By Mordechai Schmutter
If you go on chol ha’moed trips, at some point you’re going to find yourself at an amusement park.
Amusement parks are great, because you can pay one flat admission to spend the entire day doing lots of fun things, such as waiting in line.
You have to wait in line. If something is good, there are bound to be other people who want to do that thing, especially on chol ha’moed.
But the lines are annoying, because a lot of the time you’re not even sure what the line is for. “What is this the line for? I don’t even see the amusement park yet!” And it doesn’t help that many lines snake back and forth, like at the bank, so it’s not even like you can pass the time by looking around. All you see are lines of people on either side of you going in the opposite direction. And you keep passing those same people over and over. So there’s not much to do while you’re in line but consult your park map for the 18th time and figure out where you’re going to go next. The map seems to be 90% sure you’re heading for an ATM machine.
So since we’re waiting around anyway, we’re going to take the opportunity to talk about some of the rides so that you know what they are, because, as an adult especially, it’s worthwhile to know what the rides are before you spend hours waiting in line, snaking around corners, only to get to the front, take one look, and go, “Nope.”
This way, you’ll know what things are, and you can then make an educated decision as to whether it’s worth waiting in line or if it’s better to just stand on the sidelines with all the other parents and take your kids’ pictures every single one of the 800 times they pass you.
A roller coaster is like an express train that for some reason sometimes goes upside down and then lets you off where you got on, except without everything that was in your pockets. It’s like the designers said, “What if we took all the fun of the subway, but made it more dangerous? And louder?”
But for some reason it’s a hit. Six Flags, for example, comes up with a new ride every single year, and 99 times out of 100 it’s a new roller coaster.
“So, do you guys have any new ideas for rides?”
“Yes, we got one. It’s a roller coaster.”
“I like it! Let’s go to lunch.”
I think more people would take the train to work if it was more like a roller coaster. Ties would be flapping back, business papers would be flying all over the place, but it would be fun. People would love going to work. Though the wait time for the train would be impossible.
I am not a roller coaster guy. I especially don’t like wooden roller coasters. But roller coaster aficionados really get into them, because they’re historic. After all, the first roller coasters were made of wood. Though they also didn’t have seatbelts. Personally, the main thing I’m looking for in a dangerous thrill ride is not, “I don’t know—something historic.”
Another historic ride whose age you don’t want to think about is the:
Ferris wheels are nice, slow rides for people who don’t like fast ones, but aren’t afraid of heights at all. They’re so slow that sometimes they come to a complete stop for like 20 minutes, and that’s part of the ride. You’re just 500 feet in the air, rocking back and forth, back and forth.
I guess the fact that Ferris wheels rock is a good thing. If they didn’t rotate every time the center of gravity shifts, you’d be upside down when you got to the top, and you’d have to wait like that while people got on. What takes people so long to get on? There aren’t even seatbelts.
Oh, and there aren’t even seatbelts. And your kids are jumping up and down, turning around in their seats and pointing and going, “Look over there! Look over there!” And you’re slightly hunkered down, like that’s going to help it stop rocking, and you’re yelling, “Don’t look over there! Stop pointing at things!”
Your big fear is that someone is going to lose a yarmulke, and there’s no telling where it’s going to go. You can see the whole park from up here. You’ve just barely found a center of gravity for your cabin—you sit on one side and all your kids sit on the other—and the car is still slightly tilted to your side, but all their pointing is shifting the weight. And you don’t want to lunge across the cabin to stop them, because that will not stop the rocking.
“I don’t want to have to come over there!” you say. You really don’t.
See, the best thing about a fast ride, like a roller coaster, is that even though it goes high, it’s only up there for a second, and then you go hurtling down, which, even though that’s your big fear about being high up in the first place, at least happens relatively quickly. The scariest part of the roller coaster is that first part, where it chugs slowly up the mountain on that little conveyor belt, which you’re totally sure is going to conk out and send you hurtling backwards down the track.
The pirate ship is another great ride to go on if you love mixing heights and going up slowly over and over and hurtling backwards downhill, with the feeling of looking down and seeing all the gears and belts that keep the ride rolling.
The pirate ship. Because the most fun part of being on a boat is the part where it almost capsizes. Lengthwise. But apparently, this is how pirate ships generally are. That’s why pirates always have so many injuries. They spend weeks on a boat going, “Aaargh! Aaarrgh!” getting tossed around like clothes in a dryer. Maybe they should stop bringing weapons aboard.
Rapids And Flumes
Rapids and flumes are by far my favorite rides, because I love getting wet at random times. You’d think I can just get wet in my clothes at home, for free, but maybe it’s the not knowing when you’re going to get wet. The rapids especially. With a flume, you know: “I’m going to get wet when I hit the bottom of that hill. But usually not.”
You always remember getting wetter on a flume than you actually get. No one gets off a flume and goes, “That was wetter than I remember.”
With rapids, you’re on this big roulette wheel with seven other people, and you’re going through this gorge with waterfalls on either side of you, and the question is always who’s going to end up under the waterfalls. While you’re waiting in line, you’re thinking, “I hope it’s me!” but while you’re actually on the ride you’re like, “Notmenotmenotme NO!!!”
And then two people come off the ride soaked from head to toe, and the other six people come off dryer than when they got on, except the ones who sat in a puddle.
The key, though, if you don’t want to get wet, is to sit next to someone who’s way bigger than you, because they somehow shield you from the water. Or they absorb it.
Swings are great. You got your feet dangling, the wind in your hair, your crocs flying all over the park, and unlike with most rides, you can actually see what’s holding you up as you sit there. It’s four chains. Four. So even if one breaks, there are three more.
Apparently, this is what adults think about on a lot of these rides. Because you’re really sure that no matter how many people went on a ride safely, it’s going to break for you. But if hundreds of people a day can go on a ride and nothing will happen, but it breaks for you, then you have bigger problems than amusement parks. This is not a percentile you want to be in: People who break rides at amusement parks.
But I definitely want to sit next to you on the rapid ride.
Anyway, we have to get going, because it’s a short day and we have to get home so we can eat in the sukkah. We’re starving. All we got to eat in the park was yogurt. So maybe we’ll talk about the rest of the rides a different time. I really wanted to talk about more rides today, but there were lines.
Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com.