Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are We Being Amused?

Let’s get this out of the way first. The term “amusement park.” Kind of an anachronism, don’t you think? I get “theme” park—that works in many cases. But I hardly call being dropped thirteen stories straight down a pitch black elevator shaft simply amusing. No, this is something that SCARES THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUTTA ME! (And that was the tamest, most acceptable way I could put it, without the actual desired expletives.)

I’m talking about Disney’s California Adventure’s “Tower of Terror,” of course. “Terror” doesn’t begin to cut it, for me. Got talked into this amusing torture a few years ago, and I’m still quivering at the core. Stephen King once commented that he simply wrote about the various things that scare people; our basic, instinctual fears. Well, Mr. King and several thrill ride designers have something in common. Disney’s “Hollywood Tower Hotel” elevator moves both vertically and horizontally, and is controlled by a randomized computer program. That, in itself, is enough to scare many people.

What scares you? Obviously, for me, it’s the drop. The fear of freefalling. Disney calls it a "delirious drop." I'll say! I also can’t take Splash Mountain at Disneyland (take the WDS virtual ride at You Tube.) That moment of unrestrained weightlessness, terrifying to me, simply enraptures others. For some, audio-animatronics are the stuff of nightmares. Think the massive, bellowing King Kong* at the Universal Studios Tour or the mechanical, computerized “JAWS” that leaps at the tram on the same ride. (I’ll admit to once jumping onto my boyfriend’s lap at the sight of the great white snapping his bloody, deadly jaws.)

Roller coasters are another breed. Twisting, turning, climbing, racing downhill, hell-bent on bucking off its intrepid riders. I’m not a conventional coaster fan, but I do love thematic coasters-in-disguise such as Space Mountain, Big Thunder and the Matterhorn.

So come on, what’s your bugaboo? What ride leaves you quaking, shaking and leaving the lights on at night? Or do you simply just enjoy being amused

Pam Ripling is the author of middle-grade mystery, LOCKER SHOCK! Buy it at Quake, Fictionwise or Amazon today! E-book version now available for your Kindle! Visit Pam at www.BeaconStreetBooks.com.

ps - You "amusement park" fanatics will be happy to note that the aforementioned King Kong attraction, which was badly damaged during a studio fire last year, is being rebuilt. Story about plans for the upgraded 3D ape here.

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