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.
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