Friday, May 7, 2010

Four Years and Six Flags

For our anniversary, Emilee and I decided to go to Six Flags, New England and check it out. It just barely opened for the season a short time ago so we knew there would be few crowds, making it an ideal time to test-drive a new theme park. While there were some disappointments, we decided at the end of the day that we had had enough fun to upgrade our 1-day tickets to season passes.

When we first got there, the coaster name that was blared at us from all sides was Bizarro. This mammoth purple contraption had guests streaming towards the back of the park and looked like a lot of fun. We zipped through what little line there was at that point, secured our loose articles (not doing to can result in being ejected from the park - trying to take a picture or use a cell phone on a ride can get you banned for 5 years) and climbed aboard - only to find that the ride's restraints were insufficient for my girth. Even having lost somewhere between 40 and 45 pounds since August, the seatbelt didn't simply not fit, it was several inches away from it. Even Emilee, far slenderer than I, just barely squeezed into the restraint. We were encouraged to try "another, less restrictive ride, like Batman" by the ride attendant who helped me out of the restraints I had managed to get on.

After this quite disappointing beginning, we tried another ride - Thunderbolt, oldest coaster still in operation at the park. After squeezing my hindquarters into the seat, I found that this belt, at least, was quite accommodating. While the squeeze was a tight one, I quite enjoyed this ride, helping to lift the dark mood, especially when Emilee helped me realize that I might not have been able to ride it 45 pounds ago. "We've earned a coaster!" became the rallying cry. At this point, Emilee recalled that a list of girth-restrictive rides was available at Guest Relations, so we headed there. I asked for that list, which prompted several minutes of searching in various cupboards and drawers, after which the young woman helping me simply jotted down the rides she hears a lot about - these were Bizarro, Tomahawk, Twister and Scream, the latter three of which weren't that interesting to us anyway. She mentioned that "Any ride with a shoulder harness might be a problem, but some of them, like Batman, have a modified belt in the middle so they're less restrictive."

We began wandering at random at that point and found Houdini's Great Escape, which turned out to be a very fun little thrillusion to which we returned at the end of our stay. Further description of the ride would spoil the surprise for anyone interested in going but it's a lot of fun. Pandemonium was also fun, a fairly standard small coaster setup but with spinning seats, adding a fascinating element of unpredictability to the ride.

Cyclone also turned out to be a very tight fit. A VERY tight fit, requiring some help from the ride attendant to get buckled. It was kind of a rough ride and a bit of a stomach turner. What really made us decide to take a break, though, was Flashback, a shoulder-harnessed ride that spins you around first going forward then going backward. My shoulder harness loosened just a click on the way up the inertia-gathering slope, causing just a bit of sheer terror as I clung to it, just in case. After returning from our lunch break, we rode a teacups ride quite similar to that at Disneyland and Catwoman's Whip, a gentler coaster which served as a good transition back into action.

From here, we headed to Mind Eraser, a dangly, twisty ride. Noting that there would be shoulder harnesses, I asked a line worker what my odds were of fitting on the ride. After a moment's hesitation, he said, "I'm sure you'll be fine." I clambered up the ride, slipped into the seat, pulled down the harness and pulled up on the belt which buckles into the harness. . . and discovered that it was several inches too short. Noting that the general statement about shoulder harnesses was true, I asked the ride operators about these rides more generally and was told that Batman had a few seats with a different belt system. Are we noticing a running theme here?

I was also too big for Batman.

Admittedly, the ride DID have a couple of more accommodating seats. If they had been about one inch more accommodating, I would have been just dandy. Ah, well. We got away from that part of town and found Splash Water Falls, a ring-shaped raft ride. A lack of seat belts made this one an attractive choice, so we got in line. We found ourselves behind a VERY dorky group of high schoolers who kept chanting random phrases and screaming at their friends who were on the ride. It was about the time they started randomly singing, "We are the champions" that I prayed for deliverance. My prayer was rapidly answered as the line worker asked for a party of two, one of several times that our nature as a small family came in handy. This ride made us dizzier than any other but it was a lot of fun.

At Emilee's suggestion, we then got on the bumper cars for a quick bout before repeating Houdini. As we began heading to that section of town, we noticed that some fellow travelers were wet, leading us to discover that Blizzard River, which had been closed when we arrived at the park, had beenre opened. Having just had a great time on a raft ride, we clambered aboard - only to find that the curse of the seat belts had come calling again. Thankfully, with the ride operator's help, we were able to bridge the gap and got on our way. The chilling mist on this ride, in addition to being a welcome change from the heat of the afternoon, was a great special effect to go with the penguins and fake ice floes. Neither Emilee nor I were the direct recipients of the waterfalls on the ride but we still felt nicely damp when we got off.

All in all, even with the number of rides we had to cross off as inaccessible, we had a really good time. It being an anniversary trip, I reflected that it really was a good synopsis of married life - there are disappointments and trials but sticking through it together makes it all worthwhile. Just as we got season tickets in anticipation of future visits, we look forward to many more years of happy married life.

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