A wonderful wonderland
I first learned my husband wasn’t a fan of heights while we were stopped at the top of a 150-foot Ferris wheel at Navy Pier in Chicago.
He was jittery and trying not to reveal his lack of confidence in the moment, but he wore his nervousness all over his face.
I quickly picked up on his fear and encouraged him to look at architecture along the city skyline. It wasn’t because I knew him to have a particular interest in building design; I just wanted to keep him from looking down.
Later that evening, he decided we should go to the John Hancock Observatory, 1,000 feet above the city streets. He stepped onto an enclosed observation deck, and I could see he was again nervous. To quell his fear that time, I jokingly recited various lines from one of my favorite movies, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
When I asked why he goes to heights he’s afraid of, he answered simply: “It’s fun.”
Last weekend I learned my daughter is the same way, as our family took a trip to Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster County for the opening weekend of the amusement park’s Happy Hauntings event.
The fall sun fell on our shoulders, adding some warmth on an otherwise chilly Saturday, as we boarded our first ride, the Sky Ride. Moving at a slow pace, from one end of the park to the other, the ski lift-like ride chugged slowly along a pulley system.
Though it was Cienna’s idea to try the ride, her bravery wasn’t bigger than her eyes. With white knuckles, she clenched the bar in front of us while realizing we were above trees.
During the slow trip, I asked her why she picked such a tall ride. Like her dad, she answered simply: “It’s fun.”
And fun is what we had all day.
It was fun to be bundled in fleece and vests, walking around with hot chocolate as the smell of cinnamon-roasted almonds wafted through the October air.
It was fun to ride with my children and their grandparents as we tested the 28 rides open in the park.
And it was fun to try the pumpkin-flavored funnel cake.
But, as is always the case with such journeys, the true joy came from seeing the excitement on my children’s faces.
They were able to put aside their school and athletic obligations for a while, getting away from the busyness that seemingly seeps into all of our lives.
For the number of times Cienna, Ty and Dimitri patronized the Fun Slide, gliding along wavy bumps in a burlap sack, I was relieved we didn’t have to pay by the ride.
Admission to Dutch Wonderland–which is about 45 minutes east of York–is $21.99 for guests 3 and older. Children 2 and younger are free.
Included with the admission price is a walk along the trick-or-treat trail, costume contests, a meet-and-greet with Dutch Wonderland characters, story time and Molly’s Wacky Witch’s Brew–a scientific show.
In addition to the pumpkin funnel cake and regular dining options in the park, guests will also find other fall-themed foods, such as pumpkin soft serve ice cream and a make-your-own smores castle.
Happy Hauntings will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. during two more weekends this month on Oct. 20, 21, 27 and 28.
For more information, or to plan a trip with your family, visit www.dutchwonderland.com.