It was a cool and overcast morning…

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when Oceans of Fun opened for the season today.

Since we became season passholders to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun back in 2001, we have attempted to make the opening day, before opening, every year. We have managed to miss a number of the Worlds of Fun opening days, but for Oceans of Fun we have always made the day, and usually at opening.

This year we made it before opening. As season passholders, we were let in early. We went through the gate into the main square, and then were let through the security tape up to the Surf City Wave Pool. We selected a chair to put our stuff down on, and then decided to go exploring to see what the changes and updates for the year. We knew the pools weren’t open yet, so we just wanted to explore.

But they told us we couldn’t go anywhere. Which didn’t make any sense. If we weren’t allowed to go anywhere, why bother even letting us past the tape. We talked to the other family that had been led past the tape and agreed it was stupid.

I was leading the kids back down to the central square — since we could see more of what we wanted to explore from there when they finally told us we could move. So we started walking along the path that led along the Caribbean Cooler toward Coconut Cove. As we went that way a manager from the staff passed us going the other way.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“Okay,” I replied, waggling my hands as I spoke. As I continued walking I turned to Nathan I said, “I should have said ‘but a bit disgruntled’. If I’d been fine I would have said fine, but as it is I am just okay.”

So we wandered down to Coconut Cove and spotted the new Splash Island! play area. We could see right away it would be fun — but also for younger kids than mine.

Located on the same side of the cove as Buccaneer Bay, Splash Island occupies the space where the launching area for the kayaks used to be, built up to the level of the Cove and then pushed slightly out into the lagoon.

Because of the new Splash Island, they moved the launch area further down the lagoon, creating a trail that follows the curve of the hill below the volleyball courts. Along the trail, we came to launch bays for the new swan paddle boats, followed by the launch beach for the kayaks.

We observed that the kayaks were on the annex part of the lagoon that in previous years was sectioned off from the rest of the lagoon. Now the lagoon was one, and we can boat on all of it.

We walked down to the kayaks, and then came back to try the swan boats. They looked elegant and inviting. And we would be the first people to try them. Each boat could seat two, and there were three of us. Carly and I took out one paddleboat, and Nathan took out another.

The knot securing my paddleboat was a little bit tight and took the staff member some figuring out to get it undone. Then Carly and I backed it out of the dock. It seemed very heavy and sluggish. But we decided to turn it toward the far end of the lagoon and make a full lap.

That idea lasted about 60 seconds before we changed our mind and decided to turn it around and do a lap around the small island in the lagoon. As we did so we saw that Nathan backed out of his dock, did a 360 and then brought it back in. Realizing how hard it was for Carly and I to paddle our boat, I decided he had made the smart choice.

My previous experiences with paddleboats expected it to be a little rough getting momentum going, and then being able to set a steady pace. But with these swans it was hard the whole time. We could never get to that smooth momentum moment. I also kept on forgetting which way to move the tiller to turn the boat the way I wanted it to go, and when I did, it always oversteered, no matter how little I tried to move it.

That said, I managed to bring the boat back into dock gently and right on course.

After the staff member moored the boat and we got out, we took off our life vests and took a walking tour of Splash Island, walking around the lagoon side. That is where we noticed the splash bucket that is part of Splash Island — sort of a miniature version of the bucket that dumps water at Paradise Falls.

When we walked past Splash Island we saw a circle of staff that included someone holding a big pair of stylized scissors. She asked us if we enjoyed the paddle boats. I told Rachel (I think I am remembering her name correctly) that they are very elegant but very heavy and hard to steer. We then had a nice discussion about the reason for her scissors — the ribbon cutting ceremony they had just had for the opening of Splash Island.

Rachel sort of apologized for the cool weather at the opening and asked if we were season passholders. When we confirm we were, she said she was sure we’d get plenty of good weather to enjoy the park later in the year.

We continued on up the hill where another couple of staff asked us about the boats. When I mentioned how hard to paddle they were, the one offered the idea that they were new, and the works might need a little loosening through use.  I averred that I hoped that was the case.

Having completed our tour, we went to Hurricane Falls to start our fun section of the day. We weren’t the first down, but there wasn’t any line. When we got to the top, we had to wait a moment for the tube to come up the ramp, and then the three of us loaded and were started down the slide.  I don’t think I have had quite so dynamic a ride on Hurricane Falls before. It seemed like we got splashed by waves around every corner as we went down, until I at least was soaked before I hit the bottom.  To crown the ride, for the first time in a long time I was the one facing backwards when we hit the pool at the bottom, to get the full force of the wave that happens when you hit.

Following a pattern we have used in the past, we exited Hurricane Falls and entered the Caribbean Cooler by the adjacent entrance. To test my endurance for the swimming section of my upcoming triathlon I swam around the cooler three times without stopping or touching the bottom.  I could do that because no one else was in the cooler. The water in the cooler is usually cooler than the rest of the pools at Oceans of Fun, and today my joke was to call it the Caribbean Chiller.

After my three laps we went down to Coconut Cove, where Nathan and I tried the obstacle course, and then all three of us used the Aruba Tuba a few times. From there we headed on up to the wave pool level, where we tried the tube slides, and then rode the waves before discussing where we should have lunch.

For most of the time we were there, all the food places were closed, but we could see them finally starting to open about the time we headed up to the wave pool. Since we have the All Season Dining Plan, we had our choice of the Calypso Cafe, Beach Bites, Auntie Anne’s the Food Truck and Chickie’s and Pete’s. Nathan and I opted for Chickie’s and Pete’s while Carly wanted Calypso Cafe. We decided to order from our place of choice, and then meet at Chickie’s and Pete’s to eat together.

I think we were the first or second people ordering at each station. And despite the lack of patrons, the service was slow for the food coming out.  They were obviously still setting things up. Though at least they hadn’t made the mistake we saw at World’s of Fun on Friday where they had almost no places open and long lines of people wanting to order for lunch. That said, the food itself was superb and tasty.

The air seemed still while we ate, until I went and got some napkins which I placed in the middle of the table for us. Then we seemed to keep getting breezes that required us to hold them down and made it seem chilly.

All that I described took about two hours. For after we finished eating we walked back to the car. The wind seemed to stop once we finished eating, and it was warmer outside the seating area than in it. Though it was overcast, when I came to the metal railings by the entry walkway, I could feel the heat coming from them. Despite the clouds sunlight was reaching the railings and they were absorbing its heat.  It gave evidence to the way you can get sunburned on a cloudy day.

We also had left the windows up on the car when we got out, and it was quite warm — which was a pleasant feeling after the depth of cool we had received from swimming in the water.

So we left the park, having fun in the overcast, and avoiding sunburns from our first day of water play for the season.

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