Lauren Hoyt-Williams is a publicist for the Florida parks and mom to Zoe, 2.
As a working mom, the idea of having 45-minutes to dedicate solely to my child is appealing. Add to that the chance to pet exotic animals, watch my two-year-old sing songs in her oh-so-adorable way and then being let loose to play in a theme park. Yeah, we were an easy sell.
Zoe and I attended the first Busch Babies series now offered at Busch Gardens, and it turned out to be an awesome mother-daughter bonding experience.
The new series is designed for ages 2 to 5 by Busch Gardens' education staff. Each series is a 45-minute program over three weeks. You choose a Thursday or Saturday and either a 10:30 or 11:30 a.m. time slot. Then it's 3 weeks of fun.
Our host was Amber, a perfect fit for this younger set. She created an ideal preschool tempo and was bounding with enthusiasm. She revealed three boxes, each containing a different kind of “wrapper,” for everyone to touch. Feathers, fur and scales. The kids compared those textures to their own skin and hair. Warning adults: Do your yoga first adults, because parents and kids alike sit criss-cross applesauce for much of the event.
Then we met Harry the sloth. The docile creature came out hanging on to our other host, Cherish, and was sooo laid back while getting gentle pats from the kids and their parents.
During craft time, the kids began work on an animal book that they will contribute to each week. Our first chapter: Gluing fur (yarn) to the page to depict the sloth's wrapper. Parents and kids also made their own sloth with craft foam, googly eyes and drawn on fur, which they could wear on their arm. Zoe thinks it's jewelry. Fabulous, hairy, googly eyed jewelry!
We returned to the floor for story time, where we heard a tale about a sloth and kids munched on a snack of -- what else -- animal crackers, followed by a song.
What? Forty-five minutes up already?
Not to worry. Our mother-daughter bonding adventure continued with playtime in the park: Driving cars in Sesame Street Safari of Fun, taking a spin on Timbuktu's carousel and counting the elephants.
It's Monday and I'm back at work. She's at daycare. Harry the sloth is probably taking a nap.
All I can think about: Is it Saturday yet?
The cost for the program is $50 and includes the adult/child pair. Admission is not included but is required for park entry. You make reservations at 1-877-BGT-CAMP or visit www.buschgardens.org to learn more about the upcoming series.