I can’t believe I waited until I was 27 to ride my first roller coaster ever.
Yup, I said it.
I did not ride my first roller coaster until I was 27.
People look at me like I am from Pluto when I say that out loud. It’s as if I’m saying I don’t like Kennywood, or even that I don’t go there that often, because it scares the bejesus out of me. I was scared to death to go on a roller coaster, but I did it. And I’m glad that I did it. I guess it was always something in the back of my mind I’ve wanted to do, but I was just too petrified to go through with it.
You know how, the longer you wait to do something, like learn to drive a car, or kill a spider, the more terrifying it becomes. That’s how I was with roller coasters. The only one I had been on before my adventure at Kennywood was this roller coaster that I would liken more to a Ferris wheel, that went around what used to be called Camp Snoopy in Bloomington, Minnesota in the Mall of America (which is now called Nickelodeon Universe). I was later told by some that this shouldn’t even be considered a roller coaster because it goes so slowly. This ride rolls turtle-like around the park, without any loop-do-loos, twists, upside down curves, or anything that could be considered scary. It slides around and makes some kind of rapid turns, but that’s the extent of the thrill you get from this particular ride. That was my first official roller coaster…or so I thought.
Let me tell you a little about my childhood experiences, though. My family and I (mostly on my Dad’s side) would go to an amusement park called Valleyfair, in Minnesota where I grew up, and year after year I would get picked on for not participating in rides that didn’t spin, which were the only rides I wouldn’t get sick just thinking about. I would get so scared to go on roller coasters that I would physically vomit when I was in line. I got myself so riled up that I didn’t even have to step foot on the ride in order to get outrageously sick for what appeared to be no reason. Everyone would drag me along to the amusement parks anyways, calling me a scared-y cat, and other similar names, for more than a few years. Eventually, they gave up on trying to get me to actually ride roller coasters.
That is, until I started admitting this fact to people again, when I got older and was more confident in myself. I’d gotten used to being called a baby and other childish names, so I didn’t really care much about it at that point…until I admitted it to someone very close to me; in fact, I call him my significant other.
He told me if I didn’t ride a rollercoaster in the next year that he would break up with me, and I actually kind of believed him.
A couple of months later, we were off to Kennywood, Pittsburgh’s version of an amusement park. Sure, it’s no Disneyland, but it was featured in the movie Adventureland. And it does have some pretty killer roller coasters. Take the Thunderbolt, for example, which weighs in at 3,250 feet and has a 90 foot maximum drop. Or the Phantom’s Revenge, which was built in 2001 and goes 85 miles an hour at its maximum speed. We decided on the aforementioned roller coasters, along with the Skyrocket. That one, in my opinion, was the scariest. With its surprising twists and curves and topsy-turvy spins, it scared the crap out of me. I was observed to have screamed before the drops multiple times. The anticipation is what really gets me, creeping up the extremely steep hills after a corkscrew turn or two. The worst part of it all is the cranking noise these rides make when you are crawling the huge slopes. It just makes you more aware of the fact that you are going to be falling from 0–50 miles an hour in 3 seconds flat. In a split second, it was all over, though.
And by the end of the day, I was actually enjoying the thrill of the ride, which I’ve never been accustomed to doing in this life. Thrills scare me; they chill me to the bone. For example, I tried to go to Fright Nights at this very same amusement park a number of years ago, and almost had a heart attack on multiple occasions. I couldn’t get away from the Fright Night workers, who scared me to my core. They could smell my fear. In fact, they were running after me with chainsaws and other medieval tools all night long. And I didn’t enjoy that at all. Things that scare me normally don’t electrify me. They just make me go running and screaming, literally, from anything that could cause these reactions.
But, after all of this, I would go back to Kennywood, even if I did almost break more than one person’s hand on that trip, and probably got close to cracking some eardrums, too. I didn’t have much of a voice the next day, but it was all worth it in the end.
Besides, who can resist the Potato Patch and Dippin’ Dots in the summer? They are the essence of this season.