Vote of the week: Backwards or in the dark -- which coaster thrill do you prefer?
Written by Robert Niles
We've long offered a couple nuggets of advice to people who say that they're afraid of riding roller coasters. First: Keep your eyes open and focused on the track in front of you. Imagine that you are "driving" the roller coaster and that the track in front of you is the road ahead. Often, that uncomfortable feeling that people get in their stomachs while on a roller coaster comes from feeling a loss of control. Imagining yourself driving the coaster can trick your mind into reclaiming that sense of control, allowing you to feel more at ease and able to enjoy the pure speed and the twists and flips that the coaster offers.
It's easier to imagine a coaster train as being a car you're driving when the coaster train is decorated to look like… a car.
Our second nugget of advice flows from the first. Help yourself feel more comfortable on launch coasters by mashing your right foot down as the coaster takes off. Imagine that you're pressing hard on the gas pedal of your car, trying to get it to accelerate as fast as it can. Again, you're imaging yourself "driving" the coaster, trying to reestablish that mental sense of control that will put your nerves and your stomach at ease.
All that said, after you've become comfortable on roller coasters, if you're like many of the coaster fans here on Theme Park Insider, you'll reach the point where you don't want to feel comfortable on them anymore. You'll want to feel those nerves -- that sense of dread in your stomach and panic in your heart. You'll start craving that sense of not having control.
Roller coaster designers have plenty of tricks that help them amp up the thrill level on their coasters. Two of their classic tricks eliminate the ability to see the track ahead of you, robbing you of that opportunity to reestablish mental "control" of the ride. How do they do that? They can build the coaster indoors and run it in the dark, or they can flip the train and run it backwards.
Here's a backward launch coaster for ya!
Yesterday, we heard from Theme Park Insider reader Anthony Murphy, who showed us Six Flags Great America's inverted coaster Batman: The Ride, which the Chicago-area park has started running backwards this season. Universal Studios Japan ran a backwards train on its Hollywood Dream coaster earlier this year and Kings Island visitors have for years had the option of riding that park's wooden Racer coaster frontwards or backwards.
Millions of theme park fans have enjoyed roller coasters in the dark, too, from Disneyland's relatively tame stateside Space Mountains to its head-rattling, multiple-inversion Space Mountain: Mission 2 at Disneyland Paris. Universal has used indoor roller coaster track to add thrills to dark rides, such as its Revenge of the Mummy rides and its upcoming Gringotts ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.
But when it comes to pure thrill, which way do you prefer to "ride blind"? Backwards, or in the dark? That's our vote of the week.
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