Here at KSK we have already given a mighty two-fingered salute to one of nature’s nightmares, the ocean, but it’s time we take a good hard look at the pain we inflict upon ourselves in the name of fun; extreme amusement park rides. But before we started on our righteous and just hatred for rides designed to make you as scared as possible, let’s take a moment to note that this post could just as easily be called “This Week In F-U: Amusement Parks In General.”
It’s hard to believe that a sports fan willing to pay hundreds of dollars to attend a football game would complain about the price of an amusement park, but I’m going to complain about the cost of amusement parks. Disneyland/California Aventure tickets are $137 a pop, Six Flags Magic Mountain tickets are $65 ($45 if you buy your tickets in advance), Cedar Point tickets are $55, and even my childhood summer home of Kennywood now charges $35 to pass through the security screening. That’s just the gate fee. They are parking fees, $15 sundaes, $7 corn dogs, $5 churros, $6 dole whips and some jerk friend who insists you eat at the Blue Bayou where the cheapest item on the lunch menu is a $26 monte cristo sandwich. I’ve eaten that damn deep-fried sandwich in the musty cavern overlooking the dirty waters of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride filled with resentment and fear of black mold many times, wondering why I was in a place so detrimental to both my physical and mental health left only with a serious need to rethink my friendships.
There are screaming, snot-filled children barely being wrangled by exhausted parents — with a couple of scary looking dads-about-to-break mixed in for good measure, massive mobs of teenagers who should be out doing something constructive like mowing lawns instead of taking up six rows of stanchions to get into Haunted Spiral Spinning Barrels of Doom House so they might cop a two-second feel of an underdeveloped boob, and what will always confuse me, foreign tourists. You fly twelve hours from France and you go to an amusement park? Go see the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or at least Mount Rushmore, you don’t have those in your country! We have museums that hold many pieces of art originating in France. Do you know how many Monets we have here that are not in France? Lots! Three times the number of places to see Monet’s work here in the US, I counted! You already have that massive lines for rides designed to make you throw up your $26 sandwich — which is why we’re having this discussion in the f-ing first place — back on the Continent, Frenchy.
I will never understand why anyone pays so much money, suffers through so much tedious boredom like standing in line for hours on end just to be scared for two to three minutes. The closest I’ve been able to come to reconciling this sorry excuse for fun in my mind is that thrill rides are a socially acceptable form of cutting, a way to release the endorphins needed to create some sort of happy feelings in one’s life, but for people who don’t have the fortitude to do something truly terrifying like cliff diving, wingsuit jumping or shark wrangling. They’re manufactured thrills, designed to play tricks on the inner ear and spin you around until vertigo sets in, playing on our justified fears of heights and loss of control.
And oh, they could possibly kill you with their mechanical excitement. One study on amusement park study I saw cited said you only have a 1 in 9 million chance of getting injured or killed at an amusement park. Well, people only have like a 1 in 254 million chance of winning the lottery and people win that all the time so I’m not entirely sure how that’s a great argument for amusement parks since it seems I’m more likely to die on a supposedly fun day out spending $65 to do so.
This is the Black Widow at Kennywood. It swings 120º in the air while rotating counterclockwise, your feet eventually swinging 146 feet from the ground. Giant harnesses to bang your head on while going 70 miles per hour? That’s just an extra bonus. Advil’s just $2 over at the sweets stand.
This is the Vomatron and if you think the manufacturer is just messing with you with the name, they’re not messing around with the description:
The Vomatron can best be described as a giant propeller with seats on each end! Similar to the centrifuge used by astronauts to simulate rocket acceleration except it is mounted vertically. It is powered by 2 huge electric motors that rotate the giant 40 meter arm at speeds of more than 120 kilometers per hour, throwing the capsules into extreme spins putting 4gs of force upon its unwary passages. Then just as they think it is all over… We spin it in reverse with the same degree of pure torture as before.
Torture. It’s right there in the description, torture. We shun torture. We hold courts for torture. We don’t give Kathryn Bigelow deserved Oscars for discussing torture and the ironically named “Funtime” company puts it out there that torture is exactly what they are doing to its riders.
And if the sales job wasn’t enough, the Funtime company posts a video of two men appearing to hurl after riding the Vomatron.
Nothing like spending an entire day outside getting sunstroke, spending about a $100 and then vomiting. Give me $15 and I can get the same results with a bottle of Stoli without leaving the sofa.
This is the newly opened Texas SkyScreamer at Six Flags Over Texas. (It’s Texas so they have to remind you multiple times it’s Texas.) Why not swing yourself 400 feet above the ground, just you, a seat and a couple of wires and chains keeping you from spiraling to your death crashing into the inappropriately named Goodtimes area. According to one message board, the ride was temporarily closed after being struck by lightning. Well, yes. In flat Arlington why not spin around the largest metal tower for miles hoping that lightning will not strike twice.
And by lightning striking twice, we’re talking about the Cowboys returning to the playoffs under Romo and Double JJ.
The Rocket, a corkscrewing rocket ride that swings you high above the suburbs of St. Petersburg, Russia. If you want to court death why not pony up some real cash and ask the Russian space program for a ride on a real rocket? They’re game.
Ah, Cedar Point’s Wicked Twister. Not even their scariest coaster, but who in their right mind gets on a train where the tracks end in mid-air? Where you were buckled in by some college kid on summer break checking their iPhone between cars, silently cursing you and your donut stuffed fat-ass for making them push down extra hard on the lock so you don’t go flying out of the ride or possibly lose a limb.
Ten loops. Quadruple barrel roll. Noooooooooooope.
Ever wonder what it feels like to be an accordion stuck in a Russian nightclub? Sure, why not.
Spoiler, there are seven extra spins at the end. Must be where borscht comes from.
This is the artwork for the proposed new Las Vegas attraction, the Polercoaster. Yes, you heard me. Vegas. Polercoaster. A proposed 650 feet high dual-track roller coaster and observation deck at the airport end of the Strip, so there is a good chance you could be clipped by a landing airplane. Or clipped by a pickpocketing dancer looking to ride another, another sort of pole… r… coaster.
That seems so much more fun than drinking, sitting by the pool and gambling on a 109º summer day.
And finally, after spending all day waiting in ever longer lines, watching rich people with their rented handicapped “friends” skip to the front for the next car, nearly losing your $10 Dippin’ Dots after the twentieth spiral on Twisters Twisty Twistity Twist, managing to only get on three rides after eight hours in the sun and the heat and the primordial stew of other people’s sweat and germs, finally relax to have a beer just to run into some guy being pepper-sprayed, heckled by bros in Laker jerseys and some Orange County banshee screeching, “There are kids here!” at him like it wasn’t the ten thousand cries of “MOOOOMMMMMMYYYYY!” that didn’t drive him to drink in the first place.
Nope. Fuck you rides. Fuck you amusement park. I’m staying home.