Is there a reason some people are affected by different amusement rides?

Sorry, this is kind of long and probably boring to most GQ people, but there really is a question with factual answers in it, I think.

I went to the fair yesterday with the boyfriend, not realizing that though we’ve been together for almost three years now I had no idea he was a pushy bastard about riding the scary rides. (I got him back - we rode the Scrambler after two corn dogs and three fried Oreos. And tons of those rides where the biggest person sits on the outside and gets creamed.) I don’t like roller coasters, I definitely don’t like the pirate ship, and I MOST CERTAINLY will not ride anything where they take you up and drop you for the hell of it. Nosir, not me, please die in a fire. I don’t like it, it isn’t fun to me, I don’t see the point. Being scared to me is not an amusement. However, I like spinny rides and I don’t mind heights.

So, why do some rides incite pants-wetting terror in me and others? Has there been a study done on the specific motions that make the hindbrain think we’re about to die?

He bugged me and bugged me until to shut me up I rode the tiny little itty bitty roller coaster. It was mouse themed, for God’s sake. This isn’t a good picture, but you can see how little it is - the people at the bottom of the picture are standing waiting to get on. The little cars seat four, us and two little girls - I had Himself sit between me and them because I don’t think it’s healthy for an eight year old to see an adult of almost 30 lose her shit. It was awful. I hated it. The drops were, what, ten feet? Scared the crap out of me.

A few after that, I volunteered to ride this spider thing. Nothing scary looking about it at all! There was no way to know it was going to bother me at all. When it got up to top speed I started making noises like a very frightened piglet. The boyfriend was all “This does NOT count as one of my rides!” I think I drew blood on his arm with my nails. It wasn’t quite on purpose. Note, however, and I think this may be important, that the little cars aren’t stationary - they swing around.

I don’t know how he emotionally blackmailed me into riding the Rainbow. You know, this sort of thing. Where you can’t see the ground coming and you’re always parallel to it. I spent the whole time in line terrified and then got on the ride and loved it. We rode it five times. Which sucked, because then he was all, “See?”

So dumb me got emboldened by the whole Rainbow success thing and said, “Okay, fine, let’s ride the ship .” He’d been begging for the ship the whole time and he said if I rode the ship he’d ride the super-high swings. (This wasn’t the kind of ship that goes over the bar, FYI.) So, fine, let’s ride the ship, why not, it’s not so different from the Rainbow, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Everybody else was screaming screams of “Wow this is fun!” I was screaming screams of “I hate you and I hope you die and you deserve to get brain eating amoebas!” (Although I’m the one that said hey let’s do the ship - he’d given up on it.)

Finally, he had to do the supergiant swings, since I rode the ship. These are new this year, I think - I love this kind of swing, and this was like that (can’t find a picture) except it goes up as high in the air as that take-you-up-and-drop-you ride, and it’s two to a seat but with the exact same restraint types as the old fashioned kind. And it was scary, man, although in a different way than the pants-wetting terror of the ship - I think it was the top parts of the brain instead of the bottom parts, and it was like, hey, there’s nothing under our feet. At all. And we’re being held in by, like, nothing. And now we’re swinging out. (It was also incredibly cool. And scary. And cool.) The boyfriend, I am pleased to say, was terrified.

So, how’s come those rides and not others affected me? I thought maybe instability had something to do with it - the tall swing and the spider thing both have that instability thing going on, although with the spider it’s more like the Tilt-a-Whirl (one of my favorites) and with the swings it’s that feeling of being on a chain rather than a bar or something. And I thought maybe it was seeing what’s about to happen - I know a lot of the roller coaster thing is anticipation, and with the ship the terror only kicks in on the way down when I’m facing fowards, not backwards. And I thought maybe part of it was the angle of the body - on the Rainbow, you’re always upright, but on the ship, you swing around so you’re parallel to the ground when you look down.

I know some people are affected by height and others are affected by spinning, but I’m looking for the answer for people who are bothered by roller coasters and pirate ships - the drop feeling, I guess. Have there been studies done on what that is? In other words, I really don’t know if I’m going to spend a ride clawing the hell out of his arm or not before I get on it, and I want to know if there are certain types of motion that I can see and know for sure if it’s going to scare me or not.

Also, I’d be interested in knowing if there are studies done on different “types” of ride fear, and the chemistry involved when my brain sees the drop at the end of the pirate ship.

On rollar coasters the main point of fear for me is that first stomach wrenching drop, but after that I’m ok. I think it’s a matter of whether you’re worried just how bad it’s going to be. The rides do require you to surrender control of your movement, and that can be scary.

I’d agree, except that I did not anticipate hating the Spider. That’s kind of what got me to ask if there had been any studies on specific motions, because I wasn’t dreading that one at all.

For me personally it is the sensation of free fall that roller coasters (and all similar rides) give you. I cannot stand it.


I doubt you could invent a roller-coaster big enough to scare me and I have been on some of the biggest and scariest one in the world. OTOH hand, I cannot stand any type of “spinnie” ride whether it is teacups or anything else. I have never understood why anyone would throw up on a roller-coaster because the motion doesn’t seem favorable to barfing. However, I have thrown up from a Tilt-a-Whirl and have no desire to ever go on such a thing again. I don’t mind controlled, raw fear but I can’t stand anything interfering with my sense of balance.

I’m the same way. I am NOT afraid of flying. I AM afraid of turbulence that drops you 20 feet or more in a second. A flight where that doesn’t happen doesn’t affect me at all, before, during, or after. A flight where that happens will make me scream like a little girl (last year we were on a bad one…thing must have dropped a hundred feet).

I present this as pure speculation until a real scientist shows up…

but I speculate that a person who likes the big drop is a person who likes an adrenaline rush. These days the ultimate adrenaline rush addicts have been known to get their fix by BASE Jumping.

(in case you think skydiving is nuts).

Now I’m really going to go out on a limb and speculate that more males than females seem to get a bang out of said adrenaline.

If you can pick holes in this, please do. This board is for fighting ignorance, including mine.

When my sister Sara was about 4-5, our oldest sister L had been put in charge of her at Disney World. Lea is 13 years older than Sara, so naturally she wanted to go on some of the big rides. Lea convinced Sara that Space Mountain was a kid’s ride called baby spacy ride. Sara still hates roller coasters. Siblings are fun, aren’t they?

I love roller coasters and things that move forward and/or backward. The thing can even spin in a big circle as long as I am facing in the direction of the ride movement (like this or this or this)

Once I start spinning laterally (e.g., teacups, electric rainbow, things go bad. It’s quite sickening to me, but others love it.

Isn’t Space Mountain the one that’s all in the dark? Because that’s how I learned not to fear roller coasters – I could not see which way we were about to go so I relaxed and enjoyed myself. Wierd.

Amusement park “thrill” rides just aren’t that big of thrill to me. You gots your roller-coster, and I like the speed and all, but petty well nothing scares me. :eek: So I’m the wrong dude to ask, I guess. :frowning:

Then we gots the “spin and puke” rides and I just get nauseous.

At Great America the only ride I really like is the Roaring Rapids ride, but I’ll do the Coasters. I do like the surround-theatre.

That being said, I really enjoy Disneyland, since there are cool things to look at on the rides.

“Thrill rides” often aren’t. Most of them get an effect by playing on the rider’s sense of equilibrium. I’m similar to Shagnasty in that while I have never ever gotten close to nauseous (in a true “gotta puke” way) on a roller coaster, it can happen with the right set of conditions for me on thrill rides, especially when I’m hot, dehydrated (two common conditions at the amusement park) and there’s enough continuous motion on my inner ear. It’s still rare, though, as I do not get motion sick easily.

As for roller coasters, you name it and I will get on it, though I haven’t gotten to ride as many as I would like. You ride enough and you learn to appreciate the charms of the various types. For instance, you’ll never get an inversion on a crazy mouse type coaster like the OP linked to, but the drops, sharp turns, and the way the car is connected to the track makes for a ride unlike any other type of roller coaster. Bobsled coasters are great because the only thing holding you on the track is the design of the track itself. (It doesn’t hurt when you get to sit behind and grab onto a pretty girl either.) The Storm Runner at Hersheypark is something else. 0 to 70 in less than two seconds is a real kick in the pants and I think you hit the cobra at about 75. I rode that thing the summer it opened and it was worth every minute of the two hour wait. They were still doing the countdown then and that really increased the nervousness before launch.

Well, yeah, Sara is strange, like we all are, Part of it definitely had to be that Lea had tricked her, and she was 4-4.5. Me, I don’t like roller coasters that go upside down, which rules out a great many of them. It’s not because they scare me, but I really don’t like the shoving around that inevitably occurs with rides of that type. If it stays right side up, I’m golden.

I’ll go on rides like the Spider if encouraged, but I know very well I’ll walk around queasy afterwards. I’d don’t do freefall rides. That’s where my inner chicken checks in.

I used to hate roller coasters. Now, I’ll ride them with my wife, no prob. Took some time and a lot of rides though. I’ll even say I like them now. I’m usually laughing like a maniac the whole time.

My Wife and I where in Hershey that summer too. Quite a ride. Cedar Point PA has some great ones. But we can’t discount Hershey Park.

The Storm Runner -

Part of the fun is watching the expresions of the riders change right when they get launched.

Ditto. I adamantly refused to get onto roller coasters when I was a young child. Seeing all the hills and loops and how exposed people were, it freaked me out. Then we went to Disney. My father tricked me into Space Mountain, convincing me that it was a scenic outer space ride. Once I got over that hump of “roller coasters won’t kill you,” I’ve loved riding them since.

I fail to find g’s, either from falling or spinning, to be entertaining. It doesn’t scare me, it simply feels unpleasant and I won’t do it. Period.

My body makeup must be more delicate (?) than most peoples, because I have felt like I was going to pass out from the force of a couple of the more tame roller coasters.

I hate hate hate any kind of fast, rolling, turning, spinning contraption. What can possibly be good about primal fear? It generates an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, no “high on endorphins” crap for me.