I wrote a some musings while ago after a trip to Hershey Park, and today I went to Kings Dominion for a fun excursion with Agent Bun. This of course gave me reasons to ponder a little bit more about a slice of American life that I hold close to my heart: the amusement park.
My thoughts are below.
- Roller coasters today are built on the principle of bigger and faster. But it’s not always better. Or maybe it is.
You have this odd sort of technological history in an amusement park. Wooden coasters remind us of when we first fell in love with the thrill of the ride. The 1990s “event coasters” exist next to those, like the Anaconda and the Shockwave – the coasters that evolved to best the wooden coaster for speed and moves.Then we have the newest ones which are truly magnificent pieces of engineering. They are smooth, they are large and they are fast. While I love the newer rides, I’m not sure that we should ever dismiss the simple thrill of the Rebel Yell, even though you can tell that it’s seen better days.But those wooden coasters were good enough for us once, why aren’t they now?
- My fear of heights is amazingly intact. But it will not stop me.
I had to talk myself into going onto the Drop Tower ride because I let it get in my head. I’m glad I did, because even though I was uncomfortable going up, it was a bad-a$$ drop to the bottom. But if there is a type of ride that gets into my head right quick, it’s something that’s 272 feet in the air without moving through loops to distract me.
- I still don’t know how to act in socially awkward situations except to try to avoid them.
I saw one poor chap require two attendants to help him get in a ride because he couldn’t maneuver his arms into the straps. He was very conscious that people were staring (I looked down at the floor with a desperate intensity). I hope that it’s a moment that helps awaken him to some things that might need to change in his life. I say that with love and understanding in my heart and no desire to change the laws for everyone else.
- I’m a competitive guy. I might handle it better than when I was a kid, but it’s there still.
Agent Bun and I engaged in two contests. One was Whack-A-Mole. I was intensely focused and won a stuffed Minion (Dave) from Despicable Me. The second was a ride where you shot ghost targets with a laser-pointer gun. The ride photo showed a look of such intense concentration on both our faces as we worked to beat the other that we had to buy it. Side note: One car, two seats, four guns. We were using two each like it was a John Woo movie. I out-scored her on both guns.
- You can’t go home again.
The Outer Limits Flight of Fear is now rebranded. The Hurler is there still (though untraceable on their site search), but all other traces of Wayne’s World are gone. I think the Grizzly was shut down, though I’m not sure I would’ve ridden it either way.Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House (a favorite breakfast stop-off) is shut down. Plenty of other attractions have gone or been rebuilt. In a weird way, it made part of the visit into a Park History Tour as I told Agent Bun about what used to be where and looked in amazement at things that had survived through the years.
- You don’t have to do everything to have a good time.
While Hershey Park is where I rode my first roller coaster, Kings Dominion was the go-to trip for my Aunt Carol’s family. I went with them because my parents wouldn’t ride roller coasters; we always opened the park and closed it down. We were not going to miss one moment of sun-soaked fun. This mind-set sank into me hard, too. When I went on later trips as an adult with friends we stayed until the fireworks went off and they started pulling you out by hook or by crook.Today was different, though. We did what we wanted, we took our time and we enjoyed everything we chose to do. So when we left in time to get home for dinner, it was already a successful and fun day.
- I have a tremendous amount of good fortune in my life.
I am all too aware that this life is impermanent and I am grateful for this world that God has made and the life I have in it. It’s a beautiful world and I hope that in some way I’m sharing enough of my good fortune so that others can know some part of the joy I’ve gotten to experience.
- There is such a thing as a bad tattoo.
I have tattoos. They mean something to me. I know people who have tattoos and I dig those too. But some people really should have tattoo consultations about placement, size and taste. If your body is a canvas, make sure what you put on it is art.
- I hope that old guy had a wonderful day.
There was this old man, short and in clothes that were easily three decades out of fashion who was walking the park alone. He rode the Rebel Yell at the same time we did, and I had no idea why he was alone. But I did get to see his smile after the ride was over. In my mind, he was on a one-day excursion for himself in the sunset of his years to recapture some sort of happy memories because he needed them.He may have been there for something more mundane, but the sublimity of his joy was apparent. Whoever he is, I hope he found what he wanted today.
So that’s it for this trip. Maybe next year we’ll plan to go earlier in the season when we have a better shot at it being less than 100 degrees in the sun.