By Judy Meyers
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It took almost an hour to walk through the line of the Batman ride at Great Adventure in New Jersey. The ride was fairly new and the crowd was slowly meandering around each curve of the sidewalk, still a distance before the typical rope and poll dividers.
“How much longer do you suppose it will take to get to the ride?” I asked.
My daughter, an energetic 18 year old roller coaster fanatic, poked a kid behind her and asked my question.
“How much farther is the ride?”
“From here, it is another twenty minutes,” he offered.
I had loved roller coasters. I had remembered going to an amusement park for my high school field day. I had gone to a private school and our senior class had decided to spend a day at one of the only amusement parks in St. Louis. Times have changed since then. St. Louis can now boast about Six Flags over Mid America and some of the most radical roller coasters ever built. But my special field day was nearly 42 years ago.
Although I had not been able to ride most of the newest ones, I still loved the excitement and thrill of the face-paced coasters.
Now, almost 38 years later, I am standing in a line awaiting my turn to climb aboard a ride that had people’s legs dangling in mid air. Along the pathway I read signs that were warnings to tie your shoes, leave lose articles with a friend, or secure anything that might fall away.
I didn’t make too much of the warnings. I had my sneakers tied securely and I wasn’t wearing anything that would easily come off. In fact, I was pretty well “packed” myself. I wasn’t a huge person, to my own insight. But, I wasn’t a skinny-minny either.
“We’re almost there,” my daughter informed me.
A friend of our family, my husband and my daughter accompanied me in this venture. With hundreds of other people awaiting their doom, we walked slowly along the path. Overhead, we could periodically watch groups of screaming adventurers experiencing this ride for the first time. Each train had 10 rows of people. There were four people to a row. I had calculated that our whole group would fill one row. I felt very smart. I watched each train fly past me overheard. The loops and twists of each train brought more yelling and screaming from the passengers. Each train was suspended from the top to a track. Thus, leaving the passenger’s feet dangling in the air. Each person was secured by a harness that came down over his head and latched, somehow, to keep his body fastened. I could easily see why it was so important to put the warning signs along the path. I was glad I didn’t bring my purse. I had nothing in my possession that would be a problem.
Eventually, we were standing at the place of embarking. I watched as people took their places on the row and the harness came down over them. I began to panic. As a person got to the seat and the harness was placed over their head, I noticed that a clip was attached that would slip into a fastener between the legs. It would click and that was the security for the ride. We were up. Our friend went in first, then my daughter, my husband and me. Everyone got their harness fastened and I was unable to fasten mine.
One of the nice young men at the ride came to help. He took the harness and gently pushed it for me to fasten. It did not budge. Another nice young lady came to assist. “Does this hurt?” One of the nice young people would ask.
Everyone was waiting and watching. Finally, after three nice young people had pushed the harness with their hands and feet, I heard a click and the train started to roll.
I’m grateful that we were not in the first row. I’m grateful that the seats in front of me were high enough so that I could not see where I was going. I’m glad that I am able to write this article because in the one minute I was on that roller coaster my thought was, “I am in this thing with one click!”
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