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Archive for Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jest for Grins: Disney World’s scary rides not for the timid

January 17, 2010

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When husband Ray and I took son Greg to California’s Disney Land, we never expected that he and daughter-in-law Val would pay back the favor decades later by taking us to Florida’s Disney World. Visiting a theme park with grandchildren Gabe, Sammi and Zoe was a much different experience. At Disney Land, I opened and closed the park and even resisted returning to the hotel to rest during the middle of the day. I gave in only because our kids were tired.

But at Disney World … who knew there was so much walking? I have walked four miles a day for many years but wasn’t prepared for the pedestrian requirements there (one equally fatigued couple sitting on a bench with us said they brought their pedometers and put 18 miles on them the first day … not collectively … EACH!). I had considered packing a pedometer but am glad I didn’t. There are some things I just don’t need to know.

I’m also not a fan of carnival-type rides. Ray, however, will ride anything; he even rode the Cyclone Racer, an all-wood roller coaster at the long-gone Pike at Long Beach, which — according to Charles Phoenix who writes about it on the Internet — “had two side-by-side tracks. The ride began with the cars starting together then racing all the way to the finish. On the last dip, the cars dropped 90 feet down a 50-degree angle at 80 miles an hour. Over the years the rickety roller coaster claimed the lives of more than a few drunken sailors who ignored the DO NOT STAND UP sign.” Being neither drunk nor a sailor, Ray survived the ride, as did I, anxiously watching him from terra firma.

I declined to ride Disney World’s Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster which “zooms from 0-60 mph with the force of a supersonic F-14, takes in high-speed loops and turns synchronized to a specially recorded Aerosmith soundtrack.”

However, I was persuaded to ride the 199-foot-tall Tower of Terror attraction, obviously named by someone who believed in truth in advertising. The ride consists of a bunch of people strapped in chairs in an elevator that free-falls multiple times, causing riders, according to Wikipedia, “to rise off their seats, held in place only by their seat belt.” (I’ll say!)

Fortunately, you don’t have to ride scary attractions to have a great time at Disney World. The safari ride at Animal Kingdom is fun for anyone who enjoys viewing exotic animals from the safety of a truck. And I loved the Soarin’ ride that simulates a hang-gliding flight over California, as well as Mission Space, a motion simulator ride that claims to be as close as you can get to blasting off into space without leaving Earth.

But my favorite memory of the trip occurred at a Chinese restaurant on the trip home. One of the desserts was a filled cookie in the shape of a star. Observing his cookie, Gabe noted the painted-on eyes and the small raised circles beneath them. “Look, Dad,” he said, “it’s got eyes and tiny breast implants.”

“Those are cheeks,” replied Greg.

“Oh,” Gabe exclaimed, “so the entire cookie is a FACE!”

You can’t blame Gabe. First, he’s a teenage boy. Second, four of the star’s points could have represented arms and legs.

Grandkids and Disney World … ya gotta love both! And I do.

— Marsha Henry Goff is a freelance writer in Lawrence whose latest book is “Human Nature Calls.”

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