Weighty Matters

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On Not Liking Roller Coasters

on September 12, 2014

One of my besties and I took ourselves off to the Universal theme parks in Orlando for a couple of days.  As you might remember from my one day whirlwind trip to Disney back in May, I avoided theme parks for many years.  I knew that I was too overweight to ride 95% of the rides, so what fun would the parks themselves be for me?

I have a confession to make.  Even before I reached my  most critical mass and top weight, back when I could probably fit in at least some rides, I avoided roller coasters.  They had the  most restrictive seats in order to ensure rider safety.   If I was already leery of simple turnstiles, I didn’t want to risk something that really would be a purposely tight fit.

Rather than admit the real reason, I just told myself and others that I didn’t like roller coasters.  All that high speed loop de looping, the jerky movements and swooping drops just weren’t my cup of tea.  That’s what I said anyway, but deep inside I had that innate fear of not being able to fit.

Lest anyone think that I feared unnecessarily, back in 1998, I actually experienced the total embarrassment of being too fat for a roller coaster.  I was in Texas.  A friend and I went to an amusement park, popped into a ride and the bar could not come down enough over my stomach to safely and securely close.

I leaped up out of the car and practically ran out of the ride.  It was so humiliating.  Except for that friend who was with me, I never confessed this to anyone else.  I couldn’t handle the admission emotionally.   From that point on, I opted to avoid all amusement park/theme park rides.

On this trip, I knew that my size would no longer matter.  I didn’t have to fear getting stuck or not fitting.  I knew that I would.  As it happens, the friend I was with L-O-V-E-S roller coasters.  I was so into the spirit of fun that I wanted to experience everything with her.

Here I would like to give big props to Universal Studios theme parks for the way that they handle potential size complications with their guests.  Outside of rides where there could be issues, they have sample seats.  There are signs posted, with very discreet, sensitive wording.

Okay, so I didn’t really expect a sign that said:  Try these seats if you could be too fat for this ride so you don’t hold up the system for the rest of the people waiting in line.

However, I really liked that they alluded to the possibility that seats might not accommodate all body dimensions.  Each of the roller coasters even had some rows with modified seats because some of the “body dimensions” that could be difficult to accommodate didn’t necessarily result from obesity but from naturally abundant “chestiness” in some women.

The employees that assisted and answered our questions were all polite, non-judgmental, friendly and helpful.  Their attitudes were very much appreciated.

My friend and I checked ourselves before the coasters and, when we knew all was well, excitedly proceeded for the rides.  The first one was the Dragon Challenge at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  My first roller coaster in my adult life and we picked one with loops, twists, upside down spins – Aiyeeeeee!

I rode most of it, screaming, and with my eyes closed for most of it.  Same thing on the Hulk coaster.  In the course of two days, we did those two, plus The Mummy (which was pretty much an in-the-dark inside coaster), Flight of the Hippogriff (a smaller coaster) and the Rip Ride Rockit.

For the first couple of rides, I was jazzed that I faced my fears and went on the rides.  Screaming with eyes closed didn’t diminish the fact that I’d done it!  However, it was pretty evident that, feeling of accomplishment aside, I lacked the, “Wow that was awesome” elation expressed by my friend.

Plus, I had some less than pleasant physical reactions.  The sudden jerks, plunges and twirls made my head ache and my jaw throb.  My neck felt like it wanted to snap no matter how hard I worked to keep my head against the headrests.  My stomach flipped inside out – or so it felt.  I, who boat all of the time without a hint of motion sickness, came out of at least one ride fighting back nausea.

For me, the worst was the last – The Rip Ride Rockit.  The only positive experience I associate with it was that I got to choose which music genre and song played in my seat during the ride.  The country choice was Kenny Chesney’s Living in Fast Forward – how appropriate!   I like the song which is  good thing because as we came out of one particularly jarring turn and momentarily slowed, I remember thinking, “When my brain bleeds, this song is the last thing I’ll remember going into my coma.”

When I got off of that ride, I realized that it would be the last time I rode a big time roller coaster.  I have nothing to prove.  I’m not saying that I don’t like them because I want to avoid the potential humiliation of not physically fitting.  I don’t like them because they aren’t fun for me.   Plain and simple.

Don’t get me wrong.  The fault is not in the rides.  They were all spectacular — for those who are fans of these kinds of thrills.   I’m simply not one of those fans.   If you love coasters, then absolutely you want to go to Universal and experience these.  They’re pretty darned amazing.  I could see that watching from the ground with my eyes open while other cars of fans screamed past.

If you’re like me, go to Universal for other things – like Harry Potter’s Escape from Gringotts in the wonderful Diagon Alley or the Despicable Me attraction or the Krustyland Simpsons ride and everything else.  Roller coasters aside, I had a great two days enjoying the Universal theme parks.

One response to “On Not Liking Roller Coasters

  1. hoperoth says:

    I looove roller coasters. But I can totally understand that they’re not everybody’s cup of tea.

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