Hi Evie fans!
Our first post-pandemic trip was to the Storyland amusement park in Glen, New Hampshire! Evie did well with the 2.5 hour drive--there was a lot of sing-shouting to Laurie Berkner songs on the way there.
About halfway to New Hampshire, I had the sickening feeling of realizing that I had forgotten all of Evie's carefully calculated and labeled blended food. :( Mom of the year right here! Thankfully, she isn't on formula anymore, and there was a super Walmart in North Conway, so we made a stop to buy a hand blender and some prepared foods for me to blend!
We stayed the night in Comfort Inn at North Conway. It was packed full of families, and had a mini-golf adventure right next to the hotel. As soon as we settled in, I painstakingly microwaved a turkey dinner in the kitchenette, threw in some heavy cream, spinach, and cranberry sauce, and blended it all in a plastic Rubbermaid bowl. Thankfully, Evie agreed to eat this as her lunch and dinner for the next two days! Breakfast was a snack-size apple pie blended with heavy cream, applesauce, and Noosa yogurt. It did the job, but I think she was glad to go back to blended pancakes at home. If you're a blended food mom like me, be sure to bring a travel portion of dish soap and a travel brush with you to clean your child's dishes in the kitchenette sink. We have a nice one from Oxo that I also forgot to bring!
We pre-purchased our tickets to Storyland (this is a MUST during post-COVID craziness), and we arrived about 45 minutes after the 9:30 am opening. There are handicapped spaces right near the entrance, but we snagged the last one. The line wrapped around the parking lot, but it moved quickly and we were in within 10-15 minutes. Evie hid her face while we were in line, but she did ok.
Our first stop was Guest Services to request a Medical Access Pass (MAP). I told the Guest Services rep that my daughter had sensory needs and she immediately took out a paper pass that had Evie's name, age, and color of her clothing on it. I suspect that we could have asked immediately to enter Guest Services instead of standing in line to enter, but it turned out ok.
Adults have warned us about the tea cup ride, so we stayed away from that one! The swan boats are not running this year, so we went to the Buccaneer Pirate Ship play area.
OUR FAVORITE PLAYGROUND
The Pirate-themed playground was our favorite, since there was a pirate ship slide, some cannons to squirt water with, and a pretend ship to climb. Evie had just filmed a Sea Shanty with Mommy, so she has been really into pirates!
We used our M.A.P. to skip the line at the roller coaster, and the wait was much shorter through the exit gate. Evie and Daddy sat in the front seat, and Mommy sat behind them so I could scream! The ride was pretty short, but enough of a jarring and thrilling experience that Evie needed a nap afterwards. She didn't seem to love or hate the roller coaster ride, but it seemed like it was definitely a stimulating experience for her.
BRING YOUR LUNCH, OR YOU WILL BE SAD!
Having been warned by our local Down Syndrome community to pack a lunch, we packed some $5 wings, fruit salad, chips, and drink in thermal bag. We lunched away as we watched people stand in long lines to buy their food, while their children cried that they were hungry. Thanks for the tip, friends!
On the sensory tips brochure from Storyland, they list the picnic tables behind Pablano Cantina as a quiet place to eat. While it is shady and a little removed from the crowds, it is not quiet, because you can hear the announcer on the carousel ask everyone to yell "Giddyup" every few minutes. They also list a Calming Room, which was essentially a room with four walls and some seating and air conditioning. We didn't need to use this, but glad to know it was there. There is a storage area for coolers as well, but our stroller had everything we needed. Something I greatly wished was that Storyland could have larger diaper changing tables, and not just in baby areas. One day, Evie will be too tall for the baby changing tables, and we would have a hard time finding a private and comfortable place to change her, if she is not yet fully potty-trained. But I hope she will be next time we go!
Afterwards, we also rested at the World Pavilion while Evie took an almost two hour nap in her stroller! The indoor food places like Food Fair were still closed, so the table area outside easily had available seating. We enjoyed watching the Egyptian-themed splash battle, where kids and adults rode in Egyptian ships and squirted water at each other. The Hawaiian ice stand was a welcome treat when it got warmer.
Evie didn't seem excited about the Flying Fish or Turtle Twirl, but she seemed to tolerate the Train ride around the park. This is a good way to get to other parts of the park, or just to get an overview of what is available.
Right next to the Oceans of Fun Train stop is an ocean play area. It's a great place to cool off too. We skipped the fast Bamboo Chutes and the Raft Ride--those seemed more like big kid rides. The antique cars would have been fun, but Evie just wanted to go back to the Grandfather Tree play area, so we enjoyed the playground one more time, while Daddy stood line to buy Mommy some fried dough (highly recommend!).
Overall, we spent 6 hours there, and it was such a fun day! For a kid who doesn't like loud noises or crowds of people, Evie did great. And do you know what my little stinker asked me later that evening? "Mama, want to go to park today." My response? "Evie, you went to about FIVE playgrounds today!" And then I went to go rest my tired feet.
Next year, we may consider Santa's Village, which is nearby and supposed to be lots of fun too!
Here's a video of our time at Storyland! Please Like and Subscribe to our Youtube channel "Evie the Extraordinary" so that we can continue to increase representation of kids with Down Syndrome on kids' media. We would appreciate your sharing and spreading the word!