“Now, keep your arms up in the air and when we get to the top, scream.” The car chugged and pulled while my head was forced to the back of the seat. The couplings rattled and creaked; the wooden frame moved ever so slightly. Reaching the top of the hill, the train rocketed downward with a force so great my heart fell into my stomach. At that moment, I opened my mouth and …
“Oh, I remember my first roller coaster,” I say to my niece as we progress onto the flume ride at Sea World’s Journey to Atlantis.
The boat begins to float towards our water adventure. Mermaids beckon us forward as we ease left and right. The sleepy underground river moves us towards parts unseen by visitors outside the attraction.
Suddenly our voyage turns dark and we are propelled into deeper regions of the sea.
The boat catches a train track pulling us upwards, still in the dark, the car clanking; my head is thrust against the seatback. The couplings clatter. We are quickly moved into the blinding sunlight, released from the track, and thrown into the water. The boat bumps the concrete sides of the river keeping us on the waterway. Our toboggan plunges into a freefall, descending at forty-two miles an hour until we drop into the water below. A wave a water rushes past, spraying us slightly, we remain mostly dry.
Unexpectedly, water from a nearby cannon hits my shirt. Then another.
A third direct hit leaves me dripping as the boat turns and continues its excursion towards another steep precipice. We climb upwards only to fall again, drenching riders with a splash and then another ascent, heading back towards the dank tunnel we had previously left.
The train climbs higher in the dark then swiftly changes speed as we fall sixty feet. The 3g-force creates artificial wind against our cheeks. Four or five long seconds later, another watery landing, then calm. We look at each other and laugh, exhilarated by the adventure. “My dad would be so proud of me,” I tell my niece as we give each other high fives. “This time, when I opened my mouth, I screamed!”