Dear Coaster Friends,
Do you have anxiety, fears, minor scapes, burns, difficulty sleeping, difficulty waking, do you feel lonely, sad, happy, frustrated, sneezy, burning when you pee, itchy teeth, difficulty concentrating, are you forgetful, do you breath in oxygen, or just want to have fun?! Then roller coasters may cure what ails you. This magic elixir has many positive benefits and can be the catalyst for your recovery and the key to healthy living! Do not attempt to cure yourself with roller coaster if; you are pregnant, believe you may be pregnant, have heart disease, recent head injury, recent surgery, or recent back or neck injury. Many people view coasters as something to conquer and riding one can increase their general confidence. Other look to roller coasters as a one step cure to a fear: of heights, danger, or simply losing control. Roller coasters can be a rite of passage to prove yourself or to signal a new stage of life, the possibilities are endless. Don’t take it from me check out the testimonials.
Our friend Brendon took roller coasters and found that it became the kick off of a healthier lifestyle. I am sure many coaster enthusiasts can identify with the difficulty of eating healthy especially when traveling, and traveling is a big part of seeking out new roller coasters. The seating and restraint systems often show us when it is time to make changes. Brendon used roller coasters as a motivation to lose weight, and make being healthy more rewarding since now he is more comfortable with himself both emotionally, and physically.
Our friend Mike had a stutter as a child, but the distraction of riding a roller coaster gave him the coping skills to recognize the cause, and self regulate. He recalls, “I rode my first roller coaster in August 1977. It was the Bavarian Beetle at King’s Island, so began my life long love of them. It was a perfect day I rode everything at the park, words are not enough to describe the joy I felt. Then my mom noticed and told me that I hadn’t stuttered all day. Then the fear came crashing back down on me I couldn’t get a word out after that. She told me to calm down and remember riding The Racer. I was better, but I still was stuttering. I rarely stutter now but it is still my go to exercise to stop it. I have no fear on a roller coaster I am relaxed and in total bliss while riding. I can escape all of life’s troubles, even the fear.”
Mike was able to learn about himself and roller coasters became a source of confidence, a juxtaposition of thrills and calm. Cedar Point became his childhood sanctuary, away from other children who would tease or taunt someone who felt self conscious about a stutter. It was a place where he was an anonymous part of a larger crowd all enjoying the park and the rides together. No fear, nervousness, or worries about daily life, just a place where everyone fit in. This escape from everyday troubles is a refresh for a mind young or old to be in a place of joy and togetherness. A feeling that lasted and helps the young fight off the external demons, while the old remember the fun of youth.
Our friend Amanda was trying to overcome fear, she enjoyed visiting parks, but the roller coaster became both the problem and the cure. She said, “My home park was Busch Gardens Tampa, and I think I was lucky for it. For many visits I wouldn't ride anything but Akbar's, but I went home determined that next time I would try a roller coaster. Each time we visited, I'd get a little braver. Two weeks after it's opening, I rode Gwazi with my mom and sister. Despite my horror and death grip on Tiger, I felt like I'd leveled up. I rode nothing else that day, but my little kid heart felt accomplished.”
Amanda continued her journey and told us, “I visited many other parks from that point and ended up continuing the same pattern. Loch Ness, but not Apollo's Chariot, eventually Kumba, and not quite SheiKra. But for each failure of nerve, I wanted to know more and more. I'd always liked theme parks for their atmosphere, the colors and names of rides, their history, and I wanted to learn as much as I could. I may have let myself down, but I just kept building on it with books, forums, and travel channel documentaries.
I knew by my next visit to Busch Gardens Williamsburg that I wasn't going to let fear win this time. Griffon had just opened a month prior, and I had to know what the hype was. I'd zipped through the park straight to the queue, but I still had that feeling of wanting to turn back. I was a little disappointed after so much preparation until the wise words of someone behind me in line said "screw it, do it." And for some reason following those profound words of Confucius, just that simply, I had my aha moment. I boarded the front left seat, and my fear dropped away with the dive.” Roller coasters have helped our friend Amanda find the right state of mind to persevere and conquer challenges in her daily life. Even if she does it in her own time, she knows she can rise to any occasion.
My family has used roller coasters as a cure in the past too. I had a struggle with a major injury several years ago. It was serious enough that I was afraid I would be a fragile man, forever concerned that stress or strain would cause me physical distress. After a long ten month recovery I made a plan, I would stress test my body, my nerve, and my new self on a roller coaster. We went up to Six Flags New England to see if I could defeat Superman: The Ride. I was very nervous that I could be losing something I was working towards, but when I reached the bottom of the drop and I survived the positive G’s I knew that I was ready for whatever was coming up next.
My wife and I both feel great joy and a sense of release on roller coasters. There was a time in the past when we were experiencing a great deal of stress because a loved one was going through a struggle with a terminal illness. In order to better cope we felt the best place to go for stress relief was Dorney Park. You can call it scream therapy or escapism, but it worked for us. It gave us a time without the weight of those troubles and offered us a chance to recover and leave as a stronger family ready to be supportive. We also bookended that struggle with a visit to Great Adventure, this time to heal ourselves and enjoy time as a family. We even hosted my parents, who in the past had brought me to parks. Even though it was our struggle and recovery we left the park refreshed, and filled with family memories. My mother never went on any roller coasters and remained nervous, anxious, and irrationally afraid even after we left the park. If she had only tried a roller coaster she could have been cured just like us.
Jeff Goodman, Amanda Kumba, & Mike Flynn