The Last Roller Coaster Ride

by Brian on December 23, 2009

in A Parent in Israel,The Old Country

As I staggered off the Goliath roller coaster at the Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park in Los Angeles this past summer, wobbly and nauseous, I felt a wilting sense of sorrow. I knew at that moment, as my equilibrium began doing jumping jacks in my belly, that this was probably the last time I’d be visiting an amusement park.

As a life long roller coaster fan, it’s not easy for me admit defeat. When I was growing up, there was nothing I enjoyed more than a road trip to the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk with my friends where we would ride the Giant Dipper over and over for just a buck a twirl.

I’ve always been a purist. No new fangled metal machines for me. The old wooden coasters were the only way to go, powered entirely by gravity (after the initial chain pull to the top).

Other notable woodies I’ve visited over the years include the Cyclone at Coney Island, the Blue Streak at Cedar Point, and the Colossus at Magic Mountain (which we thoroughly enjoyed on this trip). Why would you want to ruin that by putting, I shudder to even say it, a motor on the car?

It’s not just the motors, though. Over the years, roller coaster riders have demanded more and more thrills. When it first opened in 1971, Magic Mountain had a tame ride called The Gold Rusher which today is so neglected that you can walk right up to the front and jump on; no 3 hour lines for this moldy oldy.

In 1976, Magic Mountain introduced the world’s first 360-degree looping coaster. By 1990, the newly launched Viper tripled the number of loops and added a batwing turn that inverts riders twice as well as a double corkscrew. On the Riddler’s Revenge, you stand up while flipping six times.

The terrifying Tatsu is dubbed the “world’s tallest, fastest and longest flying roller coaster” where riders recline with their backs against a suspended overhead track while hurtling forward at intense speed. And don’t even get me started about the X2, which at midday had lines up to two hours long.

To its credit, earlier this year, Magic Mountain did open its first wooden coaster in nearly 30 years since the Colossus made its debut. The new Terminator Salvation has less of a drop than I’d like but is followed up by some very steeply banked turns.

But age is creeping up on me. I still love the wooden coasters, but I just can’t handle the twists and turns that are the raison d’etre of the more thrilling rides the way I used to.

After my sixth or seventh ride at Magic Mountain, I could barely stand straight as my surroundings spun around my brain. I ordered a tall bottle of Sprite in a failed attempt to soothe my seething stomach. Much to my coaster companion, 18-year-old Amir’s disappointment, I was done for the day…or more likely for good.

As we departed the park, fingering our greasy funnel cakes, I gave one last wistful look at my past and announced my decision to never return. Amir was sad – “who will I go with next time?” But 11-year-old Aviv was indignant.

All through the day, Aviv had been challenging himself on scarier and scarier rides. He wasn’t quite ready for the Colossus, but he was having no part of this “last amusement park ever” crap. There were still many more roller coasters in his future, he fumed.

And we don’t even have to go as far as California. Rishon LeZion’s SuperLand has its own nausea-inducing twister – the Kumba.

Of course he was right. I guess that’s what being a parent is all about. You might liken raising a family to catching a nasty virus. Sometimes you just have to make yourself sick to your stomach in order to please your children.

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