What was the longest amount of time you have spent waiting in line for something? What was it, and was it worth the wait?
I am not entirely sure how long we stood there. I do know that it passed the 2 hour mark. It was long enough for the baking sun overhead to turn every inch of my exposed skin a shade of reddish brown. Every few minutes we were herded forward a few steps to be stopped and made to wait again. We talked some, my girlfriend and I. But conversation seems somewhat unnatural when you are tired and hot. And though we are both people who highly regard affirmation by touch, it was too hot to bear the heat of another person, and so we stood there: separated and looking at each other as sweat rolled down from our foreheads, down from our backs, and covered our arms. Every once in awhile we would sip water, chat a bit, or laugh at something someone else standing in line would say or do. It’s particularly tempting to laugh at the absurdity of others while you are participating in something as ridiculous as voluntary human herding.
I can’t help but wonder why we love amusement parks. Specifically, what in the human psyche causes us to stand still for hours at a time in large crowds of overheated strangers and slowly shuffle forward? What compels us to build massive structures of steel, wood, and rubber and then paint them in vibrant colors, and ride around on them in a cart we strap ourselves to? Why do we find pleasure in the anxiety that builds as we ascend the first hill or feel the wash of exhilaration as we plummet then violently turn? At what point in our evolution did man begin to seek and find joy in behaviors that are dangerous and beyond our bodily capabilities? Shouldn’t there be some sort of survivalist instinct hardwired in us that demands we be slow, meticulous, and close to the ground? When careful equates to living longer, why do we opt for danger, or at least the illusion of danger? I’m sure this has been postulated and answered, if not debated for as long as we have been seeking thrills, but the counter-intuitiveness of the behavior fascinates me.
We eventually arrived at our destination. We claimed our spots at the front of the line and then, when the protective medal gates opened, we climbed into the bright red cart, fastened our seat belts and sat there, side-by-side gazing directly forward towards the small mountain (400ft) we were about to ascend and then descend in two very large corkscrews at 120 mph (190km/h). The coaster performed its task. We were shot into the air, looking heavenward and then pointed back down to earth below, giving us a wide view of the park and the long line we had just endured, and then we exited. It was exhilarating, smile inducing, and at that speed it was literally breathtaking (at least until our momentum lessened due to wind resistance). It was a lot of fun and something I will most certainly do again. That said, having experienced it several times now, that is the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, it is very unlikely that I would wait again for over two hours, and decidedly not in that heat, to ride it again.
If you are a fan of amusement parks, and primarily roller coasters, I implore you to check out Cedar Point. I have been at least once a year for the past 5 years of my life* and cannot wait to make the return trip this year. Cedar Point has the longest, fastest, and most intense coasters I’ve ever encountered and they all tower over the beautiful beaches of Lake Erie. I’m not sure if I’m authorized to do this, but I give you their money back guarantee that you will have a great day there with friends, family, or just yourself.
*Excluding last year apparently.