The amusement-park phase of my life has been slowly wrapping up over the past few years. My son has decided amusement parks no longer offer him sufficient intellectual incentive, and also they’re just not cool. My wife has never been a fan of any fun-time vehicle that exerts greater G-force than my interstate driving. My mother’s requests to visit such places have receded as she’s very, very slowly realizing that such devices will be the death of her.
In recent history I’ve been willing to handle death-defying contraptions as a Family Quality Time function under a few controlled circumstances. I haven’t minded the occasional steel roller coaster, remarkable when they achieve a proper balance of speed and smoothness, as long as I remember my Dramamine dosage and the coaster track contains not a single upside-down segment. I’m also still a fan of any construct that gently lifts me through the air to tremendous heights and returns me safely to the ground without a single rotation or revolution. Beyond that, any excitement and eagerness I ever had for this group-outing genre has faded nearly to black.
As my wife and I spent this afternoon at a location with a couple of low-impact thrill rides, not only did I feel zero temptation, I also felt relieved that no one expected me to climb aboard. The toll on my body, the disruption of my equilibrium, and the loss of general control may be part of the experience, but I’m no longer fond of the compromise. I might feel differently if I were allowed to steer the coaster, sit in more accommodating seats, or even control the brakes and accelerator. I haven’t found a theme park benevolent or magnificent enough to grant me that power or luxury yet.
Within another decade or two, I expect my tolerance to worsen and my stodginess to know fewer bounds. Should relatives or employers suggest another engagement at one of our local mechanized wonderlands such as Indiana Beach or Kings Island, I expect to be slow to consent and slower to avail myself of the ride options…unless, perhaps, they might be willing to accept some of my suggestions for new, calmer, gentler, barely mobile “thrill” rides tailored to meet the wishes and fussiness of those disinclined against disorientation. Examples in my new, personalized ride demographic could include:
* Gently rotating teacup ride, except with broken motor so there’s no actual rotating.
* Antique autos driven by chauffeurs and stocked with elegant snacks.
* Perfectly motionless lazy river, three inches deep and using state-of-the-art technology to prevent any kind of current or even the slightest Brownian motion.
* Sensory deprivation chamber, with inside walls lined with pictures of cute kittens. No lolcat captions, though. When they’re unfunny, they angry up the blood.
* Amazingly lifelike “Mattress Firm showroom” simulator.
* Out-of-order video games that require you to imagine you’re playing the game in your head.
* The Happy Fun Park Mascot Presents the Wonderful Wacky Padded Benches for Sitting and Watching Other People Ride Rides.
* TVs. Enormous ones everywhere, like up-close drive-in screens.
* The lines for the concession stands, but with extra neon lighting so they look more like rides than chores.
These could be great couch-potato-ey fun for the whole family. Or at least for me.
If I ever have grandchildren who want Grandpa to take them to Kings Island, I’m in deep trouble. If I’m lucky, they’ll be willing to settle for an hour’s drive at top speeds along the nearest interstate. I don’t expect to tire of that sort of action anytime soon.