Operation Family Fun

When Princesses attack, things can get ugly fast.

Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

Having children is like riding on a roller coaster; life goes up and down, up and down, and having young children is like riding on that roller coaster blindfolded. Having a 2-year old is like doing all of this while trying to text and being overdosed on Novocaine.

Thank goodness there's Story Land.

For those of you not "in the know" about this magical place, it's OK. I didn't know (or remember) that it existed either till this summer.

"You don't mess with a 4-year-old princess fanatic who uses Old English words like 'must.'"

Story Land, located in scenic Glen, NH (a place so remote the official directions on the website say not to trust or even consult your GPS when driving there), is like Disney Land's baby cousin, everything is just smaller. (One princess instead of 10, one castle instead of five and the hamburgers are only eight dollars, not 15.)

Its allure was not lost on my 4-year-old daughter, who upon picking up and pouring over a brochure for this exotic destination declared that "we must go here."

You don't mess with a 4-year-old princess fanatic who uses Old English words like "must."

She brought out the brochure every morning at breakfast (complete with a highlighted plan of attack on the map portion of the pamphlet) and put on a PR campaign worthy of the television show "Mad Men." (I had to ask myself where the easel and slide projector had come from.)

Speaking of television, a commercial cemented her "pro-Story Land" position, and one fine Friday morning our family of four traversed the Kancamagus Highway (a Native American name meaning "your transmission will drop out here") up north to this mythical destination.

At the end of that scenic route, which incidentally every Hamper I have met pronounces "Kancamangus" (note the extra "N"), is the quaint town of North Conway. This town is known far and wide for its breathtaking scenery, moose sightings and factory outlet stores. As we drove I marveled that hundreds of years ago settlers must have bushwhacked their way through the White Mountains with their wagons in tow, and upon arriving in the North Conway Valley declared "this spot needs an Old Navy."

Story Land certainly lived up to my daughter's expectations, and in our first five minutes through the gate I was convinced I was going to need a defibrillator because she was near cardiac arrest every time we turned a corner. ("Dad, it's the old lady in the shoe! Dad, swan boats! DAD! CINDERELLA!")

The festive mood was not altered by the 90-degree heat or the "end of the world" rainstorm that arrived just after an ice cream break in the afternoon. In fact, nothing short of an outbreak of the bubonic plague could have taken my girls out of the fairy tale coma that they were in, and at the risk of using the word too much, it was a bit magical to see their faces light up constantly.

We stayed till closing time (when the park plays a bright, chipper "please, please leave" song over the loudspeakers), and as we were carrying our vegetative children to the car I noted that there was still a long way to go till we got home, and I reflected on just how tired I was, and how hard life can be at times.

And then I realized, "Wait, I'm at Story Land, what am I feeling down for?"

Thank goodness for Story Land. NH


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