Friday, June 24, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

"Illusions and delusions can wear the mask of true inspiration, so thread your way among them to the truth and don't fall for the first fantasy that comes to mind. Possibilities may evaporate as quickly as they appear, and that is for the best -- better to let them go than seize on what will not support you." 

--From my horoscope May 2010 

Tuesday after school let out for the summer I took the kids to the Great Wolf Lodge for a "school's out!" celebration. If you are a regular reader you know that we discovered earlier this year that we are NOT a Disney family, but I wasn't sure what kind of family we were until now. 

Our experience at Great Wolf Lodge could not have been more different than our Disney debacle. We arrived at Great Wolf just before 6:00 pm. There was no line at the check out desk and we were helped right away.

"Welcome back! I can see you've stayed with us before," the lovely young woman behind the desk said. "To thank you for coming back, we'd like to offer you a complementary room upgrade for your stay with us today." 

"Well, okay, thanks," I replied.

"And because you have been such good customers, you will also receive gold VIP wristbands in addition to your regular wrist bands."

"Gee, thanks," I said again, a bit taken aback that this was going so well. 

We checked into our room and headed for the waterpark. Because it was right around dinner time it wasn't crowded at all and we could do whatever we wanted without much of a wait. 

As per usual, the kids headed straight for the wave pool. My husband and I found lounge chairs front and center and held hands as we watched the kids run around, splashing and laughing in the waves. Now THIS is the life, I thought to myself. 

After awhile our younger son came to get us, "Mom! Dad! Come in!" So we did. And that's when I had the following exchange:

My younger son: "I'm pumped!"

Me: "What do you mean?"

My younger son: "You know, my energy's out!"

Great Wolf Lodge is our kind of place. My younger son smiles bigger and more than usual, my older son doesn't stop moving, and I just feel content. My husband is still a bit skeptical that any manufactured place can be that great, but luckily, he loves making all of us happy so he is willing to come along. 

Because the thing is, I know that Great Wolf Lodge is no less an illusion than Disneyland, but it's an illusion that works for us. Maybe it's the water. 

We have always been a water family. My husband loves to swim in open water; I was on the swim team in high school. When my older son was a baby, one of the few times he wasn't crying was when he was in the water. My younger son can often outlast me for "longest and hottest shower." We just love the water and there is plenty of it to be had at GWL.

One of the things I love about it is that every attraction is a metaphor for life. 

In the wave pool things are sometimes calm, but then all of a sudden, without warning, you are bashed around and battered by the waves, bumping into other people, adrift in a sea of humanity. Kind of like life. 

At the water fort you can be minding your own business, standing in line for the slide or playing in a fountain, when suddenly a 1000 gallon bucket dumps water all over on you. Kind of like life. 

Each of the 5 water slides has different twists and turns, some are fast, some slower, but even when you've been on them a hundred times, each twist and turn is something of a surprise. Kind of like life. 

The rest of our visit went pretty much the way it started. By the time we were finished in the waterpark, everyone else was done with dinner and we were seated and served right away. After dinner we snuggled up in our plush and comfy King-sized bed and watched a great movie (Rango) The kids hit the jackpot in the arcade the next day. 

I never did figure out the benefit of having the gold VIP wristband, but I just liked knowing it was there in case we needed it.

Vacations, like the Great Wolf Lodge, are a metaphor for life: it's all an illusion to some degree, you just have to find the illusion that works for you. And THAT really can be "the happiest place on earth."

[NB. I recently started a new blog with my sister called Dear Soul Sisters. Check it out and send us YOUR questions and quandries about life and spirituality.]

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