Coaster Parks When You're Older

Edited: February 13, 2019, 6:07 PM

I was on a business trip to the Los Angeles area in January, and due to a break in my work schedule, I got to check one off the Bucket List – Six Flags Magic Mountain! Now some of you West Coast locals are probably wondering why anybody would get excited about going to SFMM, but I’ve been trying to get there for over 20 years. I live in Florida, and my weekend and family trips to theme and amusement parks are usually restricted to Universal Orlando, Disney World, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Six Flags Over Georgia. In addition to the local southeast parks, I’ve managed to work many of the East Coast parks like Hersheypark, Kennywood, Kings Dominion, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg into my business travels, but every time I went to the West Coast, SFMM was either closed during the week or I was unable to extend my trip to include a weekend day.

So, when I found myself sitting in my hotel room about an hour’s drive away from SFMM and an unplanned day of no work, I did what any sensible TPI regular would do – I hit the parks! I talked a co-worker who was stuck in the same situation as me into going, and we headed to the park. (After buying our tickets/passes online, of course!)

And we blew it.

SFMM must have had only a few thousand customers that day and every ride was a walk on. Full Throttle – yee hah! Goliath – yee hah! Batman the Ride – yee no hah. Ok I’m getting a little queasy now, time for a dark ride. Justice League: Battle for Metropolis – pretty good for a Six Flags park but something didn’t quite synch up with the motion of the vehicle and the 3-D experience. The queasiness isn’t bad, but it’s not getting better. So we sat down for a minute and watched The Riddler’s Revenge, and the siren’s song of those roaring coaster wheels lured us in. We got on that stand up coaster way too soon (having been on two other standup coasters in the past, I should have known never to have gotten on it at all). Like all of the kids touring Wonka’s Chocolate Factory except for Charlie Bucket we just couldn’t contain ourselves – we got on.

And we were so sorry.

Neither of us barfed, but I think we were both at 9.5 on the nausea scale by the time the ride ended. I can’t remember the last time I was praying for a short ride, but this ride isn’t short. It just seemed to go on forever, and your head is on the end of the motion arm so all of those ride elements that looked so harmless from the ground wreaked havoc on the inner ear as well as slamming your head back and forth against the over the shoulder restraints. By the time we got off the ride, neither of us knew what was worse – the headache or the nausea. Both were horrible.

We found a counter service restaurant and got Sprites to drink (They’re supposed to help with nausea.) and sat for a good 30 minutes hoping the headaches and nausea would go away. They didn’t. Three coasters and one dark ride and these old farts are done for the day. We just couldn’t handle any more. The water rides would have worked out okay, but the day was too cold to get soaked, and there just wasn’t anything else we could find that wouldn’t do a number on our inner ears, so we walked around for a while and just took in the sights before our drive back to the hotel. All in all, it was a pretty pathetic outing – not on the part of Six Flags, but on us.

In hindsight I realized that whenever I’ve visited coaster parks in the recent past, my rides were paced by the wait in the queue. Or in the case of a park like IOA, my coaster rides were tempered by an abundance of dark rides. The only coaster park that I’ve visited when the rides had walkup wait times was Busch Gardens Tampa, and I recalled that at BGT, I’d ride a coaster and then tour an animal exhibit; ride another coaster and tour another animal exhibit – it might have been a subconscious effort to avoid nausea but it worked.

But what do you do at a place like SFMM or Cedar Point in the off season (I may get to cross CP off my bucket list this year.) where you don’t have dark rides or animal exhibits to entertain yourself with between coaster rides? Some of you older TPI members are regulars to SFMM and CP and certainly you’ve got some secret ninja trick for handling a steady stream of coaster rides. Or do you just sit down and check Facebook for 30 minutes, and lie to yourselves that you’re not getting old and decrepit? (This is where Robert puts in a plug for the TPI podcast.) I’m just wondering because I got the Six Flags Membership and I will have more opportunities to go to SFMM and CP this year.

Replies (18)

Edited: February 13, 2019, 6:53 PM

In my teens I was doing things like riding Shockwave at SFGAm 15x in a row without getting off, running around like crazy sometimes going on dozens of rides per day. I remember hating rides that I thought were forceless and not understanding why people rated them so high, Montu and Incredible Hulk were two in particular that I always thought were over rated when I was younger. I always liked the old school intense B&Ms like Batman and Kumba.

Nowadays rides like Montu and Hulk feel a lot more intense to me than before, and after riding them once I am good for a while haha. All of the new rides at Universal are the worst for me, they pretty much all make sick and I hate all of them including FJ and Gringotts.
This is a major reason I haven't bothered going to UO in a few years even though its a 20 minute drive from my house and I am in the neighborhood all the time.

There are many rides I just flat out don't go on, I don't think i've been on a standard Boomerang or SLC in over 10 years. Flat rides are pretty much entirely out of the picture. Oddly enough Expedition Everest is another one I just don't enjoy anymore, it's not really known as an intense ride but that backwards helix IMO is one of the most intense elements on any coaster. I can ride any B&M flyer with the pretzel loops no problem but I feel like death during that backwards helix.

I grew up with the industry and still love it...but yeah unquestionably with age comes diminished ability to handle the rides. I am excited to take my kids around the country so they can experience all the parks like I have, but I know I won't be riding everything with them.

February 13, 2019, 7:49 PM

I’m with you guys .... the old tummy can’t take many upside down rides in a row these days. Spinning rides have been non starters for years. I’ll never do Alien Swirling Saucers at toy story land that’s for sure. Even the name makes me feel queasy ... LOL. I think the worst I’ve ever felt getting off a ride was after the Simpsons at Universal. Took me a long time to recover.

Being close to retirement makes me appreciate those rides I do get on, and when visiting any new park I will always give every ride the once over, but more and more these days there are more I don’t get back on, than those I re-ride. Rides like Mako and Fury I’ll ride over and over again, but Montu, Kumba and the like it’s one maybe 2 in a row then I need a break.

This is why when I visit out of Florida parks I go for 2 or 3 days. It’s the only way I can get everything in and still enjoy the day and some food along the way.

Yep ... gotta admit Slinky Dog and 7 dwarfs mine train are some very enjoyable rides these days ... :)

February 13, 2019, 7:55 PM

I’m fast approaching 50 and I deal with it by skipping the rough coasters and just sticking to the smooth ones.

I will put up with rough ones if it’s a park I’ve never been too and I’m not likely to go back soon, though.

In 2011, my wife and I did a California trip (we live in SC) and went to 8 theme parks, Monterey bay aquarium, and Muir Woods in 10 days. That was a blur and I’m not sure if I would do that again. I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation.

Edited: February 13, 2019, 10:17 PM

I've sworn off major inverted coasters since I can't stand the way the G forces affect me on those.

And there's little that will sap your joy for coasters more than sitting on a block brake in the direct sun for 10 minutes while the video crew adjusts the camera on the train ahead of you in the station... then announces that your camera didn't record so you will be doing your on-ride video again. (First world theme park reporter problems, I know.)

Past me is disgusted by my lack of fortitude. Still... take 30-60 minutes in the shade, chug a lot of water, and I'm usually good to go again. But you're right. Pacing is essential to enjoy parks when you're not young and no longer an idiot.

February 13, 2019, 10:18 PM

Cedar Point is a much different (better) Park than Magic Mountain since it has a good variety of attractions. They have relaxing rides like the Sky Ride, Railroad and Giant Wheel. Also great collection of flat rides with Sky Hawk and Wind Seeker not being too intense.

I thought Gemini, Gatekeeper and Millennium Force were really smooth. Corkscrew and not-Mantis will probably ruin your day.

February 13, 2019, 11:46 PM

I thought I could handle major rides as loved Six Flags Great America with Eagle, Shockwave, Batman the Ride and more. And at Disney, I can easily handle the Mountains and Rock N Roller Coaster so figured fine with anything.

Then in 2012, I hit Universal on a slow day so walks-on for everything, including Harry Potter. And nearly sick on that and Mummy and Riprocket and Hulk. Made me realize age really does affect you.

February 14, 2019, 11:38 AM

I've recently come into that physical age too of needing downtime between rides. My last trip to SFMM I took on a lot of rides that I hadn't been on in years. I've skipped Tatsu for years now. Goliath is still one that I will ride with excitement, but come off weary due to the G forces. My mistake last time? Enjoying my first ride on Twisted Colossus so much that I went for a re-ride. Thankfully I've always got a book on my Kindle app on my phone to help me through the much needed downtime between rides now.

February 15, 2019, 9:45 AM

Try a "Reliefband". It's a small electronic device that you wear on your wrist. It sends electrical impulses through the nerves that control nausea and headaches related to motion sickness.

Around $100, worth every penny.

February 15, 2019, 11:02 AM

Haven't heard of the Reliefband, DBC. I'll check it out. May have to give it a try.

Of course considering my complete lack of commonsense and restraint at SFMM, I may have to get a shock collar with a between rides timer to keep me out of the queues before I should be riding again. My luck, I'd end up like the Simpsons on the "Family Therapy" episode.

February 17, 2019, 1:46 AM

If your not against medication, anti-motion sickness medicine is your friend.

February 17, 2019, 6:54 AM

>>>Try a "Reliefband". It's a small electronic device that you wear on your wrist. It sends electrical impulses through the nerves that control nausea and headaches related to motion sickness.

I remember trying one of those back when I was gliding. It does reduce nausea, but I found the constant electrical pric way too distracting

February 18, 2019, 7:12 PM

I'm a CP guy, and at 62 I've grown old(er) with it. I have no problem with the coasters- it's the spinners that can wreck me for the day. Heck, at Magic Kingdom my kids had me sick for about 2 hours after getting the Tea Cups spinning fast enough that I swore I could see the blue shift as we approached light speed! What should you do? What many are recommending- pace yourself. Sit in the shade, people watch, take in a slow ride (like the ones recommended by Aaron McMahon above), walk and enjoy the scenery, human and park. Catch a show. I hope you get to Cedar Point this year. We're all wondering what they have planned for next year, since it will be the 150th anniversary of the park. What is everyone hoping for? More coasters! It's in our DNA up here on the North Coast.

Edited: February 18, 2019, 7:21 PM

I'm only 23, but I often get headaches from riding coasters. I can do each one at a park, but they're usually a one and done for me. I think I'll retire early in this category.

I've already sworn off stand-ups forever, which just add a whole new level of pain.

February 19, 2019, 3:48 PM

I agree with you, James K. Ever since the grandkids got big enough to spin the Tea Cups on their own at the Magic Kingdom, I've had to swear off the ride. I'm still trying to figure out how a couple of fifty pound preteens had the strength to spin that thing so darn fast.

And James T, my standup coaster days are over too. There's too many less "head intense" coasters out there to have fun on to waste the time on a stand up coaster.

February 20, 2019, 1:12 PM

James, I'm 56 - just a couple years younger than you, and only back-to back runs on Raptor or Rougarou can really get me nauseated, but my riding pals are usually more in line with a deliberately relaxed riding schedule.
One of the many genius aspects of Steel Vengeance is how well it is designed, particularly the inversions... I can ride SV multiple times in a row with no ill effects. So smooth and fast.

February 22, 2019, 12:32 PM

Tea Cups? Anytime I go on those types of rides, I make it my mission to spin my cup *counter* to the platform rotation, so that my cup stays stable throughout the ride. It's game play, it's fun, and it keeps me from getting sick. But it's also a game I definitely cannot afford to lose.

February 22, 2019, 2:04 PM

I was at the MK on Tuesday night, and watching the kids spin the tea cups with their parents slowly turning green was quite funny actually. Only because I'd been in their position when my son was at the age he knew the faster he went, the more his parents would scream for him to stop .... LOL .... :) I'll just stick to watching them these days.

Awesome memories of a bygone era, when the MK was nice and quiet.

February 23, 2019, 1:54 AM

Disney's teacups are tamed down to keep it kid/parent friendly, do Dollywood's Lemon Twist or either of the two at SFGAm if you want real spinning =P

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