That’s me, second from the left in the middle row. Not my most flattering moment, but there’s a story here, and as a writer I always want to tell a good story. But to do that, I have to go back a couple decades.
I first went to Disney World for spring break while I was in college. This is some 20 years ago. My dad took me, and we went on what was then called the Tower of Terror. It was a Twilight Zone-themed ride that really just drops you. I’d never been on a drop ride before. I don’t remember what I felt about it at the time, but I do know I never went on it again.
A year or two later, my friends Natosha and Abby and I went to Six Flags Fiesta Texas and also did the big drop ride there. I hated it. Now, that ride is somewhat different since it’s all outside and you’re just hanging over the park. And it didn’t help that something caused them to have to pause a long time while we were sitting and waiting at the top. I don’t know if something had gone wrong or what, but at that point I was never going to do another one of these rides that drops you.
Twenty years later . . . We’re at Disneyland, and what used to be Tower of Terror is now Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout. I love GOTG. And I’m thinking maybe a ride like this isn’t as bad as I remember.
But the minute the car pushed back to what I knew was a big shaft that we were going to be dropped from, I regretted my decision.
And this ride didn’t just drop us once. Oh, no. This ride is like being on a yo-yo. Up, down, up, down. It felt like it went on forever.
The thing is, the ride itself is very cool. The story and everything—I really enjoyed it. But I don’t love the sensation of falling. The weightlessness, the way my stomach attempts to exit my body.
My nine-year-old daughter, however, adores these rides. That’s her next to me in the photo. I asked her, “Is it almost over?” and she reassured me that it was (even though she didn’t really know; she only wanted me to feel better). So there she is in the photo, telling me it will be all right.
When the ride did finally end, I was shaking. I started crying. The people getting off the ride weren’t really sure what to make of that. You see them in the photo, all having a great time. Not me! I cried, and also laughed a little with relief. I could barely walk, I was shaking so hard.
But! Pics or it didn’t happen! So here is the evidence. I bought a t-shirt too. And a tiny part of me wants to try again. Because it is a clever ride, and maybe exposure therapy will make me more able to tolerate it?
Or maybe I’m crazy.
Still, I think I look even more afraid here:
And happiest here: