Amusement-phobic, redux

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my (ir?)rational fear of amusement-park rides (and one ride, in particular), a fear that has followed me through childhood and teenhood and young adulthood and into my thirties. And while I’m not afraid of all rides, I generally stay away from the ones with height requirements. Basically, if it’s not suitable for toddlers 40 inches or shorter, then it’s probably too perilous for me as well, despite my 74-inch height.

I wrote that original essay partly in anticipation of my friends’ upcoming summertime visit from NY to California: since they have two young girls, I knew they’d want to go to Disneyland, and I knew I’d want to go with them. I also knew I’d be afraid–and in need of serious cajoling–if I were to ride anything of substance.

Anyway, now summer’s upon us, so we went.

To Disneyland.

Where Space Mountain lives.

Thankfully, we started off with something easy: Pirates of the Caribbean. Of course, this is mostly a visual ride–you sit in a boat and watch robot-pirates shoot cannons at other robot-pirates and, occasionally, chase robot-wenches. But I’m man enough to admit that the day got off to a rocky start when that mellow boat ride reminded me of my fear with two harrowing drops, each without warning, straight into the dark.

The Haunted Mansion was next. No big whoop. I thought, I can do this.

Which brings me to Splash Mountain, a ride I had built up in my mind to unfathomably epic proportions. When I was last at Disneyland, the ride had just opened, and that final drop seemed like a descent straight into hell (“zippity do dah” be damned). When I scoped it out this time, with my newly fearless adult perspective, I thought–Oh, I can definitely do that. And so we waited in line (and waited… and waited). And I started to get nervous. Molly and Anna, my friends’ kids (aged 9 and 12), started simultaneously heckling and comforting me, reassuring me that it was no big deal and that I was, indeed, a huge wimp.

When we finally boarded the ride more than an hour later, though, I was somehow confident again. This was just a log ride, after all. (It didn’t even need seatbelts!) And it was a beautiful day. Everyone seemed happy and comfortable:

splash 2

But then we started our excruciatingly long ascent toward the peak, forcing me to (internally) scream: no, don’t go toward the light!

splash 1

But our log kept going, of course, which led to this terrifying moment:

splash3

Looking at this photo of a photo (they post them at the exit of the ride, just to taunt you), I’m pretty relieved that I’m not the only one who looks completely dismayed (that’s me in the back: hi mom!). But I’m not going back on that thing ever again.

No way.

Incidentally, the dreaded Space Mountain ride was sort of anti-climactic, especially after the anxiety of the build-up (see “Amusement-phobic” for more horrifying memories). Absent the steep drop of the Splash Mt. Death Ride, Space Mt. was pure, all-too-abbreviated bliss, with its swirling lights and retro soundtrack. When it was over, I wondered why I had been so terrified in the first place, why I had given up on most of my childhood mythologies–but, somehow, not this one.

Whatever the answer, the fear of one ride had abated (while another had taken its place), and we even tried to ride Space Mountain again, at the end of the night. Unfortunately, the long day had taken its toll, as the very thought of an hour-long wait became more fearsome than any iconic Disney ride, our fear of tedium trumping all else…

10 responses to “Amusement-phobic, redux”

  1. am i the only one who notices the similarities between that middle photo and the one from dr. cedric’s colon column?

    wow. that poor freak in the FMU shirt up front obviously took a lot more water than the rest of y’all. what a selfless individual.

  2. Cedric Cedarbrook, MD says:

    A “log” ride through a narrow tube, culminating with an anxiety-inducing (yet relieving) plunge into a pool of water? Sounds vaguely familiar. Maybe it should be called “Brown Splash” Mountain.

  3. nikki. says:

    nice post jeremy. . .but, death?. . .you posted under death? what ever happened to “out and about” or “food”?

  4. Ruben Mancillas says:

    Please tell me I am not the only one who knows about this but any post about Splash Mountain would not be complete without mentioning the phenomenon of Flash Mountain. You know those photos of a log full of people sliding down the falls that Disneyland offers for amusement and possible purchase? Well, cast members manning these photo stations have to edit out the many people who can’t resist the temptation to either lift up their own or their log mates shirts at moment of said photo so that the family friendly atmosphere isn’t disturbed by too many zany topless shots at rides end. These employees of course cannot resist the temptation to post these edited photos onto the web for the delectation of those interested. Previous posts and comments indicate that there are some photo enthusiasts out there, you guys can discuss much better than I (Barthes, OK and Sontag, was about as far as I got) the difference in expression between the women who hoist their own shirts and those who have it lifted for them by a helpful partner from the rear of the log. Some of them actually do look surprised while others seem to have just given specific instructions as to how to best maneuver a tube top for maximum effect.

  5. farrell says:

    death. yes. that was the perfect subject for this post. i laughed very hard. i’d have only laughed harder if there were a greatwhatsit category called “i’m the world’s biggest pussy whoose.”

  6. trixie says:

    jeremy, apparently i am the only one that feels pride for the fact that you faced your fears and overcame space mountain. congratulations. i don’t think you are a pussy. besides, what’s wrong with being a pussy? some people like pussies. by that i mean kitties.

  7. chrissy says:

    no, jeremy’s definitely a pussy. i am a bit proud of him though.

  8. Nastasya says:

    Fear, I believe, is a useless emotion among all other useless emotions like guilt, envy, jealousy and, my favorite, love. Having the ability to control these emotions allows you to see things within yourself you never thought you had before like courage and dignity, for example. But as a chick compassion response generator, this post is brilliant!

  9. Dave says:

    We all know that Jeremy is really just one big, walking chick compassion response generator.

  10. Nastasya says:

    :) True