Do people really enjoy roller coasters?
April 20, 2010 6:37 AM   Subscribe

Do people really enjoy roller coasters?

So, the season's here to go to theme parks. and since we live close to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg , we decided to get the year passes.

So I found myself in a line for one of the rides, panicking and about to lose it like a 3 year old. Of course, I survived, but it puzzles me that people seem to willingly go to these rides, and they actually enjoy them!

I love the loops, the speed and the twists and spins, but the falls...I don't know if I'm doing them wrong, I feel this insane tension when I'm falling, but everybody else seems to be enjoying them! To me, it feels like having a heart attack.

I would really like to learn to enjoy the falls, since I have the passes, the time and the company, but I can only seem to enjoy one of the rides (if you've been there, I'm talking about the Alpengeist), since all the rest are about the falls.

posted by Tarumba to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (42 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Short answer: yes.

Long answer: some people enjoy the adrenaline rush. You do realize that people skydive and BASE jump for fun, right?
posted by dfriedman at 6:39 AM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: Try going on the same ride several times over the course of a couple hours. Once you get to the point where all the twists, turns, and dives are pretty familiar, you'll relax somewhat and maybe really enjoy it more.

But it's also possible that roller coasters just aren't for you. Don't feel bad -- many, many people can't stand them.
posted by hermitosis at 6:40 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The only thing I can think of is a "fake it 'til you make it" approach. Try to convince yourself you enjoy the falling. Worst case, if you ride the rides repeatedly, you may at least get desensitized to the falling so it's not so bad, if not actually enjoyable?

Good luck!
posted by owtytrof at 6:41 AM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: I like them. Not the scary wooden ones where it feels like I might really die during the ride, but the modern high-tech ones with their nice reassuring-feeling restraints.

I like to ride in front. I like to imagine I'm riding on a dragon's back. And I scream and laugh with delight.

A good imagination is a joy forever.
posted by tomboko at 6:42 AM on April 20, 2010 [14 favorites]

The fall is the best part. I love the feeling of being in free-fall while being 100% secure and strapped in. The longer the fall, the better. The tension is part of the fun. I have the same feelings you do about scary/suspenseful movies. The tension is overwhelming and I can't enjoy "the scare", but I realize that's not true for all.

I was scared shitless about coasters until I was like 16 when I finally started making myself go and really embrace that feeling of fear. Coasters are great for overcoming fear because you can trick you mind into getting on the roller coaster and let "future you" worry about the repercussions. Once you strap in and hear the clackety clack, it's too late!
posted by yeti at 6:46 AM on April 20, 2010

I hate the heights. I close my eyes and panic the entire time on the way up but once we're over the hil, I love it. For me it's the speed.
posted by stormpooper at 6:46 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yep. I used to hate them until somebody dragged me on the same coaster 5-6 times over the course of a few hours. After that, I now quite enjoy coasters.

As for Busch Gardens (and any other theme park for that matter) -- it can be great fun to go on a day when the weather stinks. As long as you're not freezing your bum off, coasters can be great fun in the rain, and the lines will be virtually nonexistent. Hot, crowded days are no fun.

Skip the park food, and to to Pierce's afterward.
posted by schmod at 6:46 AM on April 20, 2010

I love coasters. All kinds; wooden, steel, loops, backwards, bullet-starts, inversions. Doesn't matter to me.

I think it's about letting go of control. I trust that the coasters I'm on (usually at Six Flags or a Disney theme park) are safe enough that I'm not going to go flying.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:46 AM on April 20, 2010

If my pal who's been on thousands of coasters on 6 continents is any indication...

posted by mollymayhem at 6:47 AM on April 20, 2010

The falls are my favorite part, because you get that, "Whoa, where did my stomach go? Oh, there it is, back again," feeling where a part of you seems left behind when you drop down a steep hill.

And, if it helps: the rides in permanent amusement parks like Busch Gardens are engineered all the hell out for safety; they take the security of the guests riding them very seriously.

But if you don't like those falls, and feel you can't get to that point, Do NOT ride any of the Doctor Doom or Tower of Terror types of rides, which are ONLY drops, like big bungie cords. They give you that falling feeling many times over, because, in Tower of Terror, for example, "Rather than a simple gravity-powered drop, however, the elevator is pulled downwards, causing most riders to rise off their seats, held down only by a seat-belt." (emphasis mine)
posted by misha at 6:52 AM on April 20, 2010

There is no shame in not liking roller coasters. I forced myself on them all through my teen years because I didn't want to look lame in front of my friends. Now that I'm an adult I really don't care anymore.

Given the cost of amusement parks I see no reason to spend a lot of money to subject myself to something I simply do not enjoy. If I'm going to be miserable I'll go to work where they pay me for it :)
posted by COD at 6:52 AM on April 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Some enjoy roller coasters as a safe way to experience speed and falling. Also, it is a rare chance to experience negative gravitational forces. If you ride Apollo's Chariot at BG, you will float at the top of the hills to then be pushed back into your seat for the drop. It's a unique experience, unless you are a fighter pilot or astronaut.
posted by ALongDecember at 6:52 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really do love rollercoasters (and lots of other semi-dangerous, fun things.) The stomach-in-the-throat feeling that comes with the falls is something I enjoy, since I know I'm not actually going to SPLAT on the concrete.

Well, probably not.
posted by Ouisch at 6:56 AM on April 20, 2010

I personally love them - they make me feel like I'm flying. But it's common to dislike them. I think roller coasters are one of those love-em-or-hate-em things, like licorice.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:58 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think I 'll just go and do it several times in a row until I like it. worst case scenario, my husband will get millions in compensation for my death! the passes were not cheap!
posted by Tarumba at 7:00 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm with you on just not enjoying the sensation of falling. I like the loops and twists and whatnot, but the drops are just unpleasant. I know plenty of people who do enjoy them, though.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:02 AM on April 20, 2010

I love roller coasters, and love that "where did my stomach go?!" feeling. I was actually disappointed there wasn't more of that feeling when I went sky-diving since that feeling only lasts a second or two until you reach terminal velocity, then it's just a bunch of wind in your face. Though the relaxing float down in the parachute was definitely awesome, and I'd go again in a heartbeat. But for the stomach disappearing act, rollercoasters seem to be the way to go!
posted by Grither at 7:07 AM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: Mixed response here. Regarding the drops - I both love and hate them. I never smile during the drops, and I feel unnerved, but there's sort of a rush immediately afterward. It's like when you eat ice cream too fast, feel the pain, and then feel the relief wash over you when the brainfreeze dissipates.

I enjoy almost all roller coasters, but I went on one of the Superman-style coasters once (where you're facing down with only your chest restraint between you and oblivion) and I was legitimately terrified. No enjoyment whatsoever.

I could also do without the jerky, rickety, wooden wild-mouse-style coasters, but more because they're just unpleasant and not very fast.

If you want to learn to like coasters by riding the same one over and over, pick one that isn't extreme in any way. Nothing too high, nothing too upside-down, nothing using a linear induction motor for an accelerated launch. When I was a kid I feared coasters, but then I rode a fairly mellow one a lot, and immediately was willing and eager to try the fiercer varieties.
posted by AugieAugustus at 7:26 AM on April 20, 2010

I like them. Not the scary wooden ones where it feels like I might really die during the ride, but the modern high-tech ones with their nice reassuring-feeling restraints.

No way, the wooden ones are the best. Steel coasters are too smooth.

Anyway I think a lot of the appeal of roller coasters to me personally is the nostalgia factor, because as a kid I lived near an amusement park and finally getting brave enough to ride them was a big deal. For me at least roller coasters bring back the feeling of being out of school for the summer and having a fun day with family and friends.

But as far as the actual experience, a lot of the fun is the buildup to the first drop. Hearing the click-click-click sound as the cars get pulled up to the top and watching the rest of the park get smaller and smaller builds up anticipation, and then finally the first car hangs out over the edge and everything comes to a stop for a moment. If you're riding one that only has a lap bar, you can hold your arms straight up at that point and for the rest of the ride it will feel almost like you aren't connected to anything.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:28 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, people do love them (me being one of them).

It sounds like you don't enjoy the sensation of falling or at the very least you find it freaky. I know that you say you can handle Alpengeist. That ride does have a 170 foot drop in it and a few other elements where you achieve momentarily weightlessness (i.e. you are falling). My best advice is for you to relax, don't tense up and keep in mind that you far more safe than almost any other activity that you will do in the day.
posted by mmascolino at 7:30 AM on April 20, 2010

My sensible-brain hates roller coasters (death! falling! getting stuck! other problems!) but my stupid-brain thinks they are AWESOME (speed! sky! unpredictable!).

My favourite is Oblivion in Derbyshire because this was where I trained myself to like roller coasters. The combination of absolute sheer terror just before you are dropped face-first into absolute blackness and the complete exhilaration to accelerate so quickly from nothing - sooooo good.

Now I compare all roller coasters to Oblivion and, because none have ever been so terrifying, I enjoy them all because they're not as bad as they could be!

Maybe just find the most terrifying one possible and consider how much worse it would be if you couldn't even see where you were falling into?!
posted by citands at 7:34 AM on April 20, 2010

Response by poster: thank you so much! I think the trick is tio actually train myself, I really feel like enjoying them!

Also, mmascolino, I love the Alpengiest because the drop is done spinning, so it really feels like you're flying! Straight drops, that's what kills me dead.
posted by Tarumba at 7:38 AM on April 20, 2010

Have you spent some time looking at how coasters are built? Maybe that helps allay the fear.

Did you know that there are wheels both top and bottom of the rail, to keep the car securely on the rails? That train isn't leaving the rails without a catastrophic failure of maybe twenty burly pieces of steel.

The click-click-click as you go up the lift hill is a ratchet that is preventing the train from falling backward down the lift hill even in the event that the chain pulling it up fails.

That first drop is not as steep as it feels going down it. On the Wild Thing at ValleyFair near me, that first drop is actually not all that steep, but when you're in the front car it really feels like you're falling straight down. I still feel that way, even though I rationally know that I'm going down an incline.
posted by chazlarson at 7:40 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

yes because fear isn't boring.

(I like to pretend I'm going through a high-energy dimensional wormhole. WEEEEE!)
posted by The Whelk at 7:41 AM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ok, so, having actually read that Wikipedia entry (whoops!) it sounds like there are two better-than-Oblivion rides in Busch Gardens!

Get on 'em!
posted by citands at 7:46 AM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: It's a unique experience, unless you are a fighter pilot or astronaut.

Ding ding ding.

When I was a kid, we were at one of these theme parks and I was still in that "I hate these things" stage, and one of our family friends, a fighter pilot by profession, probably noticed that as we were standing in line. So, he took me under his arm and made us wait in the slightly longer line for the front row.

Now, I had never been in the front row before, so I was absolutely about to crap myself, when he explained the trick that has worked for me ever since. He asked me if I remember Top Gun and all those other movies and TV shows where you can see the pilot's face / helmet from straight on in the cock-pit. He then asked if I ever noticed how the pilots looked around when they were about to make a maneuver - looking up if they were pulling up, to the side if they were going to turn, etc.. He mimicked the action with his head, and yeah, it looked just like fighter pilots do when you see it on video.

Just do that, he told me. Pretend you are in control of the roller coaster, and look where you want it to go, before it goes there - which is wherever the track is going next. Tilt your head intentionally to get a good look before you get there.

It was that simple. I've never bothered riding anywhere but in the front row when I've had a choice since - how (yawn) boring. I am the fighter jet pilot that my imperfect vision took away my ability to ever be, if only for 45 seconds at a go.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:00 AM on April 20, 2010 [8 favorites]

I feel the same way about coasters. That first drop makes me really uncomfortable. This is what I do to make it more enjoyable. When I'm strapping in I make sure I have about an inch between me and the lap bar. Not enough that I can slide out, just enough so that I have some 'wiggle room'. Then when it comes to the big drop I stand up against the lap bar. I'm not actually lifting off the seat, I'm just kind of clenching all the muscles in my legs. Then when I get to the bottom I relax and enjoy the rest of the ride.

I don't know why this helps, but it does. Of course that's just for the kind of coaster with a lap bar. I don't seem to have much of a problem with the ones that let your feet dangle.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:00 AM on April 20, 2010

worst case scenario, my husband will get millions in compensation for my death! the passes were not cheap!

I know you were joking (right?), but just know that roller coasters are very safe, barring injuries that occur due to rider misconduct (sneaking over fences, standing up...) or riding while having a banned condition such as heart and back problems, high blood pressure, or pregnancy. Follow all rules and regulations.

Check out that article and find out how coasters work, it's pretty cool and definitely helps with fears about trains leaving tracks.
posted by ALongDecember at 8:07 AM on April 20, 2010

I used to be a huge roller coaster wuss, despite growing up 5 minutes away from a Six Flags. There were rides (the ones that were just drops) that I wouldn't go on until a couple of years ago. Then, I went to Disneyland with my coworkers, and I didn't want to be lame, so I got in line for Tower of Terror with them. I freaked out the whole time in line -- near hyperventilation, the whole bit, much to the amusement of my coworkers. I screamed like a little girl on the ride. Then, I got off, and I was so jazzed -- it was nuts.

Tower of Terror does that to me less now, but I still have to psych myself up for X2 at Magic Mountain. And I only do it because I know I will feel AWESOME once I get off.
posted by natabat at 8:17 AM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: I don't know about the OP, but I have similar feelings about the falling, and it has absolutely 0 to do with the perception of safety on the roller coaster. I know they're safe, I know I won't fall out. That's not the point. I absolutely, positively HATE the feeling of falling. The heights are great -- the Millennium Force at Cedar Point? Lovely view from the top -- but that awful stomach-dropping feeling, combined with the entire ride up the hill where I'm shouting obscenities at whichever friend peer-pressured me on the roller coaster, sucks.

Of course after the drop I love the twists, turns, G-forces, and flips, just like the OP. That stuff is great.

Anyway, my coping mechanism is to allow myself to be peer pressured, because in this case it's a good thing. Once I get people to get me onto the really huge coasters, like the Millennium Force -- hopefully first thing during the day -- the falls at all the other rides feel like no big deal at all. But for that first hill, I just yell my obscenities on the way up, shut my eyes and brace my legs against the floor and scream bloody murder on the way down, and enjoy the rest of my day.

I do like the fighter pilot thing, by the way, allkindsoftime. I'll have to try that next time. The original pressure to get on a bigger coaster came from my uncle, who said this weightlessness was the same feeling astronauts have, and if I ever wanted to be an astronaut (which I did) I'd have to suck it up.
posted by olinerd at 8:19 AM on April 20, 2010

I used to love love love coasters. I would ride any kind, the longer the drop the better. Then one year my sister and I convinced my mom to take us to some park and while she was trying to find the calmer rides we lined up for one of the larger coasters. Once we got on it was clear that this ride was going BACKWARDS! (Don't ask how I failed to realize this the entire time in line). And although the coaster went backwards it still had all kinds of drops and upside down loopies, etc. I have a tendency to get carsick, especially if I can't see where I am going, and this ride did me in. Both sister and I felt quite nauseous and ended up finding Mom and heading out extremely early (which she still teases us about). I have never really recovered but do still enjoy a ride from time to time. Too many will make me feel sick, though.

TL, DR: Don't go on backwards coasters. You may vom. As for the falls: concentrate on the fluttery excited feeling (stomach in your throat) and the wind in your hair! It's exhilarating!
posted by koselig at 8:28 AM on April 20, 2010

Response by poster: Olinerd,

that is exactly the way I feel! It's not the safety, but gosh, the falling! Like my liver is on my mouth, plus the tension and the horrible sensation of being slowly dragged up to your death...

I will however man up and do it. I love roller coasters, I just have to learn to cope with the falling part.
posted by Tarumba at 8:28 AM on April 20, 2010

If you're ever in London around Christmas, there's a ride in Leicester Square where you do nothing but fall. I feel dizzy just watching it...good times!
posted by aquafortis at 9:06 AM on April 20, 2010

This thread is worrying me: I hate roller coasters. It has zero to do with heights, I LOVE being up high. The whole thing just makes me nauseous and I don't get the pleasant adrenaline rush that other people talk about. (maybe because I'm not afraid?) I haven't been on a roller coaster in a while, but the part I remember hating is the twisting and the looping part -- I can't remember how I felt about the first big drop, because the rest is so awful, and I've usually felt sick for a couple hours afterwards.

HOWEVER, I am planning on bungee jumping and skydiving (in fact, I just made reservations to do the former), because I love the being up high thing, and freefalls seem like they should be great. Am I going to hate doing that too if I hate roller coasters? Is it just going to make me feel nauseous? Will it matter that I'm 10 or so years out from the last time I did a roller coaster, and thus full grown now?
posted by brainmouse at 9:07 AM on April 20, 2010

You will like them better wonce you ride them more.

The quick way to get over the fealling is to go on kingda ka at great adventure, or top thrills dragster at cedar point .
posted by majortom1981 at 10:22 AM on April 20, 2010

I really hate the falling too, but I love the twists and turns. Going on a relatively tame roller coaster (like Space Mountain at Disneyland) is absolutely one of the most pleasurable things I've ever experienced.
posted by exceptinsects at 11:36 AM on April 20, 2010

I love the speed and curves, but HATE my head getting banged around so I rarely ride them. Ones without head-restraint things are fun. I like the kind where your feet are hanging the best, because it's like a big awesome swing.
posted by wending my way at 11:51 AM on April 20, 2010

I hate roller coasters. They feature long moments of suspense followed by crashing around that bangs my elbows and makes me feel ill. Also because I was bullied onto them throughout childhood, the message being that EVERYONE enjoys them and if I didn't there was something wrong with me. Happily I am now far past the age where I can be bullied into such things.
posted by JanetLand at 12:50 PM on April 20, 2010

For what its worth, I have found if you go on a smaller roller coaster or other smaller ride first you can get your adrenalin up before facing one of those big fast monster coasters.
posted by Widepath at 2:18 PM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: It's funny; the long, slow climb up to the first drop is far worse for me than the drop itself. But even the drop used to be quite unpleasant for me (just like many others here, I love the loops and spins and so forth). I found a really simple, sort of self-convincing, sort of "fake it til you make it" thing. Just as the coaster would start going down the first drop, I'd make myself smile and shout "WOOOOOOOOO!" Just smiling, even if it's not an involuntary reaction to something, *makes you feel happy*. Screaming "WOOOOOOOOO!" on top of that makes it a delighted scream rather than a frightened scream. After a few times, I would feel giddy anticipation going up the climb, rather than dread, and the drop became as much fun as the loops and spins.

posted by tzikeh at 6:46 PM on April 20, 2010

I'm going to be the standout here and say that I would rather do almost anything than get on a rollercoaster. I loved them as a kid, but as an adult, I think my fight or flight response is just too trigger-wire sensitive. I don't like the feeling of adrenaline at all, at all. I get twitchy, and weepy and nauseous. And I'm not good in a crowd under the best of conditions, so jacked up on adrenaline, stuck in a crowd of pushing cranky people...oh, there's a disaster waiting to happen.

No sir, I do not care for them.
posted by dejah420 at 6:29 AM on April 21, 2010

Best answer: I never liked them. Well, I love most of it, but that first giant drop... nosiree. I prefer my G-forces in the very positive end of the spectrum. But then, I was the kid who had nightmares about falling into Jupiter, so I may be an outlier.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:23 AM on April 21, 2010

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