It gives me tremendous pride to announce I’ve discovered a way to save amusement parks millions of dollars in the years to come.
Instead of investing in taller and faster rides, they can tell visitors they’re going to videotape them on attractions then memorialize their live, uninhibited reactions on the internet where they’ll be viewable by everyone in the world pretty much forever.
That’s how AAA Northeast and Six Flags New England made my few short minutes aboard Harley Quinn’s Spinsanity the most frightening thrill-ride experience of my life.
Click the play button below to watch the video.
I tackled the 15-story, pendulum-shaped torture device in late May on a media invitation from the park. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to help me give Your AAA readers a glimpse of what to expect on AAA Member Appreciation Day, which is Aug. 25. Members can buy discounted admission tickets in advance, which include free parking, early park access, an all-you-can-eat buffet and extended park hours.
I couldn’t have been less nervous about the assignment in the days and hours leading up to my scheduled ride time. I’ve tackled plenty of wicked tall, wicked fast attractions in my day, like Superman, the speediest, most white-knuckle-inducing ride Six Flags New England has to offer.
It was a cinch.
But believe me when I say there is something profound that happens in the human psyche when you become aware that the intimate experience of exposing yourself to a thrill ride is about to be captured for an audience. The gravity of such a situation hit me when the Spinsanity harness lowered down snug on my stocky shoulders.
Inches to my right sat a camera, affixed to the ride by some elaborate scaffolding. When I first looked into it, I could not help but hear the voice of HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I was sure that if I asked to abort the pending mission some disembodied voice would say: “Sorry George, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Plus, the whole PR and video production team was staring at me. The good folks at Six Flags were quite excited to give on-air talent from media outlets around the area opportunities to cut fun, silly promotional videos on the new ride.
An unfortunate effect of the video setup was that only one person could be filmed per ride cycle. So, in addition to the unblinking digital eye affixed to my right, I found about a half-dozen real-life human beings looking back at me as I finished buckling in my harness.
And then there was my family.
My 4-year-old son, riding high off the excitement of meeting Wonder Woman, Batman and the Flash, had wished me luck before I climbed in. He promised me he’d watch and, as I’ve said to him countless times about any number of things, told me not to be afraid.
It was clear as I inventoried everything and everyone tracking me – there was no escape.
The ride itself is about what you’d expect from looking at it. Standing 15 stories tall and reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour – while spinning counterclockwise – Spinsanity does not disappoint thrill seekers. Your belly will drop. Your eyes will water against the wind. You’ll probably scream. Or laugh. Or both.
Your legs may feel a little weak, too. That’s my lasting memory of the ride. When it was over, after I’d yelled and turned purple, I questioned what would happen when I took my first step off the platform.
The ride was over but my fear of looking foolish was as fresh as it was minutes earlier, my fragile state plagued by the premonition that a rubber-legged grown man was about to limp to his family, defeated, before a small audience of media and public relations professionals.
Thankfully, my concerns were utter hogwash. I climbed off the ride like a civilized human being, thanked those involved for the opportunity and excitedly embarked on a new mission to find a giant cup of that ice cream that comes shaped like tiny pebbles.
Some of you reading this may question whether the prospect of having yourself filmed on a thrill ride is as intense as I’ve described it. I suppose it depends on the individual, but, based on my experience, it’s something I’d only recommend for the heartiest amusement park junkies out there.
Or, at the very least, something I’d only recommend to those comfortable enough to scream and laugh and change colors in front of loved ones, strangers and the cold, unforgiving stare of a camera lens.
What’s your favorite theme park ride? Tell us about it in the comments section.
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