her knowledge of how the world works, and surprised by how helpful the sign-- and the attendant-- had been.  I should have realized then that Birdie felt she had acquired some important new life skill that she could now employ, but it was early and I was under-caffeinated, and the importance of that moment didn't quite sink in.  Not to worry, though, because it was soon very clear.

As an aside, you probably haven't ever paid attention to the enormous amount of informational signs that you encounter on a daily basis, especially in a touristy area, but... holy cow!  There is a whole bunch of random info that can be gained by reading those signs.  Most of us (normal people) scan these signs and discard any info that is not relavant to our current situations (and often times some that is, too).  My children, however, read it all.  And often feel the need to do something with that info.

So anyway, the rest of the day, Birdie practiced her new found "skill" of applying the info from "helpful signs" to her surroundings.  Upon entering the Hersheypark, we encountered a series of signs that allowed us to translate our height into candy bars, which we could then find on the rides to indicate whether we were the appropriate size to ride safely.  Armed with the knowledge on these signs, Birdie commented frequently while standing in line for attractions whether those around her were "Hershey Bars, Twizzlers, Jolly Ranchers, or Miniatures".  Later, when Birdie was standing in line to use the restroom at the park and she read the sign urging park visitors to report "any bathroom facility that needs service," she was more than happy to let the attendant know that her toilet seat had been wet.  She also loudly expressed her disappointment in the wet toilet seat situation, much to my chagrin.  Our next sign encounter was on a hand sanitizer dispenser, which recommended you let a park employee know if you found the machine empty.  I managed to thwart that act of public service, luckily, by bribing her with a smoothie and a soft pretzel.

Not to be outdone, Princess had her turn at interpreting signs too.  While waiting to ride the Comet, the obligatory "Keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times" sign was noticed by P (which made her a bit nervous, I believe).  Let me assure you, she was more than happy to keep all her appendages inside the car at all times.  After the ride was over (which P did not love, by the way), she and I were walking toward another, more vanilla ride, when she noticed a man wearing a sling, sitting on a bench in the shade.  "Looks like he didn't take that sign on the Comet seriously!  I told you that roller coaster is DANGEROUS!"  When I asked her what made her think he got hurt at the park, she explained, very matter-of-factly, "Who would come to this place already wearing one of those things?! (*exasperated sigh*)"  She does have a good point.

Proof Princess had fun.
Princess's other "helpful sign" turned out to be not-so-helpful.  Our last ride of the night was an interactive video game ride that usually has a long wait.  As we were entering the waiting area for the line, we passed a sign that said "The wait is approximately 35 minutes from this point."  Princess read this sign, stopped, read the sign again, and then asked us if we "were sure we wanted to wait that long."  Hubby assured her that the wait wasn't nearly that long because the end of the line wasn't all the way back at the sign.  But it was too late...  Princess had determined that the sign was "a lie".  It did say "from this point", as in, right here on this spot, rather than "when the line is this long."  You should really say exactly what you mean, you know.  The waiting in line had been difficult all day for the girls, but that sign... let's just say it didn't make things any better.  From then on, she was whiney and grumpy and constantly interested in "how long have we been standing here", and Birdie was only a little better.  In their defense, though, we had been at the park nearly 6 hours by then, which is like, marathon-long for my kids to do anything except Story Show.

Our final park event (before the souvenir shopping, of course), was meeting the Reese's Pieces man.  Princess is a huge Reese's anything fan, so when Hubby saw the Reese's Pieces character, he took P to see him.  Everything seemed to be going well, with Princess waving at Reese's and high-fiving him. About two minutes into the interaction, P realized Reese's didn't talk... and she seemed to take this as a personal challenge.  Next thing we know, Hubby and I are witnessing as Princess began to honk Reese's nose, tap on his "eyeballs", step on his toe, and all while she was giggling.  Maniacally, I might add.  This whole thing was going to hell in a handbasket, and all Hubby and I could do was watch-- frozen into place with equal parts mortification and curiosity (how long could he take this abuse without saying something?!).  Finally, about the same time my brain reminded me that I was responsible for the assault that was taking place before my very eyes, a park employee stepped up to let Princess know that "her turn was over" and she should let the next group get a picture with Reese's.  Whew!  Thank goodness for that quick-thinking employee!  I have to admit, however, that I am a little disappointed that I will never know how many licks it takes to make the Reese's Pieces man curse.  

Cooling off on the swing
Outside of our adventures in sign interpretation and character assault, they day was mostly what you would expect at an amusement park:  fun rides, a good deal of waiting, overpriced carnival games, greasy yet delicious food, and minor sweatiness.  We had a really good time, overall.  I was disappointed that Princess wouldn't let me take her picture after the first hour, but it is what it is.  When you consider all the sensory input you encounter at a place like Hersheypark, not getting a picture seems like a small price to pay for a fairly smooth day that was virtually meltdown-free.  Beating up the candyman doesn't count as a meltdown, does it?  Socially unacceptable, maybe, but definitely not a meltdown.

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