A Dutch Wonderful Vacation

Tuesday June 29, 2010
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Usually, we do a big backyard party for Sam’s birthday each June.  I tend to go all out (see the Race Car, Frog, and Construction parties for example) and this year, I just wasn’t feeling it.  I didn’t have the energy to do the big birthday ‘do so I decided to make a deal with Sam.  I said, “What if, instead of a big party, we go to Dutch Wonderland instead?”  At first, he wasn’t sure, but once he saw some pictures, he was on board.

So, finally I made good on my promise and we went this past Sunday-Monday.  We left Sunday after church and got up to the Lancaster area around 3pm.

We stayed at the Amish Country Motel, which is part of the Bird-In-Hand properties.

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The motel is very budget —  no frills.  It was clean, but there is nothing special about it — except that we were able to stay in a 2 room suite, which worked out perfect for our family.

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After settling in, we went over to the BIH Family Inn and made use of their pool.  That place is great!  It had a nice outside pool with a beach entry, along with 2 indoor pools and a hot tub.

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After swimming for a bit  we had dinner at the Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant — it is an overpriced tourist stop, but it was decent enough and one of the  few options available on a Sunday evening in Amish Country.

I have to say, it was really interesting being in this area.  While there is plenty of development in and around Lancaster, the Bird-in-Hand area is quaint.  Everything looks like your typical bucolic farming area – regular houses, surrounded by farmland.   But then you pass a buggy.

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And then another and another.  Later, when driving home at night, I noticed many of the homes were lit by candles.   It’s in sharp contrast to the area 5 minutes away.  Once we got on Rte 30, it was bustling with development and enterprise.  It’s really interesting to consider how the two cultures intersect and overlap.  It’s also amazing to consider how simply the Amish live, even in 2010.  No iPhones, WiFi, or any of the electronic nonsense that we consider “essential”.  Like Mike observed, the Amish have been living “green” long before eco-friendly was hip or cool.

After dinner, the plan was to head over the Dutch Wonderland and do the preview deal.  In case you didn’t know – if you arrive at the park within 3 hours of closing, you can pay for a full price ticket for the *next* day and get to enter the park for the remainder of the current day.

By dinnertime, it was clear that Adam wasn’t going to be up for another outing that evening, so we dropped him and Mike at the motel and I took Wendy & Sam over to the park.  We didn’t get there til 7pm (park closes at 8:30) but had a great time checking out as many rides as we could.  There were hardly any lines – it was wonderful to not have to wait to ride.

See the pictures after the jump.

Sunday night fun:

Our version of Sir Patrick & Princess Brooke:

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We stayed til the park closed at 8:30pm, excited to come back and ride more in the morning.

Monday dawned hot and humid. I worried about the forecast of possible thundershowers, but it turned out fine.  Even in the heat, we had a great time.  Before entering the park, we got to meet the “real” Sir Patrick and Princess Brooke.

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At the entrance — they check your bag (mostly for contraband food, I think) and then make you walk through their giftshop before entering the park.  Smart marketing.  Fortunately, our kids didn’t beg for any trinkets (I think they knew better than to ask).

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We headed to the “space” area first — we missed this part the night before.  The kids liked the Space Shuttle (like the Berserker at Kings Dominion).  Wendy’s favorite ride was in this area.  It was called VR Voyager.  It was a space flight simulator and the theme was “Star Warriors”.  Similar to Star Wars, without the licensing.  Her love of Star Wars made this her top pick.

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Adam had a hard time finding stuff he liked, initially.  Many of the rides allow young riders his size to participate, but they weren’t to his liking.  I made the mistake of taking him on the Astroliner, which was very tame, but enclosed you in a dark space and simulated a rocket ship ride.  He was unhappy, until he and Daddy discovered these hand crank Choo Choos.  Daddy was able to walk around and give him a push and he was in heaven.

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We also saw the “big” train pass through, which made us decide it was time for a ride on it.

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After that, we rode the Sky Rider over the park (like a chair lift – I wish I had gotten a pic!) then checked out some rides like Bumper Cars, Panda Party and Duke’s Dozers (below).

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Then a break for lunch.  The Wiggle Racers were fun for both boys.

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While they were riding those, Wendy was flying solo on the park’s other coaster, the Joust.

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Then we caught one of the diving shows at the Aqua Stadium.  The storyline was cute and silly and the diving tricks were quite impressive.

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The highlight was watching one diver dive from the tippiest top of a  high platform – I think someone said it was 80 feet up.

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Afterwards, Wen wanted her pictures with the divers.  Aren’t they cute?

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Then we hit the Turnpike for some old fashioned car driving.

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Of course we had to stop and take a picture on this symbol of Lancaster County.

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Then we decided we were ready for some cooling off in Duke’s Lagoon.  The water area is not quite what I expected.  There is no “swimming” just a “multi-level waterplay platform, [with] kid-sized slides, a variety of spray nozzles, jets, tipping cones, and a large tipping bucket”.   In other words, lots of ways to play and get sprayed, but no lounging in the water, like a lazy river.  This was a little disappointing to Mike & I, but the kids had fun.

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The other neat feature is a giant waterslide, enclosed in tube, that you ride on raft.  Wendy, Sam, Mike & I all had fun on it.

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At this point, it was after 4pm and the meltdowns were starting.  We changed out of our swim clothes and made our way out of the park, stopping a few places along the way.

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Our last stop was for some good ole fashioned Turkey Hill ice cream.  A sweet treat that can’t be beat, especially when siblings share.

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As we drove home, we saw a huge rainbow spanning across the sky.  It was a great reminder of God’s goodness to us and a great way to close out our day.

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So, we truly had a Dutch Wonderful time in Lancaster County and look forward to returning to Dutch Wonderland again someday.

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2 Responses to A Dutch Wonderful Vacation

  1. 1
    Renee says:

    Looks like a great trip!

  2. 2
    Gina says:

    Glad you had fun! We’ve already gone twice this summer, we really like it there.

    You take beautiful photos, by the way 🙂

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