My oldest son, Bert, relished his role as older brother/idol/torturer of Ernie. (For sake of confidentiality I will call them Bert and Ernie since using their actual names, Palmer and Stewart, would likely cause significant embarrassment and years of expensive therapy.) My thrill seeking sons loved to seek thrills and so it was we found ourselves in Universal Studios Florida seeking our thrill seeking thrills on the Hulk roller coaster. Within seconds of launch, Bert was in a gray out, as the G forces pooled his blood somewhere in his Airwalks causing his vision to fade to black, much to the great glee of young Ste...Ernie. A couple of twists and screams later Bertmer was revived but as the ride finished Ernie, noting the odd effect this ride had on big Bert announced that we should do it again. Not wanting to show any signs of weakness for fear of diminishing his authority as Atilla the older Hun, he agreed. Again, gray out, much to the delight of Ernie who of course wanted to do it seven more times. By the time we finally finished our fling on Hulkmania, Bert was ready for something easier like bunging jumping into Crocodile Lake without a cord.
A few years later I took my grandkids (I will call them Snuffleupagus and Grover since Eliza and Enoch may not be overjoyed to see their names in print either) to a similar park of pleasant pestilence and we rode the spinning strawberries or twirling teacups or hellacious helicopter or whatever. “This will be fun kids” I announced as I took the wheel and spun us around like Katarina Witt on expresso. Whispering with evil intent “can’t wait to see them stumble around like drunken cops after this.” But as we got off the teacups and as they skipped towards the next ride...”Wait a sec kids....um.....grandpa is..” “Grandpa are you sweating?” “Heck no...just tears of joy springing from my forehead, but lets.... sit down... before Grandpa vomits.”
I used to be able to do these things no problem but as the Big Macs accumulate over the years and my belt and the sun has turned my hair grey I find I don’t spin so good. Can a day at Disney be dangerous and detrimental to your dentures, digits and dignity? As roller coasters continue to push the envelope of speed, I note the following medical warnings from the park, somewhat bastardized by, well... Goofy.
1. The sharp turns, ups and downs, and high speeds of today's roller coasters could cause damage to your ears. Passengers should remain facing forward for the duration of the ride to avoid letting the full impact of acceleration wind hit the ear. Barotrauma occurs when there is a quick change in pressure between the external environment, the ear drum and the pressure in the middle ear space. Stanley Cup rioters should be fine as the wind should pass right through.
2. Roller coasters can jolt your neck about, leaving you at risk for headaches as well as whiplash. Sit in the middle of the chair and don't lean to one side. Relax, but do not go limp (sounds familiar). When the seat pitches you to the left, relax your torso and bend to the right to keep your head upright and centered. You want to ride the seat--not have it throw you around or toss you out over the It Doesn’t Much Matterhorn.
3. Do not ride the coasters if you are pregnant, or resemble third trimester were you a woman. There are special rides designed for the extra-fluffy folks but they are currently permanently broken.
4. If you have high blood pressure, a heart condition or even a rupturing aneurysm try the angio ride over in ICU land.
5. If you get nauseous simply watching Al Gore kiss something or if you have just gorged on the Pluto Splatter Platter then please stay off the Whirling Duodenum.
6. Most fun theme parks are not found in Winnipeg or the Straits of Magellan but rather near a Solar Flare. Drink lots of water and keep cool, dude.
7. If you are visiting with a child or a grandparent or a childish grandparent, take a moment to explain how they should behave. Set a good example for them by following the rules. Tell them to stay seated, to hold the grab bar, put their hands rather than their breakfast in their laps, and not to stick their knees and feet outside a ride vehicle. And never put a crying child or a screaming grandfather on a ride. If he starts to cry, let others pass you in line until he is calmed..... Samewiththechild.