A few days ago I got to chaperone a field trip to Kings Dominion amusement park with a large group of instrument playing middle schoolers. Lots of parents went and most groups had maybe two members plus a chaperone. I had four boys. I teamed up with another mom who had five boys, and suddenly we were just a big bundle of chaos with varying degrees of desire to ride big roller coasters. (Note: the other mom and I wanted to ride ALL coasters so were trying our best to get the kids to be cool).
The day was moving along well. We warmed the kids up in the morning with the wooden roller coasters and other smaller rides. Nothing too crazy, but still fun. We ate lunch, and took the kids to perform in their competition (the supposed reason we were actually there…I maintain it was to ride the roller coasters). They won! Yay! Now let’s ride the good rides.
I ran towards a multi-looped monster called the Dominator. I turned around and my group was lagging way behind, looking up at the ride with trepidation, their eyes the size of flying saucers.
“C’mon! You’ll love it.” To be clear, the boys in my wake had all volunteered that they were ready. I wasn’t really pushing. I’m not a horrible chaperone. Luckily, there was no line to wait in, to allow them to stew in fear. We could hop right on without overthinking. They screamed in delight the whole time, all gushing over how it was “the most awesome thing” when we were done. They were game for anything after that.
Then we hit the last coaster of the day, an older loop coaster called the Anaconda. With every loop, our heads slammed heavily into the harnesses and instead of screams of delight, we all groaned in pain. By the time we got on a straightaway near the end, we were ready to get off the brutal ride. Then the ride broke.
We sat there for an hour. The heavy harnesses over our shoulders and weighing down on our chests started feeling more constrictive. Some of the people started having panic attacks. Staff called out to us repeatedly to ask if we were okay.
“No, not really. We want to get out of here and we all have headaches from getting beat up.”
“Yeah, this is an old coaster,” said a staff member.
What?! That’s the response. Yeah, it’s old, so it’s going to injure you. Sorry.
I maneuvered my hands, like T-Rex hands because of the harness, into my pocket for my phone, took a selfie and sent it to my husband asking if my pupils looked okay. Of course I was worried about concussions, and I had to focus my attention on something else besides being trapped so that I wouldn’t hyperventilate.
They ended up having to come out and rescue us individually. One kid declared, “This is not enjoyable.” Another more eloquently put it, “This sucks.” We eventually got off the ride, after a slightly harrowing escape. The kids kissed the ground. I offered hand sanitizer.
Weirdly, I was sore in the upper body the next day from roller coaster tension. Even more weirdly, I can’t wait to ride more coasters in the near future. I just may ask about their ages first.
Note: The photo above is not the coaster we got stuck on. But while I waited, I had to occupy myself, so I took a photo of another really fun coaster, The Volcano.