After Damien’s birthday and Christmas overwhelmed us with All the Toys Ever, when Damien received a late birthday check Dan declared that it would be used For Adventure, and because I’m all about adventure I quickly agreed. We decided to take the boys to Six Flags in Vallejo, which isn’t too far from our house. Dan and I lived in Vallejo for the first year after we were married, a few blocks away from Dan Foley Park, which is behind Six Flags (across the pond.) Here are a few pictures from the park, back in 2008:
And here’s the same pond from the opposite direction from this visit in 2015:
It may seem a little crazy to take two small children to a theme park, but this particular Six Flags used to be a zoo/aquarium (I know, it’s weird) and there are still lots of animals there (although some had to be moved because, you know, living around roller coasters is loud and not in their best interests. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.) Also Dan and I have both been there a bunch, between having (super cheap) season passes the year we lived in Vallejo and visiting several times a year on field trips growing up. Damien was tall enough to go on the kiddie rides (and some of the family rides, but we skipped those because he’s three after all) and, most importantly, tickets were half off that weekend. Sold.
I thought I planned everything perfectly, but the trip nearly took a detour into Disasterville anyway. I packed a diaper bag for the boys and got all the ticket-y stuff together, and asked Dan to pack the car and put in the double stroller. I forgot to mention that the double stroller was currently in several pieces (you have to take it apart to put it in the Prius), so Dan packed the biggest piece and forgot the rest. It was both of our faults; we haven’t gone anywhere for awhile and we don’t use the double around town (Damien just walks or sits in a shopping cart) so we both completely forgot. When we figured out that our stroller was missing some major components we were luckily driving by a Walmart. I pulled into the parking lot, had a minor freakout (which thankfully didn’t turn into a major one), ordered Damien and Dan to buy me coffee, and ran into Walmart to buy a few things. Rowen and I emerged with a cheap front carrier, a hat for Damien, and a few other things that I don’t even remember. Dan and I kissed and made up and ended up having a great time, but it was touch and go there for awhile!
We ended up using our stroller frame, even though it was missing the bar that goes over the front seat (which is what Rowen’s infant carseat would snap onto, so we had to just put him straight into the seat with no bar in front of him) and the two sun visors (which is why I bought a hat for Damien; there was supposed to be one in the car but it disappeared somehow. Luckily Rowen’s sungear did not walk off.) Damien still had a little bench to ride on the back, and we could use the stroller for carrying things. I also had the cheap carrier from Walmart to carry Rowen if Damien wanted to ride in front and rest/nap, or if Rowen wanted to nurse while we walked around (which we tried but really didn’t work that well. I should have brought one of my actual nice carriers, but I totally forgot.)
Once we were there we had to take the classic picture in front of the dolphin fountain, which has been there as long as I’ve been visiting (back in 1995! I wish I had a photo from then for comparison. I do think I have a ’97-98 school trip photo at my parents’ house.) That said, we didn’t manage to get everyone in front of the fountain at once, so here’s Damien at least:
Seeing the critters was the highlight of my day, at least. I’m not sure what Damien’s favorite part was (probably the ice cream actually, haha) but he did enjoy seeing the animals. When I asked him later he said the penguins were his favorite, which of course made me happy. He did spend a lot of time watching the walruses too.
I told Damien this was a wolf. He said, “is it a nice wolf or a mean one like the ones on Frozen?” Damien looked at these lions for all of two seconds before demanding we go somewhere else… oh well, I thought they were cute. We also tried to get him to look at the giraffes (which we used to visit on our walks in Dan Foley park when we lived in Vallejo – you can get close-ish to the giraffe exhibit from the park side) but he was having none of it. Finally, something caught Damien’s interest! (Spoiler alert: it was elephants.)And here they are! I think Damien was impressed by their size (which admittedly is pretty impressive.) They were also doing entertaining things like eating and throwing dirt and hay on their backs (which I think is what they do for sun protection, but it was January and like 60 degrees at the highest so it wasn’t exactly blistering.) Big kitty! They do a white tiger show, which was one of the few shows running during the off-season, but in the interest of not sprinting everywhere with our two littles we decided to skip it. And finally, Damien’s precious penguins! We definitely sat in front of this exhibit the longest. Damien liked watching the penguins chill out on the rocks, and he REALLY liked watching them swim underwater. (Here’s a video from my Instagram of Damien and the penguins.)
Shows: (well, show)
When we were talking about visiting Six Flags we were discussing which shows we wanted to take the boys to see; I love the sea lion show but the bird show is surprisingly cute, etc. Well, it turned out to not matter because there was a grand total of four shows that day: the dolphin show (which we went to), a Q&A with the land animal keepers/a few appearances by animals (which happened before we got to the park), the tiger show (which we decided to skip), and a kid’s show put on by costumed characters (which we also decided to skip, partly because we were currently stuffing our faces with pizza and partly because the longer we can keep from doing such loathsome parenting tasks as that, the better.)
So, the dolphins did lots of cute and amazing things but yeah, I did not capture them with my cell phone camera. The day was kind of gray (it was January near the ocean after all) and Damien was trying to imitate every move the dolphins made on the cement steps (I made Dan sit close with me with the assurance “we won’t get wet!” and I was very lucky that we didn’t, as other people sitting in the same row as us got very wet) and I had to make sure he (Damien not Dan) didn’t split his head open or injure himself in any way. But I did get this one shot of some dolphin tails.
To get the discounted ticket price you had to buy online. I noticed there were some meal deals available and Dan encouraged me to buy one, so I bought the pizza family meal, which included a large pizza, four drinks, and either an order of breadsticks or a family salad. Once we got there Dan did the math and realized we got all of the above for the menu price of four pieces of pizza (our large pizza had 12.) Sooo, definitely a good deal to plan ahead. Since Damien doesn’t drink soda we just bought two of Dan’s favorite sodas and two of mine and drank that instead of a refill.
Rowen and a breadstick. He wanted that thing SO BAD and even though he wasn’t technically six months old yet, I gave it to him (plus that kept his hands out of my lidless Diet Coke [no lids at the zoo!]/hot pizza sauce.) Is theme park breadstick better or worse than Taco Bell burrito as far as first foods go? (For the record, it was a very yummy breadstick.)
This is just a funny picture of Rowen sitting on the table:
And this picture shows how Rowen’s eyes aren’t really blue like Damien’s, but are more on the hazel/green side like Dan’s and mine. (They’re still blue-ish, but they still have some months to turn amazing and green like mine. Or settle on hazel like Dan’s. Haha.) We also stopped later in the day to get funnel cake (for me) and ice cream (for Dan and Damien.) I usually love funnel cake but this time it made me sick! I was fine until we started driving home and then I felt pukey until the next day. Luckily getting the sweets was one of the last things we did so it didn’t interfere with our fun. It does make me wonder if I’ll ever eat the stuff again (which isn’t altogether a bad thing I guess. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other bad-for-me things to eat at fairs and theme parks.) In all events, the boys liked their ice cream, and Rowen sat on the table looking adorable (as always.)
Damien was tall enough to ride all of the kiddie rides, either by himself or with an adult. However, he kept asking to ride the big roller coasters and was not altogether satisfied when I told him he was still too little. Since Dan is not a coaster fan and I most definitely am, I’m looking forward to having a riding buddy in 5-10 years! 🙂
On the animal side of the park there is a little safari-themed ride area. (There’s also a gigantic playground, which Damien loved, and a water play area, which was of course closed.) Damien ran straight to this elephant ride and took it for a spin. Since it’s off-season and the park was pretty empty, there weren’t lines for anything, but most of the ride operators were in training. Apparently Damien didn’t get buckled in properly on this ride because as soon as it stopped, he hopped right off! Thankfully he didn’t unbuckle himself until the ride stopped… At least he has some sense of personal safety. 😛 (He was super safe on every other ride. I checked.) This boat ride required an adult to ride along; Rowen was asleep in the front pack so I obviously couldn’t ride, but I would have opted out anyway since I get motion sick so easily. (The teacups at Disneyland are my worst nightmare; I’ll be the roller coaster buddy, Dan can do the spinny rides with the boys.)
After we wandered through the park and saw the sea animals, we ended our day at the Looney Tunes-themed kiddie ride area. We all got to ride a train together, and when no one was in line at the ‘depot’, the driver took us around for a second spin!
Damien wanted to ride these ‘sea helicopters’ (yeah, I don’t know) but he wanted someone to come with him. Dan was actually too tall to be his riding buddy on this one, and since Rowen wasn’t currently sleeping on me I was the lucky volunteer. Even though it wasn’t a super spinny or fast ride, I still got a little seasick, but at least Damien had fun!
Other than memories and pictures, we didn’t bring anything home. Damien didn’t find anything in the gift shops that piqued his interest, but that’s just as well as the whole point of going was to make memories and not acquire more stuff. We did, however, bring home this quite amazing family photo: