Between us, Santa, Grandparents, aunts, and uncles, my kids get so much for Christmas. So much that they don't even remember what all they get; and its overwhelming for Derek and I to find a place for it all. This year we decided to bring it down a notch. We gave the kids each one toy and then the usual underwear and sweater and then we bought a pretty cool family gift - a trip to Wilderness at the Smokies - an indoor water park in Pigeon Forge, TN. We left the day after Christmas and had such a fun time!
Our redheaded daughter got a disposable camera for her birthday thanks to her cool aunt. She was very particular in what she took pictures of and was pretty good at posing us. This picture is one she took first with her camera; then Derek had her take one with our camera.
We also got to see all the awesome Christmas lights in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. This, depicting the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, was our favorite one at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge.
They had a kid section that was basically a playground with water shooting everywhere. There was a huge bucket at the top and about every ten minutes or so it would dump out the water on the people below. A little bell would ding to let you know it was coming and when that happened, most of the kids would run to get in the dump zone. All except my girls - they hated it and would run for cover when they heard the bell. John, on the other hand, LOVED it - you can see him here; he's the only kid facing me so I could get a picture of him.
There was also a body board and surfer wave. This line moved soooo sloooow since that had to explain the proper way to enter the wave to every person every time. Nate, however, thought the wait was worth it and rode it a couple of times.
I read on their website that this thing has 19,000 gallons of water per minute shooting up at you. Some men tried to surf; but I only saw a lifeguard demonstrate it successfully, and it was pretty cool.
All six of the kids favorite thing by far was the wave pool and the most stressful for me. Those waves were pretty brutal and Anna insisted on sitting on the edge of the tubes; which, of course, she would get tipped over. Thankfully, no one drowned while we were there; although Anna came close.
Another favorite was the indoor/outdoor hot tub. It was nice to crawl in when you got a little chilly. See the plastic door thing in the picture below? That leads to outside. I've always seen pictures of hot tubs at ski resorts with snow all around and people sitting in their bathing suits; and always that it was cool. Now I can say I've done it! It was amazing how hot you really are even though it was in the low 30s outside.
Here's a pic of the family outside. I was freezing outside with my pants and sweater on while they were nice and toasty.
Here's a pic to show you how the water slides are situated. You entered the slide from inside the building and then you ended back up inside the building. That orange and white slide is the Storm Chaser. Let me tell you, that thing scared the hoo hoo out of me. Derek and two of the boys rode it and they wanted me to ride it, too. I figured, if my eight year old can handle, so can I. Behind me in the line, this crazy kid kept telling his dad how fast the ride was and there was a hill that was so steep that you fly up out of your float. Then when we got up to the ride; it had thunder noises and lightning flashes (remember it's called the Storm Chaser) and by that time I really had myself worked up. I screamed the entire time - not fun squeals - but horrified I'm about to die screams. In the end, it wasn't bad at all and I think it might have been fun. I will tell you this, though, I was crazy sore the next day from holding on for my life.
It was a great trip and the kids loved it. They want to go back in the summer because there are more slides and a lazy river outside. Anna wants to wait until she is two inches taller so she can ride the slides.