top of page
  • Gianna Porco

There are Two Ends to Every Roller Coaster

Imagine you are waiting in line for one of the scariest roller coaster rides in America: Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. It’s around 91 degrees outside, you’re in line behind a really smelly guy, and the park is filled with people. Now, there are just three more boarding groups until it’s your turn to feel the wind on your face as you round each turn and scream at each drop.

The attendants fasten you in your seat to make sure you don’t fly out of the ride, the people behind you are scrambling to put their Burger King paper bag in a cubby on the other side of the vehicle, and finally, the attendant announces, “Dispatch!”

As you take off, you can feel your hands shaking with fear and excitement. When you reach the top of the infamous Kingda Ka hill, the whole park is in view. And then you plummet. Down you go, as you feel your stomach drop, feeling like the seat is almost falling out from underneath you. It feels as if you are about to faceplant straight into the ground. The ride twists as you fall, and then, unfortunately, comes to an end. It wasn’t even that bad -- no upside-down loops or anything, but it was awesome!


Your younger brother forced you to get on line for the Velocicoaster at Universal Studios Florida. The line is really long, and you don’t even want to go on the ride. Just thinking about the loopty-loops makes you want to vomit in your mouth, not to mention the steep drop. When you reach the top of the incline and then fall to your presumed death, your stomach is going to be so far up your esophagus you can’t even scream because your vocal cords are blocked.

You inch towards the ride when the ‘lady’ tells you you’re in the front row. Your brother is, of course, thrilled. The ride takes off so fast you barely even register the fact that you might soil your pants.

All the loops make you regret those chicken tenders for lunch. How many times does this ride turn?! Then the life-ending incline comes; here we go. You fall, fast, and your scream comes out as a raspy ‘achhhcccccskkk’ that you can’t even hear. You go upside down for what feels like an eternity, and when the ride finally stops, you feel as if you just did the most daring thing in your life. You’re so impressed with yourself that when you look back, you realize that the ride wasn’t so bad, and the view at the top was kind of liberating.

Knowing these feelings are in store for them, seasoned thrill-seekers dread the moment when a ride comes to an end. On the other hand, others wish they could fast forward to the end from the moment they are reluctantly convinced to board. Every time you go to an amusement park, there are always long lines for roller coasters. When kids go to an amusement park, most will ask a parent to go on a ride with them. But most of the time, the answer is a firm “no.” But why? Why are some people, particularly grown-ups, often less inclined to roller coasters?

Humans are naturally afraid of and dislike the unknown. When a person sees something they have no prior knowledge of, the fear factor automatically kicks in. As a whole, society is intimidated and cautious, and people rather live their lives ‘carefully.’ To live safely and carefully is brilliant in some ways. But there are some circumstances where you have to just go for it. In my own experience, I used to be scared of certain roller coasters, worried about what could happen while on the ride. But over time, I came to the realization that the worst thing that could happen on the ride is that I’ll be scared for a few minutes, and then it’s over. Others would argue the worst thing that could happen is that you fall out, but we’ll forget about that for now.

A roller coaster can be improperly built, the car could fall off the tracks -- along with the people on it -- or it could get stuck while upside-down. As unnerving as that is, it is practically impossible for a roller coaster to fall off the tracks. Getting stuck sometimes happens on traditional rides, but rarely on roller coasters. So what’s there truly to be afraid of? For adults, a couple of things.

Whether it is because of a fear of heights or motion sickness, some people are naturally averse to roller coasters. For a lot of people, it’s just not their thing, and that’s perfectly valid. However, for some adults, what may come across to kids as a dislike for roller coasters may actually go beyond that.

The Oxford Dictionary defines vertigo as “a sensation of whirling and loss of balance.” Vertigo can become very serious for some people, so much so that even the slightest bit of an off-balance sensation could cause someone to be nauseous (or worse) for a couple hours. Studies have proven that vertigo is much more common in adults than in children -- nearly 40 % of adults in the United States have vertigo or have experienced it. Vertigo is also much more common for women than men, so if you ever ask a woman to go on a ride and she declines, try asking a man instead. Vertigo develops as you age and your natural balance deteriorates. While this is a sad truth, it’s a main reason why you don’t see many grandmas on the Velocioaster or Kingda Ka.

Roller coasters and amusement parks are by no means going out of style. As people age out of roller coasters, there is still a huge thrill-seeking audience coming in. While some people love amusement parks because they have horrifying, thrilling rides, the same reason is why others hate them, regardless of age. However, what may appear as a dislike for roller coasters among older people is actually induced by uncontrollable factors brought about by old age.


bottom of page