And then, after waffles, we risked becoming social outcasts for the entire southern half of the country by skipping the Richmond NASCAR race and heading off to King’s Dominion Amusement Park so my children could drag me onto terrifying rides that were designed with the sole purpose of making me wish I was back on the highway with no brakes where things seemed safe.
The park was large and loud and smelled like equal parts cotton candy, corn dogs, sweat, and fear. It was everything an amusement park should be.
First we had to rush to The Dominator so we could wait in line. We stood in line for about 5 minutes before a warning type of horn blew and a recorded announcement ordered everyone to leave the area because they were “testing the ride”. Not wishing to tempt fate too far, we went off in search of other thrills.
We soon found them; pushing ourselves to the limits of human endurance by waiting 80 minutes in line for The Volcano, a ride that lasts about 45 seconds and, in that time, can reduce you to a quivering pile of human jelly. It begins by going from 0 to a bajilliondy miles per hour in an eighth of a second, then it whisks you up a vertical run and out the top of a stone volcano, upside down. Then it really gets exciting. But I think I successfully suppressed most of it, so I don’t care to go into it again.
(part of The Volcano)
It was delightful, and as soon as my legs stopped shaking, we raced to yet another roller coaster, this one featuring things that caught on fire. I love a great big ball of fire as much as the next guy, but this was just weird. The ride stopped about half way through and you sat for a moment, listening to recorded gunfire and admiring the view of a helicopter and some gas pumps. Then, flames woofed out of a few places and we were whisked into a black tunnel for the remainder of the ride.
After that, it was Tori’s turn. She had thus far refused to go on any roller coasters, but she had her eye on a cute little number called The Crypt. There are two things I do not like. Spinning and heights. This ride managed to brilliantly incorporate both of them into something so fiendishly awful that I suspect it could actually be classified as cruel and unusual punishment.
I watched a dizzy, disoriented lady on the ride just before ours step from her seat and pitch forward to her knees, bumping her head on the metal gate in front of her. Tori chatted amiably with me as we awaited our turn. She cannot be my daughter.
I will try my best to describe its unparalleled horror. Imagine a very large swing set with only one large seat running all the way across it. maybe 40 people sit on this bench, back to back in 2 rows of 20. Then the swing starts swinging just like a big, friendly swing at the playground. Except it goes 40 feet in the air. Then it swings all the way over, upside-down. Then the bench that you are sitting on spins around, independently of the other spinning. Then it keeps spinning. Then you wish for a sudden cardiac arrest so the suffering will cease.
(The Crypt, aka the Pukilator)
The ride was the only one that had its own viewing area so spectators could gather and watch other people suffer. I’m sure it was delicious fun.
Kerri tried to take pictures, but claimed they didn’t come out too well because she was laughing too hard at the frozen terror on my face.
Then it was time for lunch!
I ate lightly, hoping that less food would led to less violent vomiting later.
We made our way back to The Dominator, which, it appeared, that they were finished testing. It was a great ride. Fast and furious, not too high, not too spinny, but wonderfully invigorating.
(The slow, relaxing part of The Dominator)
After that, Alex decided that he was ready for the big one. He had done a bit of online research (by research, I mean watching promotional videos) and was insistent that we should go on a roller coaster called The Intimidator. It’s a roller coaster based loosely on Dale Earnhardt, the race car driver.
I’m not sure what the connection is, but I must commend them on their name choice. “The Intimidator” is a much more effective name for a thrill ride than “Dale”.
“Want to go ride Dale?” seems to lack something.
The Intimidator lacked nothing.
My fear of heights is not a casual, relaxed, offhand sort of fear. It is a deep-seated, fully-bloomed pathological terror of heights.
(The first hill of The Intimidator, please note that it is too tall to fit in one picture.)
The Intimidator supplied me with a lifetime of material for nightmares that will certainly haunt me long past my death and into whatever afterlife might await me. It begins with a perilous climb to 305 feet above a cozy concrete pad. The air got a bit thin at that altitude, but I wasn’t even allowed the pleasure of passing out before our climb was over and we slipped past the summit and began a leisurely descent down an 85 degree slope at 94 miles per hour. The rest of the ride was something of a blur. I remember going really fast up and down, then turning and then turning some more and then it was over and I was able to crawl away to find a quiet place where I could lay down and whimper and cry for a few hours.
Actually, I really do enjoy roller coasters. I did not enjoy peering over the edge of my seat into the cloudy oblivion below at the crest of the hill, but the rest of the ride was a lot of fun.
We finally convinced Tori to try a roller coaster and once she did, she was hooked. She and Alex spent the rest of the afternoon racing from one coaster to the next and I was able to spend the remainder of the evening sitting quietly with Kerri, enjoying the flashbacks from The Crypt that I kept having.
As an added bonus, nothing fell off the car on the ride home.