Friday, June 7, 2013

Why I don't like going to amusement parks these days

I guess I'm getting old, because I have no desire to visit amusement parks anymore.

The one closest to us is Cedar Point, which as amusement parks go definitely ranks right up there. Cedar Point has something like 8,000 roller coasters, all of which are designed to scare you.

At least that's what they do to me. I'll go on any ride in existence, mind you. I'm not so scared that I chicken out completely. But the fact remains, "terror" is a key emotion whenever I ride one of those Class A man-sized coasters.

There's also the cost. When I was young, my parents paid my admission fees, so I never really had any idea how much it cost to get into a park. Nor did I care, really.

But now, I realize I paid less for my first car than it sets me back for my family of seven to get into Cedar Point.

(For the record, without coupons or any of the other highly prevalent discounts the park offers, the total cost for my brood to go to Cedar Point with tickets purchased online is $314.93.)

Then there's the whole waiting-in-line thing. I talk to people all the time who say things like, "We waited two hours to ride Millennium Force. It was great!"

They don't mean the two-hour wait was great, but they also act like two hours out of their lives waiting in line to ride a four-minute roller coaster is OK.

Is it OK? I don't think it is. I think it's ridiculous. But then, I'm not Cedar Point's target demographic, either.

They're looking for parents like me, of course, but parents who are willing to pay for their kids to come, buy tickets, and spend even more money on food, cheap midway prizes, and the occasional box of saltwater taffy.

Actually, I'm good with the taffy. It's probably my favorite part of the Cedar Point experience. But to get to the taffy, which we purchase on our way out of the park to go home, you have to endure everything else that's thrown at you.

Like, for instance, the other people. If I could hijack Cedar Point and have it to myself for a day like Clark Griswold at Wally World, I'd be fine with it. But you actually have to share the park with others, many of whom smell.

I don't want to be too indelicate here, but visiting Cedar Point on a 90-degree day is like spending time in an Egyptian prison. You're going to walk away having inhaled the bodily fumes of people of all shapes and sizes, along with the bonus parting gift of several million newly acquired germs from touching handrails, bathroom doors, the occasional dead animal, etc.

Then there's the spinny rides.

"Spinny," meaning those rides that go around and around and around. I don't do "around and around and around" nearly as well as I used to.

I don't do it well at all.

I can get through a turn on, say, the Witch's Wheel. But afterward, the rest of my day is ruined. I walk around for hours feeling dizzy and nauseous. I can't keep down the comically unhealthy Cedar Point food. I can't even see straight when my son asks me to win him a stuffed penguin by shooting a water gun into a clown's mouth (a game that, by the way, costs $5 per turn to play).

And I pay $44.99 just for the privilege of experiencing all of this!

I'll tell you what: The next time you want me to come with you to Cedar Point or Six Flags or any other of these money pits, I'll just give you my $44.99 and spend all day at home repeatedly jabbing myself in the eye with a hot poker. That way, you'll be 45 bucks richer and I'll be a lot happier than I would be at an amusement park.

Everybody wins.

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