This is a photograph of the Windseeker ride similar to the one at Knott's Berry Farm that stranded riders over 300 feet in the air for nearly four hours yesterday. Nicely done - the same thing happened earlier in the month too, yet there were still patrons ready and willing to stand in link and give it a go. Those who know me are well aware of my feelings in regards to the thrillseeker (See my blog from September 11 - Thrill Seekers - Have at it! ) - I believe them to be foolhardy and am of the opinion that they will eventually thin their own herd, given enough opportunity.
In addition to the Windseeker mishap, a Google search of "stranded on ride" brought back these results, among others:
Dozens stranded on U.S. ride
Calif. roller coaster strands dozen for hours
Valleyfair power failure strands roller coaster, ferris wheel riders
Superman roller coaster strands riders for 2 hours at Six Flags
Now, that's entertainment, folks and it only goes to further my theory that I am better served standing on terra-firma watching the unsuspecting clamber aboard with a rousing "I TOLD YOU SO!" chambered and ready to fire when the inevitable occurs. I hate to beat a dead horse - or in this case, a carousel pony gone stark-raving mad - but circuses and amusement parks are definitely not pleasant places to be, especially if one is of a panicky disposition. I have seen enough Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes to know that carny folk are a particularly devious and shifty lot, especially the clowns. No one wears that much makeup unless they're hiding something. I do, however, adore the little people. They make me smile - I love me some midgets, especially when they run; so damned cute. But that's another story for another day.
While the circus might win in the creepiness category, amusement parks take first prize hands-down when it comes to sheer terror. I have been to amusement parks - dragged, of course, snapping and biting at the arms dragging me like a rabid wolverine - and am invariably stricken with vertigo as I walk around the park staring upward at the rides swirling and racing and spinning above me, the screams of those on board echoing through the park like an air-raid siren. And that's what it is, you know - a warning to those below to run - get out while you can! These waves of terrified panic can only be assuaged by Indian Fried Bread slathered in honey, hot dogs, cotton candy and a variety of oversized soft drinks. Even with this self-medication, I usually feel light-headed and sick to my stomach from the vertigo.
I don't know that I will ever be able embrace the world of the amusement park any more than I could hope to overcome my distrust of the circus clown. That said, I feel that it is my own instinct for pure self-preservation that triggers the anxiety and I am certain that my paranoia has no-doubt saved my life on more than one occasion. If it hasn't, it most certainly will.
And for the thrill-seekers out there - seriously, have at it! I look forward to more empty seats at the Country Buffet - another thrill-seek in its own right. In closing, whenever I hear about these sorts of roller-coaster mishaps and such, I am always reminded of a joke Norm McDonald made about a ride being shut down at Cedar Point because it wasn't scary enough. McDonald quipped that the ride opened up three days later "with three less bolts". You're welcome.