Baby’s First Theme Park

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:

IMG_20150110_143516344It 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:

IMG_20150110_151758113(He insisted on wearing his hat that way for some reason… I look at these pictures and think it’s 1991, haha.) IMG_20150110_151804082And here’s Rowen (asleep):

IMG_20150110_151848521_HDRAnd, this is what Damien did when he saw someone in a Speedy Gonzales costume walk by:


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.

IMG_20150110_130821314The first animal we saw was this dolphin. I kept thinking, “what would it be like to be seeing a dolphin for the first time?”

IMG_20150110_145301  I told Damien this was a wolf. He said, “is it a nice wolf or a mean one like the ones on Frozen?” IMG_20150110_144108918Damien 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.  IMG_20150110_144917632_HDRFinally, something caught Damien’s interest! (Spoiler alert: it was elephants.)IMG_20150110_144948136And 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.) IMG_20150110_151144424_HDRBig 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. IMG_20150110_152837528And 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.IMG_20150110_152848175 IMG_20150110_153225825(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.

IMG_20150110_134100785 IMG_20150110_131832883When we first sat down, I tried to get the boys to look my way for a photo. 1/3, but hey, he’s smiling! IMG_20150110_131851431Later in the show, I did get a grin out of this one. Now I think he’s a little TOO happy.


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.

IMG_20150110_140919997Rowen 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:

IMG_20150110_140205515And 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.)  IMG_20150110_140216761We 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.)

IMG_20150110_155632613 IMG_20150110_155643792Rides:

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.) IMG_20150110_145605626This 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.)   IMG_20150110_150637519 IMG_20150110_150540040

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!

IMG_20150110_160508385Damien 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!

IMG_20150110_161332925(I sat in the backseat and Damien drove – a scary look at the future! Haha.)

IMG_20150110_161341610Finally Damien got to ride a roller coaster, albeit a little one. Dan rode with him and reported that he LOVED it.

IMG_20150110_164407116He also rode on a little carousel and a kid-version of giant swings; Dan rode with him on both of those too while Rowen and I watched.


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:

IMG_20150110_204400 Now, if only it was later in the year so this could be our Christmas card! I guess we could always go back, but I doubt we could recreate such an amazing image. 🙂


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