The boys, my niece Jenny and I met my sister-in-law and another niece at the Burger King across from the amusement park around 9:30 a.m. The park didn't officially open until 10:30, but I didn't know how crowded it would be on a Monday and wanted to get the most out of our day. We were let in but only to the railroad bridge until 10:30. The ropes were let down, and we headed to Whizzer -- our first rollercoaster of the day.
Ben had been nervous for more than a week since finding out we were going to Great America, so Whizzer -- a classic coaster and one of the easier rides in the park -- was a perfect first choice. He loved it. That would set the tone for the rest of the day. Here's a rundown, in as much of an order as I can remember:
-- A pirate-ship type ride (River Rocker) that the adults wisely skipped.
-- The Eagle, which is my all-time favorite Great America ride. After a slow line, the red car was finally opened on the dual coaster, and we got on almost instantly. Both boys loved this ride, and I remembered why it's still my favorite roller coaster.
-- The nieces waited in line for Vertical Velocity, so we went on Fiddler's Fling, after which I surprisingly didn't feel to sick, and Logger's Run and got soaked.
-- Lunch! Overpriced pizza ...
-- East River Crawler, formerly the Lobster in my youth.
-- Roaring Rapids ... soaked again (though for me, not as bad)
-- Gotham City Rail, basically a wild mouse in the dark
-- The double-decker carousel.
-- Ben had been stressing out about going upside down on a rollercoaster, but he manned up and went on the Demon, which goes upside down four times. After the first loop, he was cheering. This was Michael's favorite ride, too. However, I came to the conclusion it's not the greatest rollercoaster for adults -- my shoulders hurt as I braced myself through the corkscrews. So much for happy memories ...
-- The kids did a ropes course near Demon. I don't think Michael liked it at all -- he is definitely not a fan of heights. Ben was braver and made it to the top, though he didn't try anything too challenging up there.
-- Michael wasn't in the best mood after the ropes course, and it showed on our second trip on the Eagle. We ended up in a back car, and when I told him the back gets whipped around, he became nervous. When we did get whipped around, he didn't like it and was cranky after we got off the ride.
-- Ben and his aunt went on Revolution, which looked way too dizzying for me to attempt.
-- Ben surprised me again by going on the Batman rollercoaster. I was nervous about him on this -- he was tall enough but is so skinny ... . He loved it but said he almost puked. Michael didn't go on with us, instead going on the Crawler and the swings with Lisa.
-- Dinner. Overpriced burgers and way too many fries. Next time we go, I'm bringing a cooler and we can eat at the car.
-- Bumper cars
-- The Triple Play, one of my favorite non-coaster rides when I was kid. But, it spins. I survived.
-- The Whizzer one more time.
-- The boys went on a teacup ride that Jenn and I wisely avoided.
-- Sky Trek tower for a 330-foot high view of the landscape.
And that was it. The boys bought souvenirs and we drove back to Chicago. We didn't stay until closing like we originally planned, but we made it to about 9:20 p.m.
Except for Michael's brief moodiness and Ben's pre-ride stresses, we had so much fun all day. Even though we didn't wait too long for any one ride, the day went surprisingly fast. I'm not sure if my 22 previous visits were that way; maybe my perception of time is just different (I can say when we went to Disney Land a few years ago, that day flew by, too).
A trip to Great America was always a special day when I was a kid. An event. This day, with my sons, was an event. And no one threw up.