Not Wild About It
By Sandy Guy
It was blisteringly hot the day when I took my young son to Wet ’n’ Wild. It was slap-bang in the middle of the school holidays, the carpark was full and crowds of people milled around the entrance at 10am. Smiling adults and excited kids hurtled through the entrance, ready for a fun day slipping and sliding along watery rides like Terror Canyon, Mammoth Falls and Double Screamer.
Once inside, the race was on to find a shady spot. People sped towards the white plastic furniture scattered through the park, dumping eskies onto tables and draping beach towels across sun lounges until, in no time, there wasn’t an unclaimed seat in the place.
Those who had stamped a table or sun lounge as their own took off immediately to wait in half-hour queues to experience the thrills and spills. Unfortunates like my son and I, who hadn’t secured a seat, wandered past empty towel-covered chairs looking for anywhere to park our bones. Finally, hot and bothered and exasperated, I settled into a seat in the shade near the wave pool after folding someone’s bright beach towel across the back of a sun lounge.
About an hour later, an angry woman appeared. “That’s my chair,” she snapped, standing with hands on hips next to the lounge. “I thought it belonged to Wet ’n’ Wild,” I smiled. “But anyway, I’ve really enjoyed sitting on it for the past hour. And if you’re going to use it now then I’ll move somewhere else.” I watched from someone else’s chair as the woman, glaring angrily at me, spread her towel across the length of sun lounge before she took off again towards the rides.
The loveliest, shadiest spot in “Buccaneer Bay” contained ten empty towel-strewn sun lounges. These were fiercely protected by an elderly woman who sat knitting in the cool shadows. As frazzled mums and dads with hot, red-faced babies in strollers tried to find a strip of shade this woman, knitting furiously, kept watch over the little shaded haven, of which she was the sole occupant.
“These chairs are taken,” she snarled at anyone who approached.
“Does Wet ’n’ Wild have any sort of policy about people hogging sun lounges and shady spots they don’t use while other people who’ve paid the same hefty entrance fee have nowhere to sit?” I asked a young staff member, his freckled face turned carrot-red by the sun, as he ambled past.
“Dunno,” he replied.
Nor do I, but my entire day at this theme park was peopled by a cast of boorish characters who all sounded like they’d stepped out of an episode of Seinfeld as they hurled abuse at me for encroaching on their territory. I felt a cool wave of relief when at last it was time to head for the exit.