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Friday, September 16, 2011

Once you’ve decided to get on a rollercoaster, there’s no looking back...

On the Right Track
Well, maybe a small amount of looking back. But only to check that Daddy hasn’t hopped off at the last moment and headed for the donut stall.

In the world of amateur child therapy, it’s important to make your subject face their fears and work through their issues by confronting their demons in public. And if the Daily Mail is to be believed, those demons don’t come much bigger than SpongeBob SquarePants. So just three days after Amelie developed abandonment issues about rollercoasters, we decided to adopt a kill-or-cure approach by taking her here...

Nickelodeon Land!
If Lisa looks slightly distracted in that photo, it’s because two coachloads of college students had just disembarked over to the left, and were marching across the car park towards us, chanting “Here we go, here we go, here we go!” in a slightly intimidating fashion. It’s not easy saying “Get a move on!” in a panicked voice whilst smiling and not moving your lips, but I think Lisa pulled it off.

Anyhoo, we spent yesterday in Nickelodeon Land, a child-friendly section of Blackpool Pleasure Beach. We could have paid £32 each for entry to the entire theme park, but Amelie’s too small to go on most of the big rides, and her Daddy’s too scared, so we opted for a price of £18 for unlimited rides in Nickelodeon Land. Tragically, you start paying at the age of 2, and there’s no discount for children, so that was fifty-four quid for an afternoon’s entertainment. Plus £6 for parking.

It turned out to be the best sixty quid I’ve ever spent. Amelie took to theme parks like a duck to water. Quite literally. This was her when we arrived at the Pleasure Beach...

And here she is after her first ride...

I’ve seen her less wet in the bath. And I look like I’ve been wading through a swimming pool. But the ‘Rugrats Lost River’ set the tone for the afternoon. As I plunged downhill in a plastic log, holding onto Amelie for dear life and trying not to scream, we hit splashdown like this...

Front Page Splash
... and I opened my eyes, expecting to see Amelie bursting into tears and screaming to get out. Instead I saw her erupt into laughter and shout “Again, Daddy, again!”. She might have been soaked, but she loved every moment.

Lisa had opted out of that first ride, on the grounds that she was drinking her coffee, but she joined us on Spongebob’s Splash Bash...

Wet & Happy
... Dora’s World Voyage...

Setting Sail
... The Fairy World Taxi Spin...

In a Spin
... and Diego’s Rainforest Rescue...

Ballooned Out
We didn’t actually know who any of these characters were, because Amelie’s not allowed to watch commercial TV in case she sees the adverts and starts asking for stuff. But she enjoyed them all the same.

On the downside, we’ve discovered that we’re going to have a hard time convincing her of the existence of Santa Claus. Nickelodeon Land featured various cartoon characters wandering around and hugging the children, in the same way that you can meet Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. But whilst other children reacted with excitement at their chance to meet the real-life Boots from Dora the Explorer, Amelie just pointed and said “Look! There’s someone dressed up as a monkey!”. She then spotted Dora, and said “And there’s another person dressed up as something!”. She’s not even three, and she’s already shattered her own illusions.

Having been on all the rides once, and seen Amelie enjoy every one, we began to make the most of our wristbands by revisiting our favourites. Which meant a return trip to the Lost River...

Hooded ClawThat’s Lisa preparing for splashdown. But if you think that’s funny, you should see the souvenir photo they took as we plummeted down the slope. That was seven pounds very well spent. I’m tempted to go and buy a scanner, just so that I can publish it today. But in the meantime, if you picture a manic child abductor being chased downhill by the Emperor from Star Wars, you’re halfway there.

The advantage of visiting a theme park during term time is that the only children there were pre-schoolers and truants, which meant that we barely had to queue for anything. We went straight onto any ride we fancied. Which is handy when you have a toddler who doesn’t like to wait. We spent four hours riding, coasting, bouncing and spinning, accompanied by constant laughter, and the sound of Amelie saying “It makes my tummy go funny!”. Which is what her Daddy said after the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.

Most of the rides were aimed at small children, although maybe not as small as the chap chasing Amelie in the pirate ship...

Captain Pugwash
... but there was one ride in Nickelodeon Land that she wasn’t tall enough to try. The Nickelodeon Streak was a wooden rollercoaster which required riders to be at least four feet tall. It meant that Lisa and I scraped through the entry requirements and took it in turns to ride. Here I am coasting along on the crest of a wave...

And here’s Lisa with her death row face...

I don’t know what she was more scared of: the rollercoaster ride ahead of her, or the single blokes behind.


Phil's Mum said...

How on earth did you persuade Amelie not to go on the last ride???

Phil's Mum said...

It's only just occurred to me - that was Amelie's bad dream come true!  Mummy and Daddy DID go on a roller coaster without her!

Dave said...

I was going to say that.

A Passer-by said...

Nice to see Lisa's big smile!

Peter Chapman said...

With all this great blog coverage it feels like I've been away to Blackpool with the Gardner family without spending a penny!

I think you should should visit Amsterdam next spring Phil, oh and take an extra camera memory card. ;)

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