50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year – Thing #2 – Ride the Rides

Seven Dwarves Mine Train

Amanda and I in the back on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train – Hi Ho!

To accomplish Crazy Thing #2 – I had to ride an insane roller coaster without throwing up on Amanda Cowell.

For those who don’t know me well, you may not know that I have a long and storied history with motion sickness. I have been car sick for my entire life and proudly get to claim the shotgun seat whenever we go geocaching or in any car ride. The back seat is deadly. Sitting backwards on a bus, sometimes even sideways, can also do me in. I have thrown up kayaking in the ocean, on a sailboat, and even in a stunt plane when I was writing a magazine article on Air Combat Canada. For that particular incident there is video evidence – from three different camera vantage points. The plane I was in had just done several loops and corkscrews. Motion sickness stops me from participating in and enjoying parts of my life and I want it to stop. Therefore, it is crazy of me to go to two theme parks (Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando), and ride high speed ridiculous rides that go upside down and corkscrew, and not throw up on my friend Amanda Cowell. When I told her this would be one of my crazy things, she was totally supportive of me – particularly the part about not throwing up on her.

First we tested my stomach at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. I already knew from experience that rides like The Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Big Thunder Mountain Railway wouldn’t bother me at all and they were a good way to get me warmed up for what was to come later. I love those rides and I would do them again and again.

Space Mountain –  I was a bit more leery about but I did fine. The guy behind us,

Amanda, Me, and a dead guy

Amanda, Me, and a dead guy

however, looks like the ride actually killed him. I was pretty shocked when we got the pictures back.

Oh, and not a crazy ride but it was freezing cold at night and Amanda convinced me Splash Mountain would be a really good thing to do. Not! She told me they turn the water down when it gets cold… you’re floating in it… how can they ‘turn it down’???? She also told me it was Magical Disney Water and that I wouldn’t get wet… Not! If someone tells you about Magical Disney Water and how you don’t get wet… don’t believe them!!!!! Note in the picture the lack of people on the ride! The guy at the back is probably saying, “Look at me! I’m still dry!”

Me and Amanda - is that Magical Disney Water?

Me and Amanda – is that Magical Disney Water?

Later in our trip, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I was surprised by the ride that almost got me. Star Tours, a 3D motion-simulated space flight based on Star Wars, actually made my stomach do a couple of flips and my head was spinning at the end. I don’t have much of a problem in 3D movies so this was a surprise.

Let me just mention here that Amanda planned the Disney portion of our trip and she was amazing. She had pages and pages of trivia facts, all of our reservations and fast passes organized, and all I had to do was follow her and show up. I intentionally didn’t read up on rides so they would be a surprise.


OK, now things are starting to get serious!

After Star Wars, things started to get a bit more serious in the ride department. After I had some serious doubts, I agreed to go on the Rock N’ Rollercoaster – a slightly, actually seriously cheesy ride featuring the music of Aerosmith. I’ve never been a huge Aerosmith fan but the soundtrack actually added to the ride. The super painful-to-watch video ahead of time with the band was agonizing but thankfully doesn’t last long. The idea of the ride is you’re racing in a stretch limo through the streets of Los Angeles, trying to get to an Aerosmith concert…. whatever!

Reading up on the ride afterwards I discovered that in the beginning it launches you from 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds. I believe this whole heartedly. Most of the ride is in the dark so you don’t know when turns or drops are coming. Apparently Los Angeles has some very steep hills and tight corners on their roads. I also discovered that Aerosmith fans who want to see the video (really?) but are too scared to do the ride will bail out in the “Chicken Exit” right before the boarding platform. Amanda never mentioned a Chicken Exit!!!!! The end result, however, is I survived and was able to walk off the ride without assistance.

Tower of Terror

For the Tower of Terror I used my biceps of steel!

During our day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the sound of sporadic screaming filled the air from one particular direction. The screams originated at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I knew exactly what was coming with this ride. I seriously considered not doing it because the sense of falling is one of my all-time worst fears. Therefore I am testing it several times in the course of my 50 Crazy Things. Therefore, the Chicken Exit was not an option.

Essentially this ride takes you into a Twilight Zone episode with a runaway elevator. The elevator randomly climbs, drops random numbers of floors, and opens onto the park or stars, or you never know what is coming. It’s never the same ride twice. Once was enough for me. I sat on the right hand side of the elevator and I was extremely grateful I had spent so much time weightlifting in recent months. I gripped the side hand bar and the bar between Amanda and I and NOTHING was going to lift me out of that seat! After the ride my right arm was almost numb and I could hardly move it. In researching the ride after, I discovered that the elevator falls faster than a freefall because it is motor assisted – lovely! Again, I survived, and contributed a great deal to that screaming noise that falls over the park like a chilling rain. Would I ride it again? Yup!

Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest – Amanda’s grin comes from knowing what comes next…

In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which was one of my favourite parks, the big thrill ride was definitely Expedition Everest. Again, I considered bailing out when I read the warnings on the signs. But I didn’t fly across the continent to bail out on anything, so on I went. I loved the story of the ride, which is searching for the Yeti in the Himalayas. Amanda had a particularly huge grin on her face when we were in the line-up. Looking back I should have been more suspicious of this. When we got to the front and she specifically asked that we be in the front of the car, I should have been REALLY suspicious. But no, I had this Disney glow that made me trust her completely. So we get on, and it’s a train like Big Thunder Mountain or the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. No big deal, right? NOT! On spots I expected it to go super fast it crept along, barely moving, and then shot ahead when I didn’t expect it. Then, we came to the top of a hill and saw that the track was broken off and twisted. It just ended. We hung there for a moment, and I remember saying to Amanda, “Oh no, I know where this is going!” She just smiled. Then we shot through the whole bloody ride backwards!

If you have a short memory read the first paragraph of this blog post again – the part that talks about how I never ever ride backwards! To make it worse, I watched as the track actually rotated, so the path we took next was not the path we had originally taken! I discovered after that Expedition Everest only reaches the tame speeds of 50 mph – that’s like 1,000 mph when you’re moving backwards! Again, I survived. Would I do it again… absolutely!

This concludes the Disney portion of this blog post. Next up we’ll see if my Crazy Thing is accomplished!

Welcome to Universal Orlando!

When we arrived at Universal, before we even went in the gate we saw a movie sign that advertised 50 Shades of Grey in IMAX 3D – that would have seriously made me ill!

But, I digress. I’d like you to meet my new friend… Bonine! All the blogs I read for coaster riders with weak stomachs recommended Bonine and my friend Sara Campbell was nice enough to pick some up for me on a trip to the US. I didn’t get a chance to do a drug trial ahead of time so I had to just pray, for both my and Amanda’s sakes, that it worked. I considered recommending she have one of those rain ponchos on just in case but I didn’t – no chicken exit here! I planned to do rides like the Hulk, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, the Mummy, etc., so they could fulfill my Crazy Thing criteria but I enjoyed the two Harry Potter parks so much I stayed in the world of Hogsmeade and Daigon Alley while Amanda went and rode as a solo rider. Her report on returning was that these rides were more than even she expected. Good instincts Vesta!

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Amanda looks terrified, I look deranged, we both thought it was so awesome we jumped back on and rode again!

It turns out that one of the rides in Hogsmeade more than met my criteria. First off, though, we raced onto Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. After winding our way through Hogwarts (brilliant line distraction!), we got on and thoroughly enjoyed this unique roller coaster / 3D combination ride. It was so awesome we raced off it and ran around and joined the single rider line to do it again. Would I do it again?… duh!

Next we did The Flight of the Hippogriff. This was a great little roller coaster but ridiculously short – and you know it’s short if I noticed it! Would I do it again? Probably, if the line wasn’t too long.

Finally, we did the big one – The Dragon Challenge. I knew if I did this one I didn’t have to do any more and I could happily go have lunch at the Three Broomsticks. Going through the line-up was a bit of a fog for me. I vaguely remembered some of the cool things, like the Tri-Wizard Cup, when I looked at some of the Youtube videos of the ride, but really, my head was spinning before I got to the loading platform.

The deal with this ride is that it’s two dragons – a red Chinese Fireball and a blue Hungarian Horntail. You pick one or the other, and they leave at the same time, almost colliding in places. It’s the first roller coaster I’ve ridden that is suspended from the track instead of riding in a car on the track. It does loops and corkscrews, and it’s freaking scary. I maybe shouldn’t have watched it before we got in line. When we got to the loading platform I was pretty close to vomiting already. Amanda let me pick which one I wanted and I chose the blue Hungarian Horntail – I thought blue might be a bit calmer and it turns out it is! The staff person on the platform saw my “I’m celebrating a birthday” button and let us pick where we wanted to sit. I just said, “Not the front!” I think he was disappointed.

For the rest of the ride, I can honestly say I had an out of body experience. I closed my eyes for the whole thing, and just stayed in a very zen-like, almost meditative state. It was sooo weird! I could hear screaming all around me and at one point I actually had the capacity to think, “I wonder if we’re upside down right now?” Maybe this approach was a version of the Chicken Exit, but I’m still counting it as a win. I was able to get off the ride under my own power. I staggered a bit going down the ramp, and I didn’t throw up on Amanda, or anyone! Win! Unfortunately, neither of us thought to take a survivor selfie. This is one of the few rides where they don’t take your picture, which totally pisses me off! Would I ride it again? Not sure.

My after research tells me that the Chinese Fireball dragon reaches a top speed of 60 mph, and the Hungarian Horntail dragon reaches a top speed of 55 mph. Both rides feature five inversions. I had to actually watch the Youtube videos to see what I went through.

Rip Saw Falls

On Dudley DooRite’s RipSaw Falls – No Magical Disney Water here!

For a little payback I still had a fresh rain poncho in my bag and Amanda and I decided to catch one last ride – Dudley Doo Rite’s Ripsaw Falls – before going out to a nice dinner at Emeril’s. Magical Universal Water? She got much more wet than I did, although my toes were squishy with water.

Crazy Thing #2 Complete!

I have discovered a few things in this quest to limit my stomach from running my life. First is thinking about the ride (ie the Dragon Challenge) is possibly worse than the ride itself. Also, just do it… what’s a little vomit? And finally, if you want to know about any ride ahead of time just google it. There are lots of people riding rides with Go-Pro cameras who are posting excellent videos of the experience. Finally, have fun, and find someone awesome like Amanda to have fun with!

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