“We’re not going to ride rides until 5 o’clock,” I said for the 82nd time in less than an hour. The thing about family travel is that everyone has different expectations and different things that they get excited about. And the thing I’ve learned about my kids is that if they are excited about something that is happening later in the day, they will get so caught up in waiting for that thing that they will completely overlook anything awesome we are doing in the moment.
So I spent most of the day reminding my kids that we weren’t going to visit the amusement park in the Mall of America until 5 pm when I could get discounted wristbands. He spent most of the day irritated that the kids were so excited to visit the Mall of America. And I reminded him that they were kids and that a giant building big enough to hold a Lego store AND an amusement park AND a Noodles & Company would obviously be very exciting for kids.
But our day actually started out with a visit to the coolest (free!) playground we’ve ever visited in all of our travels! There’s a park in Bloomington that Minnesotans lovingly refer to as Chutes & Ladders. It’s actually called the Hyland Park Play Area in case you ever try to find it. We met my friend Sara there with her kids. The kids played and ran and got wet in the splash area and climbed and jumped and did monkey bars and slides and tire swings.
When they were all worn out, we headed to lunch at Punch Pizza. The food was great and the company even better. Though at one point I think there were six kids whining about not liking their pizza. Sidenote: they were crazy, because it was really good pizza. After lunch, we said goodbye to our friends and headed to the Mall of America.
We spent a solid 45 minutes at the Lego store while the kids tried to pick out a Lego set. I had no intention of buying them Legos, but when you travel with grandparents, the kids tend to get extra spoiled. Max and Lia finally picked out a set and Ava decided to get an art set instead at Barnes & Noble. We still had plenty of time to kill before 5 pm and that’s about when the whining set in. We wandered a bit and got the kids each a t shirt, then headed to the food court to grab dinner.
Five o’clock finally rolled around and we bought our wristbands for Nickelodeon Universe. Our friends the Hurlburts were going to meet us, so we decided to ride the roller coasters first since their kids are little. Awhile back, we had the idea that it would be super fun to try to ride 100 roller coasters as a family… not like in one summer, but just over time. Because roller coasters are fun and we’re adventurous. Lia is still too little to ride most coasters and a little scared too, but we’re working on that.
We decided to ride the Pepsi Coaster first since it was the least scary of the two coasters Lia was old enough to ride. I knew she would probably be scared on the other coaster, so I didn’t want to ruin it for her. All the kids loved the Pepsi coaster, so we rode it several times throughout the evening. We rode the Fairly Oddparents coaster next and as I guessed, Lia totally freaked out. She was okay though and I was proud of her for riding it.
After that, we met up with our friends and wandered around, hitting up as many rides as we had time for. Max was the only one tall enough to ride the Spongebob coaster and he absolutely loved it. I think we rode it at least 8 times. They all loved the log ride and Ghost Blasters. Josh and I rode the Avatar Airbender with Max and that was my favorite ride. I rode across from Max, so anytime the cars spun just right, I had a perfect view of his face, huge grin and all!
On our second time riding the Fairly Oddparents coaster (without Lia), I looked up and Ava was freaking out. That girl is never scared on roller coasters, so it took me by surprise. I looked closer and her mouth was full of blood! She had knocked her mouth on the hand rail and knocked out her (very!) loose tooth! She was freaking out because she couldn’t find the tooth, but we got lucky and it was in the seat next to her. People were looking at us like we were crazy when she got out of the coaster car with a bloody mouth, but we ran to the bathroom and got her all cleaned up. And when you think about it, that’s a pretty awesome way to lose a tooth!
We stayed until the kids were about to pass out. We kept trying to leave, but they would see a ride and there would be no line, so I felt like, sure, ride it, we bought the wristbands. But we had also promised to get smoothies before we left. It was so late by the time we got out of there. And even though the amusement park was pricey for a family of five, the lines were so short and the area was so small, we really were able to ride a ton of rides in the few hours we were there.
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