Eighth Adventure: Gardaland

13 Jan

You decide to go to Gardaland on your birthday, and even with all the setbacks it is a wise choice.  Kirby is still really not feeling good, so you wait a couple hours longer for his fever to drop and then choose to keep the 5 year-old in the stroller all day while you take turns letting Frankie run, ride on top of the stroller, and be held.  It is a chilly day, but perfectly sunny, and you can’t think of a better mostly-relaxed way to spend your 29th birthday.

The drive out is simple and event-free, and you find a parking spot fairly quickly despite arriving 2 hours after it opens.  The tickets are waiting at will-call, and though you have to explain that you are OK to go to the theme park a day earlier than the date printed, there is no real hassle and you enter the park happily.  Right away you are greeted by a huge double-decker carousel, and you, Nicole, and Frankie hop on immediately.  Kirby stays in the stroller, with Gramma Lexy watching him close by.  You get some “Mexican” food for lunch (Italians are better at Italian food), then move on to more rides.  You force Kirby out of the stroller and onto the Flying Island – a ride where you walk onto an outdoor porch that’s like the saucer part of the Space Needle, then sit on a circular bench while it rises up until it is probably 75 feet off the ground, and admire the view as the saucer portion spins around slowly.  You have never seen any ride like this, and you and Nicole agree that Disneyland definitely needs one.

The next rides are not OK for a pregnant lady, a sick boy, or a small toddler to go on, but you are able to convince Lexy to at least go on the Mammoth with you.  She hides her head almost the whole time on the old-fashioned roller coaster, but she still enjoys herself.  Nicole and the boys take a simple train ride around the park while you ride, and Frankie loves dancing to the Christmas music on the train.  You are up for more roller coasters, but Lexy refuses to go on the Raptor  (where you hang down in seats off the sides of the track) or the Blue Tornado (where you go really fast and upside down & corkscrew multiple times, and cut it very close to the ground once or twice) with you.  You, however, have no problem getting some thrills in for your birthday.  While you go on the Blue Tornado a second time (the line is shorter and it is a better ride overall), the women and children watch a variety show with music and dancers and contortionists and strong men.  Kirby actually perks up a little during the performance and even claps for his favorite acts.

After the major rides, you head to the ToonTown-like land for the boys.  You are stricken by the first ride there – a Magic House, hidden underneath a huge cartoonish tree.  Although the sign clearly says that pregnant women are not allowed, you decide to ignore the rule since clearly Nicole can go on if Frankie is allowed to go.  She holds Frankie in front of her tummy as you approach the ride, and you descend in a slow elevator down to the main room.  You are expecting a haunted mansion, but instead find yourself seated in a few rows of a barrel-like room, opposite of an equal number of riders.  The safety bar clamps down tightly, and Nicole has just a moment to lift her Daisy-filled tummy out of the way before she is too smooshed.  Perhaps you will honor the pregnancy warnings next time!  The show begins with some creepy animatronic giant speaking a lot of spooky Italian, and then the opposing rows of seats begin to rock, never reaching higher than about a 45° angle.  But suddenly the room starts spinning around at the same time as the rocking seats, but in opposite directions or slightly higher or completely upside down.  You are certainly aware that you are not upside down, but you have no idea which way is up, or if you are rocking back or forth, or even how long it will go on for.  It stops as abruptly as it started and you & Nicole rave about how fun such a simple ride was, and again, how Disneyland should copy.  Frankie seems to not be phased at all.

In the meantime, Lexy enjoys a vin brule (like glühwein), and Kirby takes a nap.  When you rejoin them, Lexy and Frankie ride in a pirate ship Ferris wheel, then you and Frankie spin round & round in an airplane that bobs up & down also.  You watch a puppet show about the Three Magi, and understand…that it’s a puppet show about the Three Magi.  The children enjoy it, and Kirby actually watches the show with a hint of a smile.  Italians celebrate the visit from La Befana on Epiphany, and the good witch provides the humor in the show.  You know it must be funny because everyone else is laughing.  Afterward, Nicole and Lexy take a tour around a farm in a tractor driven very seriously by Frankie.  You start to go with everyone to the Spongebob Adventure in 3D, but Nicole’s pregnancy makes her too gentle for such a wild show (think Star Tours but more high-pitched & nasal).

There is a small parade starting just as you file out of the show, and you follow Santa in his sleigh as the park closes.  It is now dark out and the streets are lit up and there is even realistic snow falling around.  Just outside of the park gates there are workers passing around panettone (sweet bread), and some performers sing and dance as a giant Christmas tree lights up in rhythm to the music.  Despite the huge crowd, you are able to easily drive out and back home, stopping for dinner at the Autogrill (that has a dining room which crosses over the whole freeway).  You all return back to the house tired and happy from a perfect day at a fun theme park.

The next couple days are busy in the area – you have 24-hour staff duty, Nicole & Lexy go to the beauty salon and a fun local restaurant and mask-painting in Venice, you get photos taken with the family, and you know that New Year’s Eve is approaching soon.  You have booked a hotel in Rome for a few days, but with Nicole 7 months pregnant, and your boys cranky about walking, and little old Lexy, and a 5-hour drive in your little car, you aren’t sure if you want to go after all.  Not to mention how much you’ve heard it costs to vacation there.  If you keep your plans for visiting Rome, go to Ninth Adventure: Rome.  If you choose to stick around instead of going to Rome after all, continue reading below.

You cancel the hotel and ask online for advice on what to do instead.  Everyone replies to still go to Rome after all.  A friend recommends a different hotel-booking website and you find another for $150 less total.  The family seems up for the challenge and Kirby is all better, so you make new reservations.  Now go to Ninth Adventure: Rome to read all about your incredible New Year’s.

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