Vote of the week: Getting over a fear of roller coasters?
As a parent and a theme park fan, I love going on thrill rides with my kids. But the feeling hasn't always been mutual. Okay, before you jump to any conclusions about my relationship with my kids, it was the thrill rides that my children didn't always like, not me. (At least, that's what they're telling me….)
These days, my kids are teenagers and they demand extreme thrill rides that make even me raise my eyebrows when we get to the queue. But I've met many Theme Park Insider readers over the years whose kids haven't yet gotten over their fear of big roller coasters and other thrill rides. Heck, I've met plenty of adults who still won't get on a coaster with inversions, huge drops or even high-speed turns. Earlier this week, our Bobbie Butterfield wrote about how she overcame her fear and skepticism of coasters, as an adult.
How do you feel about extreme roller coasters and thrill rides? Are you game for anything a theme or amusement park can throw at you? Or would you rather not take a ride in the jiggle box or on the runaway train when you're on vacation? Were you once scared of big thrill rides, and eventually overcame that? If so, how did you do that? What helped you make that switch in attitude?
Limitations in engineering, budgeting and even human endurance have slowed the Coaster Wars that once seemed to bring a new "world's tallest" or "world's fastest" roller coaster in the United States every year or so. But creative roller coaster designers, such as Switzerland's Bolliger & Mabillard, continue to devise new combinations of track elements, seating arrangements and train configurations that deliver original thrill experiences — for people will to give them a try, that is.
Some people just never have cared about thrill rides. They come to parks for the story, the music, the setting — something other than physical thrills. And some fans couldn't imagine anything other than simply loving big thrill rides, from even before the time they were bid enough to ride the. But plenty of theme park fans have had to confront their own, or their children's, fear of roller coasters and thrill rides. They want to go, but that height, those speeds, something, intimidates them and keeps them from getting on board.
What then? It's one thing to force yourself to confront a fear, but would you force a child to ride? Some parents do that, and their kids embrace the experience, becoming lifelong thrill fans. Others? Well, if you thought theme park tickets were expensive, try therapy bills.
I've tried to let my children decide what to ride, on their own terms, not mine. I'd explain the ride, make a case if I thought they'd enjoy it, but then tried to be quiet and accept their decision if they said no. Yet I understand the longing that many parents have to share one of their favorite experiences with their children, and the frustration that ensues when the kids don't want to do it. Heck, some kids do seem to respond best when they're told what to do. It's an individual judgment call.
Got a good story about overcoming a fear of roller coasters? Please share your thoughts about extreme thrill rides, in the comments.
I was never afraid of going in roller coasters because I remember being small and watching my parents going, and I couldn't go because I didn't have the mininum height. So ever since I was tall enough to go, I've been going to roller coasters. And the same thing happened to my young sister, so I think wanting to go in a roller coaster overpowered any fear I might have had.
As I get older (58), I see myself cutting back. I no longer can do 0-120. 0-70 is my max now. Going backwards and going through a helix is now bothersome. Don't you hate getting old :(
When I was young my family would take a yearly trip to Busch Gardens Europe and I was scared to ride the coasters. I would always sit on the sidelines with my mother. I attributed to a fear of heights. Finally when I was around 16 I got up the courage to ride Loch Ness Monster, Big Bad Wolf and Drachen Fire. Although I enjoyed Big Bad Wolf I still wasn't fond of coasters. Now that I have a young baby (1 year old) I think about all the parks I want to take her too that I've been too. You see around 5 years ago my wife and I were invited to Hersheypark. I manned up and rode a few of the coasters but not all of them that day. The next year I wanted to take my wife to Busch Gardens. There was a big debate on whether we should go or not from the drive all the way to the exit to the park. I decided to take the exit and my wife and I held hands and just walked without stopping to think to the entrance of Apollo's Chariot. After riding AC I was completely hooked on coasters. I think my wife gave me the strength and courage to face that fear. I am in my mid thirties so I am a pretty new coaster junkie. Since then my wife and I have traveled to many parks and rode a lot of coasters (Cedar Point, Kings Island, Kings Dominion and many many others). What really breaks my heart now is that my father always wanted me to ride with him and I never did. I was always too scared. I think one thing that would have helped alleviate my fear would have been the knowledge that most coasters have multiple restraints, i.e. a seat belt and OTSR. I also think the best approach is to just do it. Just walk straight thru the entrance and on the coaster. It helps if there is no line and you can get on without thinking too much about it. Nowadays I can ride them with my eyes closed and am even bored with some rides but I Love em!!!
I remember sitting on the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney-MGM Studios with my mom when I was seven, and crying. The ride broke down right before the launch, so we sat there for what seemed like forever. I was literally in tears, then it launched unexpectedly and I threw my arms up and screamed "YEAAHHH!". I loved it, and I loved roller coasters after that. Well, not all of them.
I have always loved roller coasters of all shapes and sizes (growing up in Tampa meant there were a lot of pretty good close options), but I have to say that the only time I was truly scared to ride an attraction was when I rode Big Shot in Las Vegas. I usually feel completely safe even on the most extreme roller coasters, but something about being on top of a 1000-foot tower and then being shot upward and then pulled down was a lot to take in for me. I know it's not technically a roller coaster, but it sure was thrilling and easily the scariest riding experience I have ever had.
Since I started getting seriously into coasters in my early 20's (mid-1980's) I've never really been scared of any type of roller coaster.
This was a great article. You pretty much captured how I feel. The one thing I will add is that as your body gets older your feeling towards the coasters changes. I am 39 and about to turn 40 in a few months. My stomach, back, neck, and head cannot take the jostling of rides like they used to. Some of the more extreme rides are just painful for me now. But, ten years ago I would have had no problems and twenty years ago I would have thought they were the best rides ever.
You need a 4th selection in the poll.
I've encouraged my children to try age-appropriate rides and roller coasters at our local theme parks (Disneyland, Legoland, Knott's Berry Farm). The height limits usually act as a good guide. As they've gotten older, they have tried rides like Big Thunder Mtn, the Dragon, and Space Mountain and generally enjoyed them.
Always loved thrill rides, but the rough ones are just unpleasant for me. My problem is with the rattlers, those metallic or wooden monsters that shake your body and cranium at high speed. After several years of operation, some coasters have become just too rough, and need to be refurbished. The Incredible Hulk at IOA is a prime example for me. Great coaster, but it makes me feel like I boxed with the big green guy himself.
There needs to be a 4th option..... I use to like them, but now not so much.
I have always loved roller coasters but I find now I am into my 6th decade (52 this year) that my love is tempered by the ride. I now rate smoothness over everything else so, for example, last November I adored Manta at Orlando, despite it being very intense, but found that one ride on The Incredible Hulk was more than enough.
I've always loved visiting theme parks, but when I was younger I did not like thrill rides at all. Even only moderately intense rides like the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Indiana Jones Adventure, and Splash Mountain scared me up until I was in 4th or 5th grade. However, there is one ride I credit with converting me into a roller coaster junkie: GhostRider. Despite what it may be today, back when it opened GhostRider was one of the best rides in the world, and after riding it once I was hooked on thrill rides. Of course, I didn't immediately go on everything, but I started trying larger and more intense rides and after a few years I finally got to the point where I felt like trying X2 (then the original X). I don't think I've been scared of any ride since then.
Being too persuasive (pushy) to get your kids to ride a thrill ride can sometimes look like a mild form of child abuse. Don't do it. I hate seeing crying kids being made to ride something before they are old enough or have the desire to because it is what the parent wants. It also creates an uncomfortable scene for others around (to see someone drag a child kicking and screaming on to something that they will then possibly cry for the duration of).
Yeah, I used to like roller coasters. I still like the idea of liking rollies - but my body is betraying me. Dang you, body!
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