riding the gravitron + being an adult = bad decision

Last weekend Jim and Jared and I decided to brave Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake. The only way I can describe it is as a complete and total Gong Show. It was so over crowded and chaotic we weren’t having an especially good time. You had to wait in line for a half hour for food or a drink which wasn’t especially entertaining.
We decided we’d kill some time and blow some of our tickets on a ride. They didn’t have too many choices, just some typical fair attractions like a Ferris Wheel, flying swings and…The GRAVITRON.

I had ridden the Gravitron only once in my life when I was seven years old at the Enka Fair in Winchester, MA. I don’t know why it seemed like it’d be a wise idea to try it again, being 19 years older and far less comfortable being thrown around by a likely malfunctioning machine.

Nevertheless, once I’d suggested we ride it, the boys were on a mission. As soon as we got in line I was nervous. Scratch that, I was seriously frightened. Not so much that I’d hurt myself in the ride, but more so that I’d vomit all over myself and be embarrassed.

The guy operating the ride seemed oblivious to my plight and silently took our tickets. I entered the ride and immediately knew this was a bad choice. Everyone else was either seven years old or in their forties and drunk.

I took my spot on a padded panel and hoped for the best.

Wikipedia describes the ride as follows:

“The ride is completely enclosed, with 45 padded panels lining the inside wall. Riders lean against these panels, which are angled back. As the ride rotates, centrifugal force is exerted against the pads by the rider, removing the rider from the floor, due to the slant. The ride can reach a maximum speed of 24 rpm in less than 20 seconds, due to the 33 kW 3-phase motor. At this speed, the riders are experiencing centripetal force equivalent to three times the force of gravity.

The ride operator is located in the center of the ride. Part of the operator’s duty is to control lighting and music in addition to the ride itself. Some variants include closed-circuit television cameras, allowing waiting riders and passersby to observe the ride in action.”

The entire ride racks on a single 50-foot trailer for transport. The ride can be assembled in less than six hours, and packed up in three”

Who knew it was so portable?

Once the ride started, the first thirty seconds of spinning were rough and I continued to envision my vomiting nightmare. However, after a minute or so I relaxed and was laughing hysterically at the absurdity of the situation. What was I doing this for? Why did we pay for this?

Fortunately, we all survived the ride and fared better than the little boy who threw up all over the second he got off.

Moral of the story? Rides are way cooler when you’re a kid and I now understand why my parents never wanted to go on with me when I was younger.


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