That, to me, is one of the most terrifying and yet exciting sounds on the planet! The sound of a rollercoaster slowing inching higher and higher until the chaotic world below becomes a silent blur.
During our winter break (which was over a month ago, sorry for my absence!), my brother and I went to Orlando Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, where the afore mentioned terror became a common occurrence.
It was a drizzly and dark day, and because of the ill climate, we assumed the park would be deserted … we were wrong.
As we were herded like cattle onto the moving conveyor belt we found ourselves adrift in a hurried crowd of park-goers. There was a boisterous family at the lead and behind us were two little boys, who were constantly pushing and fighting to get in front of us.
Finally, we were free, and charged toward the gates of the park. We only paused briefly when children sprinted in front of us, and we skillfully dodged the amateur photographers snapping pictures of their loved ones.
Once officially inside the park, we sped toward our favorite rollercoaster, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. The red, spiraling speed-machine roared overhead as we quickly got in line. The wait was for 90 minutes, which wasn’t unreasonable considering the perfection of the coaster.
As we patently waited in the throng, I took time to people watch. Some guests were complaining about the wait, while others discussed where they wanted to go for lunch. Behind us were two teens who never said a word, but were completely immersed in their cell phones.
They balanced their bottoms on the railing and texted the entire wait! Apparently the railings are not designated seating, because suddenly a booming voice screamed, “Hey, get OFF the railing!!!”
A few moments later that same individual came over the loud speaker and said with forced jolliness, “Hey there, rockers! We ask that you refrain from sitting on the railings, as doing so can cause harm to both you and your fellow rock stars. Thank you, and we hope that you have a rockin’ day here at Universal Studios of Orlando! Rock ON!”
He would repeat this speech every 15-minutes or so, and always with practiced enthusiasm. Every time, I would look back and notice that the two texters were completely unphased by the announcement, and never budged from their perch.
Finally, our wait was over, and we were next to ride the ride. For some reason, passengers must load and unload the coaster while on a moving conveyor belt, meaning that the ride never really stops. Therefore you have 30-seconds of mass chaos, as people frantically try to get out of the seat while you attempt to leap into the ride and buckle yourself in.
Then, there you are, going straight up and listening to the clicking of the chain. The first drop is an intense 17-story descend, that fathers eardrum bursting screeches of terror and delight.
Once the ride ended, I strained to get out of the seat and then struggled to walk, as the first step is on the moving conveyor belt. There was a near catastrophic crash between me and another passenger, as we attempted to stagger to safety.
Once on secure and stable ground, my brother and I visited many other rides and attractions and had a blast. It was hours later, we found ourselves fighting through the narrow streets outside of Hogwarts (Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter). This is the most crowded section out of both Universal parks.
We wanted to ride the Dragon Challenge, but the main challenge we had was finding the entrance. Then, there was the hike. The line took us around the outside grounds, then under the enchanted ceiling with the floating candles and beyond. It was in the candle room we started to get weary, as those magical candles are stunning, but not very effective means of lighting.
We found ourselves stumbling around in the dark, bumping into walls and other equally confused guests. Then, the line led us underground.
Deep inside the catacombs, we packed ourselves together. Our voices echoed off the stone walls. In front of us was an ardent couple, who must have found the musky odor of hundreds of sweaty tourists enchanting, as they couldn’t keep their hands off of one another.
Behind us was a talkative little boy who saw every rock on the wall as a opportunity for a climbing expedition. His legs flailed as he struggled to get his grip, and everyone within a 4-foot radius was a casualty to his rock-climbing adventure!
After an hour in the humid cavern, we finally felt the faint breeze of freedom. Just as we were the next in line, an announcement came on that said the ride was experiencing “technical difficulties” and that it should resume shortly.
While we were underground, it had apparently rained, which is never good news to coaster riders. Behind us now, were the two little pushing boys from earlier, but after stewing in the sub-ground sauna, they now had a pungent odor that was so strong I discreetly sniffed myself, just to make sure that I wasn’t the one with the offending stench.
Fortunately, the ride started up again in no time, so we hoisted ourselves in the grimy seats and carefully buckled the belt. Now the two were right next to me, and I felt their fumes slowly suffocating me.
I took solace in the fact that once the coaster started, their scent could no longer linger. That was NOT the case.
As we started to ride the chain up, icy rain water that was sitting on top of the coaster, poured down on us. We were all drenched, but even after the impromptu bath, my neighbors still reeked. Through every corkscrew and vertical loop, I couldn’t escape their smell!
Even when the ride was over and my brother and I sloshed about in our squishy, wet jeans, the odor was with me. In fact that smell must have been buried deep in my nostrils, as I could smell it for some time afterwards.
It was certainly a memorable day, and we had a blast. It’s remembering back on carefree times that will help get me through my up-coming midterms … wish me luck because my upcoming ride doesn’t come with lap bars!