Saturday, June 11, 2005

Homework: The Mouse House

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Recount a noteable amusement park experience. No, it doesn't have to be about getting sick on that rollercoaster... although (heh) those usually are pretty good. It can be any sort of memorable moment: cute, scary, funny, nice, whatever.

Dude.  I got me an Annual Pass for Disneyland.  I am makin' me some theme park memories on a regular basis.  (At least six times a year, if I want the pass to pay for itself.)  But the one which belongs in my journal is a trip to DisneyWorld one Christmas.

Went to DisneyWorld with my friend Mary.  We went for a few days, got us some park-hopper passes and did it up right.  We had one afternoon in the Disney/MGM Studios park....

Oh look, there's the Tower of Terror.  It's one of those "runaway elevator" themed rides.  I understand it has something like a 13 (natch) story drop in it.

I am vaguely interested in this.  To this day, I can't tell you why.  I've always been afraid of this type of ride.  I was at Magic Mountain the day they opened their "Free Fall" ride, and I sat it out while my friends rode it.  Or, more precisely, I sat in its shadow for about three hours while my friends waited in line for their six second drop.  That ride was pretty simple:  haul you up, push your little car out onto the vertical track, let you hover there for a second of stomach-wrenching fear, then drop you -- the car would go straight down, and then curve 90 degrees and slow (and stop) on a little horizontal track.  I must have watched it hundreds of times.  Heard the screams.  Swore there was no way in hell you'd ever get me on one of them.

So, here's me and Mary looking at Tower of Terror in DisneyWorld.  Mary is absolutely not going to ride it.  I sort of want to.  I think maybe I wanted to face my fears, and had this sort of trust in the Disney Imagineers that they wouldn't, y'know, kill me.  I got a FastPass for the ride, and we ate some lunch while waiting for my time.

FastPass lets you enter the line near the front.  It actually let me in a little too far near the front.  I'd been in line for maybe five minutes and was about 20 people from the front when the woman loading cars asked if there were any solo riders in the line.  I heard her.  I was a solo rider.  But I hadn't yet psyched myself up to ride this thing, so I was real quiet.  A few minutes later when I worked my way to front of the line, and the same ride-loader asked me how many people in my party, she gave me a "why didn't you speak up before?" look.  I gave her an "I didn't hear you" look and boarded the ride.

Noticed lots of kids around me.  Many of whom had ridden this before and were talking about how fun it was.  Hey, small children like this.  Can't be scary.

Tower of Terror isn't just a drop, like the Magic Mountain Free Fall.  It's lots of drops.  They drop you a few stories, pick you back up, drop you some more, and so on.

First drop, I thought I was gonna lose my lunch.

Second drop, I thought, "Hey, this ain't so bad."

Third drop, I thought, very cautiously, "Wheee?"

By the fourth drop, I believed this was actually fun.  Wanted to ride it again.  Couldn't believe what a cool sensation gravity could be.  Loved it.

Now, in hindsight, I can say that riding Tower of Terror in DisneyWorld was probably the first step in creating the more adventurous me.  The one who did that Canyon Swing thing in New Zealand.  I mean, there's obviously some distance between dropping while you're sitting in a controlled Disney ride and jumping into a canyon while you're strapped in a harness -- but it wasn't all that different to me.  I'd already realized that, despite everything I'd thought I knew about myself, I seem to be the sort of person who (a) likes overcoming fears and (b) quite enjoys hurtling through space with an acceleration of 9.8 meters per second per second.  Go figure.


gabreaelinfo said...

That drop is pretty bad.


andreakingme said...

Why am I not surprised? Surely anyone who'd travel to a foreign country ON HER OWN and be thrown down a hill in a big ball, not to mention all the other stuff we aren't aware of, can handle the zipper thing.

I want pictures of you in the Zorb. C'mon. I love laughing myself hoarse.