Sunday, June 21, 2009

TV Free Family Fun: King's Island Amusement Park

I first visited King's Island when I was maybe eleven. That would have been 1974. In 1974, The Racer roller coaster was the big attraction. These days, my wife's company, Wendy's International, has a company day where we get heavily discounted tickets and take the family down for a day. The Racer's not quite as popular as it once was. There's really not much of a line for it these days. In fact, I think if you asked nicely, they'd let you actually operate this ride.

Yesterday, the TV-Free Family visited King's Island some 35 years after my first visit. We all had a great time. In some configuration or another, the family attempted just about every ride there was there. Our few favorites, were the DiamondBack, a new coaster this year. Every one of us agreed this coaster is by far our favorite, hands down. Even Momma (not a great fan of swirling, looping coasters) was impressed by its mix of fear, speed, and smoothness.

We also like the Drop Tower. I'll state this: Courage on the ground turns cold when your feet dangle at 264 feet high. I was good at 264 feet. I appreciated, though, that it did not go to 265 feet. I was plenty high enough when the bottom dropped out and the air left my lungs. The absence of air prevented me from screaming like a little girl -- and for that I'm thankful. Nothing can water down the "Courageous Dad" aura quite like a heart-felt squeal of primal fear.

My own father rode many of the rides back in 1974 and even later. But, when asked to ride some of the more adventurous rides, he imparted what I still consider to be good fatherly wisdom. I'm sure dad gave me lots of fatherly advice, -- "Buy low, sell high", "Spend less than you earn", "Early to bed.. Early to rise...", blah blah blah -- but it was many of the little, less common jewels that I remember most. On one of these occasions, he told me --

"At some point in your life, you'll reach an age where it's not a great idea to have your ass above your head."

Well, I have to admit that yesterday, several times, I found myself in this orientation, and while they were bearable, I'm not sure that I'd call them all that pleasurable. By my math, dad was 50 years old in 1974. I'm 46 this year. I haven't quite reached that point in my life where the "Ass Above Head" position becomes an issue, but I'm pretty sure that it's not all that far away.

When I hit that age, I'm sure that my two kids and their friends will coax and cajole me to ride with them on the latest corkscrew and loopy-loop thing that the park has to offer -- and I'll remember my dad's advice -- and I'll be reminded, again, of how smart my father was. Then, I'll ride it anyway, because I'm not nearly as smart as him.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there,


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