I spent the better part of a week in Central Florida last month, checking out new attractions at the theme parks (watch for Sunday’s Travel section for my report). In my spare time, I indulged one of my passions – riding roller coasters. That spree reminded me that being a serial coaster rider is a serious business with much wisdom to be gained. In order to justify my coaster rides as work, I’m going to pass some of that wisdom on to you. Herewith my tips for riding roller coasters.
*The scariest seat on any Florida coaster is the outside seat in the front row of SheiKra at Busch Gardens when it pauses on the precipice, just before it makes a 90-degree plunge.
*The coasters most likely to make you queasy are the wild mouse coasters like Sand Serpent at Busch Gardens or Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Wild mouse coasters usually don’t have tall drops or inversions. Instead they have switchback sections with tight, flat turns that whip the cars back and forth.
*Don’t wear earrings if your ears are going to be banging against rigid over-the-shoulder restraints, such as the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Cheetah Run at Busch Gardens (pictured above).
*If your back gives you problems, stay away from the traditional wooden coasters like Gwazi at Busch Gardens, which rattle your spine mercilessly. (They’re not roller coasters, but Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure and Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland won’t do your back any good either.)
*Conventional wisdom in Disney World’s public relations office is that the best remedy for a stomach made queasy by a thrill ride is a PB&J milkshake from the 50’s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
*There is no such thing as an attractive photo of you on a roller coaster. Fun, thrilling, scary, yes, but not pretty.
*Don’t wear flip-flops if your feet are going to be dangling, such as on the Dragon Challenge at Universal’s Islands of Adventure or Montu at Busch Gardens.
*If you think your phone, sunglasses and coins are going to be safe in your pockets when a coaster turns you upside down, the next time you ride Manta at SeaWorld Orlando, check out what’s in the tarp and the net strung below the ride.