Monday, July 22, 2013

A WILD Time At Busch Gardens!

As most of you may know, my son is extra special. He has autism, and that gives him a very unique personality. A personality that in the past has made it very difficult for him in many social situations. He gets easily overwhelmed, which can turn a potentially wonderful experience into a source of stress for him.

It was very sad. Something that should be fun and make him happy, would make him so happy that he got upset. That might not make much sense to those who have never experienced such a thing, but it made it very very hard to celebrate things for him.

For that reason, he has never really had a "proper" birthday celebration. At most we would do presents and cake(which he won't even eat) at home, maybe Grandma and Grandpa would come over, and that is it. No party, no outing, nothing.

I always felt bad that he was missing out on something more grand, but I knew it was best at the time.

Now he is older, and he is learning so much every day. I am constantly amazed by his progress both intellectually and socially. His communication and coping skills have increased tenfold at least. He is doing so good.

He has been excited for his birthday this year, and talking about it for months. Since this will be his first year to actually have any hoopla, I wanted to do something really special. I figured one day is not nearly enough.

I decided to do all of the fun things I can think of for him. I kicked it off with a trip to BUSCH GARDENS Tampa.

Not only had my son never been there and of course our 18 month old daughter never had, but neither had I. My hubby was the only one who had been there before, and it was because he loved it so much that I knew it would be amazing.

He said it was fun, and he was so right(this time, lol). We all had a blast.

It was a very long drive(about 2.5 hours) and Junior kept talking about it non stop. He was so excited. He was not antsy or impatient though, he was just happy to be on the way there. I was so proud of how great he was on the long drive.

By the time we arrived, the first order of business was lunch. My daughter gets so cranky when she is hungry(which is always). She loves to eat. The food was amazing. My son is a VERY picky eater(because of his autism), but I got him chicken strips and fries, and he loved them.

After that we got down to the fun. The park is GORGEOUS! Just upon walking a few steps we began seeing the amazing scenery, like these lovely Butterfly bushes.
We did some exploring and saw some of the incredible animals. My daughter loves animals, and while she was excited to see them, she was upset(and didn't understand why) she could not touch them. Especially the Lioness, I think she thought it was a cat(like we have).
We also saw Zebras, Apes, Giraffes and Hyenas. We saw Alligators
And so many kinds of beautiful birds.
It was so wonderful to experience so many majestic(and fierce) animals. It was cool to have a learning experience along with such a fun time.

And as much as the kids loved seeing the animals, they love the fun(rides and such) even more.

I really love that There is an entire area just for younger kids, that really helps out. My son loved it, and he saw it(Sesame Safari) on the map and asked to go there(we were anyway). He loved everything.

There was a little boat ride(my daughter got mad because she was like an inch too short). There was a Carousel.
My daughter and I were going to ride too, but she got scared and we had to get off. Junior rode it all by himself and he did great. He LOVED it.

There was a little "Ferris Wheel", my son loved that too. I think it was his favorite. He rode it twice. My daughter was too scared for that too, but once again, he did great with Mommy, Daddy and Little Sis watching him.
There was an Elephant Ride, and Even my daughter loved that. She and I rode together, across from Jr. She even loved going way to the top so we could see him across from us. She had a blast.
Another thing that both kiddos loved was the sand "room". They even played together a little without fighting.
And, out of all the super fun activities that they(we all) did, I think the combined favorite was the water zone. Both kiddos had a fabulous time, and even mommy enjoyed cooling off with the kiddos.
Of course, the fun did not stop with the active rides and attractions. There were plenty of other memorable moments. So of the most special being the character experiences. My son was over-the-moon to meet the Sesame Street characters.
My daughter loved seeing the characters, but she is very very shy, so she was a little nervous to actually touch them. They were so sweet though, and tried very hard to make her comfortable enough, crouching down and extending their hands to her. Even the assistants tried to help her come over. And everyone was fine with her galloping around.
Even hubby(as tough as he always tries to be) was excited about the characters.
And there was still more to do. Hubby ventured off to ride the roller coasters, and he loved it. And there was little fun things around every corner. Like the little "Caves". My daughter loved those.
There was lots of yummy things to eat too. My daughters favorite thing to do is eat(really). And even my super picky autistic son, found a delicious treat that he loved.
We played games too, and did a little shopping. We got some rain in the evening, but that could not put a damper on our fun. This was a lifetime of wonderful memories created in one fantastic day. My son says "Busch Gardens" every day now. I know he is dying to go back. I can't blame him, I want to also. I know we will soon, because this was the trip of a lifetime.

If you are in(or come to) the Tampa Florida area, you have to visit Busch Gardens. I guarantee it will be a trip that you never forget.

*I received 2 tickets at no cost to help facilitate a review. All opinions are entirely my own*

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