Yesterday I returned to Canada’s Wonderland, without kids. It was more exhausting. There were seven of us in total: Dan & I, Pete & Royden, Alastair, and Michelle & Sandra. Unfortunately Izz couldn’t make it yesterday, so there ended up being an empty seat whenever all of us went on the same ride. I took lots of pictures to update him, which might not have been the kindest gesture, since he wasn’t there.
I had planned everything. Dan had booked a hire car. We’d leave at 09:00, aiming to get to the park at opening. We had Fast Lane tickets. We’d meet the girls there. It didn’t happen. Royden had a company car this weekend, so offered to drive (Pete ended up driving), to save us the car hire. Pete thought we’d come downstairs and collect them at 09:00 from their apartment; we met Alastair in the lobby and waited for Pete & Royden while they patiently waited for us. By a quarter past I started texting Pete, wondering what was taking them so long. We clambered into the vehicle, and Pete set his iPhone to Google Maps, while Royden discovered and setup a GPS.
Google Maps took us meandering through midtown and we were soon stuck in traffic; Pete swearing in Greek at almost everybody. In true Aussie humour, Alastair yelled at Pete from the back seat, “Sorry, but I don’t speak Spanish!” We thought it hilarious. Pete didn’t. Eventually we made it to one of the main multi-lane roads, and I assumed it was the North-South one that led straight to Canada’s Wonderland. “Where do I go now?” Pete asked. Royden had stuck the GPS to the windscreen but its speakers didn’t work. None of us was actually paying any attention to the directions. I might’ve been checking Facebook on my iPhone, and didn’t look up, “Don’t worry; you’ll see the roller coasters on your right and signs when we get close!” Pete drove on.
At 09:58 I checked our distance, as we were meant to have arrived. We were on an East-West road, driving East, away from Canada’s Wonderland. Michelle had just parked. They went in and started rides. We took 45 minutes to back-track and get there.
When we eventually arrived, parked, entered, found out where to get our Fast Lane wristbands and found the girls I decided we should get Leviathan over and done with. Dan & I had watched the YouTube video. It’s first drop is high and 80 degrees to horizontal. There were three drops. We were turned back at the Fast Lane Plus entrance; I’d misread the Fast Lane wristband as allowing one entrance to big-ticket items, not zero. Looking at the queue – at least 30 min long – we decided to return our wristbands and pay the extra $11 to get the better one. The attendant pointed to a shopfront 20 metres away, “You can exchange them there!” We raced across while the girls waited. We queued. We got to the front. “You can’t exchange them here. Who told you that!?” I actually jogged back to the park entrance to find Guest Services to upgrade our wristbands. It was becoming a day of Canadian bureaucracy and delays. I wanted to ride!
We raced into the Fast Lane Plus queue and only had to wait 2 or three cycles before we were on. Definitely an investment to cut wait times. Pete was apprehensive. He’d never been on a roller coaster. Everybody else was going, so he didn’t stay behind. The seats did not have a thoracic cage that descended over your shoulders; instead there was a scapula that pressed into your thighs, and you held its sides, like a steering wheel. My heart started to race. I had no security placebo of a comforting harness to bash my ears against in turns. We ascended.
I knew the first drop was taller and steeper than anything I’ve ever done before. I lasted a second before I screwed my eyes shut, terrified, and started to simultaneously scream and cry and laugh. The next two drops were worse, because I had my eyes closed. My stomach heaved as we rounded the top and then plummeted towards the ground. I think I infarcted both adrenal glands from the excitement. None of us fell off. We all survived. We staggered off. Pete was white. We soon queued up again.
I forced myself to be brave and keep my eyes open the entire ride. I had to scream a battle cry, like from any of those Spartacus type films. It made the ride less terrifying and more exhilarating, watching the ground approach as we all plummeted to our fates. We babbled over each other as we clambered off the second ride, each relaying our experience, what we did differently, how it compared to previous experiences. Pete had bilateral upper limb tremors. We checked out the photos, eager to relive the ride.
Delirious with excitement we all followed our adrenaline junkies – Sandra (a helicopter pilot) and Alastair – to the next ride: Drop Tower. I don’t enjoy rides that just go up and plummet down. Or rides that spin around with g-force initiated nausea. I ignored this. There was hardly a queue. We watched the riders before us: they ascend, the controller talks to them and then they fall. And land safely. Sandra had already been on it. “She counts you down,” she coaxed. I was locked in. We ascended. Higher and higher. I enjoyed the view. A garbled voice came over the speaker, drowned out by the wind. I had no idea what she was saying. I couldn’t hear a countdown. But I heard, very clearly, “BYE!” as my stomach herniated through my thorax and into my skull and I screamed. My feet floated up in front of me. And we stopped. Bystanders gave us strange looks.
We started to go ride-by-ride across the entire park. We made of anticlockwise when viewed from above. The Bat didn’t have a Fast Lane – at least we didn’t notice one. The line didn’t look too long so we queued. Our adrenaline rush wore off. After 20 minutes we’d only got half way to the ride and we made a group decision: make use of our Fast Lane Plus wristbands and not spend 40 – 60 minutes waiting for just one ride. We left the queue, bringing short-lived joy to those in line behind us.
Our group began to divide into two: those who were comfortable standing out of rides they don’t want to go on and those that were either: fearless or had Fear of Missing Out that overruled rational thought (Pete & Daniel). I took a lot of photos of everybody else riding, as I happily watched from the safety of the ground that was not going to crush both femora and fracture bilateral ankles and pelves and pop a lung or two.
We headed West, across the North aspect of the central mountain – there were no Fast Lane entries to the two rides centred on the mountain. We didn’t see the entrance to Vortex to the North, but came back to it later. Daniel joined all the other boys, and probably Sandra, on a ridiculously high swing chair ride – THAT COULD POSSIBLY BREAK AT ANY TIME – while I watched. At some point I wandered off and bought the most disgusting chips you’d ever eat, even drowned in tomato sauce they tasted like cardboard.
We staggered anticlockwise around the lake towards Skyrider – a roller coaster where you stand up. I think it was this where I clenched my butt cheeks so hard against the chair that they cramped. I loved the ride. Nobody else did; it had too much oscillation and jarring. We wandered South.
The yellow tracks of the Behemoth are visible from the 400 as the ski bus drives North all winter. We’d been on Leviathan twice already. I began to have doubts about my resolve to go on the Behemoth. It sounded bigger. While in queue on SkyRider we asked the attendant which was the bigger ride; we’d already done it. The drops weren’t as terrifying but Behemoth has more undulations, which made me queasy, but I still enjoyed the ride.
I had no desire to spin around sideways in a giant metal arachnid so I watched the boys on Sledge Hammer. The girls were hungry so walked back to the teriyaki chicken place toward the entrance. We met them there. I ordered a Behemoth burger (double meat patty – I asked for one beef, one turkey which resulted in a stressed deer-in-headlight teenage girl running off to find the chef and another cashier to approve my request for two different types of meat). It comes with crispy and pea meal bacon. As I worked my way through the burger (I couldn’t finish it) everybody gradually announced that they would not be sitting next to me on subsequent rides, voting unanimously for Daniel to support his almost-husband in what was dead certain to be a vomit fest. I made it through Med School anatomy dissection classes without hurling. I didn’t vomit.
I loved this ride. We did it twice in a row; our wristbands let us go straight back to the start of the line (I felt slightly bad for the people without wristbands who were still in a very long queue, but hey, we payed for it). This was my first ride where instead of being on the track you are suspended from the track. As it spins in loops you arc around, feet and legs thrown outward as you realise you are upside down. I would’ve gone a third time but the next ride called.
I took the best photo of Alastair in front of the Time Warp. He posed for all my photos – more of a show pony than I am. This ride only four of us went on and there was no Fast Lane. You lie prone and have to take off your glasses. Alastair, Pete and I made Superman arms and sang the theme song. Daniel was quiet.
My phone battery was close to dead so I stopped taking photos. I’m not sure what happened between 15:00 and 16:30 but the afternoon flew by. We might’ve crossed back East and snuck in our third ride on Leviathan (the girls did a fourth) before back tracking and getting soft serve ice-cream stuffed biscuits. Vortex! That’s what we did. And watched a diving show.
We went back to Flight Deck and the boys all called it a day after that. Our stomachs – full of nourishing park food were not amenable to being flung about. The girls went off to Leviathan. We made our way toward the entrance (Pete had been looking forward to a corn dog and a funnel cake all day). The girls came back as Michelle had lost her phone – it had fallen out of her pocket and thankfully was found in the grass under Flight Deck. We left at six. Seven hours!