I was talking to some people when I was out with Ollie yesterday. They told me that they are off to a popular theme park with their children for a few days. It is called Chessington World of Adventures, and combines the former zoo with lots of modern pleasure rides. Things like ‘Forbidden Kingdom’, one of those rides where you whizz around at great speeds, mostly upside down.
So that got me thinking this morning…
I grew up with things like the swings on chains, shown in the photo above. The Big Wheel, The Helter Skelter Slide where you came down on a mat, and Dodgem Cars. There were places that had rides that were more exciting. Travelling funfairs added The Whip, or the covered-in Caterpillar. Then there was The Waltzer, with your car being spun by an attendant, as it went around the track. All of this was done to a soundtrack of loud music, often the pop songs of the day, bright flashing lights, and the squeals of the people supposedly enjoying themselves.
Seaside towns had rides that went up very high, like The Mousetrap, or the various wooden roller-coasters that seemed to get bigger and more terrifying every year. They had a Parachute Drop, Water Splash, and the usual Ghost Train and kiddie rides too. Once holiday camps became popular, they built large amusement parks inside their camps that came with the added bonus of all the rides being included in the price. Compared to the white-knuckle attractions seen today, all of these would be considered to be tame indeed.
But I have a confession to make. I hate theme park rides.
Going round in circles at great speed makes me feel sick. Dropping five stories on a roller coaster that sounds as if it will come off its tracks at any second has no appeal to me whatsoever. Travelling upside down at a strange angle is something I have avoided all my life. So paying a substantial amount to be able to do just that seems just silly, from where I sit.
When it comes to funfairs and modern theme parks, I am the least ‘fun’ person you can imagine. I will hold the coats, go and buy the soft drinks, and sit on a bench until your ride has finished. I might even walk around and take a few photographs.
But if you think you will ever get me to go on one of those rides, you’re very much mistaken.