BUSCH GARDENS: Day Two – And we are a little bit taller now…

So day two is here, and we decided to be a little bit different. Day one we were still tired and exhausted from out overnight drive, only having managed about 4-5 hours of sleep before we made it to the park, but Day Two we all had a good nights sleep. The NinjaBaby in fact had managed a good 12 hours of solid sleep.

So when we got up to ticket check and bag check, I mentioned that my son was part of the Sesame Special Access Program and wondered if there was something similar here at Busch Gardens. I was told there was, by another employee (the person I asked did not know) and directed to Guest Services just inside the park. So that’s where we started out.

After a very short wait (with Sesame being a Certified Autism Friendly park, the Special Access/Disability lines can get quite long), we spoke to a representative, that was able to pull up the NinjaBaby’s pass information and his disability info from a centralized system. She printed out a personalized ride list for him, and it was also showing the same height as the day before. So our next step was over to get measured.

Now as I mentioned yesterday, make sure your little ninja wears shoes for at least the measuring process. The ride engineers are more than smart enough to expect height to be measured in standard sole shoes, and not expect everyone barefoot. So thin-sole shoes will actually put shorter children at a disadvantage. Again, this is NOT cheating. So after our Ninja Baby measured in at over 42 inches, we went back to guest services, and had his ride list modified, as well as the record in the disability system. This now means that we don’t need to do measuring from this point forward, as our disability sheet shows the proper height.

So we started in England again, but I gave you all those pictures. Despite really wanting to have “Fish and Chips” (the only “english” themed food on the menu it seemed like), we never did much at all in England other than sit and rest. I will note for those Pin Trading Fans out there, that Sesame and Busch Gardens now have official Pin Trading kiosks and protocol. The main pin-trading outlet seems to be in England.

Clydesdale – Busch Gardens — Williamsburg, VA

Once we walked through England, we made our way to Scotland and saw the Clydesdale’s. We didn’t do a picture with the Clydesdale’s like would be available later in the day, but I did go and find one in the paddock and took his picture. This made me really nostalgic, because as a child, my uncle Clyde used to love the Clydesdale’s. So did my step dad. We used to always look for them in parades and at the California State Fair when growing up. I am looking to pass this love for this majestic animal down to our NinjaBaby.

Once we made it through Scotland, we headed to Ireland where because our Ninja was 42 inches now, we could ride “Battle for Eire”.

The line queue feels like it leads you inside the basement of a castle. You wind your way through, see a couple videos about the magic helmets and other realm viewers that will let you see the faries. I selected one for myself and one for the NinjaBaby and proceeded to place them on our heads and securing them properly.

After a bit of queueing and more ride videos we were ushered into a room, where the wall came to life, and a fairy told us the story of the heart of Eire, and the fight to protect it.

Our next room was one where we queued for the ride itself on our “dots” and waited for doors to open, we found out seats in the motion simulator and put on our 3D VR glasses and we were off.

Now this is where I should stop for a moment. I went into this, originally thinking it would be more like Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or the Justice League Battle for Metropolis at Six Flags Great Adventure, but instead the closest experience I can link it to, would be Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But instead of a giant immersive ride screen, you are wearing 3D VR goggles.

The story was great, and the NinjaBaby loved it, but while I enjoyed the ride, I have been prone to motion sickness as a child, and that ride made me so nauseous that it took more than the rest of the day to fully recover. It didn’t help that at the end of our day I decided to ride the Turkish Delight with the NinjaBaby, but that’s a story for the end of this post.

As soon as we were done with the Battle for Eire the NinjaBaby declared we had saved the Heart of Eire and that we needed to do it again. I on the other hand, decided we needed to rest, find A and do something else. So as we walked out to find A, we were greeted with a face-painting booth, to which the NinjaBaby asks “Can I get my face painted?”. Now you see, we have hired face painters for his birthday in the past, and tried to get more than the most basic designs done for him before, and he’s never really cared for it. But today, he wanted a green snake, so I said “yes!”. This was the first of a few big growth moments for our little ninja on this trip, and I wanted to do my best to allow him to grow.

As we walked through Ireland we got to see some Eagles and Wolves. Busch Gardens seems to be very into their mission of Conservation and protection. They spoke of how their Eagles were injured and couldn’t fly, and were being protected and cared for. We also experienced that Busch will fill any re-usable water bottle for only $1.99 and their season re-usable water-bottles in the park, come with a free day of refills, and then only $0.99 refills after the first 24 hours.

We opted for One of the in park water-bottles, and two of the style that we would be more likely to use outside of any parks to add to our ever growing collection of park bottles. Our hope was to use them many many times and not send them to a landfill anytime soon.

Busch Gardens Water-Bottles

After continuing on our path, we made it to France where we enjoyed the sights of Griffon and made our way to New France where we decided that once we stopped to eat, Trappers Smokehouse was where we wanted to go. . .

Griffon – Busch Gardens — Williamsburg, VA

So on our journey to find “more rides” for the NinjaBaby we decided to head back to Germany, and the nearby “Land of the Dragons”

Land of the Dragons – Busch Gardens — Williamsburg, VA

Now this entire land is designated as a “Kidsiderate” zone meaning almost everything was designed with kids in mind. There are stairs to climes, slides to slide, a splash park, rope bridges to cross, and the kids just have a blast. We let our little ninja expand on his range and let him go on his own, with the knowledge that we would be watching him, and he checked in at every milestone. Every new step he took he would make sure we saw (not that my eyes were off him), and we let him climb and have fun. When he fell through the big net to the safety net (just one leg, foot) and lost his shoe, I watched him reach down, and grab it, make his way to the other side, and then, he ran off while holding his shoe, and kept playing. I did at that point make it up one of the staircase climbs and met him at a net and had him put his shoe back on (I was a distance away) and he did it all by himself. But he fought his own battle and won. I was so proud of this moment.

It was after this wondrous moment when he made his next big growth step. You see our NinjaBaby does not like water super much. That’s not entirely true. He likes the pool, and even the bath as long as his face does not get wet. This means that washing his hair usually causes a great upset, and going to the water-park doesn’t go far beyond the smallest of kiddie pools. But on this day, he came to us and said “I want to go play over there” and pointed at the little dragon splash park. He proceeded to take off his shoes and socks and played in the splash park for more than 30 mins. He had a blast, and while his snake took a hit for it, he even let his face get wet. And while I did have to remind him at least once to not climb on the fountains, he was by far one of the least guilty offenders.

After our time in the Land of the Dragons, we made our way back to New France and The Trappers Smokehouse where A and I shared a brisket platter for lunch that was delicious and the NinjaBaby had a hot dog, and a cupcake. Funny story, our little ninja wanted to manage the tray as we went down the serving line, and he manage to accidentally “launch” his cupcake quite spectacularly in an arc and onto the floor. It landed frosting down of course. When we picked it up, and the Ninja was screaming and crying, an employee behind the counter took it, and insisted on getting him a new one, and that quickly calmed him down. This is definitely the kind of customer service we have come to love at Disney, and we are starting to see at Six Flags Great Adventure, and it was definitely wonderful to find at Busch Gardens.

After lunch it was time for me to grab a quick ride on the log flume (Ninja didn’t want to go, and was too cranky to allow for Amy and I to rider-swap it. Not that we know if Rider-Swap is a thing at Busch Gardens, we need to look into that). After I got back from the Log Flume (sorry, I didn’t spend $5 on my single ride photo) A and the Ninja went on Le Catapult in New France.

After that, I realized I had left my camera “on” for a bit and I had decided to not bring my camera bag into the park. I was carrying my Sony A77ii with my Tokina AT-X 80-200mm F2.8 and a lens-case with my 18-50mm SAL lens but no camera bag. So I needed to go back to the front of the park, and into the preferred parking area to get a battery for my camera.

Knowing that the day was wearing on, and that our Little Ninja would be less than happy with going all the way back to the start, and not wanting to put A through all the extra walking, I deposited them in the Sky-Ride line in France, and headed to get my battery.

Now A tells me that while the Sky-Ride completes a Triangle between France, Germany and England you generally need to leave the gondola to and re-queue to ride around, however because of A’s mobility issues, and NinjaBaby’s disability pass, they were able to ride the full circuit without getting out.

When I met them back outside the station in France, we decided to head back to Ireland, and found ourselves passing the Pet Shenanigans theater just before the show was due to start. So we grabbed a seat at the very top (NinjaBaby assured us this was the very best possible spot) and I setup the camera for some pictures.

Now I wish I had more pictures come out during this show, but they asked for no flash photography, and while my lens was fast, either it, or I just wasn’t fast enough. These pets seemed to go faster than pro soccer players. Also I probably could have upped my ISO to get more pictures to turn out in the light available. I will definitely remember this for next time.

These “pets” (I know it’s a thing in some places, but I still don’t consider pigs a pet) were truly amazing in some of their skills. The trainers told a story of how they were all adopted from shelters and trained using positive reinforcement. They said that if a dog failed to do a trick, they just went on with the show and that was apparent when one of the dogs didn’t want to do their part. There was no shaming of the dogs used, and no yelling. It was quite nice to see.

Now that we were back in Ireland, we went back to the face-paint kiosk to get the Ninja’s Snake fixed, and he decided he wanted a full face lion this time. Since this was a BIG step, of a full face paint, I was alright with it, and said O.K.. The woman who did the painting was wonderful with him at instructing him how to close his eyes so she could even paint his eyelids, and the compliments we got the rest of the day in the park, and even at a few places on the way home show just as much as these pictures, how well she did.

From there we decided to grab the train in Scotland and ride around the park. When we got back to Scotland the decision was made that I would jump off there, and head to Italy and meet A and the NinjaBaby there. I managed to keep ahead of the train, and snap a picture of A and Ninja riding along. We saw some awesome sights on the train, both of the park and some back-stage elements, and our little Ninja made some friends while we were waiting at the train station.

After we all arrived in Festa Italia, our little ninja wanted immediately to go on the Elephant Run ride again, and as I mentioned in the last blog, he met a new friend. After that was a ride with the Ninja and I on the Turkish Delight (think Teacups) that left me feeling just as nauseous as right after the Battle of Eire.

Turkish Delight – Busch Gardens — Williamsburg, VA

At this point I want to take a moment to point something out. While it really did take me the entire day, most the evening, and even part of the next day to completely ditch my nausea, I am willing to give Battle for Eire a 2nd shot. I have a feeling that my VR (virtual reality) headset was not completely clean, and thereby caused a little blur on one side, which greatly contributed to my nausea. While I did take the ride’s advice and close my eyes, I should have kept them closed for longer, or possibly the entire ride. Our little ninja loved it and wanted to go a 2nd time, even tho his feet couldn’t feel the floor and therefore he felt like he was flying the whole time. The only part of that ride he did not like, was that he couldn’t see me, not even in a digital avatar form, but I made sure to hold his hand the whole time, and that seemed to do the trick. That seems to be the one way that the giant immersion screen like Soarin’ and Flight of Passage has at Disney, you can still see your friends around you, and don’t feel quite so isolated.

After the Turkish Delight, and my needing to sit for a bit, we did some play in the arcade nearby, A and NinjaBaby got some ice cream, and we noticed the weather was threatening to turn nasty, so we decided to make our way out of the park. As we were walking we were greeted with an announcement that we had made it to 20 minutes before close, and that we needed to start making our way towards the park entrance.

As to the ice cream, I will say this. When I had some, it was Vanilla Soft Serve with Rainbow Sprinkles, it felt overly-sugary. It was served in a Waffle Cone for about $6-7 and instead of a light sprinkling of sprinkles (or Jimmie’s as A would call them) they thoroughly coated the outside. This was just sugar-overload for me, and too much, but I can definitely appreciate that they wanted to make sure you didn’t feel shorted.

So over-all our two days were great, and we plan to make more trips to Busch Gardens in the future. As we are working on plans for our next big group trip to Disney, we are thinking about adding days for A, Ninja and I to make it to Busch Gardens and Sea World in Florida too since we will bee keeping our Sesame Passes.

So for now I will sign off, and remind you to stay tuned for more info on the NinjaBaby, and our theme park adventures. Six Flags Great Adventure’s “season opener” as well as Sesame’s are just around the corner, and that brings the ability to do water rides and more.

Plus it’s time to fight for NinjaBaby as he enters Kindergarten, and the school district is facing big budget cuts that could affect our fight as we go forward.



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