Pictured above is yours truly. Looking as though I might crap my shorts at the very thought of riding that thing above me.
I used to fear rollercoasters. Was utterly terrified of them. There is just something so very unnatural in being whisked about every which way at ridiculous heights, with only something resembling a baby’s car seat belt strapping you in to keep you from falling 100 or however many feet below to your messy, splotchy death.
That, and I always feared that even if I did somehow survive being tossed around like a ragdoll, I’d still, at the very least, end up wearing my own vomit for the rest of the day, perhaps until the next water ride.
In short: me + rollercoasters = not happenin’.
But recently, I thought to myself, “It’s kind of silly that you’re so eager to jump out of an airplane at 18 thousand feet — yet you can’t even face The Incredible Hulk — who, albeit petrifying, is much, much closer to the Earth.”
So I decided to conquer my fear, once and for all. My boyfriend had suggested we take a trip to Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure, on one of the few days we both had off work. Perfect opportunity, I thought. He was so eager to get there and ride rollercoasters all day long, which would be a breeze since we had fast passes to every ride in the park.
I was still nervous, but determined to get this over with. It’s only a rollercoaster, after all. And it’s not like it’s that god-awful Six Flags. As far as I know, no one has actually been tossed to their untimely death on Universal Studios property. So that’s somewhat comforting.
First rollercoaster of the day: Dragons Challenge. Two rollercoasters named after dragons that exist in the fictional (but oh-so-totally-awesome) Harry Potter universe.
Aptly named! It’ll be a challenge to get me to hop my ass on this thing, I thought as the already-short line got smaller and smaller. Damn you, Fast Pass.
Two options: Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail. We opted for the former. It certainly didn’t help when my boyfriend mentioned, just as we were queued up to board the ride, how the G forces will have me pressed into the seat. At that very moment, I’m pretty certain I hated him.
I boarded the ride. I can’t tell you how many times I yanked down on the bars across my chest to make sure I was definitely strapped in. You know that feeling you get in your tummy where it feels like someone has somehow reached inside you and tugged down on your intestinals? (Yeah, I just invented a plural. Deal with it.)
That’s basically what it felt like as I saw the metal floor beneath me open and literally sink into obscurity. The ride slowly jerked forward. I felt like I was going to poo myself from all the nerves bouncing around in my gut.
I looked down. I could see the entire theme park below me and my dangling feet. No turning back now…I thought. And then… We surged forward.
I’d never felt such force pressing at my body. I suppose careening down a runway upon takeoff is the closest sensation to what I felt on my first rollercoaster ride. I can’t really put it into words.
I screamed. But it wasn’t that “Oh-my-god-what-the-fuck-get-me-off-this-thing” kind of shrieking.
I think my overall opinion of the Chinese Fireball was summed up in one photograph. You know the ones they snap of you at random points on the ride. I don’t think I’ve ever been captured on camera appearing so thrilled/happy/excited. My face was all teeth — one big grin.
I had to do it again.
Next stop was my biggest hurdle yet: The Incredible Hulk. For years upon visiting Islands of Adventure, I walked underneath this green mammoth of a rollercoaster, with its many twists and terrifying turns. I was always too chicken to get in the queue. Or at least, stay there.
Not today, I thought. I’m ready. Let’s do this.
The blast-off was incredible. I figured it’d just be the same as the Dragons Challenge – a slow creak up to the sky above. Not quite. It started out as such…and then, we jolted unexpectedly forward with such force, I instantly knew it was destined to be amazing. I was not disappointed.
It was just as terrifying as I thought it would be. But once again, a photograph told the thousand-word tale of how I was thoroughly enjoying losing my rollercoaster virginity.
I felt accomplished that day. I felt as though I could take on the world. I told my boyfriend as much. He said “And you can.”
Fucking right, I can. I finally conquered The Hulk!
I really do feel I’ve tackled a major hurdle. Rollercoasters no longer intimidate me. I can enjoy theme parks to the fullest extent. I now know what it feels to be one of those screaming voices I used to hear in the distance as a rollercoaster whizzed above me. And it feels pretty darn awesome.
Next on the list – skydiving. Anyone care to join?