slice of life

When the Ride Stops

Isabelle took this photo of us. Pretty good, right?

Michelle Haseltine came to town to spend the day with my kids and me today. Isabelle met Michelle last year (NOTE: The last time Michelle visited it was after the snowstorm of 2016 that dumped almost three feet of snow on us. Funny how Michelle came to town a few days after this year’s blizzard!) and was excited she was coming back for a visit. As a result, Isabelle created a long list of things she wanted to do with Michelle today. Those things included lunch out, exploring the Hershey Story museum, going to Hersheypark (It doesn’t open until April.), visiting the Hotel Hershey, stopping into Chocolate World, and seeing the butterflies at Hershey Gardens. Michelle was only in town for a few hours so we picked three of the items of Isabelle’s list.

After lunch and a stop into the historic Hotel Hershey, the four of us drove to Chocolate World. If you’ve read this blog before (or are friends with me in real life), then you know Isabelle and I have been to Chocolate World over a hundred times. Seriously. (I took her there so she could go on the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour ride — which is free — after nearly every speech therapy visit for over two years!) Isabelle was excited to go on the ride, for which there was a short line. (She’s only been on it about 10-15 times since they renovated it last year!)

Everything was going along fine on the ride until we reached the packaging room. We were facing the mock Kisses packaging line when the ride came to a complete stop. In the 100+ times I’ve been on this ride, it has never stopped! Something was wrong.

Less than 30 seconds later, a voice came over the loud speaker to inform us the ride would not be continuing. We would be escorted off shortly.

Michelle snapped this one while the ride was still in motion.

Isabelle seemed uneasy. I tried to reassure her that everything was fine, but what did I know? Michelle sensed Isabelle’s unease, and — as the writer she is — grabbed a pen and some paper out of her bag and encouraged Isabelle to draw while we waited. And that’s exactly what Isabelle did.

Five minutes passed. Ari was wiggling in the Ergo carrier and Isabelle was getting restless. Finally, a teenager worker with a large flashlight came to our car and said, “You can follow me.”

And so we did. But not before Isabelle declared, “I still want chocolate.” (Ride-goers always receive a piece of candy at the end of the ride.)

We saw other people who had disembarked from their ride cars and followed the Chocolate World workers, all of whom were carrying search lights, to a back door. They lead us through the bowels of Chocolate World. Isabelle was annoyed she couldn’t finish out the ride like normal, but Michelle encouraged her to think about how we were on an adventure, seeing something most people have never gotten to see before. I, for one, was pretty excited for my new adventure!

“I hope there’s still chocolate at the end,” Isabelle told me, unconvinced that the back rooms were as cool as they were.

We wove our way through a few rooms and past lots of chocolate. Finally, we reached an exit door.

There were two adults standing by the exit door who seemed ethereal. Do you know what they were doing? Handing out small Hershey’s chocolate bars!


37 thoughts on “When the Ride Stops

  1. Wow! I really want to visit Chocolate World now. (I may have to settle for a Hershey’s bar.) It is great fun to turn a disappointment into a new adventure. Hooray that your friend was there to help you make it work.

  2. Glad you are okay, but it sounds like quite an adventure! And I’m happy they still gave you the chocolate (for Isabelle’s sake). Fun to be with Michelle, too!

  3. I guess you now know that Michelle brings adventure with her wherever she goes! How nice that she and Isabelle have a special bond and how great that there was still chocolate at the end!

  4. I always love friend-convergences (and chocolate-tinted Slices) …. but it seems like snow follows Michelle. It must be her powerful creative energy …

  5. How fun to have a visit AND with hundred of rides that is one that will never be forgotten (and hopefully never repeated). It will be interesting to see Isabelle’s reaction the next time you suggest the ride. This story would be interesting to hear from each character’s perspective. Ari’s, Michelle’s, Isabelle’s, the worker in the vest, the person responsible for whatever went awry, etc. It is such a riveting story – with chocolate at the end.

  6. Michelle’s visit was an adventure for all of you. I love that Isabelle’s biggest concern was whether or not she’d still get her piece of chocolate! A ride to remember for sure.

  7. This will certainly be the most memorable ride of all for all of you! “The bowels of Chocolate World”–that phrase made me laugh out loud!

    1. I was thinking of it as the bowels of Chocolate World, but it seemed like a weird phrase to use knowing the other context of the word bowels and that people don’t usually use a word like that in the same sentence as chocolate. And then I decided just to go for it!

  8. Such a metaphor for life. Our routine days can be upset in an instant. Finding those who can help us and keeping the faith that it will end up ok, is essential. And chocolate…always chocolate!

  9. I enjoyed this story, as a fellow lover of all things chocolate! I can imagine Isabelle’s dismay with the change in routine, and her happiness when the all important candy arrived at the end.

  10. I usually don’t read so many posts but when I posted as #46 today, I decided I would do backward and leave comments and that would be 45 of the 60 required for the drawing. YOU are #45!! I love that it involved another slicer who I took time to meet last year because she lives 2 counties away from me in VA. All this reminds me of how grateful I am to have a space to write in and it all started with YOU!! Thanks for an exciting adventure and the reminder that kids need routine and repetition. That ride, broken or not, had to end with a kiss!!
    (now just 15 more comments to go…love all the stories…I think I learn more about writing because of the reading and noticing of craft and commenting that I do!!

  11. Adventure is the theme – snow, chocolate factories, trains and eating chocolate – sounds like fun to me! It would be fun to hear Isabelle’s story about this day.

  12. What a funny experience. Sounds like you still don’t know what happened. This brought back so many memories for me as I grew up going to the Hershey factory tour in Oakdale, California. I believe they stopped giving the tours after 9-11, so I’ll have to find a way to make it out your way someday!

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