I have a basic rule of thumb when it comes to carnival rides: If the person running a ride, such as the Squirrel Cages, keeps a garden hose available for spraying out the seats, I stay away. That’s because this person’s sole ambition is to make me — and others like me — vomit. I realize this person may be a trained professional who, on a daily basis, makes countless split-second decisions on whether to push the red or green button to stop the ride.
And, yes, I realize this individual has nothing but the safety of his passengers in mind when he secures a safety latch by removing his boot and whacking it until his arm gets tired, at which point, being a trained professional, he bolsters the confidence of his nervous riders by hacking up a cheekful of phlegm and shrugging his shoulders before walking off.
Yet somehow, in spite of these assurances, I’m still terrified of carnival rides. I think it’s because, when I was 10, my “friends” talked me into riding The Drop Out, which wasn’t actually a ride as much as it was a barf-a-torium with an observation deck. Basically, 30 people entered a circular room and found a spot along the wall. Gradually, the walls would begin to rotate faster and faster, creating enough centrifugal force to suck the cotton candy from the mouth of anyone standing within 100 feet. Once the ride reached optimum centrifuge, occupants would be stuck to the wall as the floor dropped out, leaving them suspended 20 feet above a pit of (presumably fake) spikes. All of this was visible through a series of windows surrounding the ride so that, while waiting in line, people such as myself could prepare for the experience by, very slowly, having a bowel movement. I still don’t know how I got talked into this ride. All I know is I ended up next to someone whose stomach contents went on display the instant the floor dropped out. Due to the force of gravity, I couldn’t move my head without blacking out, which meant watching the sum total of this person’s food consumption — which was considerable — reconfigure itself on the wall next to me.
This was, without question, the longest ride of my life. To this day, I can still see the apologetic look on that person’s face as the ride came to an end and the three of us — him, his vomit and I — gradually slid down the wall together.
Since that fateful encounter I’ve had no interest in being strapped down, cinched up or buckled into something specifically designed to do things I wouldn’t normally do without a flight suit and full medical coverage. My daughter gets frustrated by this because she’s one of those people who is exhilarated by having her stomach in her mouth. The one time she talked me into riding with her was on the Squirrel Cages. Everything was fine until that part in the ride where — and you know the part I mean — it starts to actually move.
Admittedly, I’m not a professional carnival ride operator. But I think I could recognize the subtle signs exhibited of a rider who is in distress. For example: Someone who is pressed so hard against the cage that his lips are actually outside the door while screaming “LET-ME-OFF-LET-ME-OFF-LET-ME-OFF!” would be a red flag to me.
Particularly if the rider in question began doing this after traveling less than two feet. Yet some how these signs were somehow missed by our ride operator. I’m not saying he purposely ignored my pleas.
Who knows? He may have been busy looking for a garden hose?
What I do know is that as a father trying to maintain a firm grip on three teenagers, it’s hard enough without having the term “squirrel cages” thrown up in my face. Figuretively speaking, of course. I realize at some point I will need to regain my parental dignity and face that ride again — without the screaming — to relcaim my “Dad-ness” in the eyes of my teenagers.
Then again, I could always even the score and utter those two words guarenteed to induce their own horrified screaming:
53 thoughts on “Impress your kids; freak out on a carnival ride”
That is hilarious! And gut-wrenching! My hands are all sweaty.
Haha! I wouldn’t want to ride the squirrel cages with either of us!
I did that (but not with you) and lived to regret it.
Reblogged this on Teachezwell Blog and commented:
Here’s a rule to consider: Do not go on freaky rides with kids. After reading this, you WILL follow this rule.
As someone with a long torso (I sit tall) and no core muscles, I cannot handle amusement park rides beyond public restroom facilities without injuring myself in some way. Even the paddleboat Swans are a hazard as I have never been in a boat smaller than a lake ferry taking a swim.
Although the nice thing about swimming is it helps clean the spew off your clothes.
I’ll make sure to cross that off of my list of “things to do with Randall” when we eventually meet.
Tends to spill the beer, in any event
I HATE that ride. But I love roller coasters. There is one at a nearby park where the train rides backwards up an enormous U shape and drops and rolls forward up the other side a few times. And we were in the last car and I looked at my son’s face and said no….no….there are people down there you are gonna hold it! and he did until we got off the ride and he threw up directly into my flip flops which is exactly what I deserved….
Hahaha! It’s a good thing you weren’t wearing boots.
Lol! The walk to the restroom still wasn’t fun, but yeah, thats good perspective. Thanks, I needed funny. 🙂
“Everything was fine until that part in the ride where — and you know the part I mean — it starts to actually move.” Ha, ha, ha!! Hilarious!
If not for that part, I think I’d do OK 😉
Years ago, I went to an amusement park with Anne Bancroft and a mutual friend. Anne and I decided to ride the Ferris Wheel, and the operator made his decision to keep us going around and around far beyond the time limit. We were getting very annoyed. ” Next time we arrive at the operator, we’ll pretend to be throwing up,” Anne said. That’s exactly what we did, and he couldn’t let us off fast enough.
Hahahaha! It’s good to have a plan!
The fun in rollercoasters lies in letting go completely. It’s living life without knowing what exactly will happen, without being in control of what will happen to you. It’s surrendering to the moment and whatever the here and now has to offer you….kinda like living without a wifi-signal.
Good save, Ned.
Oh trust me, when I’m on a rollercoaster I have no trouble letting go. Of my lunch, snacks, corn dogs…
I guess that could be considered a first step;)
My hands were trembling reading your post, just dropped my phone. I hate any rides that spin, or fall, or rise, or move.
I’m with you. The food court is my favorite carnival activity.
Why in God’s name would someone design a ride like the Drop Out? I think my stomach clenched just reading about it. Yipes.
I’m pretty sure it was developed by the KGB.
I’ve had people try to talk me into rides like Drop Out – no way. If it spins or goes upside down, it’s not for me. We do have one hilarious family picture, however, showing dad, me and two of our girls on a fairly wild roller coaster. You know, those pictures taken at the end of the ride? Dad and I look like we’re both having heart attacks – the girls are laughing their heads off. I’ll get even with them someday, somehow.
That’s usually how I look after driving with my son.
This was hilarious! I hate all rides. I get motion sickness walking across the room for god’s sake. I did go on a few at Disney for my kids but wished I hadn’t.
I threw up on Holland while riding “It’s a Small World.”
This cracked me up! I had a melt down similar to this on a Balloon ride at peppa pig world – yes you heard me right a theme park for toddlers!
Ha! I think I would be frightened of any ride in a place called Peppa Pig World!
Nice word selection ‘barfatorium’, very appropriate, my sentiments. I don’t do those rides either for same reasons. You’re braver than me. 🙂
Braver or weak-minded… it’s a fine line 😉
i used to go on virtually any and everything. until – i couldn’t anymore. i can’t even look at a carousel without upchucking, so i try at all costs to avoid spinning things.
Definitely stay away from Wheel of Fortune…
I’m with you, Ned – I hate them!
We need to start a support group.
Barf-a-torium? I like it!! I’m gonna have to remember this term. I remember the ride where the floor dropped (we called it something different) but being a staunch coward from birth I never gave it a go so yelling “let me off” would a mute point because this chicken won’t get on in the first place. Kudos to you for at least being daring enough to get on.
I’m pretty sure someone used a Jedi mindtrick on me.
And don’t forget you could be hit in the face by a bird… just like Fabio…
That’s as close as I’ll ever get to being compared to Fabio, so thanks for that…
Hey – I just discovered there is a German “Ned’s Blog” http://www.nedsblog.de/
I would never have expect there to be two of you! 🙂
That’s actually quite frightening… I’ll have to check my German counterpart out, schnell!
Luckily, my daughter is as much a coward as her old man…
You’ll always have that connection, though.
Oh ew… gross! I always had the good fortune to vomit AFTER I got off of a ride! I can’t do anything that spins! Nothing! Not even the cute little cup and saucer rides for kids. I got on one of those with my daughter once and mommy had to sit down for 30 minutes so I didn’t puke all over the park! However! I LOVE roller coasters! I just can’t ride them anymore because they make my head hurt. God it sucks getting old!
I threw up in the spinning cups at Disneyland once. But hey, at least it was in a cup…
No access to Wi-Fi is the modern version of sending kids to bed without dinner. And by the way, did they really do that?
Yes they did. I have a lawsuit for mental anguish pending…
Please forward me your defence, as I will need it soon.
It’s pretty simple:
“Exhibit A, your Honor — Ned has four children. Three are still teenagers… The defense rests.”
And you are free to go. I get it.
I used to work at Oaks Park back when Funtasic ran the park back in 1983, 1983 was my rookie season at Oaks Park, I was honored by Oaks Park/Funtastic in 1983 for saving around seventy people’s lives when the park had a black out on one of it’s busiest days of the year.
On July 3rd 1983 on one of Oaks Parks busiest days of the year the park had a blackout, a transformer in kiddyland blew up, it was on fire, and the power lines going to it were also on fire!
Everyone in kiddyland was at the risk of being electrocuted, and it was so dark in that park you could not see your feet or hands, and there were around forty to fifty people in kiddyland at this time!
I was running the Boat ride when the transformer blew up and the park went dark, and the transformer that blew up was right above my ride, I got everyone off my ride as fast as possible, but then realized after that that everyone that is still in kiddyland is still under the risk of electrocution!
I began ordering customers out of kiddyland and directing their flow of traffic away from the danger area, I was hoping the other ride operators would help me but they did not, instead of helping me they just assumed they were supposed to leave kiddyland along with the customers, so I had to clear everyone out of that area on my own!
After I got kiddyland clear I scoured kiddyland to make sure no one was left back there, when I was satisfied that there was no one left back there then and only then did I leave kiddyland!
Once I was out of kiddyland I approached the first ride operator I seen that was standing around in confusion and doing nothing and I told him “YOU! Your now guard! DON’T LET ANYONE IN THIS AREA UNTIL THEY SPEAK TO ME FIRST!” and then I told him I am going to check to see if anyone else needs help!
I went to check the rides that would most likely have customers trapped, the Monster Mouse and the Ferris Wheel, I checked the Monster Mouse first because it was closet to kiddyland at the time, and I discovered that the ride foremen were already on the scene at that ride!
So I thought to myself “OK they got help, so I better check the Ferris Wheel!” so I went to check on the Ferris Wheel and discovered NO ONE was helping the Ferris Wheel and that the ride was filled with customers that were trapped on it, so I went to where the need was the greatest and went to the Ferris Wheel!
I offered myself to the Ferris Wheel operator as his assistant in order to get the ride unloaded, and the Ferris Wheel operator profusely thanked me for arriving to help, and then he proceeded to tell me someone else showed up before I did and that person took off and left and never came back, and the Ferris Wheel operator was afraid I would do the same thing!
I told the Ferris Wheel operator “Wild horses can’t drag me away from here! I ain’t going anywhere until this ride is unloaded!” the Ferris Wheel operator was scared and in a panic, and I had to take charge of the situation and ordered him to accept me as his assistant so that we can get these customers off the ride!
I saved around forty to fifty people in kiddyland from electrocution, and then I rescued around twenty five to thirty people that were trapped on the Ferris Wheel!
That was once again my rookie season!
I continued to work at that park after Funtastic pulled out of that park in 1984 after the park was surrendered over to the City of Portland, all the years I worked in that park I was recognized as a go-to person and as a reliable and trusted person.
In the late 1980’s before Dick Connor’s retired he trained the at the time current maintenance men on how to balance the Monster Mouse ride and shortly afterwords Dick Connor’s retired.
Dick Connor was the last manager left in the park that was from the Funtastic era of the park, all the other managers in the park were hired by the City of Portland!
At the end of that season after Dick Connor’s was gone management ordered the maintenance team to have the Monster Mouse moved to a new location in the park.
I noticed as the maintenance team was resembling the Monster Mouse at it’s new location that they had left ALL THE BOARDS IN PLACE ON THE POSTS as they assembled the ride.
I already knew that when Dick Connor’s and Funtastic balance that ride they always remove the boards during the dissembling part and thought it weird they left all the boards on the posts.
I did not suspect foul play because I was giving the maintenance team the benefit of the doubt they were going to properly balance it after they assembled the ride, but I thought they were stupid for leaving all the boards in place because it would make the dissembling and reassembling of the ride much more difficult.
The maintenance team did not balance the Monster Mouse they used a cheat and lied claiming they balanced it, the cheat they used was to leave all the boards in place on all the posts, that way after the ride is assembled the boards will already be in place and appear balanced when in fact it is not!
The maintenance team did this at the end of the season, and it was not until the next year when I got rehired back as a ride operator that I noticed the Monster Mouse was not properly balanced.
I reported this to Tim Greeley of the maintenance team and he just grinned at me in a evil manner and said “Well,,,,well get around to it.” and after a couple of weeks went by the Mouse ride was still not balanced, and I realized I was being ignored by the maintenance team!
So I reported it to the lead ride foreman Bill, and he told me he will take care of it, and it was right after that that the ride foreman permanently stuck me on the Ferris Wheel and would not give me any days off and would not allow me to run any other ride!
The Ferris Wheel at Oaks Park at the time was the hardest ride in the park to run, and it is a burn out ride if your stuck on it all the time, so the ride foreman Bill was trying to force me to quit with his treatment of me!
Telling the foreman about the problem on the Mouse ride never accomplished anything, and after a couple of weeks went by the Mouse ride is still not balanced properly, I reported it to other ride operators and asked them to report it because I was being ignored by the maintenance team and by the foreman!
By this time I had my own problems to deal with, the Ferris Wheel is a burn out ride and I was stuck on it seven days a week with no break from it, and I was forced to give Bill the ride foreman a two week notice and quit if he does not get anyone else trained on that ride!
Two weeks later Bill never trained anyone on it so I quit, as I walked out of the park I was approached and asked by the at the time ride manager Mary Beth Coffey not to quit and instead just take a couple days off, so I reluctantly agreed.
After I came back to Oaks Park I discovered the manager fired Bill the ride foreman and hired a new lead foreman named Jim and the manager wanted me to be an assistant foreman to Jim, so I quit only to be rehired as a foreman.
As an assistant foreman I do not have a ton of power/say at the park, I can give orders to ride operators and that’s about it, and since now I was a assistant ride foreman I took it upon myself to start filling out ride reports on all the rides that have problems with them!
I filled out eleven ride reports on various rides that had problems that needed reported to the maintenance team, none of the rides was broke down, but they all had problems that needed reporting!
I discovered the next day the maintenance supervisor named TC took my eleven ride reports and burned them, it was him that told me to my face he burned them, and he told me he did not need any help from me and to not ever fill out a ride report on a ride ever again unless the ride is broke down!
So I was not welcome to report any problems with the rides unless they were broke down, in other words known problems that do not cause the rides to go down are no longer to be reported in writing!
The maintenance team at the time was deemed the Golden Boys by managers at the time, managers and the maintenance team members would regularly hobnob with each other, and for the most part managers ignored their ride team, so I was under the impression no one in management would care I got treated badly by the maintenance team!
I should not have to point this out to people, common sense alone will tell you this, to have an atmosphere at an amusement park where no one is welcome to report problems with rides is dangerous not only for customers but also for employees!
At the beginning of the next season near the beginning of the season I discovered a track on the Monster Mouse ride was cracked all the way through and that the track was separating as the cars go over the track!
I shut that ride down in the nick of time, saving dozens of kids lives and possibly a ride operators life and prevented a bloodbath from occurring, and I got on the radio and told my superior Jim the lead foreman the Monster Mouse is down for the remainder of the day and to please notify the ticket booth so that they don’t sell tickets for it!
I am not allowed to say over the radio what the problem is I can only say the ride is down, or I can say the ride is down for the remainder of the day, saying the ride is down for the day is code warning managers/maintenance team that the ride is f##ked!
I was following Oaks Park policies and procedures over shutting down that Monster Mouse, the fact that the track was completely cracked and separating is enough to prove maintenance incompetence, which is why I reported to the foreman first, and THEN I reported to the maintenance team!
When the maintenance supervisor TC showed up he was with the CEO of the park Joe Norling, they both were approaching the Monster Mouse together, and as they got about forty feet away TC began berating me for shutting down the ride, he did this loudly so others can hear, and I noticed that the CEO was grinning while TC was berating me, so the CEO was of the same mindset as the maintenance supervisor!
I was mad and angry at this treatment but said nothing and stayed professional and waited for the both of them to get onto the ride and to stand next to me, as they approached me and was standing right next to me TC said “Alright,,,,,what’s wrong with it?” in a sarcastic manner, and I stated flatly and bluntly in return saying “The track is cracked,,,the tracks is separating as the cars go over it!”
I was gauging both the maintenance supervisor and the CEO’s reaction to the news because they both are giving me reason to suspect foul play and sabotage, the CEO’s reaction was shock and horror on his face and his face turned immediately ashen, and he was staring at the maintenance supervisor as though he was seeing him for the first time as some kind of monster!
The maintenance supervisor’s reaction was to go into immediate cover his butt mode,no shock, no horror, but fear on his face!
The fact that the ride is in this condition is proof of maintenance incompetence, and TC knows this, so he immediately began giving his men the blame for it as a way to cover his own butt!
In the process of TC giving his men the blame he dug his own grave by making it known he and his men already knew about the crack and that they slagged it with wielding slag!
The wielding slag they used to hide the crack with was on the ground below where the crack is!
Now I am deeming TC as well as his maintenance team as criminals and as dangerous!
The maintenance team already knew about the crack and was hiding it with wielding slag and opened the ride up to the public and did not tell anyone on the ride team about the crack!
Can you say SABOTAGE!
I reported this to my superior Jim the lead foreman and he acted as though he was completely misunderstanding how serious this is, he seemed not bothered by it!
The CEO did not fire the maintenance team the team continued to work at the park the whole season!
I was under the impression that the CEO was not involved in this sabotage at first but when the CEO did not fire the maintenance team and he made it known their not going to repair that track section and instead are going to spend fifty thousand dollars on a used Mad Mouse ride and use that for parts to REPLACE the SABOTAGED section of the Monster Mouse with, I then suspected managers were behind this sabotage as well!
One week after I shut down the Monster Mouse saving dozens of children’s lives I was being gang-stalked by several people I did not know, the park was closed and I was clocked out and heading to my car to go home!
Several people I do not know walked along with me heading in my direction and they were openly verbally praising me for shutting down the Monster Mouse and praised me for saving lives!
What’s makes this bad is the fact these seemingly organized people were praising me in a sarcastic manner!
Is that enough to suspect the City of Portland wanted the disaster to occur so that the city can justify shutting down the park so that the city can use the property for other MORE PROFITABLE PURPOSES?!
It was enough for me to know a ton of people were involved in this sabotage and that their not happy I know about it and don’t like the fact I saved a lot of lives!
The Monster Mouse ride was down the entire season, the Mad Mouse Oaks Park purchased never arrived until after the season was closed and no one around to witness the Mad Mouse rides arrival into the park!
Oaks Park maintenance team that sabotaged the Monster Mouse quietly replaced the sabotaged section on the track with a Mad Mouse track section!
After the SABOTAGED section of the Monster Mouse ride was replaced management pretended they hired a new maintenance supervisor and claimed they fired the old maintenance team, they did not fire them but they lied to me telling me they fired them, they were actually laid off and they came back the next season!
After management pretended to hire a new maintenance supervisor the new supervisor as well as management wanted me to help them in this so-called crisis of no experienced maintenance people and they wanted me to transfer over to the maintenance team claiming I am the only one the CEO trusts!
I knew THAT was a lie I already know he was grinning while the maintenance supervisor was berating me for shutting down the Monster Mouse, and I never got an apology from ANYONE in that park for being berated for shutting down a death trap and saving lives and following policies and procedures!
While the season was over with I helped out with maintenance until the next season, I was re-transferred back over to the ride team at the start of the new season!
Once the park was opened I discover that the old maintenance team was not fired at all because they were hired back into the park, that means I was lied to by management and that they lied about needing my help on maintenance!
From this point forward I was getting auto-blamed for everything that happened in that park, if the maintenance messed up the train ride I would immediately get blamed, behind my back, and management was going along with this pretense as well as the maintenance team!
Oaks Park managers had no intention of firing or prosecuting their sabotaging maintenance team, they wanted instead to set up and blame everything on the witness to the sabotage, me!
The Squirrel Cage ride was sabotaged and I was almost killed by it, one of the cars just came right off the ride and slammed into the railing three feet from my controls, and the ride was still turning and the other cars on the Squirl Cage were smacking into the car that came off and was rolling that car into my direction!
I turned off the power to the ride and frantically yelled at the customers on the ride to keep their arms and hands and legs inside the ride, each car that passed the car that came off was smacking right into the car that came off and I had to franticly muscle that car away from the other cars, my own life is at risk!
The next day I told the maintenance team what happened and I was met by them all grinning at me, they all thought it was funny!
The next week the maintenance team designed an additional safe guard to the ride, by adding another bolt system to the ride, so that there are now two bolts instead of just one large bolt holding the cars on the ride!
The maintenance team named this new bolt system the “Terry-Bolt” and they grinned and admitted they named it after me!
They named it after me because their setting me up to get the blame for THEIR SABOTAGE!
I got fed up with this auto-blaming me for everything in that park so I quit being a ride foreman and went back to being a ride operator, but the blaming continued!
I was running the Monster Mouse on my last day in that park, and on that day the Ferris Wheel operator had an accident, the loading ramp got torn apart because the Ferris Wheel operator screwed up, and I got blamed FOR THAT even though I was on and running the Monster Mouse at the time!
So saboteurs at Oaks Park are protected by management while Hero’s and witnesses to sabotage are gotten rid of!
I have been a target of police/sheriff sting operations ever since I shut down that Monster Mouse ride, and I was under the impression the new maintenance supervisor the park hired was a county sheriff sting operative hell bent on setting me up to get the blame!
I don’t think they realize just how many people I already reported to in regards to the Monster Mouse not being balanced, in other words there are too many people that know they never removed the boards on the posts and there are too many people I told that the ride was out of balance!
The Monster Mouse was so badly out of balance you did not even need a level to see if it was out of balance, just looking at the ride was enough to tell, THAT’S HOW BADLY OUT OF BALANCE THE RIDE WAS!
Dozens of posts would have severe give to them, when a car would go over that section of track you can visably see the posts give to the weight of the cars and the posts as well as the track would have like a two to five inch give to them as the cars went over those areas on the ride!
ANYONE WITH WORKING KNOWLEDGE OF A MONSTER MOUSE WILL TELL YOU THAT’S BAD! REAL BAD!!!
Wow, Terry… Thanks for having such integrity.