Riding a roller coaster for the first time

photo-51I spent the past week — my kids’ spring break — in DisneyWorld. Long time readers will remember that we went there last year as well. 2012 was my maiden voyage. This time, we had our sea legs, though the circumstances were somewhat different. In 2012, the five of us stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and rode the Disney buses and ate the Disney meal plan. In 2013, we stayed in a large rental house with extended family and drove to the parks every day. This year was also much more crowded, because it was lots of people’s spring breaks. I saw signs for rides actually claiming the wait was 210 minutes. Who would do that to themselves?

We did a lot of FastPass-ing instead. This is Disney’s system where you commit to come back to a ride at a certain later time, and thus get to bypass the line. This is critical for the more popular rides. Some of the most popular rides? The roller coasters. I did not go on any last year. I had never been on any before, and I didn’t think it sounded particularly enjoyable to hurtle through the air, possibly upside down, especially if I had to wait in line to do so.

But this year? After two years of Disney, I’ve realized that all rides are short. A few minutes at most. I can deal with almost anything for a few minutes. I took my 5-year-old on the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom and realized it was billed as one of the more adventurous ones. It was really not that intense. So I started to wonder if other rides were doable too.

We were traveling with my almost 10-year-old nephew, who of course wanted to go on the rides 10-year-old boys want to go on. My sister-in-law took him on many, but on Tuesday at Animal Kingdom, my husband was supposed to take him on Expedition Everest between 4:45-5:45, before we were all supposed to go eat at Red Lobster at 6. Then he had a Really Important Work Call come up at 4:30 that went to 5:15. We’d set the ride time at 5:05 to make dinner. So, come 5:05 when he was still on the phone…I took the FastPass and my nephew and…

…I actually kind of enjoyed myself.

It was a sudden decision, so I didn’t have time to freak out about it. The ride was fast and we went hurtling backwards and up through the dark at one point. I realized that one of the things people love about roller coasters is that they give you sensations that you don’t normally experience. There is no other occasion when I would find myself hurtling up and backwards in the dark. So I whooped the whole time and found it over far quicker than I thought it would be. I got off laughing. My nephew was a bit scared, though he will deny that if questioned.

Having conquered Everest, I decided to tackle the Aerosmith roller coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This one goes upside down three times. But the inversions were fast and almost like you were spiraling up into orbit — not terrifying at all. And being in the dark looking at the ride’s version of Los Angeles street signs was a dazzling visual experience that was over far too soon. It didn’t hurt that we were rocking out to Aerosmith during the ride.

I can’t say that I will start seeking out roller coasters on any future trips. But the takeaway was that just because I haven’t tried something before doesn’t mean I won’t like it. I use the same line with my kids and new foods. Why shouldn’t it apply to me too? Life is better lived than avoided. To be sure, I didn’t like skiing all that much. But even if you don’t like something — and I wasn’t that fond of the Mission Space “intense” training I went on with my nephew at Epcot — it’s often over before you know it. Everything, pretty much, is.

Are you the roller coaster type?

That’s me in the back of the blurry photo somewhere in the middle of the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, starring Aerosmith

13 thoughts on “Riding a roller coaster for the first time

  1. Thanks for the reminder, this is something I need to remember to do in my own life. It can be so boring doing the same things all the time just because you “know” you like them!

    1. @Nadia- A roller coaster ride is an easy way to get outside the comfort zone. After all, it’s so quick! Even going to a party you’re not sure you’ll like takes a lot more time, so this was efficient and doable.

  2. Congrats on the roller coaster! We’re roller coaster “people” – me especially – front row, arms up and eyes open. Disney was tame for us…nice place to experiment with roller coasters.

    I hate driving on the highway…that’s my “roller coaster”. 🙂

    1. @Arden – yes, yes, I know that Disney’s roller coasters are not the world’s scariest. But baby steps!

  3. Yes, I am the roller coaster type, and my husband even more, he’s pretty compulsive & would happily ride the same roller coaster over & over & over. Welcome back, I missed you!

  4. They make me motion sick. The motion sickness problem got worse after I had kids, for some reason, and now even the tame ones can leave me queasy for hours… so I don’t ride them anymore.

    But hooray for you for trying something new! I try to push myself to do that from time to time, too, with mixed success.

  5. Eh, not so much. I worked in a brand-new park in college; spent 2 weeks in May driving the old-timey cars, one day spent on the bumper cars (one day is all anyone can take) and rode the new roller coaster, with a “double-helix”, on its first-ever run with riders. Front car. Yikes. Went on Everest last month (chaperoned son’s music department trip) and forgot it goes BACKWARDS and IN THE DARK. Give me Soaring at Disneyworld any day!

  6. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, when I went on my first roller coaster in junior high, I thought I was the very last of my friends to ride roller coasters! So old! 😀

    I wasn’t sure if I liked them at first — I think the first one I rode was over super fast, even for a roller coaster — a very speedy and short ride. Didn’t give me enough time to figure it out. And then the second one I went on had three loops, and because I had heard of someone opening her eyes to find herself upside down, I did what I thought at the time to be most logical — I closed my eyes the entire time! Turns out that isn’t the best way to enjoy a roller coaster, either. ;-P

    Eventually I found out that I generally enjoy roller coasters, though I don’t really like long drops. My favorite is Goliath at Magic Mountain (Six Flags). It starts with one of those long drops, but I tolerate it for the sake of the rest of the ride. It’s relatively long, even though it’s very fast, too. I discovered that I *really* like the speed, especially when it’s so smooth, and there are curves, not just a fast up and down like the first roller coaster I went on. At one point the g-forces are enough to make you almost black out, if you’re sitting in the right area (one of the back cars, IIRC). I know, that doesn’t make it sound fun, but it really, really is. 🙂

    Unfortunately, it would probably make me motion sick now. I think teens and early twenties are the prime times for roller coasters, because on average people tend to get more easily motion sick after that. I think. Not basing that on any hard data.

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