Amusement Park / Center for Torture by Repeated Death
When I was a younger person in grade 8 and grade 9, the end of the school year trips to Cedar Point were, in a word, enormously fun. (Two words. Whatever.) The roller coasters were indeed thrill rides, and my friends and I were enthusiastic enough about them to wait in line for upward of an hour (more? Can’t remember) at any one ride. Also, I had a decent-sized crush on a girl named Amy, and enjoyed every moment of talking with her for the entire three-hour bus ride home.
Now, for me ninth grade ended in
1983 a few years ago, and I haven’t returned to Cedar Point in the years since then. With my fear of heights – as reasonable and logical a fear as there is, if you ask me – it seems like a good plan to avoid amusement parks in general, roller coasters especially. I’ve been comfortable and happily satisfied with that plan for thirty years. Then came The Ride Home From School That One Day.
My daughters go to a school twenty minutes away, and fortunately one of my older daughter’s friends does as well. Her mother drives all three to school in the morning, while I bring them all back home in the afternoon. It’s a good operation, as it saves both families a trip each day. Well, on the fateful day I mentioned, the other girl mentioned in passing the trip to Cedar Point she and her family make each year in June. My girls’ ears perked up, and listened attentively to their friend as she described the great fun that Cedar Point is. From that day on, most of the conversations in the house included some reference to Cedar Point along with a plea of pleasepleasepleasecanwegotherethisyearplease.
Me: “How’s your geometry homework going, sweetie?”
Audrey: “Great, Daddy. I’m on #17. About Cedar Point…”
Me: “Are you going to get in the shower tonight, or is your plan to wait for next Thursday?”
Anna: “I’m getting the shower! I’m going! I’m going! I must have gotten distracted, thinking about Cedar Point…”
Parental relenting finally happened, and the girls were signed up to go with the school group to Cedar Point. They couldn’t go unsupervised, and I won the lottery of getting the opportunity of going with them.
Remember, there’s at least one good reason for me to not go to this place. But, go I did. My memories of this park are fond ones, with happy days and good friends and all around fun, but my brain is smart enough to recognize the passage of time and the effects of it. On the day of the trip, as we entered the park, my brain kicked into gear and made sure my feet knew to not under any circumstances direct the rest of the body toward any roller coaster entrance gate.
Well, it’s no secret my brain is having issues and is maybe not working with a full deck, so to speak, and my body is like most everyone else, knowing to not listen to much of what my brain says. So I got into the spirit of the trip and the park, and took the plunge into the first roller coaster on the agenda.
I have to say, all things considered, it wasn’t bad. Well, it was bad – terrifyingly bad – but not as bad as I expected. Sure, the coaster moved at what seemed like 400 kilometers/hour and left the tracks at crucial points at least twice, and I’m certain I felt my hair brush against the support structure every turn. But it wasn’t as bad as I expected.
So, I threw caution to the wind a second time, and got on another ride with the rest of the group. Thus began a day-long adventure of following excited children around from roller coaster to roller coaster, skipping a few of the more dastardly insane-looking rides, but agreeing to many of the others. I had more fun than I ever expected, despite the fact that I was inches from death about 53 times throughout the day, if I can use a conservative estimate.
Before you get too impressed with this 44 year-old’s sense of daring and lack of fear, let me now tell about the rides that I wouldn’t go anywhere near. Rides, by the way, that my daughters were all about riding.
- The Millenium Force, a roller coaster that – I kid you not – reaches 93 miles/hour. It starts with the usual five-minute long trek up, up, up, up, with the usual loud mechanical clicks of being lifted to the great heights of the initial hill. Once it reaches the top, an eerie silence comes over the onlookers, as it speeds noiselessly down the other side. The lack of noise is of concern when your brain interprets it as the roller coaster cars having left the roller coaster track. My Audrey loved it.
- The Windseeker is an extreme and ludicrously horrific carousel (merry-go-round?). Apparently it offers a wonderful view of the park and the lake, but that’s only because as it spins it rises – to what looks to a father like 8,500 feet above ground. Looking back, I can’t even believe I let go of my sweet little Anna so she could get in the queue for this thing. She loved it.
- The maXair, not so much a roller coaster as it is an instrument of torture. Picture an enormous pendulum with an equally enormous frisbee affixed at the bottom. By affixed, I mean a totally unverified and highly questionable connection to the pendulum. Anyway, this thing goes back and forth like a pendulum does, higher and higher, all the while spinning. The
victimsriders are secured (again, totally unverified and highly questionable) to the perimeter of the spinning frisbee monster. I hear that at some point, folks on this ride are going 70 miles/hour. Anna loved it.
I wasn’t going anywhere near any of these machines. Nor was I going to even acknowledge the existence of the newest ride, the GateKeeper. The twisted beings who designed and built this one thought it would be fun to include every twist and turn, every rise and fall, every trick of all the other roller coasters together in this one death trap of a ride. I was not the only one who avoided this one.
All that notwithstanding, we all had a good day. It was a perfect day in Sandusky – cool and cloudy and smallest bit rainy in the morning (which kept many folks away, I’m sure, leaving little to no wait at each ride), and sunny and pleasant later in the day. Kids, parents, me – we all enjoyed the visit very much. Not saying I’ll return soon, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
The best part? My daughters escaped all of the rides alive.